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Adlah v. Emergency Ambulance Services

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 22, 2018

Abdullah M. Adlah, Plaintiff,
v.
Emergency Ambulance Services, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOSEPH F. BIANCO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Abdullah Adlah (“plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. against Emergency Ambulance Services (“EAS” or “defendant”). Presently before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's discrimination claims in the Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies defendant's motion.

         I. Background

         A. Facts

         The following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint (“AC, ” ECF No. 14) and are not findings of fact by the Court. Instead the Court will assume these facts to be true and, for purposes of the pending motion to dismiss, will construe them in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party. In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court may take judicial notice of public records, including court filings. Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 774 (2d Cir. 1991). The Court also considers exhibits which are attached or integral to the complaint. Sira v. Morton, 380 F.3d 57, 67 (2d Cir. 2004).

         Abdullah Adlah, a Lebanese Muslim, was hired by defendant as an Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”) on April 1, 2015. (See ECF No. 21-2 at 5.) According to plaintiff, in June 2015, two partners that he worked with, Matt Lindstat and Victoria Weiss, referred to plaintiff as “that [A]rab kid” and were “very brutal and rude towards [him].” (AC at 5.) Plaintiff allegedly filed a complaint with management and was forced to switch shifts. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he was taken off a shift that worked around his children's and their school's schedule. (Id.) Meanwhile, plaintiff alleges that the two partners were “rewarded” by allowing them both to work with one another on the same ambulance. (Id.)

         In November 2015, plaintiff alleges that he overheard the dispatcher, Dawn “talking badly” to their supervisor, Jeremy Jubinville about him. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the dispatcher referred to him as “that ALLAH ARAB Kid” and made remarks that plaintiff was always late. (Id.) Plaintiff allegedly responded to these remarks stating, “actually I'm always early and the times you think I'm late is because Ken [Kriska] who was the supervisor ‘forgets' to adjust my schedule for times he's previously approved since I was coming from school and was forced off my original shift.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he then went to his supervisor, Jubinville, and told him that he did not appreciate the dispatcher calling him those names. (Id.) He further explained, “I'm not Arab I'm Lebanese and there's a huge difference.” (Id.) According to plaintiff, Jubinville remarked “there's nothing wrong with that because she doesn't know there's a difference.” (Id.) Plaintiff then alleges that he asked his supervisor, “is it appropriate to call a Spanish employee ‘that Mexican kid?'” (Id.) Jubinville allegedly responded, “that was different.” (Id.) Plaintiff then asked his supervisor, “how about an African American person, is it ok to call him that black kid” to which Jubinville allegedly responded, “yes that's ok because he's black but that's not the same as calling you ‘Arab' because you are.” (Id.) Plaintiff's supervisor allegedly stated that the dispatcher was just describing plaintiff because she did not know his name. (Id.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that later in November 2015, while working with another supervisor, Bob Crawford, he was asked to stop at Dominos so that Crawford could get some food. (Id.) When Crawford came back into the ambulance, he offered plaintiff a slice of pepperoni pizza. Plaintiff thanked Crawford but responded that he did not eat pork. Crawford then allegedly made fun of plaintiff and put the pizza in his face telling him to “try a bite.” (Id.)

         According to the complaint, on December 7, 2015, plaintiff told Jubinville that he needed to leave work early on December 13, to which Jubinville responded that as long as there were no emergency calls it would not be a problem for plaintiff to leave early. (Id. at 6.) On or about December 9, plaintiff had a phone conversation with Randy[2] (the CEO) and management about the comments made by Dawn and leadership. (Id.) Randy was unaware of any of the complaints plaintiff had made. (Id.) Plaintiff explained to Randy that he had brought his complaints to the attention of the managers on multiple occasions and nothing had been done. (Id.) During that conversation, Andrew Viskovich allegedly commented that the company was upset that plaintiff had told a logistics worker that he felt targeted and was going to sue the company. (Id.) Management also allegedly stated to plaintiff that dispatchers and logistics employees are not leadership, though plaintiff alleges that, in a previous conversation, management had told him the contrary. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that Jubinville agreed that plaintiff could leave his December 13 shift an hour early, but that he did state at some point that the dispatcher has the final say. (Id.) On December 14, plaintiff was sent into the manager's office with Jubinville, who informed him that he had to write him up for leaving early the day before. (Id.) Jubinville allegedly stated that after their phone conversation on December 9, their discussion about leaving work an hour early was “null and void” since the CEO overrode his decision to allow plaintiff time off. (Id. (“Anything approved prior to the conversation on the 9th is irrelevant.”).) Plaintiff agreed to sign the write-up as long as he was able to write on it that Jubinville had given him approval prior to December 13. (Id.)

         According to the complaint, on December 16, plaintiff had a conversation with Viskovich in which Viskovich allegedly stated that plaintiff was not being singled out. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges, “the Supervisors told me the CEO specifically stated, ‘Abdullah is not to be let out early' and I felt that statement singled me out.” (Id. at 7.) Viskovich allegedly stated, “they're not targeting [you]” and offered to open a case if that was how plaintiff felt. (Id.) Plaintiff allegedly told Viskovich that he did feel targeted and he would appreciate his opening a file: “I told him I had an issue stating I feel targeted and they had an issue with the fact I was defending my religious beliefs.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Viskovich stated that he did not have an issue with plaintiff defending himself, but had an issue with plaintiff stating that he felt targeted. (Id.) With regard to the June incident and the comments that were made, plaintiff alleges that-in the course of this conversation-Viskovich began by claiming that he did not know about it, and then stated that he “took care” of it. (Id.) Viskovich allegedly stated “it's how [plaintiff] take[s] it in” and “it's okay for them to say the Muslim kid” when referring to him because plaintiff is Muslim. (Id.)

         According to the complaint, somewhere between December 17 and December 20, dispatcher Kim[3] informed plaintiff that the supervisors had switched him from his normal ambulance and partner to another ambulance. (Id.) According to plaintiff, this switch was significant because the new ambulance he was put on was a standby hospital, which a worker cannot leave until relieved by the next crew. (Id.) Plaintiff allegedly stayed on his entire shift but was told that the covering medic was running late and they would have to wait for him. (Id.) Plaintiff spoke with the dispatcher, who then sent over another EMT to relieve plaintiff from his shift. (Id.) Plaintiff was then allegedly suspended for this until he could meet with management. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was forbidden by management from saying that he felt he was being treated unfairly. (Id.) On December 23, plaintiff was asked to meet with management. (Id.) In a conversation with Kriska, Viskovich and Omri Asta, Human Resource Director, plaintiff was informed that he was being terminated because the company did not feel comfortable employing him due to his “‘blatant insubordination' of conversing with people stating that [he] felt targeted.” (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         The instant lawsuit arises from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge filed by plaintiff against his former employer, EAS. (ECF No. 21-2.) In his administrative charge, filed on March 15, 2017, plaintiff alleged that EAS discriminated and retaliated against him on the basis of his national origin and religion, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (See Id. at 2.) On June 16, 2017, the EEOC issued a Right to Sue letter informing plaintiff that “[t]he EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that violations of the statute(s) occurred with respect to some or all of the matters alleged in the charge but could not obtain a settlement with the Respondent that would provide relief for [plaintiff].” (AC at 9-10.)

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on August 10, 2017, alleging a Title VII claim for discrimination and retaliation based on national origin and religion. (ECF No. 1 at 1, 3.) On January 10, 2018, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss plaintiff's national origin and religious discrimination claims as alleged in the Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on February 26, 2018. Plaintiff filed his opposition to defendant's motion on March 23, 2018, and defendant filed its reply on April 9, 2018.[4]

         II. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See, e.g., Cleveland v. Caplaw Enters., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006); Nechis v. Oxford Health Plans, Inc., 421 F.3d 96, 100 (2d Cir. 2005). “In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege a plausible set of facts sufficient ‘to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Operating Local 649 Annuity Tr. Fund v. Smith Barney Fund Mgmt. LLC, 595 F.3d 86, 91 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). This standard does not require “heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The Supreme Court clarified the appropriate pleading standard in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, setting forth two principles for a district court to follow in deciding a motion to dismiss. 556 U.S. 662 (2009). First, district courts must “identify[] pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. Second, if a complaint contains “well- pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

         The Court notes that in adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it is entitled to consider:

(1) facts alleged in the complaint and documents attached to it or incorporated in it by reference,
(2) documents ‘integral' to the complaint and relied upon in it, even if not attached or incorporated by reference, (3) documents or information contained in defendant's motion papers if plaintiff has knowledge or possession of the material and relied on it in framing the complaint, (4) public disclosure documents required by law to be, and that have been, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and ...

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