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Boykin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

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

August 14, 2018

Chelsea D. Boykin, Plaintiff,
v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; Timothy J. Sloan; Stephen W. Sanger; Elizabeth A. Duke; John D. Baker, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Chelsea D. Boykin, proceeding pro se, brings this action alleging violations of federal employment laws. The Complaint has been filed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes the individual defendants-Timothy J. Sloan, Stephen W. Sanger, Elizabeth A. Duke, and John D. Baker-should be summarily dismissed without prejudice and issuance and service of process.[1]

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff indicates that she was terminated from her job at Wells Fargo Bank without notice while she was on short-term disability leave for her post-traumatic stress disorder. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff raises claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.; and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). (Id. at 3-4.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. This statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action “is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 684 (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         The court finds Plaintiff's claims against the individually named defendants should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). As to Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Title VII and the ADA, these statutes do not provide for individual liability. See Lissau v. S. Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180 (4th Cir. 1998) (holding that there is no individual liability under Title VII); Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 1999) (holding that individual supervisors are not subject to liability under the ADA); see also Jones v. Sternheimer, 387 Fed.Appx. 366 (4th Cir. 2010) (holding that Title VII and the ADA do not provide for causes of action against individuals). Thus, Plaintiff's Title VII and ADA claims against the individually named defendants, who appear to be officials at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (see Compl., ECF No. 1 at 2), fail as a matter of law.

         And while individual liability claims may be permissible under the Equal Pay Act, see Brock v. Hamad, 867 F.2d 804, 808 n.6 (4th Cir. 1989), Plaintiff fails to allege any facts about the individually named defendants, or even allege that she was paid differently than others. See Jones, 387 Fed.Appx. at n.* (affirming the district court's dismissal of the plaintiff's Equal Pay Act claim against the individually named defendants because the plaintiff “entirely fails to allege any form of gender discrimination”). Therefore, the individual defendants should be dismissed from this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Conclusion

         Accordingly, the court recommends that the Complaint be summarily dismissed against Timothy J. Sloan, Stephen W. Sanger, Elizabeth A. Duke, and John D. Baker without ...


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