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Higgins v. State Street Corp.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 17, 2018

Steven Andrew Higgins; Plaintiff,
v.
State Street Corporation; Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          NATHANIEL M. GORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case involves allegations of Steven Andrew Higgins (“Higgins” or “plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, against State Street Corporation (“State Street” or “defendant”). Higgins asserts that State Street 1) violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. and 2) unlawfully discriminated against him based on age in violation of M.G.L. c. 151B § 4.

         Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint.

         I. Background

         Higgins is 63 years old and has more than four decades of experience working in the financial sector. He holds an MBA in finance and accounting and multiple professional certifications and licenses. He applied for jobs with State Street 14 times prior to January, 2015, and twice more in 2015. Higgins sought positions as a Senior Audit Manager and Senior Auditor but did not receive an invitation to interview for either job. He alleges that State Street knew he was older than 40 years of age based on the information contained in his resume.

         In November, 2015, plaintiff filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”). That complaint was dismissed in October, 2017 and Higgins then filed this suit in November, 2017. Pending before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss.

         II. Analysis

         Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering the merits of a motion to dismiss, the Court may look only to the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice can be taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff'd, 248 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). If the facts in the complaint are sufficient to state a cause of action, a motion to dismiss the complaint must be denied. See Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 208.

         Although a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Threadbare recitals of the legal elements which are supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice to state a cause of action. Id. Accordingly, a complaint does not state a claim for relief where the well-pled facts fail to warrant an inference of any more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 1950.

         A. Timeliness

         Plaintiff concedes, as he must, that any claims related to the 14 applications prior to January 17, 2015, are time-barred. See 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(B); M.G.L. c. 151B, § 5. Accordingly, only the two 2015 applications are actionable in this case.

         B. Age discrimination standard

         Under both state and federal law, it is an unlawful practice for a private sector employer to discharge an employee because of his age or gender. 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.; M.G.L. c. 151B § ...


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