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Saunders v. Ei Dupont De Nemours and Co.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 12, 2014

VALERIE O. SAUNDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
E.I. DuPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY, Defendant.

Valerie O. Saunders, Smyrna, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.

Kathleen Furey McDonough and Michael Brendan Rush, Esquires. Potter Anderson & Corroon, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Valerie O. Saunders appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. She filed this employment discrimination action against Defendant E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, [1] 1983, [2] 2000e, et seq., and 1988, [3] alleging race, gender, and age discrimination and/or retaliation. Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss. (D.I. 11).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has a long history of employment by Defendant beginning in 1987, followed by an interruption in service, with her most recent re-employment by Defendant in July 2009. (D.I. 2, ¶¶ 8, 21-22; D.I. 12, Ex. A). Between September and December 2011, Plaintiff committed four quality infractions. (D.I. 2, ¶ 34, 37, 38). On December 15, 2011, Plaintiff received "an equivocal special notice of planned action" that did not offer probation. ( Id. at ¶ 39). The notice offered Plaintiff time to secure employment within or outside DuPont before a designated termination date of February 29, 2012. ( Id. at ¶¶ 39, 44; D.I. 14 at 2). Plaintiff's employment was terminated on February 29, 2012 after she failed to secure employment with Defendant. ( Id. at ¶ 44).

On December 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination jointly with the Delaware Department of Labor, Charge No. SAU122012, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Charge No. 17C-2013-00180, alleging discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and age. (D.I. 2, ¶ 45). On December 17, 2013, the EEOC determined that the charge of discrimination was not timely filed with the EEOC. (D.I. 2, ex. Dismissal and Notice of Rights). The DOOL had forwarded the charge to the EEOC stating that it did not have jurisdiction because the charge had been filed beyond the limitation period under Delaware law. (D.I. 14, ex. 1).

Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on March 13, 2014. (D.I. 2). Counts I, II, and III raise employment discrimination claims of race, gender, and age under Title VII;[4] Counts IV, V, and IX raise claims under Delaware law under the theories of breach of implied contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and wrongful discharge; Count VI alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; and Counts VII and VIII seek punitive and consequential damages.

Defendant assumes that Plaintiff meant to raise the age discrimination claim under the ADEA. It moves for dismissal of the Title VII and ADEA claims on the grounds that they are barred by the applicable statute of limitations and the State claims are either barred by Delaware law or Plaintiff has failed to state the necessary elements of each claim. (D.I. 11). Plaintiff opposes the motion.

As previously noted ( see n.1), it is unclear if Plaintiff intended to raise a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Defendant does not address the statute in its motion to dismiss. The elements of a§ 1981 race discrimination claim are identical to those for a claim of employment discrimination under Title VII. See Seldon v. National R.R. Passenger Corp., 452 F.Supp.2d 604, 608 (E.D. Pa. 2006) (citations omitted). Section 1981 prohibits "racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts, " Wallace v. Federated Dep't Stores, Inc., 214 F.Appx. 142, 144 (3d Cir. 2007), applies to employment contracts, and provides a federal remedy against discrimination in private employment on the basis of race. Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 459-60 (1975).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007). "In deciding motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts generally consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim." Lum v. Bank of Am., 361 F.3d 217, 221 n.3 (3d Cir. 2004). Though "detailed factual allegations" are not required, a complaint must do more than simply provide "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Davis v. Abington Mem'I Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014). Although ordinarily treated as an affirmative defense, the statute of limitations may be raised on a motion to dismiss where the allegations made on the face of the complaint show that the cause of action is time-barred. Benak v. Alliance Capital Mgmt. L.P., 435 F.3d 396, 400 n.14 (3d Cir. 2006). If a complaint is vulnerable to dismissal based upon an affirmative defense, a district court must permit a curative amendment, unless an amendment would be inequitable or futile. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002)). Dismissal without leave to amend is justified only on the grounds of bad faith, undue delay, prejudice, or futility. Id. at 236.

Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, her pleading is liberally construed and her Complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, ...


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