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Stevenson v. Amazon.Com, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 22, 2016




I. Introduction

Plaintiff Janice Stevenson is a resident of Revere, Massachusetts, and a frequent filer in this Court.[1] On October 5, 2015, Stevenson filed a self-prepared complaint against her employer, Security Industry Specialists, Inc. (“SIS”) and, Inc. It appears that Stevenson is employed by SIS as a security specialist working the night shift on Amazon property in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The complaint asserts causes of action for, among other things, retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; violations of her Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection rights, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, § 26; violations of the Massachusetts Constitution; violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149 §§ 148 and 150; and violations of the Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff alleges that this Court has diversity jurisdiction because the defendants are citizens of other states.

The dispute appears to arise from a written warning directed to Stevenson in an “Employee Counseling Form” (“ECF”) prepared by SIS supervisors on September 30, 2015, and placed in her personnel file. Stevenson challenges the ECF on various grounds.

It appears that on September 27, 2015, Stevenson was asked by a supervisor to patrol the seventh floor of the Amazon property along with a co-worker, Nicole Washington. Stevenson had completed half of the patrol when she was told to finish patrol of the rest of the floor. She refused to do so on the ground that she had to go to the eleventh floor to guard an area, and she told her supervisor that Washington should patrol the seventh floor instead. As a result of that conversation, Stevenson was cited for insubordination and failure to perform work duties. She contested the citation, contending that she had dual responsibilities for patrolling both the seventh and eleventh floors and thus had received conflicting assignments. She further alleges that it was Washington who refused to patrol the seventh floor and that her supervisor showed favoritism toward Washington.

Stevenson also contends that the information in the ECF was false and that her request for access to her personnel records was denied. As a result, she could not present a proper defense against the charge. She further contends that surveillance video of the property, currently in the possession of Amazon, will disprove the assertions against her.

Stevenson alleges that her supervisors retaliated against her for filing a complaint against co-workers, who she characterizes as white male security specialists. She alleges that the co-workers displayed a swastika and used racially motivated speech against her. She contends that this behavior was condoned by SIS because it failed to take action and thereby created a hostile workplace environment. She asserts a claim under Title VII for those actions and contends that SIS is liable under a respondeat superior theory of liability for the willful and malicious actions of its employees.

The complaint also makes various general complaints about the way SIS is operated. For example, Stevenson contends that SIS policy is to fire immediately any security specialist working the night shift who sleeps at his or her post. That policy, Stevenson alleges, does not apply to day shift or swing shift workers. In addition, she contends that SIS fails to take measures to ensure that security specialists remain alert. She further asserts that there is no appeal procedure for disciplinary action, no “predictable management, ” and no “right to know job expectations” and consequences. She also alleges that supervisors can make arbitrary decisions.

The complaint also asserts a whistleblower claim allegedly pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §§ 148 and 150 based on the untimely payment of wages, because SIS pays its employees only twice per month rather than biweekly.

As relief, Stevenson seeks copies of all policies and regulations of SIS; expungement of her records relating to the ECF; $75, 000 in damages in connection with the whistleblower claim; relief from the allegedly cruel and unusual punishment of night-shift workers; timely payment of wages; equal protection from “Draconian labor practices”; and the right to present a defense pursuant to the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause.

Attached to the complaint were a number of exhibits, including the Employee Counseling Form, three Daily Activity Reports, and various correspondence. Along with the complaint, Stevenson filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; a motion for access to CM/ECF system; and a motion to appoint counsel.

This case initially was assigned to Judge Sorokin. On October 7, 2015, Judge Sorokin recused himself. The case then was reassigned to Judge Gorton. On October 22, 2015, Judge Gorton issued an Electronic Order of Recusal. The case then was reassigned to this Court.

On January 26, 2016, Stevenson filed a motion in limine seeking to exclude various personnel records; a motion for judicial notice seeking to have the Court take notice of various matters; a motion for an order for expungement as to her personnel file; and a motion to issue summons and a subpoena to Amazon and SIS.

On February 10, 2016, counsel entered an appearance for both defendants and filed corporate disclosure statements. Defense counsel also filed a motion for an extension of time to March ...

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