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Drummond v. Amazon.Com.Dedc, LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 31, 2018

TIA DRUMMOND, Plaintiff,

          Tia Drummond, Newark, Delaware; Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Justin K. Victor, Esquire, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Defendant.



         Plaintiff Tia Drummond, who proceeds pro se, filed this employment discrimination action on November 8, 2017, in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. (D.I. 1). Defendant, Inc. removed the action to this Court on February 21, 2008, after Plaintiff indicated her claims included a hostile work environment claim under Title VII. (D.I. 1-3 at 12-13). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. On March 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (D.I. 6). Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiffs opposition. (D.I. 7, 8, 9). Briefing on the matter is complete.


         Plaintiff is a Black/African American female (D.I. 6 at 19) who was employed by Defendant. The original complaint raised employment discrimination claims under Delaware law. (D.I. 1-1). The amended complaint raises employment discrimination claims "under the Federal Civil Rights statu[t]e," presumably 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., for retaliation, harassment (hostile work environment), and discrimination (race and gender), but does not mention Delaware's employment discrimination statutes. (D.I. 6 at 18-20). It also contains an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim under state law. (Id. at 20).

         On January 7, 2016, Plaintiff was at her work station working alongside Kenneth Jeffreys, a "mature white male." (Id. at 2). A box she had made was not the appropriate size, and she began searching for an appropriate-sized box. (Id. at 2-3). "Without warning," she noticed Jeffrey's arm, and then his hand, "going across [her] face, reaching to pull out the box [she had] just made." (Id. at 3). Plaintiff was irritated by Jeffreys' action; she pushed the box back, stating that she did not need it. (Id.). Jeffreys moved back and threatened her, "You're about to get smacked." (Id.). Plaintiff was "livid" and "challenged him to do what he said he was going to do while at the same time yelling for a manager or [Process Assistant," but no one "budged." (Id.). Plaintiff did not feel safe and did not take the threats lightly, "especially from a male." (Id.). Plaintiff "logged off and left to report the incident to [her] Area Manager, David "Brian" Byers," a white male. (Id.) Plaintiff explained what had happened, and Byers escorted Plaintiff to HR so she could file an incident report. (Id.).

         The next day Plaintiff was called to HR about the incident. She met with two HR individuals, both white males. She explained what happened the day before. The incident had been video-recorded. It was viewed on a monitor, and Plaintiff was told that should something like this happen again, to "just walk away, and come to HR." (Id. at 4). Plaintiff responded that she was a domestic violence victim and thought she handled the situation "very well." (Id.). Plaintiff was asked, "if the associate apologizes, can you accept his apology and all [will] be well?" (Id.). Plaintiff answered, "No." (Id. at 4-5).

         On January 16, 2016, Plaintiff became upset and left work early after learning that Jeffreys was still employed. (Id. at 5). On January 20, 2016, Plaintiff told Defendant's General Manager that she "fe[lt] unsafe," and that it was unfair that Jeffreys was still employed. (Id.). The General Manager told Plaintiff to meet with him on January 27, 2016, after he completed an investigation. (Id.) When Plaintiff went to meet with the general manager, he was in a meeting. (Id.)

         The morning of January 28, 2016, Plaintiff received a "time off task" or "TOT" warning. (Id. at 6). Later that day, Plaintiff was told to report to HR. (Id.). When she arrived, she was told she was being terminated for being TOT for 236 minutes the prior day, that is, the day when she was supposed to meet with the General Manager. (Id.). Plaintiff stated the termination was in retaliation forgoing to the General Manager, and she appealed the termination. (Id.). The next day, Plaintiff filed "a discrimination claim [with] the Department of Labor against Amazon for retaliation." (Id.). Following an appeal hearing before the General Manager, Plaintiff received an email to return to work on her next scheduled work day and notified that TOT would be resolved with a first written warning. (Id. at 6-7).

         Plaintiff returned to work on February 10, 2016. (Id. at 7). The Area Manager, Byers, mocked her every single day of the week, making comments about a write-up or first written warning. (Id.). On February 13, 2016, Byers gave Plaintiff a TOT for 107 minutes. (Id. at 8). At some point in time after she returned to work, Plaintiff applied and was selected for a position in "Damage and Control." (Id. at 8). On two occasions Plaintiff sought a shift change to get away from Jeffreys, Byers, and Brian Peters of HR. (Id.). Plaintiff did not receive a shift change, but Jeffreys was transferred to a different department and Byers was transferred to a different shift. (Id. at 8-9).

         About one year later, on January 26, 2017, Plaintiff was sitting in her car in Defendant's parking lot, before her shift began, while it was still dark, when William Alexander, a white male co-worker in Plaintiff's department, approached her vehicle and said, "I'm bigger than you. I'm faster than you. If I catch you on the road and cut off another vehicle, driving like you do, I'll make sure I put your ass in a ditch!" (Id. at 9). Plaintiff was "in shock" that she had been "threatened, again, for no reason by another white male." (Id. at 9-10). A witness to the event reported it to HR, as did Plaintiff. (Id. at 10). The next day, HR told Plaintiff that "the matter was taken care of." (Id.). However, Alexander was back at work on March 1, 2017, and, when Plaintiff questioned HR, she was told he won his appeal; that is, he was reinstated. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff left the workplace to file a police report and a complaint with the Department of Labor for a hostile work environment. (Id. at 12). Plaintiff worked sporadically until March 8, 2017, because she was not capable of functioning under the working conditions. (Id. at 12-13). During this time, HR determined that it did not find Plaintiff's "life to be in danger." (Id. at 13).

         Upon her return to work on March 8, 2017, Plaintiff was told that Alexander had resigned, but Plaintiff looked him up in the system and he was designated "active." (Id. at 14). The next day, Plaintiff was asked to report to HR. (Id. at 14). Plaintiff was questioned by HR and, in turn, she voiced her concerns that Alexander was "active" in the system: "he can get his badge activated, walk in here with a gun, sho[o]t me, throw the gun in the compactor, and walk out the front door like nothing happened." (Id. at 15). Plaintiff became extremely agitated, left the meeting, and returned to work. (Id.).

         On March 10, 2017, Plaintiff's manager, Rushit Mehta, asked her why she was not working the day before, and Plaintiff replied that HR had upset her, and she could not get focused after her meeting with HR. (Id. at 16). Then, "in a harsh and forceful manner," Mehta asked Plaintiff why she was "not working for 221 minutes on yesterday." (Id. at 17). Plaintiff states that she was "[f]ed up," said "I'm done," "left to report" to the General Manager, but he was not in his office; she "clocked out and left for the day." (Id.). Plaintiff thought she was being treated unfairly by HR and her manager, and that she "was being retaliated against for speaking up for [her]self." (Id. at 17).

         The next day, Plaintiff was approached by an HR representative and her manager, escorted to HR, and terminated. (Id.). Plaintiff filed a second charge of discrimination for retaliation on March 13, 2017, and received a notice of right to sue on November 3, 2017. (Id.). She seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 20).

         Defendant moves to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiff: (1) has failed to plead sufficient facts to make out a plausible claim; (2) has failed to state a prima facie hostile work environment claim; (3) has failed to adequately plead a Title VII gender or race discrimination claim or a retaliation claim; ...

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