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Rosier v. TargetX

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

March 28, 2018

Michael K. Rosier, PLAINTIFF,
TargetX;; Incorporated;, L.L.C.; TargetX.comm; DEFENDANTS.



         The Plaintiff, through counsel, filed the instant employment action on May 19, 2017. (Dkt. No. 1.) The Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on July 26, 2017. (Dkt. No. 7.) Now before the court is the Partial Motion to Dismiss of Defendant, L.L.C. (“Partial Motion to Dismiss”). (Dkt. No. 13.) Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(A), and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in employment discrimination cases are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge. For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned recommends that the Partial Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 13) be granted.

         Alleged Facts

         The Plaintiff alleges that he began working for the Defendants[1] in December of 2015 as a Regional Account Executive in Charleston, South Carolina. (Dkt. No. 7 ¶ 10.) The Plaintiff suffered a seizure on January 5, 2016, and his doctor restricted him from driving until July 5, 2016. (Id. ¶ 11.) The Plaintiff notified the Defendants and requested a reasonable accommodation. (Id.) The Defendants allegedly refused any accommodation. (Id.) The Defendants allegedly fired the Plaintiff due to his disability on February 12, 2016. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         Standards of Review

         On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a “complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “In reviewing a motion to dismiss an action pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) . . . [a court] must determine whether it is plausible that the factual allegations in the complaint are ‘enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Andrew v. Clark, 561 F.3d 261, 266 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “A plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

         For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the district court must “take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “In considering a motion to dismiss, [the court] accept[s] the complainant's well-pleaded allegations as true and view[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Stansbury v. McDonald's Corp., 36 Fed.Appx. 98, 98-99 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir.1993)). However, while the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, it need not accept the “legal conclusions drawn from the facts, …unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions or arguments.” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v., Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999); Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 298).

         The Plaintiff argues that, L.L.C.'s reliance on his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge convert this motion to a motion for summary judgement and therefore, this motion is properly analyzed under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 16 at 1-2.) A court may consider an EEOC charge in a motion to dismiss under Rule 12 without converting it to a motion for summary judgment. Porchea v. Google, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-2783-RMG-BM, 2015 WL 7444373, at *3 n.4 (D.S.C. Nov. 3, 2015), report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:15-cv -2783-RMG, 2015 WL 7454517 (D.S.C. Nov. 23, 2015) (citing Faibisch v. Univ. of Minn., 304 F.3d 797, 802 (8th Cir.2002)); Beane v. Agape Mgmt. Servs., Inc., No. 3:08-cv-3445-CMC-PJG, 2009 WL 2476629, at *6 (D.S.C. Aug. 11, 2009). The Plaintiff's EEOC charge was referred to in his Amended Complaint and relied on by the Plaintiff to allege he exhausted his administrative remedies. (Dkt. No. 7 ¶ 2.) Therefore, this court concludes that the Partial Motion to Dismiss is properly analyzed under Rule 12.


         The Amended Complaint explicitly states three causes of action, but substantively contains five distinct claims. The “First Cause of Action Disability Discrimination” is a claim for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C.A. § 12101 et seq. (Dkt. No. 7 ¶¶ 15-18.) The “Second Cause of Action Retaliation” is a claim for retaliation under the ADA. (Dkt. No. 7 ¶¶ 19-26.) The “Third Cause of Action Violation of Civil Rights” contains the following three claims: violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, violation of the South Carolina Human Affairs Law (“SCHAL”), and a state law claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. (Dkt. No. 7 ¶¶ 27-31.) Defendant, L.L.C. moves to dismiss the Plaintiff's retaliation claim under the ADA, Title VII claim, SCHAL claim, and wrongful discharge for violation of public policy claim. (Dkt. No. 13.)

         1. Retaliation under the ADA

         Defendant, L.L.C. argues that the Plaintiff's retaliation claim must be dismissed because the Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before the EEOC. (Dkt. No. 13.) The ADA prohibits an employer from discriminating “against a qualified individual on the basis of disability.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). The ADA requires that a plaintiff exhaust his administrative remedies by filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC before filing suit. Sydnor v. Fairfax Cty., Va., 681 F.3d 591, 593 (4th Cir. 2012). The purpose of requiring exhaustion before the EEOC is two-fold. Id. The requirement of filing an EEOC charge “ensures that the employer is put on notice of the alleged violations, thereby giving it a chance to address the alleged discrimination prior to litigation.” Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted). Additionally, the requirement allows the EEOC to have “the first crack” at ADA cases as intended by Congress. Id. (citing Chris v. Tenet, 221 F.3d 648, 653 (4th Cir.2000)).

         A plaintiff's claim with the EEOC “defines the scope of [his] subsequent right to institute a civil suit.” Smith v. First Union Nat'l Bank, 202 F.3d 234, 247 (4th Cir.2000). The Fourth Circuit has held that a “plaintiff's failure to exhaust her administrative remedies deprives a court of subject matter jurisdiction over [an ADA] claim. Ruffin v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 659 Fed.Appx. 744, 746 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing Jones v. Calvert Grp., Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009)).

         The ADA's retaliation provision provides, “[n]o person shall discriminate against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this chapter or because such individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter.” 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a). “To establish a prima facie retaliation claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must prove (1) he engaged in protected conduct, (2) he suffered an adverse action, and (3) a causal link exists between the protected conduct and the adverse action.” Reynolds v. Am. Nat. Red Cross, 701 F.3d 143, 154 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing A Soc'y Without a Name v. Commonwealth of Va., 655 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir.2011)). The ADA's retaliation provision protects opposition to violations of the ADA.

         In the case at bar, the Plaintiff's EEOC charge had an “X” alleging discrimination based on his disability. (Dkt. No. 13-2.) The charge did not have an “X” indicating discrimination based on retaliation. (Id.) In the narrative portion of the EEOC charge, the Plaintiff stated that he requested a reasonable accommodation for his seizures, but that his manager refused to accommodate him. (Id.) The narrative stated that the Plaintiff was subsequently terminated. (Id.) The ...

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