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Sampson v. Amazon.com, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 5, 2017

EBONY SAMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON.COM, INC., et al., Defendants.

          Ebony Sampson, Magnolia, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Justin K. Victor, Esquire, and Emily C. DeSmedt, Esquire, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Ebony Sampson ("Plaintiff), who appears pro se, filed this employment discrimination action in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Kent County. (D.I. 1) The original complaint was removed to this Court on September 7, 2016. (Id.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 1, 2016. (D.I. 20) The amended complaint is the operative pleading. Pending are Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs request for entry of default judgment. (D.I. 38, 42) For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss and will deny Plaintiffs request for entry of default judgment. Plaintiff will be given leave to amend.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that she was subjected to employment discrimination by reason of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Plaintiff was employed by Amazon.com ("Amazon") as a tier 1 associate. (D.I. 20 at 6) She alleges that discriminatory acts occurred on June 3, 2015, when a male tier 1 associate touched her shoulder and sides of her body and stood closely up against her backside. (D.I. 20 at 2, 6) Plaintiff told him to stop and immediately reported the incident to pick area manager Cece ("Cece"). (Id. at 6) The following week, Cece took Plaintiff to the human resources business partner Megan ("Megan") to report the incident. (Id.) Megan took Plaintiffs statement and plans were made to have the male tier 1 associate transferred to the other side of the building. (Id.) Plaintiff reported the incident to several other management officials. (Id.)

         On October 1, 2015, Plaintiff called a police officer to discuss the possibility of getting a restraining order against the male tier 1 associate because he had not yet been transferred. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that after reporting the incident, her supervisors ignored her and would not respond to her requests to have the male tier 1 associate transferred to a different section of the building. (Id.) Plaintiff states that she could not be moved to a different section of the building because she would have been too far from her medication. (Id.)

         In Plaintiffs charge of discrimination, she states that Amazon handled the initial complaint of sexual assault appropriately. (Id. at 7) A second charge of discrimination states that Plaintiff wanted the male tier 1 associate either transferred to a different location or his employment terminated (Id. at 20) She also wanted a job created for her. (Id.) Plaintiff was advised around October 14, 2015 that the male tier 1 associate would not be moved because of business needs. (Id. at 7)

         On October 16, 2015, Plaintiff began a leave of absence. (Id. at 7) She alleges the leave was for a disability related to Amazon's denying Plaintiffs request to transfer the male tier 1 associate. (Id.) Her charge of discrimination states that she developed panic attacks after being forced to work in the area with the male tier 1 associate. (Id. at 22) Plaintiff states that she had to leave work for back medication and chest pain. (Id. at 22) On the same day, Plaintiff was advised that she had seven days paid leave and that it was necessary for a physician to fill out a medical information form recommending her return to work or she would be terminated. (Id. at 7) On an unknown date, Amazon personnel asked Plaintiff to give them a time frame for her return to work since she had not spoken to or had any contact with the male tier 1 associate since the June incident. (Id. at 13, 22)

         Plaintiffs employment was terminated on January 22, 2016. Her charge of discrimination states that she was terminated "for not calling in to agree to questionable return to work." (Id. at 22) While not clear, Plaintiff appears to state that when her physician would not clear her to return to work, Amazon asked that she see its physician so that she could be cleared to return to work. (Id. at 15) Plaintiff alleges that her "known back condition was used against [her]; ultimatum was given that couldn't be reasonably committed to for return to work; paid leave was withheld; told to return to same environment as attacker without separation; sign contract to drop claim filed." (Id. at 2)

         Plaintiff filed two charges of discrimination: the first, on November 2, 2015, [1] following the alleged assault; and the second, on February 3, 2016, after she was terminated on January 22, 2016, asserting that the discharge was in retaliation for filing the November charge of discrimination. (D.I. 20 at 4, 11 -24) She received her notice of suit rights on May 17, 2016. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, back pay, compensatory damages, and an apology.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig.,114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a morion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna, Inc.,221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted). A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, ___U.S.___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman,499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. At bottom, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of a plaintiffs claim. Wilkerson v. 'New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc.,522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation ...


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