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Gumbs v. Delaware Department of Labor

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 17, 2015

TRINA GUMBS, Plaintiff,

Tasha Marie Stevens, Esq., Fuqua, Yori, and Willard, P.A., Georgetown, DE, Attorney for Plaintiff.

Oliver J. Cleary, Esq., and Kenisha L. Ringgold, Esq., State of Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, DE, Attorneys for Defendant.


RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Trina Gumbs filed this Equal Pay Act action against Defendant State of Delaware Department of Labor pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 216 and 206(d). Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss. (D.I. 9).


Plaintiff began working for the State of Delaware Department of Labor's (hereinafter "DDOL") Office of Anti-Discrimination (hereinafter "OAD") in 1996. (D.I. 1, ¶ 6). She held multiple positions before advancing to the Labor Law Enforcement Supervisor position in 2006. ( Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff received a temporary promotion to OAD Administrator in December 2011. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Because of the promotion to OAD Administrator, her pay and duties increased to correspond to her new position. ( Id. )

In March 2012, the DDOL posted the job opening for the OAD Administrator position, also known as the Regulatory Specialist position, for which Plaintiff applied. ( Id. at ¶¶ 9-10). She did not receive the position. ( Id. at ¶ 12). Instead, the DDOL hired Daniel McGannon, a male, in June 2012. ( Id. at ¶ 13). Because the DDOL filled the Regulatory Specialist position, Plaintiff was then returned to her previous position of Labor Law Enforcement Supervisor. ( Id. at ¶ 17). Her pay decreased to match the position. ( Id. ).

After the hiring of McGannon, Plaintiff alleges that she was required to train him and to continue to perform the duties of Regulatory Specialist. ( Id. at ¶ 19). Plaintiff also alleges that McGannon's and her "positions have required the same skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions in the same establishment." ( Id. at ¶ 20). Finally, she alleges that McGannon has been paid more than herself, asserting that DDOL has violated the Equal Pay Act in doing so. ( Id. at ¶ 21).

Plaintiff originally filed this action in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in conjunction with a Title VII claim. (D.I. 10, p. 1). Defendant moved to dismiss that suit, asserting that the Eleventh Amendment did not allow for Plaintiff's Equal Pay Act claim against the State of Delaware in state court. ( Id.). Plaintiff then filed the instant complaint in this Court. (D.I. 11, p. 3). Plaintiff amended her complaint in Superior Court to remove the Equal Pay Act claim, which the Superior Court allowed. ( Id.). Plaintiff's Title VII claim remains pending in Superior Court. (D.I. 10, p. 2).

Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's instant complaint, asserting that Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim under the Equal Pay Act and has violated the claim-splitting doctrine. Plaintiff opposes the motion.


Defendant seeks dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (D.I. 9). 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). Although plaintiffs do not have to provide "detailed factual allegations, " plaintiffs "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'l 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." Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Plausibility requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Parties may also seek dismissal of a "later-filed action on the grounds that it is duplicative of an earlier-filed action" using Rule 12(b)(6). Leonard v. Stemtech Int'l, Inc., 2012 WL 3655512, at *4 (D. Del. Aug. 24, 2012).

If a complaint is vulnerable to dismissal based on 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 ...

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