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Davis v. Fed Ex Ground Package System

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 31, 2017

PHYLLIS DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
FED EX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KIYO A. MATSUMOTO, United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Phyllis Davis (“plaintiff”) commenced this action against defendant FedEx Ground Package System (“defendant” or “FedEx”) alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (“Title VII”), discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117, and discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. Presently before the court is defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (“Motion”) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 29.) For the reasons stated herein the Motion is granted.

         Background

         Plaintiff Phyllis Davis, is a 59-year-old woman who worked part-time for FedEx from April 25, 2000 to June 2, 2014, as an “Administrative Associate.” (Complaint (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1, at 5, 9, 16, 17, 33.)[1] On May 29, 2014, defendant told plaintiff not to return to work after plaintiff brought a butcher knife to work. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 33.) A New York Separation Notice dated June 2, 2014, states that plaintiff's employment with FedEx Ground ended on June 2, 2014, and that her coverage under and participation in all employee benefit plans and programs ended on June 3, 2014. (Affirmation in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (“Pl. Opp.”), New York Separation Notice (“Separation Notice”), ECF No. 29-1 at 15-16.)

         After her termination from FedEx, plaintiff applied for unemployment insurance benefits. (Decision and Notice of Decision, State of New York, Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (“Unemployment Benefits Decision”) attached to the Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 31-38.) Plaintiff testified at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in an appeal to reinstate her unemployment insurance benefits. (Id. at 31.) On October 1, 2014, the ALJ found that the credible evidence established that FedEx terminated plaintiff's employment because she violated FedEx's policy by bringing a weapon, a butcher knife, into work on May 29, 2014. (Id. at 35.) The ALJ found credible plaintiff's testimony that she had made a mistake when she initially applied for unemployment insurance benefits when she reported that she lost her job due to lack of work. (Id. at 35.) The ALJ found that plaintiff later informed the Department of Labor of the true circumstances of her separation, specifically that her employment was terminated because she brought a knife to work. (Id.) Accordingly, the ALJ found that plaintiff was entitled to unemployment benefits. (Id. at 37.)

         On April 2, 2015, plaintiff filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging age discrimination. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 22.) On April 10, 2015, the EEOC issued plaintiff a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” stating that all of the harm plaintiff alleged occurred more than 300 days before the April 2, 2015 filing date and, therefore, the Commission was unable to investigate the charges. (Id.) The EEOC also informed plaintiff that if she wished to pursue the charge on her own, she could file a lawsuit in federal court within ninety days of receipt of that letter. (Id.)

         On July 8, 2015, plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) On March 26, 2016, defendant filed the fully briefed motion to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 29, 29-1 and 29-2.) Defendant argues that the Complaint must be dismissed because plaintiff failed to properly exhaust her administrative remedies by filing charges with the EEOC within 300 days of the last alleged unlawful practice. (Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss (“Def. Br.”), ECF No. 29 at 3-4.))

         For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that, although plaintiff filed charges with the EEOC in a timely manner, the Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted. Therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted and the Complaint is dismissed.

         Discussion

         I. Standard of Review

         When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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). To survive dismissal, the plaintiff must plead “factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” ATSI Commc'ns Inc. v. The Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation omitted). The plaintiff must allege enough facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). “When a plaintiff is pro se, the Court must ‘construe [the] complaint liberally and interpret it to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s].'” Best v. City of N. Y., No. 12 CIV. 7874 (RJS) (SN), 2014 WL 163899, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2014) (quoting Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010)); see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Even with a pro se plaintiff, however, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955). Therefore, 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.” Chavis, 618 F.3d at 170.

         “In reviewing a complaint, a court is not limited to the four corners of the complaint;” rather, “a court may also consider ‘documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, . . . matters of which judicial notice may be taken, or . . . documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit.” Villanueva v. City of N.Y., No. 08 CIV. 8793 (LBS), 2010 WL 1654162, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2010) (citing Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993); see Taylor v. Vt. Dep't of Educ., 313 F.3d 768, 776 (2d Cir. 2002). The court may review such documents even when the complaint does not explicitly refer to them. Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 47 (2d Cir. 1991). As such, the court considers the Decision from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board and the Separation Notice, which plaintiff attached to the Complaint and her opposition, respectively. See Villanueva, 2010 WL 1654162, at *5 (considering documents outside the pleadings that plaintiffs relied on in bringing suit).

         II. Analysis

         Defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that plaintiff failed to properly exhaust her administrative remedies when she failed to file charges with the EEOC within 300 days of her termination, the last alleged unlawful conduct. (Def. Br., ECF No. 29 at 4.) Plaintiff argues that FedEx has not established when she received the Separation Notice, and that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until she receives notice of termination. (Pl. Opp., ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff argues, in the alternative, that even if her EEOC filing was untimely, her circumstances warrant equitable tolling of the 300-day statute of limitations. (Id. at ΒΆ 5.) The court finds ...


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