Bradley v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., C/A No. 3:15-cv-4734-CMC-KDW

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtKaymani D. West United States Magistrate Judge
PartiesDawn Bradley, Plaintiff, v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Defendant.
Docket NumberC/A No. 3:15-cv-4734-CMC-KDW
Decision Date11 March 2016

Dawn Bradley, Plaintiff,
United Parcel Service, Inc., Defendant.

C/A No. 3:15-cv-4734-CMC-KDW


March 11, 2016


This employment-related matter is before the court for issuance of a Report and Recommendation ("Report") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Pending is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint filed by Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc. ("Defendant" or "UPS"), ECF No. 16. Having considered Defendant's Motion and Memorandum (ECF Nos. 16, 16-1); Plaintiff's opposition, ECF No. 17; Defendant's Reply, ECF No. 18; and applicable law, the undersigned recommends Defendant's Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Factual and procedural background

Plaintiff filed this employment action in the Court of Common Pleas for Sumter County, and Defendant removed the matter to this court. ECF No. 1. Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's original Complaint, ECF No. 8, and Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint as a matter of course pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B), ECF No. 10. Defendant withdrew the Motion to Dismiss the original Complaint and filed the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint under consideration herein. ECF No. 16.

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Plaintiff's Amended Complaint includes causes of action for sexual discrimination and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a breach-of-contract claim related to Defendant's alleged breach of a written settlement agreement. Defendant moves to dismiss all causes of action for failure to state a claim. It also moves to dismiss the hostile-work-environment claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and to dismiss the breach-of-contract claim because it is preempted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA").

Taken from the Amended Complaint and accepted as true for purposes of this Report, Plaintiff alleges the following potentially relevant facts:

Plaintiff, an African-American female, is employed with UPS in its Sumter, South Carolina facility. Plaintiff began working for UPS in 1995 and is currently employed with UPS. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 6. At some undefined point between 1998 and 2002, Plaintiff worked for 30 days as a regular temporary driver at the Sumter UPS facility. Id. ¶ 7. From 2002 until February 2014, Plaintiff worked as a "clerk\air bid combination" with UPS. Id. ¶ 8. In February 2014 Plaintiff was awarded a full-time driver position at the Sumter UPS facility. Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff did not receive any additional training from UPS at that time. Id. ¶ ¶ 11, 12, 16 (noting UPS did not "suggest or require" computer training for the new position, did not send Plaintiff to driver's training school for the position, and did not "offer or provide" Plaintiff any additional training).

On March 7, 2014, UPS terminated Plaintiff for "failure to follow proper methods, instructions and procedures." Am. Compl. ¶ 18. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the termination with her Union. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff did not receive wages or benefits while the grievance was pending. Id. ¶ 23. At her grievance hearing, Defendant admitted Plaintiff had not received adequate full-time-driver ("FTD") training. Id. ¶ 24. Defendant reinstated Plaintiff's job after she had agreed to a 25-day suspension without pay. Id. ¶ 25. Defendant offered driver

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training to Plaintiff at this time, but required that she attend the training on her own time and at her own expense. Id. ¶ 26.1 Plaintiff reported back to work on April 14, 2014, but "did not accept FTD driver shifts due to fear that she would [be] retaliated against for getting her job back." Id. ¶ 27.

On May 22, 2014, Plaintiff worked on a new route. Plaintiff avers she should have been advised that she needed an on-car supervisor to ride the route with her because she had not driven it before. Plaintiff was not provided an on-car supervisor, and she alleges her supervisor, Jeffrey Stewart, advised an on-car supervisor not to assist Plaintiff. Plaintiff "struggled" through the route, returning to clock-out of work at 10:13 p.m. so she did not violate regulations. Plaintiff had not delivered all packages when she had to clock-out. While she offered to address the remaining packages, another driver was sent to deliver them. Id. ¶¶ 28-39.

Immediately after the May 22, 2014 event, the on-car supervisor called Stewart in Plaintiff's presence, and Stewart terminated Plaintiff for work abandonment. Am. Compl. ¶ 40. On July 11, 2014, Defendant contacted Plaintiff and told her Defendant had "unilaterally changed her termination to a suspension and instructed her to return to work on Monday, July 14, 2014." Id. ¶ 44.

On September 8, 2014, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an agreement in which, inter alia, Defendant agreed to allow Plaintiff to attend the next "feeder school."2 Am. Compl. ¶ 45. See "Dawn Bradley Settlement," ECF No. 10-1 (settlement concerning grievance filed with union). Plaintiff avers Defendant has not permitted her to attend the next feeder school.

Later in September 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See ECF No. 16-2 (copy of EEOC's "Notice

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of Charge of Discrimination" to Defendant, dated Sept. 26, 2014; "Charge of Discrimination" sent to Defendant by S.C. Human Affairs Commission, dated Sept. 23, 2014). Plaintiff filed suit on November 24, 2015.

II. Legal standard

Defendant moves to dismiss each of Plaintiff's causes of action pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim and that her hostile-work-environment claim should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In considering Defendant's failure-to-exhaust-administrative-remedies argument, the court notes the "issue may [be] more properly addressed under Rule 12(b)(1), instead of Rule 12(b)(6)." Agolli v. Office Depot, Inc., 548 F. App'x 871, 875 (4th Cir. 2013). A plaintiff always bears the burden of demonstrating that subject matter jurisdiction properly exists in federal court. See Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., a Div. of Standex Int'l Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). When a defendant challenges subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment. Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing cases).

Although the usual rule is that a court "may not consider any documents that are outside of the complaint, or not expressly incorporated therein," Clatterbuck v. City of Charlottesville, 708 F.3d 549, 557 (4th Cir. 2013), a court may properly consider documents "attached or incorporated into the complaint," as well as documents attached to the defendant's motion, "so long as they are integral to the complaint and authentic." Philips v. Pitt Cnty. Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009); see also Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d 195, 198

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(4th Cir. 2014); E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011).

Defendant also seeks Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims. "A motion filed under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint." Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). The court measures the legal sufficiency by determining whether the complaint meets the Rule 8 standards for a pleading. Id. The Supreme Court considered the issue of well-pleaded allegations, explaining the interplay between Rule 8(a) and Rule 12(b)(6) in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitle[ment] to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . .

550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ("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." (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556)). When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The court is also to "'draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.'" E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v., Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009)). Although a court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true, this is inapplicable to legal conclusions, and "[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 (citation omitted). While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, factual allegations

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must support the complaint for it to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 679. Therefore, a pleading that provides only "labels and conclusions" or "naked assertion[s]" lacking "some further factual enhancement" will not satisfy the requisite pleading...

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