United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Jose Manuel Santiago alleges that Action for Boston Community
Development, Inc. (“ABCD”) and Henryce
Jackson-Gumes (together “Defendants”) harassed,
failed to hire, and defamed him, and interfered with his
potential employment relationships. Before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated
below, the motion is GRANTED.
Santiago filed this lawsuit pro se on November 14,
2017 [ECF No. 1], and later supplemented his complaint
through an April 4, 2018 letter to Judge Gorton and a more
definite statement filed on July 12, 2018 [ECF Nos. 8,
This factual summary presumes the accuracy of Plaintiff's
allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.
Santiago was previously employed as a Bilingual Care Manager
/ Case Manager at Boston Senior Home Care
(“BSHC”), an organization that specializes in
linking older adults and individuals living with disabilities
with social services. [ECF Nos. 1-3, 21 ¶
At some point in or around 2012, concerns related to sexual
harassment, race discrimination, sabotage of work, and theft
emerged, and Mr. Santiago left BSHC. [ECF No.
1-3]. Mr. Santiago and BSHC agreed that he
resigned, that BSHC would provide him a letter of
recommendation, and that BSHC would not interfere with future
employment opportunities. Id.
2015, Mr. Santiago arranged a July 27 interview with ABCD for
a social work position, expecting that he would be
interviewed for a Monday-Friday, 40 hour-per-week job. [ECF
No. 21 ¶¶ 1, 39]. Although Mr. Santiago was
enthusiastic and arrived early for his interview, it did not
go as he had hoped. Id. ¶¶ 2, 5. ABCD
Supervisor Henryce Jackson-Gumes interviewed Mr. Santiago and
asked about his prior work experience at BSHC. [ECF No. 8
¶ 3, No. 21 ¶¶ 6, 7]. After Mr. Santiago
initially responded that he “resigned, ” Ms.
Jackson-Gumes continued questioning Mr. Santiago about his
experience at BSHC, causing him to feel that he was the
victim of “NSA/gestapo”-style questioning. [ECF
No. 21 ¶ 5]. Ms. Jackson-Gumes asked Mr. Santiago what
his supervisor or Mr. Pina, a BSHC human resources employee,
would say about him. Id. ¶¶ 13, 25. Mr.
Santiago replied that his supervisor would say nothing about
him, and that it would be a violation of BSHC's protocols
and procedures for Mr. Pina, whom he did not know, to provide
information about him beyond that he had worked there for
three and a half years and then resigned. Id.
¶¶ 14, 27-29.
the interview, Ms. Jackson-Gumes explained that the available
full-time positions had been filled, but that she had a
position working weekends from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. that
she could offer Mr. Santiago. Id. ¶¶ 32,
33. Mr. Santiago replied that the weekend position had not
been announced and was not the position he wanted to
interview for. Id. ¶ 34. He asked why he had
been invited to interview if there were not full-time
vacancies. Id. Ms. Jackson-Gumes stated that she was
interested in hiring Mr. Santiago because he was bilingual
and the majority of ABCD's clients were Spanish speaking.
Id. ¶ 36. Mr. Santiago said that he was willing
to cover weekends, so long as his total hours would be 35 to
40 per-week and not interfere with his Church attendance.
Id. ¶ 37. Ms. Jackson-Gumes again stated that
the full-time positions had already been given to other
applicants, but Mr. Santiago claims that she was untruthful
because as of August 10, 2015, the full-time position for
which Mr. Santiago had applied continued to be advertised.
Id. ¶¶ 40, 41.
Santiago complains that instead of asking about his prior
work experience and what his prior supervisors would say
about him, Ms. Jackson-Gumes should have explored what he
liked about social work, delved into how he has interacted
with clients, or asked how he likes to unwind at the end of a
workday-all questions that he would have happily answered.
Id. ¶¶ 16- 21.
evaluate a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
facts, analyze those facts in the light most hospitable to
the plaintiff's theory, and draw all reasonable
inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff.
United States ex rel. Hutcheson v. Blackstone Med.,
Inc., 647 F.3d 377, 383 (1st Cir. 2011). Although
detailed factual allegations are not required, a pleading
must set forth “more than labels and
conclusions.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A “formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” is not enough.
Id. To avoid dismissal, a complaint must set forth
“factual allegations, either direct or inferential,
respecting each material element necessary to sustain
recovery under some actionable legal theory.”
Gagliardi v. Sullivan, 513 F.3d 301, 305 (1st Cir.
2008) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Further,
the facts alleged, when taken together, must be sufficient to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” A.G. ex rel. Maddox v. Elsevier, Inc.,
732 F.3d 77, 80 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570).
First Circuit has noted that “[t]he plausibility
standard invites a two-step pavane.” Id.
“At the first step, the court ‘must separate the
complaint's factual allegations (which must be accepted
as true) from its conclusory legal allegations (which need
not be credited).'” Id. (quoting
Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of P.R., 676 F.3d 220, 224
(1st Cir. 2012)). “At the second step, the court must
determine whether the remaining factual content allows a
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (internal quotations
and citation omitted). “The make-or-break standard . .
. is that the combined allegations, taken as true, must state
a plausible, not a merely conceivable, case for
relief.” Sepulveda-Villarini v. Dep't of Educ.
of P.R., 628 F.3d 25, 29 (1st Cir. 2010).
“Although evaluating the plausibility of a legal claim
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense, the court may not disregard
properly pled factual allegations, even if it strikes a savvy
judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.”
Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12
(1st Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
Court is “solicitous of the obstacles that pro
se litigants face, and while such litigants are not
exempt from procedural rules, [it] hold[s] pro se
pleadings to less demanding standards than those drafted by
lawyers and endeavors, within reasonable limits, to guard
against the loss of pro se claims due to technical
defects.” Dutil v. Murphy, 550 F.3d 154, 158
(1st Cir. 2008); see also FDIC v. Anchor Properties,
13 F.3d 27, 31 (1st Cir. 1994). The Court is also
required to generously construe arguments that a pro
se Plaintiff makes in his or her briefing. Tyree v.
Foxx, 835 F.3d 35, 46 (1st Cir. 2016), cert. denied
sub nom. Tyree v. Chao, 137 S.Ct. 1242 (2017).