United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
J.K. PIERCE, Plaintiff,
BIOGEN U.S. CORPORATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Casper United States District Judge
J.K. Pierce (“Pierce”) has filed this lawsuit
against Defendant Biogen U.S. Corporation
(“Biogen”) seeking to recover for alleged sex
discrimination (Count I), sexual harassment (Count II and
III), and unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (Count IV). D. 1. Biogen has moved to
transfer the case to the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Alabama, D. 9, and to dismiss Count II,
D. 11. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to dismiss
Count II, D. 11, is DENIED and the motion to transfer, D. 9,
Standard of Review
decide a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the
Court must determine if the well-pled facts alleged
“plausibly narrate a claim for relief.”
Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669
F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012). “The plaintiff need not
demonstrate [it] is likely to prevail” at this stage,
only that its claims are facially plausible. Garcia-
Catalán v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 102 (1st
Cir. 2013). Plausible means “more than a sheer
possibility, ” and permits the Court to incorporate a
contextual analysis of the facts. Id. at 102-03
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). This determination requires a two-step inquiry.
Id. at 103. First, the Court must distinguish the
factual allegations from the conclusory legal allegations in
the complaint. Id Second, taking plaintiffs
allegations as true, the Court should be able to “draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting Iqbal 556
U.S. at 678); Ocasio-Hernández v.
Fortuño-Burset 640 F.3d 1, 11 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations,
” but “requires more than labels and conclusions,
and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
motion to transfer, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides that
for “the convenience of parties and witnesses”
and “in the interest of justice, ” a court
“may transfer any civil action to any other district .
. . where it might have been brought.” The decision to
transfer rests within the Court's discretion. See
Codex Corp. v. Milgo Elec. Corp., 553 F.2d 735, 737
(1st Cir. 1977). The Court need not determine the best venue,
but “merely a proper venue.” Astro-Med v.
Nihon Kohden of America, 591 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir.2009).
For the purposes of the motion to transfer, the Court accepts
the parties' uncontroverted facts as true. See, e.g.,
OsComp Sys., Inc. v. Bakken Exp., LLC, 930 F.Supp.2d
261, 264 (D. Mass. 2013).
a resident of Alabama, was a sales representative for Biogen
from October 10, 2016 to November 12, 2018. D. 1 at
¶¶ 1, 8, 17. Biogen is a global biotechnology
company headquartered in Massachusetts that does business
nationally including in Alabama. D. 1 at ¶2; D. 10 at
her employment with Biogen, Pierce's immediate supervisor
was primarily Sherod “Bubba” Shaw
(“Shaw”), the Regional Account Director for the
Birmingham, Alabama territory. D. 1 at ¶¶ 8-15.
Shaw repeatedly made comments about Pierce's attire and
comments of a sexual nature, including, among other things,
asking about Pierce's sex life, discussing his own sex
life, and saying that “he and Pierce could never stay
married because he was too needy.” Id at
¶¶ 9-10. Shaw would make these comments while he
and Pierce were on “field rides, ” id at
¶ 10, car rides with only Pierce and Shaw in the car.
point, Shaw filed a complaint with Biogen's human
resources department about Pierce's alleged intoxication
during a Biogen sales meeting in New Orleans. Id at
¶ 11. Biogen's human resources department
investigated the complaint. Id at ¶ 12. During
a subsequent field ride, Shaw told Pierce that she would
receive a written warning as a result of the New Orleans
sales meeting complaint. Id. Pierce received the
written warning on March 12, 2018. Id. at ¶ 13.
On May 16, 2018, Pierce received an amended written warning
relating to separate allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Id When Pierce learned that she would have another
field ride with Shaw on June 28, 2018, she went on medical
leave instead per her healthcare provider's orders.
Id at ¶ 15. On November 12, 2018, Biogen
informed Pierce, who had not yet returned from medical leave,
that the company was terminating her employment effective
November 13, 2018. Id at ¶ 17.
December 6, 2018, Pierce initiated this action against Biogen
asserting four federal law claims: a sex discrimination claim
(Count I), two sexual harassment claims (Count II and III)
and an unlawful retaliation claim (Count IV), all in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. D. 1.
Biogen has now moved to transfer the case to the Northern
District of Alabama, D. 9, and also moved to dismiss Count II
for failure to state a claim. D. 11. The Court heard oral
argument on the motions and took the matters under
advisement. D. 24.
Motion to ...