Alexander v. Diversified Ace Servs. II, 1:11CV725

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtBEATY
Docket Number1:11CV725
Decision Date07 February 2014

and NED GODWIN, Defendants.



Dated: February 7, 2014


BEATY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #32] filed by Defendant Steven Malone ("Defendant Malone") and a Partial Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #33] filed by Defendants Diversified Ace Services II, AJV ("DAS II"), Diversified Service Contracting, Inc. ("Diversified Service Contracting"), Ace Services, Inc. ("Ace Services"), and Ned Godwin ("Defendant Godwin") (collectively "Corporate Defendants and Defendant Godwin"). The Motions have been fully briefed and are properly before the Court for review. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant Malone's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #32] and grant in part and deny in part Corporate Defendants and Defendant Godwin's Partial Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #33].

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The factual allegations of Plaintiff Luanesha Alexander's ("Plaintiff") Amended Complaint, taken as true for purposes of Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, allege that Plaintiff was hired by DAS II's predecessor company in 2005. Then when DAS II became the housekeeping contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency's Durham office in 2007, Plaintiff was told she became an employee of DAS II.1 DAS II is "an assumed name of certain corporations and the joint ventures created between [Diversified Service Contracting and Ace Services]" and "is an alter-ego of [these] two corporations." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶¶ 4, 5.)2 Defendant Godwin was a manager for DAS II who had the authority to supervise both Plaintiff and Plaintiff's supervisor, Deborah Hunter ("Supervisor Hunter"). Defendant Malone "owns and/or manages" DAS II and "one or more of its parent companies." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Godwin began sexually harassing and threatening her in 2008. The first incident occurred in October 2008, when Defendant Godwin told Plaintiff that he needed to show her a new cleaning site, and told her to pick up her cleaning supplies from a hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Then when she arrived at this hotel room where Defendant Godwin told her they would be picking up the supplies, he "forced her into the hotel

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room, prevented her from leaving, and sexually assaulted her." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 21.) For the rest of the time Plaintiff worked at DAS II, Defendant Godwin continually threatened her, telling her that he "would have her fired instantly if she ever told anyone about his actions," that he was "good friends" with Supervisor Hunter and all of the managers, and that "if [Plaintiff] told anyone about his actions, he would know about it and she would be fired." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶¶ 22-23.) Defendant Godwin also told her that she should "give up" and "have sex with him," that sex with him "was inevitable," that "she could not stop him," and that "she would be punished if she did not give in." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶¶ 22, 25.) Plaintiff was afraid of Defendant Godwin and believed his threats.

On an occasion when Plaintiff was working on June 8, 2010, Defendant Godwin pushed her into a supply closet with him while pulling condoms from his pocket and told her that "this is it." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 28.) Defendant Godwin "grabbed [Plaintiff's] groin and breasts[, ]attempted to get his hands into her clothes[,] and told her that she [ ] 'had to give up' and that she was going to 'be with a black man today.'" (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 28.) Plaintiff fought Defendant Godwin off and escaped from the closet. Afterwards, the threats continued by way of Defendant Godwin looking for mistakes Plaintiff was making in her job and telling her she needed to decide "whether she was going to give in to him or lose her job." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶¶ 30, 31.)

On July 28, 2010, Plaintiff requested and received permission from Supervisor Hunter to leave for lunch an hour later than scheduled. Upon return, Defendant Godwin told her that she violated company policy by leaving for lunch at a time other than her scheduled lunch break,

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and he was therefore suspending her. (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 34.) Plaintiff was upset and sought help from her husband, who attempted to call DAS II's human resources department, but instead reached Defendant Malone. Defendant Malone told Plaintiff's husband that he would look into the matter and call them back. When Defendant Malone called back, he spoke to Plaintiff, telling her that he spoke with Defendant Godwin and that Plaintiff's suspension would continue. Plaintiff then "broke down" and told Defendant Malone about Defendant Godwin's harassment, "especially Godwin's threats to take away her job if she refused to have sex with him." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 38.)

Defendant Malone told Plaintiff not to come in until July 31, 2010, at which point, Defendant Malone would meet her at work or send someone to meet her for her protection. Before returning to work, Plaintiff tried to seek advice from EPA Project Manager Al Little, who was in charge of EPA contractors, including DAS II. Plaintiff believed Mr. Little could tell her who she could report to without putting herself in danger with Defendant Godwin. Mr. Little told Plaintiff to meet him at the EPA office so they could talk, but when she arrived at his office, she was intercepted by Defendant Godwin, who yelled threats at her and physically prevented her from going into Mr. Little's office.

Plaintiff then went to work on July 31 as instructed and waited in the office for Defendant Malone. Supervisor Hunter told Plaintiff that Defendant Godwin changed Plaintiff's assigned area to the building where his office was located, which Plaintiff believed was retaliation against her for disclosing the harassment. Plaintiff pleaded with Supervisor Hunter to wait until Defendant Malone arrived "so that he could sort things out," and Supervisor Hunter responded

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that Plaintiff "could either get to work in Godwin's building or she was fired." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 42.) After Plaintiff went to her assigned building, an EPA employee saw her crying and asked what was wrong. Plaintiff responded that "she was very afraid of Godwin and what he was going to do to her." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 44.) She tried calling Defendant Malone to find out where her help was, but he did not answer or respond to her calls.

Plaintiff then called security dispatch, which sent two officers to talk to her. While discussing Defendant Godwin's harassment, she suffered a severe panic attack, lost consciousness, and was removed from the EPA premises by ambulance. The panic attack was debilitating, leaving Plaintiff unable to return to work and requiring Plaintiff to be placed on medical leave by her doctor. While on medical leave, Defendant Malone spoke to Plaintiff on several occasions, asking her to return to work.

On August 4, 2010, Plaintiff filed a charge of harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sought a protective order against Defendant Godwin. On August 17, 2010, Plaintiff met with Defendant Malone and his partner Kerry Johnson, who "promised [Plaintiff] that they would take care of her, [ ] that she could work in a separate building from Godwin and have no contact with him, and [that she could] use a separate time clock so she would not risk running into him." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 51.)

Plaintiff received clearance from her doctor to return to work on September 22, 2010, and then wrote to Defendant Malone to tell him that she was ready to come back to work. Defendant Malone called Plaintiff on September 25, 2010, to let Plaintiff know that he needed everything from her in writing, including a doctor's note. On September 27, 2010, Defendant

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Malone called Plaintiff to ask her whether she intended to seek renewal of the no-contact order against Defendant Godwin, and after she indicated that she would, Defendant Malone said he would see her at the proceeding. When Plaintiff sought renewal of the no-contact order in court the next day, Defendant Malone was present "to support [ ] and aid" Defendant Godwin in fighting the renewal of the order. (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 55.)

On October 3, 2010, Plaintiff went to her doctor's office for the paperwork that Defendant Malone requested, and the next day, faxed the doctor's note and called Defendant Malone to let him know she was ready to return to work. Defendant Malone and Supervisor Hunter then called Plaintiff at home, and Defendant Malone told her that "her complaints were a disruption of his business, and because of that[,] he was firing her." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶ 58.) Plaintiff then filed a second EEOC charge on October 7, 2010, this time alleging retaliation based on her termination. Plaintiff eventually received "right to sue" letters regarding both of her charges, and "continues to suffer extensive psychological and emotional harm requiring medical attention, medication, and therapy." (Am. Compl. [Doc. #30] ¶¶ 60-63.)

On August 9, 2011, Plaintiff filed this action in Durham County Superior Court against Corporate Defendants, Defendant Godwin, Defendant Malone, Universal Management Group, Inc., Diversified Management Group, LLC,...

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