United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Chama Semmami (“Semmami”) has filed this lawsuit
against Defendants UG2 LLC (“UG2”) and Agostinho
Correia (“Correia”) (collectively,
“Defendants”) alleging violations of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2
(“Title VII”) (Counts I-IV) and Mass. Gen. L. c.
151B (Counts V-X) and negligence (Count XI). D. 1. Defendants
have moved to dismiss. D. 6. For the reasons stated below,
the Court DENIES IN PART and ALLOWS IN PART Defendants'
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the
Court must determine if the facts alleged “plausibly
narrate a claim for relief.” Schatz v. Republican
State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)
(citation omitted). Reading the complaint “as a whole,
” the Court must conduct a two-step, context-specific
inquiry. García-Catalán v. United
States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013). First, the
Court must perform a close reading of the claim to
distinguish the factual allegations from the conclusory legal
allegations contained therein. Id. Factual
allegations must be accepted as true, while conclusory legal
conclusions are not credited. Id. Second, the Court
must determine whether the factual allegations present a
“reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for
the conduct alleged.” Haley v. City of Boston,
657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). In sum,
the complaint must provide sufficient factual allegations for
the Court to find the claim “plausible on its
face.” García-Catalán, 734 F.3d
at 103 (citation omitted).
following facts are taken from Semmami's complaint and
the Court accepts them as true for the purposes of resolving
a Boston-based facility services company that hired Semmami
in 2017 to provide cleaning services for its client
Athenahealth. D. 1 ¶ 16. Semmami worked as a corporate
cleaner. D. 1 ¶ 2. Semmami identifies her race as
Moroccan-Arab and her national origin as Moroccan, and she is
Muslim. D. 1 ¶ 3.
to working for UG2, Semmami worked for UNICCO for
approximately seven years as a cleaning person. D. 1 ¶
15. In or about March 2014, Janitronics, Inc.
(“Janitronics”) took over the contract of UNICCO,
for whom Semmami had worked, and hired her. Id.
While working for Janitronics, Defendant Correia was
Semmami's manager. D. 1 ¶ 18. Alexi Ventura
(“Ventura”), a non-party in this case, was
Semmami's supervisor. Id. On or about September
1, 2017, UG2 took the contract over from Janitronics and
hired Semmami. D. 1 ¶ 15. Correia continued as
Semmami's manager and Ventura continued as her
supervisor. D. 1 ¶ 20. Correia provided Semmami with her
work assignments, evaluated her work and managed her
schedule. D. 1 ¶ 22. Correia also supervised Ventura. D.
1 ¶ 24.
alleges that during her employment with UG2, she was
subjected to “crude and offensive sexual conduct on a
weekly basis.” D. 1 ¶ 36. This conduct included
Correia subjecting Semmami to “inappropriate sexual
innuendo[s], questions, advances, touching, jokes, gossip,
conduct, comments, and leering.” D. 1 ¶ 36.
Throughout Semmami's employment, Correia would tell her
that she “looked and smelled good while leering at her
and moving close to her to inhale.” D. 1 ¶ 37.
Correia would “often cradle or hold his genitals over
his pants while talking to [Semmami] and/or silently staring
directly at her.” D. 1 ¶ 38. Correia would also
watch Semmami from dark rooms and surprise her when she
entered the room. D. 1 ¶ 40. Semmami alleges that
Correia's advances and harassment occurred “nearly
every day.” D. 1 ¶ 42. Semmami was afraid to be
alone with either Correia or Ventura. D. 1 ¶ 45. Semmami
alleges that other employees “tolerated and/or
encouraged” Correia's advances. D. 1 ¶ 41.
Correia “would frequently spend time in a locked
bathroom with other female co-workers, ” which Semmami
perceived as “sexual behavior, ” and Correia
allegedly would later give these co-workers preferential
treatment. D. 1 ¶ 41. Semmami “was often not
provided with necessary cleaning supplies to perform her
cleaning duties.” D. 1 ¶ 35. She also
“frequently requested additional and/or full-time
hours.” D. 1 ¶ 29.
also alleges that she was “subjected to harassment,
discrimination and retaliation because of her race, national
origin and/or religion” and that her
“employer's treatment of her was in marked contrast
to the treatment of her non-Moroccan-Arab, non-Moroccan,
non-Muslim co-workers.” D. 1 ¶ 49. She alleges
that because she is Moroccan-Arab and Muslim, she was
“not held to the same standards as her co-workers to
her detriment.” Id. Specifically, Correia
“would make disparaging comments about [Semmami's]
national origin [and] religion . . . .” D. 1 ¶ 50.
Semmami further alleges that “[u]pon information and
belief, Defendant Correia dislikes Arabs, and possibly even
Muslims generally.” D. 1 ¶ 52. Semmami also
alleges that in 2016, her Moroccan co-worker resigned from
Janitronics because he was discriminated against and that his
resignation was “at least partly due to 
Correia's treatment.” D. 1 ¶ 53.
August 2017, Semmami filed a complaint with the Massachusetts
Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”)
against Janitronics alleging that Correia treated her worse
than her Hispanic and Cape Verdean co-workers due to her
Moroccan national origin and Moroccan Arab race. D. 7-2. The
complaint did not list any other bases for discrimination.
alleges the unlawful behavior continued after she filed her
MCAD complaint. On or about September 15, 2017 (after UG2
took the contract over from Janitronics), Ventura followed
Semmami down a hallway, raised his voice at her and told her
to “shush” when she tried to speak. D. 1 ¶
25. An unidentified employee at Athenahealth complained to
UG2's Human Resources Manager about “the
mistreatment of Plaintiff.” D. 1 ¶ 26.
about October 11, 2017, Semmami informed UG2 about Correia
and Ventura's harassment of her, explaining that Correia
had sexually harassed Semmami and created a hostile work
environment. D. 1 ¶ 30. On or about October 23, 2017,
Semmami met with two people in UG2's human resources
department “about the harassment of Mr. Correia and Mr.
Ventura.” D. 1 ¶ 59. After a co-worker followed
Semmami and called her a “dog” in Spanish, on or
about November 1, 2017, Semmami spoke with one of the same
people from Human Resources to report the incident. D. 1
¶ 60. In her meetings with Human Resources, Semmami
requested that Correia no longer be her manager. D. 1 ¶
61. Semmami was told that she would have to request a
transfer and did so reluctantly. Id. Semmami alleges
that UG2 either did not investigate her reports or
“conduct[ed] merely a sham investigation” into
Correia's behavior. D. 1 ¶ 64. UG2 did not take any
action against Correia and he continued as Semmami's
supervisor. D. 1 ¶¶ 67-70.
about December 13, 2017, an unnamed co-worker pushed Semmami
as she was punching in for the day. D. 1 ¶ 72. Semmami
also saw one of her co-workers leaving Correia's office
and he said “something to the effect of ‘leave
her to me.'” D. 1 ¶ 73. The next day, while
Semmami was waiting to punch in, a co-worker told her to
“watch [her] mouth” and waved his hands close to
her face while Ventura laughed. D. 1 ¶ 74. The following
day, a man named Bob called Semmami and told her she was
suspended without pay. D. 1 ¶ 75. He did not say why and
directed Semmami to Human Resources. Id.
received a letter dated December 20, 2017 explaining that she
was being suspended pending an investigation into complaints
against her. D. 1 ¶ 76; see D. 7-4. The letter
reflected UG2's concerns about complaints from multiple
co-workers that Semmami had used “wildly inappropriate
language in the workplace, ” thrown her identification
and keys on the floor at the end of her shifts and called one
of her co-workers a “faggot, son of a bitch.” D.
UG2 wrote in the letter that the co-worker had interpreted
the statement “as a hateful slur on his sexual
orientation.” Id. UG2's Human Resources
Department interviewed Semmami on January 2, 2018. D. 1
¶ 81. Semmami briefly reiterated her complaints about
harassment and retaliation and denied making discriminatory
comments to her co-workers. Id. Semmami
“believes these false rumors were spread in retaliation
for her protected conduct.” D. 1 ¶ 78. Semmami
remained on unpaid suspension until she was terminated on
January 24, 2018. D. 1 ¶ 82.