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Mekonnen v. Abm Parking Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 10, 2014

ABEBE MEKONNEN, Plaintiff,
v.
ABM PARKING SERVICES, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

INDIRA TALWANI, District Judge.

A. Introduction

Plaintiff Abebe Mekonnen filed the instant action against her former employer, Defendant ABM Parking Services, Inc., alleging a hostile work environment, retaliation, and discrimination based on sex, religion, and national origin. In Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [#7], Defendant seeks dismissal of the entire complaint with prejudice. For the following reasons, the complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

B. Alleged Facts[1]

Plaintiff alleges that she worked for Defendant as a parking attendant and cashier. In this capacity, she was assigned to work at the Oak Grove Parking facility where her supervisor, Ayalew Aklog, like Ms. Mekonnen, was of Ethiopian origin. Ms. Mekonnen also worked at Defendant's other parking facilities, including the Wellington station, where her supervisor, Dan Nun, was a Sudanese national.

Plaintiff claims that at the Wellington station, her co-worker, Maahgoun Abdelmohsen, is of Sudanese origin. Ms. Mekonnen did not get along with Mr. Abdelmohsen because he repeatedly asked her to punch in his time card when arriving late to work, which she would refuse to do. As a result, Mr. Abdelmohsen repeatedly harassed Ms. Mekonnen, calling her "anti-Muslim" and telling her that she has poor English language and "should not be here to serve customers." Plaintiff reported these incidents to the Sullivan and Oak Grove parking lot supervisors, but no action was taken. When Ms. Mekonnen told Mr. Abdelmohsen that he should stop harassing her, Mr. Abdelmohsen told her that he would tell Muhammad Kahn, the General Manager, to fire her. Plaintiff contends that Mr. Kahn knew that Mr. Abdelmohsen had wanted Ms. Mekonnen to punch in his time card, but Mr. Kahn took no action because both he and Mr. Abdelmohsen are Muslim.

Plaintiff states further that at the Oak Grove station there is no automatic gate and customers are not prompted to pull a ticket upon entering the parking lot. When the parking attendant was not present, customers would enter the lot without a parking ticket. For this reason, her supervisor would check each car for a parking ticket and would place a reminder ticket to pay upon exit on the cars that did not display a ticket.

Plaintiff alleges that on Friday, June 3, 2011, Mr. Aklog conducted a routine audit of her cash register at Oak Grove and found no discrepancies. After finishing her morning shift at Oak Grove that day, Ms. Mekonnen went to work at the Wellington station. While at Wellington, Mr. Nun, the Wellington supervisor, told Ms. Mekonnen that Mr. Kahn had ordered him to audit the Wellington parking lot because it had been reported that five cars were found without proper parking tickets at the Oak Grove lot. Mr. Nun then audited the cash register and parking lot and found no shortage or overage of money in the register, but found two cars in the lot that did not have tickets.

Plaintiff asserts that on Monday, June 6, 2011, Mr. Aklog called Ms. Mekonnen at her home to tell her that she should report to Mr. Khan that morning. Ms. Mekonnen then met with Mr. Khan and another office worker, Tilahun Tesfahun, who is of Ethiopian origin. Mr. Tesfahun was an employee who also harassed Ms. Mekonnen, and Ms. Mekonnen did not seek Mr. Tesfahun's aid despite Mr. Khan's allegation that she requested Mr. Tesfahun to serve as her interpreter.

Plaintiff alleges that in justifying and defending his termination of Plaintiff, Mr. Khan used four customer complaints, only one of which was shown to her. Two of the other complaints had been given to Mr. Kahn after Ms. Mekonnen's termination, and the incident from the final complaint was alleged to have occurred 41 days before her termination at a parking lot in which she had not worked on the day of the incident. Plaintiff claims that she was terminated for threatening to sue the company if she was "terminated on ground of falsehood." Compl., 6.

Plaintiff further states that after her termination, Defendant filled Ms. Mekonnen's position with a male employee named Boroboro Meheret, who is related to Mr. Tesfahun.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff alleges the following five causes of action, all under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B et. seq.: (1) hostile work environment, (2) religious discrimination, (3) national origin discrimination, (4) sex-based discrimination, and (5) retaliation.

C. Discussion

1. ...


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