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Woods v. Covidien LP

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 10, 2016

BARBARA WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
COVIDIEN LP, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF’S AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 26)

MARK G. MASTROIANNI, United States District Judge

I. Introduction

Barbara Woods (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brought this action against Covidien LP (“Defendant”) on May 26, 2015. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff’s original complaint alleged employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (“ADEA”). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on October 16, 2015 targeting Plaintiff’s initial complaint. (Dkt. No. 15.) On November 6, 2015, Plaintiff’s motion to amend complaint was granted and, as a result, the court denied without prejudice Defendant’s initial motion to dismiss as moot. (Dkt. No. 22.)

Plaintiff filed her amended complaint on November 13, 2015. (Dkt. No. 25.) Again, Plaintiff alleged employment discrimination in violation of Title VII and the ADEA, but added a claim that Defendant violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (“EPA”) by discriminating on the basis of sex. Defendant promptly filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on November 25, 2015. (Dkt. No. 26.) For the reasons discussed below, Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended complaint will be granted.

II. Background

The following facts come directly from Plaintiff’s amended complaint and attached exhibits thereto, as well as two exhibits attached to Defendant’s motion to dismiss-Plaintiff’s charge of discrimination filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter sent to Plaintiff. See Johnson v. Amherst Nursing Home, Inc., No. 14-cv-30100-MGM, 2015 WL 4750932, at *3 n.3 (D. Mass. Aug. 11, 2015) (court may consider at motion to dismiss stage MCAD and EEOC filings attached as exhibits to a party’s motion to dismiss because they are official public records).[1]

On or about December 15, 2003, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant as a “packer” on a two-person printing press. (Dkt. No. 25, Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) At some point thereafter, Defendant switched to one-person printing presses. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges this resulted in much more work, and she requested a raise. (Id.)

At some point during her employment, “charts manager” Rick Methe “pushed dust down from the shrink line area of press 4 which fell into Plaintiff’s hair and face while she was performing a 5 S safety and cleaning check.” (Id. ¶ 6.)

On January 16, 2013, Plaintiff was working with a co-worker named Christopher Hart on a “shrink line” machine. (Id. ¶ 8.) Mr. Hart complained to “lead man” Ken Roberts about Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff confronted Mr. Hart and asked “what the problem was?” (Id. ¶ 9.) Mr. Hart responded by putting his hand in front of Plaintiff’s face. (Id.) Plaintiff claims to have felt threatened by Mr. Hart’s actions. (Id.)

The following day, on January 17, 2013, Plaintiff met with a human resources employee, Stephanie Douglas, and a supervisor, Angelo Detorrice, to discuss the incident with Mr. Hart. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff explained what had happened and demonstrated the incident from the previous day. (Id.) Thereafter, Ms. Douglas requested that Plaintiff hand over her badge and Mr. Detorrice escorted her out of the building. (Id. ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with MCAD on January 18, 2013. (Dkt. No. 27, Ex. A.) MCAD dismissed Plaintiff’s charge for lack of probable cause on May 29, 2013. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. C.) The EEOC adopted MCAD’s findings on November 15, 2013. (Dkt. No. 27, Ex. B.)

Plaintiff makes two general accusations in the amended complaint. First, Plaintiff alleges she has “personal knowledge” of male co-workers that were paid more for doing the same work as her. (Am. Compl., ¶ 5.) Second, Plaintiff alleges that she performed duties of a higher grade and was never compensated. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff attached a performance appraisal completed on November 7, 2012, stating that she “occasionally exceeds” or “meets expectations” in all categories, as well as a handwritten note from Mr. Roberts dated May 18, 2012 praising Plaintiff’s hard work. (Id., Exs. B, C.)

III. Standard of Review

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679. Ultimately, determining ...


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