United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS (DOCKET NO. 25)
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE.
Desai (“Plaintiff”) filed this action for
discrimination and defamation against the University of
Massachusetts, Memorial Medical Center, Inc., University of
Massachusetts Memorial Medical Group, University of
Massachusetts Medical School, UMass Memorial Hospital, Max
Rosen, M.D., Darren Brennan, M.D., Stephen Tosi, M.D., and
Karin Dill, M.D. The University of Massachusetts Medical
School (“Defendant Medical School”) moves to
dismiss all claims against it. (Docket No. 15). Because
Plaintiff has established plausible entitlement to relief on
her discrimination claims, the Court
denies Defendant Medical
School's motion to dismiss these claims. Because
Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts showing that Dr.
Rosen defamed her in the context of her employment with
Defendant Medical School, the Court
grants Defendant Medical
School's motion to dismiss the defamation claim.
following facts are taken from Plaintiff's complaint and
assumed true for the purposes of this motion. Plaintiff
worked at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical
Center, Inc. (“UMMC”) for twenty-six years.
(Docket No. 23 at 1, 3). Her employment agreement with UMMC
required Plaintiff to “receive, and maintain, a faculty
appointment” with Defendant Medical School under a
“Dual-Employment” arrangement. (Docket No. 23-2
at 2-3, 5). Her agreement also specified that, if UMMC
terminated Plaintiff “for any reason, the related
employment relationship with the Medical School shall also
terminate unless [Plaintiff] has a new or continuing
agreement with the Medical School or is a tenured faculty
member.” (Docket No. 23-2 at 5-6).
2012, Max Rosen, M.D. (“Dr. Rosen”) became the
Chairman of the Department of Radiology at UMMC and Defendant
Medical School. (Docket No. 23 at 3, 6). The following year,
a group of senior radiologists complained to Dr. Rosen that
they were being paid less than younger and less experienced
employees performing substantially the same work. (Docket No.
23 at 6). Dr. Rosen did not address these concerns, and
several radiologists over the age of 40 subsequently left
UMMC. (Docket No. 23 at 6, 7).
March 2016, Dr. Rosen hired Karin Dill, M.D. (“Dr.
Dill”), a white woman with less experience than
Plaintiff, to serve as the Division Chief of Chest Radiology.
(Docket No. 23 at 7). Plaintiff believes that Dr. Dill
received a “significantly greater” rate of
compensation than she. (Docket No. 23 at 7). She also alleges
that other newly hired young, white radiologists performing
substantially the same work as Plaintiff received a higher
rate of compensation than she despite having less experience.
(Docket No. 23 at 8).
2017, Plaintiff asked for twelve “academic days”
(i.e., days in which she would have no clinical duties) a
year to accommodate her cardiac arrhythmia, which still
caused her to suffer from shortness of breath. (Docket No. 23
at 8). Dr. Rosen refused this request, even though he had
allowed younger and less-experienced employees to designate
up to one and a half days per week as academic days. (Docket
No. 23 at 8). Plaintiff also asked for a home workstation for
weekends when she was on-call. (Docket No. 23 at 8). Again,
Dr. Rosen refused this request despite allowing younger and
less-experienced employees to work from home on UMMC
workstations on weekends and weekdays. (Docket No. 23 at
8-9). Finally, Plaintiff asked to have fewer days on-call.
Dr. Rosen denied her request and began to pressure her to
leave or reduce her work schedule to part-time or locum
tenens. (Docket No. 23 at 9).
March 14, 2018, Dr. Rosen gave Plaintiff a letter informing
her that her “employment with UMass Memorial Medical
Group and the University of Massachusetts
Medical School will terminate on March 17, 2019.”
(Docket Nos. 23 at 10, 23-3 at 2). The letter was on joint
letterhead from the UMMC and Defendant Medical School and
thanked Plaintiff for “efforts and contributions on
behalf of the Medical Group and the Medical School.”
(Docket No. 23-3 at 2). Dr. Rosen cited Plaintiff's poor
quality of work as the reason for her termination. (Docket
No. 23 at 10).
exhausting her administrative remedies before the
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff filed a
complaint with this Court. Defendant Medical School moves to
dismiss for failure to state any claim against it upon which
relief may be granted. (Docket No. 25).
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must
accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and
draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68,
69 (1st Cir. 2000). To survive the motion, the complaint must
allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559
(2007). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. at 555. “The relevant
inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of
liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from
the facts alleged in the complaint.”
Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13
(1st Cir. 2011). “[W]here 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Medical School contends that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
8 and 12(b)(6) compel dismissal because Plaintiff has failed
to allege facts “reveal[ing] a cognizable claim
against” it. (Docket No. 25 at 6). Plaintiff has raised
seven claims against Defendant Medical School: (1)
discrimination based on race and national origin in violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-1 et seq.; (2) discrimination regarding wages in
violation of the federal Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 206(d), 216; (3) discrimination based on
disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132; (4) discrimination based on age
in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29
U.S.C. § 216(b); (5) discrimination based on race,
national origin, age, and disability in violation of the
Massachusetts' Fair Employment Practices Act, M.G.L. c.
151B § 4; (6) discrimination regarding wages in
violation of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, M.G.L. c. 149
§ 105A; and (7) defamation. Accepting all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and drawing all
reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor, the Court
determines that Plaintiff has stated plausible discrimination
claims against Defendant Medical School but has failed to
state a plausible defamation claim.