McCain v. United States, Corr. Corp., Case No. 2:14-cv-92

Decision Date17 March 2015
Docket NumberCase No. 2:14-cv-92
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Vermont

(Docs. 9, 11, 13, 30, 36, 52, 56, 60, 63, 64, 82)

Plaintiff Zach McCain III, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action against Defendants United States of America, Correction Corporation of America ("CCA"), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC" or "the Commission"), the State of Vermont ("the State"), Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. ("Kohl's Stores"), Costco Wholesale Corporation ("Costco"), R. Benoit ("Officer Benoit"), JohnDoe 1, John Doe 2, Bart Chamberlain ("Officer Chamberlain"), Robert Sanders ("Mr. Sanders"), Jacqueline A. Berrien ("Ms. Berrien"), Macy's Retail Holdings ("Macy's Holdings"), Kenneth An ("Mr. An"), and Mary Ahrens ("Ms. Ahrens"). Mr. McCain alleges that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of race, violated his constitutional rights, and otherwise conspired to discriminate against him by preventing him from obtaining employment.

Now pending before the Court are: Officer Benoit's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9); Officer Chamberlain's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11); Macy's Holdings's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 13); Costco and Ms. Ahrens's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 30); CCA's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 36); Kohl's Stores's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 52); the State's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 56); Motion to Dismiss filed by the United States, EEOC, Mr. An (official capacity), Ms. Berrien (official capacity), and Mr. Sanders (official capacity) (Doc. 60); Motion to Dismiss filed by Mr. An (individual capacity) and Ms. Berrien (individual capacity) (Doc. 63); Mr. McCain's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 64); and Mr. McCain's Motion to Reconsider (Doc. 82). John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 have not been served, and Mr. Sanders has not been served in his individualcapacity.1

Factual Background and Procedural History

This case was transferred from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Honorable Richard J. Leon on April 4, 2014 (Doc. 4) upon review of Mr. McCain's original Complaint (Doc. 1), Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") (Doc. 2), and subsequent Amended Complaint (Doc. 7.) On May 8, 2014, this Court granted Mr. McCain's Motion for Leave to Proceed IFP (Doc. 6.)

For the limited purpose of ruling on the pending motions to dismiss, the facts alleged in Mr. McCain's Amended Complaint will be accepted as true. The Amended Complaint alleges a series of different incidents summarized here:

A. Mr. McCain's Criminal History

Mr. McCain is African-American. In 1993 or 1994, Mr. McCain pled guilty to federal criminal charges under a plea agreement and was ordered to serve eight years and nine months in prison. In 2003, he was released. Between 2007 and 2009, he pled guilty to two additional charges in Vermont state court after entering into separate plea agreements, and he served an additional six months. None of these plea agreements addressed the issue of Mr. McCain's future employment. Nonetheless, these convictions have impacted his ability to obtain employment.

B. Allegations Regarding Macy's Holdings

On or about February 10, 2010, Mr. McCain applied for a position at a Macy's Holdings retail store and responded "no" to a question regarding previous criminal convictions (Doc. 7 at 6.) Macy's Holdings did not perform criminal background checks for menswear department employees at its retail stores in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, "which are predominantly white populated states." Id. On April 10, 2010, Macy's Holdings hired Mr. McCain, and after a month, he was promoted to the home department. After a conflict arose between Mr. McCain and a fellow employee, theemployee reported to the store security officer, Mr. Ploof, that she had found information about Mr. McCain on the internet.

On or about June 5, 2010, when Mr. McCain reported for work, Mr. Ploof requested to search Mr. McCain's bag. Mr. McCain consented with the understanding that if he refused, Mr. Ploof would call the police. Mr. Ploof found nothing. On June 6, 2010, Mr. Ploof notified Mr. McCain that Macy's Holdings had decided to suspend him for falsifying his employment application.

On July 12, 2010, Mr. McCain applied for unemployment benefits with the State of Vermont Department of Labor. He received benefits after the claims adjudicator determined that Mr. McCain did not engage in misconduct. Mr. McCain also filed a charge of employment discrimination with the State of Vermont Attorney General's Office ("VT AGO"). VT AGO eventually rendered a determination that Macy's Holdings did not discriminate against Mr. McCain on the basis of his race.

C. Allegations Regarding Kohl's Stores

On or about Augusut 5, 2010, Kohl's Stores rescinded an offer of employment it had made to Mr. McCain afterreceiving the results of a criminal background check. On or about March 2, 2013, Mr. McCain spoke with a human resource officer and then a different employee at Kohl's stores, both of whom gave him conflicting information about the company's criminal background check policy.

D. Allegations Regarding Costco

In or about September 2010, Mr. McCain filed a charge of discrimination against Costco with the EEOC. In or about November 2010, EEOC Investigator Paul Campbell sent Mr. McCain a cause finding, and "[a]ll parties then entered into conciliation thereafter." Id. at 8. Ms. Ahrens served as legal counsel for Costco during the settlement negotiations. On March 10, 2012, Mr. McCain received settlement documents from the EEOC, which he signed and returned to Mr. Campbell. Mr. Campbell instructed him that he would receive settlement documents from Costco as well. A few months later, having not received the settlement agreement from Costco, a dispute arose between Mr. McCain and Ms. Ahrens concerning the amount Costco would pay him and whether taxes would be paid from that amount.

On June 26, 2012, Mr. McCain received a document from Ms. Ahrens indicating that she and Mr. Campbell had "enteredinto some type of agreement for [Mr. Campbell] to coordinate the signing of Costco's Release and Settlement Agreement with [Mr. McCain]." Id. at 9. On November 2, 2012, Mr. McCain sent a letter to Ms. Berrien, EEOC Chair, to notify her that the agreement proposed by Costco "made [Mr. McCain] ineligible to ever [be] hired at any [of] their facilities." Id. at 10. EEOC's New York Field Office District Director, Kevin J. Berry, "acting for [Ms. Berrien], made a determination that the particular provision was retaliatory, but took no legal actions to change the harm that it had already [] caused." Id.

On December 12, 2012, Mr. An, EEOC Boston Field Office Enforcement Supervisor, instructed Mr. McCain to give Ms. Ahrens his social security number. According to a former EEOC employee named Ricardo Jones, "there was a conspiracy against black people through the EEOC[.]" Id. at 15.

E. Allegations Involving Police Stops

On March 12, 2013, Officer Benoit, a City of Winooski police officer, stopped Mr. McCain while he was driving and issued him a ticket. On March 30, 2013, John Doe 1, a City of Vergennes police officer, stopped Mr. McCain while he was driving because "his tag light was out, but didn't issue hima ticket on the spot." Id. at 18. John Doe 2, another police officer, then arrived on the scene. Mr. McCain consented to a search of his vehicle, and during the search, John Doe 1 opened an envelope containing numerous settlement agreements. Upon seeing the documents and "due to [John Doe 1] being suspicious of [Mr. McCain] traveling in a Saab," John Doe 1 searched the glove compartment and eventually found alleged "residue of heroin." Id. John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 did not believe Mr. McCain when he told them he thought the substance was brownie mix. Subsequent charges related to this incident were later dismissed.

A few days later, Officer Chamberlain, a Town of Williston police officer who is Caucasian, stopped Mr. McCain while driving. When Officer Chamberlain determined that Mr. McCain had been stopped in Vergennes "for heroin" he "allowed [Mr. McCain] to leave[.]" Id. at 19.

F. General Conspiracy Against African-Americans

The Amended Complaint also alleges a series of other facts in support of Mr. McCain's constitutional conspiracy claims. First, the State contracts with CCA to provide prison facilities for Vermont inmates. African-Americans comprise only one percent of the Vermont population, butthey comprise 10.3 percent of Vermont's prison population. CCA has entered into a contract with Macy's Holdings "for cheap convict labor . . . to move the conspiracy closer to the ultimate objective[.]" Id. at 14. In 2011, CCA took in $1.7 billion in revenue and profits.

The State, through Governor Peter Shumlin or his predecessor, also furthered the conspiracy against African-Americans by enacting 23 V.S.A. § 601, which criminalizes operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

Additionally, the authority that EEOC delegates to the VT AGO to investigate federal employment discrimination claims "is used under a disguise to facilitate the conspiracy between the State of Vermont in a hub of conspiracy with CCA, and other states, to make conditions so[] that it would perpetuate the adverse impact upon African[-]Americans [such] as [Mr. McCain], as an attempt[] to assert pressure, to bring about criminal convictions." Id. at 11.

G. Summary of Legal Claims

Mr. McCain alleges 16 different causes of action arising under federal statute and the United States and Vermont constitutions. They include conspiracy to depriveMr. McCain of constitutional rights, First, Fourth, Fifth,...

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