United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MELBA C. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE, Defendant,
RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 28)
C. Hall United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Melba C. Robinson (“Robinson”),
pro se, brings this employment discrimination action
against the defendant, the State of Connecticut Department of
Motor Vehicles (“DMV”). Robinson asserts race
discrimination and retaliation claims pursuant to Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et
seq. (“Title VII”).DMV initially moved to
dismiss Robinson's Title VII claims on March 9, 2017.
See Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 28). This court ruled
on DMV's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 28) on May 23, 2017,
denying it in part and granting it in part. Ruling (Doc. No.
40). Specifically, the court dismissed Robinson's claim
related to her August through September 2011 suspension and
her hostile work environment claim, but gave Robinson leave
to replead those claims if she had a factual basis upon which
to plausible allege those claims. Id. The court
denied DMV's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 28) with respect
to Robinson's claim of discrimination and retaliation
stemming from her December 2011 suspension and her
termination. Id. Finally, the court struck
Robinson's jury trial demand with respect to jury
determination of back pay, but allowed Robinson's jury
trial demand to proceed with respect to jury determination of
compensatory damages. Id.
12, 2017, Robinson filed the operative Amended Complaint
(Doc. No. 43), expanding on her allegations with respect to
her hostile work environment claim. Subsequently, DMV moved
to dismiss Robinson's Amended Complaint with respect to
her hostile work environment claim. Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
reasons that follow, DMV's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No.
46) is granted.
who is African American, was employed by the Connecticut
Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV) for five years and
nine months as a DMV examiner. Amended Complaint (“Am.
Compl.”) (Doc. No. 43) at 1.
respect to her hostile work environment claim, Robinson
alleges that she had a meeting with the DMV Commissioner
regarding the hostile work environment she was experiencing,
but DMV management did not take any action. Id. at
2. Robinson alleges that she was subjected to
“unannounced” disciplinary meetings on October
12, 2011, April 13, 2012, and January 8, 2013, and asserts
that these meetings were an effort by human resources to
intimidate her. Id. She further alleges that on
February 24, 2012, a Caucasian manager embarrassed her in
front of customers by implying that she was a liar, and that
when Robinson complained about this behavior she was told to
file a grievance and that “management can use any tone
they want to use” with her. Id. Finally, she
alleges that the April 13, 2012 meeting was a “setup to
make me apologize to” the Caucasian manager who had
embarrassed her. Id.
deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the
court must determine whether the plaintiff has stated a
legally cognizable claim by making allegations that, if true,
would show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)
(interpreting Rule 12(b)(6), in accordance with Rule 8(a)(2),
to require allegations with “enough heft to
‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief”
(alteration in original)). The court takes all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Crawford v.
Cuomo, 796 F.3d 252, 256 (2d Cir. 2015). However, the
tenet that a court must accept a complaint's allegations
as true is inapplicable to “[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
survive a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not
akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556).
well-established that “[p]ro se complaints
‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise
the strongest arguments that they suggest.'”
Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir.
2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons,
470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v.
Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010)
(discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se
hostile work environment claim requires a showing that
“the workplace is permeated with ‘discriminatory
intimidation, ridicule, and insult, '” to such a
degree that the plaintiff's conditions of employment are
altered and an abusive work environment is created.
Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21
(1993). Relevant factors for hostile work environment claims
include “the frequency of the discriminatory conduct;
its severity; whether it is physically threatening or
humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it
unreasonably interferes with an employee's work
performance.” Id. at 23.
“‘[S]imple teasing, ' offhand comments, and
isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount
to discriminatory changes in the ‘terms and conditions
of employment.'” Faragher v. City of Boca
Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 788 (1998) (internal citation
omitted) (quoting Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs.,
Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 82 (1998)). The alleged incidents
“must be more than episodic; they must be sufficiently
continuous and concerted in order to be deemed
pervasive.” Id. at 787. Furthermore, in order
to violate Title VII's prohibition on race or color
discrimination, the conduct at issue must be ...