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Bezares C. v. The Donna Karan Company Store LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 22, 2014

Yajaira Bezares C., Plaintiff,
v.
The Donna Karan Company Store LLC, The Donna Karan Company LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Yajaira Bezares C., proceeding pro se, brought two actions against The Donna Karan Company Store LLC and The Donna Karan Company LLC (collectively, the defendants) in the New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County. In these actions, the plaintiff alleges employment discrimination, retaliation, and harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). The plaintiff also alleges state-law defamation.

The actions were removed to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 over the federal-law claims and supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over the state-law claims, except as indicated below. The defendant moves to dismiss the plaintiff's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons explained below, the defendant's motion is granted.

I.

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp. , 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is "not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden , 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). The Court should not dismiss the complaint if the plaintiff has stated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While the Court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id.

When faced with a pro se complaint, the Court must "construe [the] complaint liberally and interpret it to raise the strongest arguments that it suggests." Chavis v. Chappius , 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "Even in a pro se case, however, ... threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id . (citation omitted). Thus, although the Court is "obligated to draw the most favorable inferences" that the complaint supports, it "cannot invent factual allegations that [the plaintiff] has not pled." Id.

II.

The plaintiff's two actions are directed at the same underlying conduct, (Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Exs. B, C), and the plaintiff's allegations are accepted as true for purposes of this Motion to Dismiss.

The plaintiff is a Hispanic female born in 1976 and alleges that she has a disability under the NYSHRL. (Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. D, Complaint to the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR Compl.") at 1.) Prior to September 20, 2012, the plaintiff applied for employment with the defendants and her application was repeatedly turned down. (SDHR Compl. at 2, 3.)

The plaintiff alleges that, even though the plaintiff was experienced and highly qualified, the defendants did not hire her but hired a white woman instead because the latter "fits Donna Karan['s] [i]mage better." (SDHR Compl. at 2.) This allegedly constituted age, disability, and racial discrimination against the plaintiff. (SDHR Compl. at 2.) The plaintiff also alleges conclusorily that the defendants retaliated against her. (SDHR Compl. at 2.) The plaintiff further alleges that the defendants "block[ed]" her from finding employment elsewhere in the fashion industry. (SDHR Compl. at 2; see also Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. B at 5.)

The plaintiff filed a complaint with the SDHR on September 20, 2012, which was concurrently filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (See SDHR Compl. at 3; Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. G at 1, Ex. H.) On March 21, 2013, the SDHR issued its Determination and Order After Investigation, finding no probable cause to believe that the defendants had engaged in or were engaging in the alleged unlawful discriminatory practices. (Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. G at 1.) On April 15, 2013, the EEOC adopted the SDHR's findings and issued a right-to-sue letter to the plaintiff. (Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. H.)

On November 12, 2013, the plaintiff commenced the first state court action in the New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, claiming five billion dollars in damages. (Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. B at 1-2.) The defendants removed the action to this Court on December 2, 2013. (See Notice of Removal, Dec. 2, 2013, ECF No. 1 (13 Civ. 8560).) On December 1, 2013, the plaintiff filed another action in the New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County based on the same allegations, noting that she "need[ed] [a] better judge." (See Minnah-Donkoh Decl. Ex. C at 1-2.) The defendants removed the second action to this Court on December 26, 2013. (See Notice of Removal, Dec. 26, 2013, ECF No. 1 (13 Civ. 9123).)

III.

As an initial matter, the plaintiff argues that she "had not agreed [that this] case [be] heard... in [this] District Court" and that "her case is in [the New York State] Supreme Court presently against the defendants...." (Attach. to Pl.'s Opp'n at 4.) The Court construes this as a ...


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