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Pearson v. Chipotle Mexican Grill

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 7, 2015


SHADAYAH PEARSON, Plaintiff Pro Se, Troy, New York.


CHRISTIAN F. HUMMEL, Magistrate Judge.

On May 1, 2015, pro se plaintiff Shadayah Pearson filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff has not paid the filing fee and instead seeks permission to proceed with this matter in forma pauperis ("IFP"). Dkt. No. 2.

Although not entirely clear from the complaint, plaintiff appears to allege that defendants, Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado ("Chipotle") and district manager Houman Iskandani ("Iskandani"), discriminated against her on the basis of her pregnancy and terminated her in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment. Dkt. No. 1, at 2-4.


Turning to plaintiff's IFP application, after reviewing the information provided therein, the Court finds that plaintiff may properly proceed with this matter IFP.[1]

II. Initial Review[2]

A. Legal Standard

Section 1915(e) of Title 28 of the United States Code directs that, when a plaintiff seeks to proceed IFP, "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Thus, it is a court's responsibility to determine that a plaintiff may properly maintain her complaint before permitting her to proceed with her action.

B. Complaint

Plaintiff states that she told her manager that she "was pregnant and that [she] did not like the way 1 of the managers was coming on to [her], " that the manager promised to investigate, and that she was fired two to three weeks after she made her complaint. Dkt. No. 1, at 3. Her complaint further contends that, after reaching out to "corporate" regarding the reason for her termination, Iskandani offered to hire her at another Chipotle location; however, she was then six-months pregnant, high risk, and unable to work. Id. at 3. Plaintiff contacted Iskandani in 2014, looking to be rehired, and Iskandani informed her that she was not "rehirable" and has since been giving her negative reviews to potential employers. Id. at 3. For a more complete statement of the alleged facts, reference is made to the complaint.

i. Claims under 42 § U.S.C. 1983

Plaintiff brings this action for employment discrimination pursuant to 42 § U.S.C. 1983. She submitted her complaint on a 42 § U.S.C. 1983 pro forma complaint. Although "sex-based discrimination may be actionable under § 1983 as a violation of equal protection, " Meadors v. Ulster County, 984 F.Supp.2d 83, 102 (N.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Demoret v. Zegerelli, 451 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2006)), section 1983 claims apply only to "person[s] acting under the color of state law." Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)(citation omitted); see also Tancredi v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 316 F.3d 308, 312 (2d Cir. 2003) ("A plaintiff pressing a claim of violation of his constitutional rights under § 1983 is thus required to show state action.") (citations omitted). Here, plaintiff claims the discriminatory conduct was precipitated by private parties, Chipotle and its district manager, Iskandani. "As the Supreme Court has held, the under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983 excludes from its reach merely private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful.'" Agustus v. AHRC Nassau, 13-CV-6227 (PKC), 2013 WL 6173782, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 13, 2013) (quoting American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1982) (additional citations omitted). Plaintiff fails to allege any facts plausibly suggesting a nexus between defendants and any state action, thus warranting dismissal of her Section 1983 claims for failure to state a cause of action.

A court should not dismiss a 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) (citation omitted). Here, keeping in mind plaintiff's pro se status and this Circuit's guidance to liberally construe pro se submissions, Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Branum v. Clark, 927 F.2d 698, 705 (2d Cir. 1991)), it appears to the undersigned that plaintiff intended to bring her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. See Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 130 (2d Cir. 2005) ("We leave it for the district court to determine what other claims, if any, [plaintiff] has raised. In so doing, the court's ...

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