United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTIONS
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 2, 2015 to August 1, 2015, Jane Doe
(“Plaintiff”), pro se, allegedly worked
for Paychex, Inc. (“Paychex”) as a sales agent.
Complaint (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1 ¶ 7a. Ms.
Doe allegedly suffered discrimination, a hostile work
environment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et
seq.; and discrimination in violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et
seq. Compl. ¶ 4; Am. Compl., ECF No. 12, ¶ 6.
also alleges violations of the National Labor Relations Act
of 1935, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. and Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; unlawful
termination in violation of Connecticut's protected
speech law, Connecticut General Statute 31-51q; libel and
slander in violation of Connecticut General Statute 52-597;
failure to pay out remaining sick time leave or retaliation
for the use of sick time in violation of Connecticut General
Statute 31-57v; termination of a sales contract and failure
to pay commissions in violation of Connecticut General
Statute 42-482; failure to produce an employee handbook in
violation of Connecticut General Statute 31-71f; invasion of
privacy in violation of Connecticut General Statute 42-471;
and tortious interference. Am. Compl. ¶ 9.
Amended Complaint, Ms. Doe names USI Insurance Services of
Connecticut, Inc. and USI Insurance Services, LLC (“USI
Defendants”) as Defendants. Am. Compl., ECF No. 12,
Second and Third Amended Complaints, Ms. Doe proposes further
theories of liability (e.g., violations of the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1111 et
seq.; Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq.; Fair
Credit Reporting Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.;
and federal procurement laws, Second. Am. Compl., ECF No. 35,
motions are pending before the Court: (1) Ms. Doe's
motion to seal the case, Mot. to Seal, ECF No. 2; (2)
Paychex's motion to dismiss the Complaint, Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 16; (3) Ms. Doe's motion to disqualify
attorney Marc L. Zaken and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak
& Steward, P.C., Mot. to Recuse, ECF No. 19; (4)
Defendants' motion to unseal the case, Mot. to Unseal,
ECF No. 23; (5) Ms. Doe's motion to amend or correct the
Amended Complaint, Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 46; (6)
Paychex's motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint,
Paychex Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 47; (7)
USI Defendants' motion to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint, USI Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 48;
and (8) Ms. Doe's motion for a new hearing, Mot. for New
Hearing on the Mots., ECF, No. 65.
reasons set forth below, the Court now GRANTS in part
and DENIES in part Defendants' motions to
dismiss, and dismisses all claims against the USI Defendants,
ECF No. 48; and Ms. Doe's claims against Paychex for
violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Health
Insurance Portability Accountability Act, National Labor
Relations Act, state and federal laws regarding data privacy,
employee handbooks, libel and slander, protected speech,
sales representative commissions, sick leave violations,
protected speech, and tortious interference, leaving only her
claims for sex discrimination, a hostile workplace, and
retaliation under Title VII in this case, ECF Nos. 16, 47;
DENIES Ms. Doe's motion to amend, ECF
No. 46; DENIES Ms. Doe's motion to seal
the case, ECF No. 2, GRANTS Defendants'
motion to unseal the case, ECF No. 23;
DENIES Ms. Doe's motion to recuse, ECF
No. 19, and DENIES Ms. Doe's motion to
supplement and for a new hearing, ECF, No. 65.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
allegedly suffers from anxiety, PTSD caused by a
“previous employer's reckless disregard of her
rights, ” and a right shoulder injury. Am. Compl.
first seven months of 2015, Ms. Doe allegedly worked as an
outside sales agent in Paychex's health and benefits
division. Compl. ¶ 7a. She allegedly managed all of the
Connecticut accounts for corporate customers employing more
than 50 employees. Id. ¶ 7f. Six months into
Ms. Doe's employment, Paychex allegedly redistributed
regional sales assignments. Id. As a result of that
redistribution, Ms. Doe allegedly lost larger accounts to two
male sales agents. Id.
her employment, Ms. Doe allegedly alerted managers to the
unethical activities of a male sales agent. Id.
¶¶ 7g, k, q. That sales agent ultimately filed an
internal complaint against Ms. Doe. Id. ¶¶
20, 2015, Ms. Doe's supervisor, Mr. Ellsworth, allegedly
told her about the sales agent's complaint against her.
Id. ¶ 7dd. Ms. Doe asked Mr. Ellsworth to call
Human Resources so that they could connect her to the
complaining agent to discuss his complaint. Id.
¶ 7dd. Mr. Ellsworth refused to call Human Resources, so
Ms. Doe asked to be terminated. Id. Another manager
allegedly told Ms. Doe that she would not be terminated.
21, 2015, Ms. Doe allegedly contacted Paychex's Human
Resources department and filed an internal discrimination
complaint against Mr. Ellsworth for “inappropriate
actions” such as warning her not to respond to his
emails with corrections or admonishments that he “do
[his] job”, id. ¶ 7j, m; writing her up
because she used allegedly improper “best
interest” language with her coworkers, id.
¶ 7aa; failing to research accounts that Ms. Doe felt
were being mishandled, id. ¶ 7k; and falsifying
or refusing to pay commissions, id. ¶ 7l. Ms.
Doe allegedly asked to be relocated due to the hostile work
environment created by Mr. Ellsworth. Id. ¶
22, 2015, a Human Resources employee told Ms. Doe to begin
transferring her accounts to Mr. Ellsworth. Id.
¶ 7ff. Ms. Doe proposed, alternatively, that the company
relocate her. Id. ¶ 7ff.
23, 2015, Paychex's Human Resources allegedly notified
Ms. Doe that she was to report to its Rocky Hill location at
8:30am on July 25, 2015. Id. ¶ 7gg. Ms. Doe
allegedly responded that she could not come to the Rocky Hill
office then and that they could charge her paid time off or
accrued vacation time if needed. Id. ¶ 7hh-ii.
25, 2015, Human Resources allegedly contacted Ms. Doe and
told her that if she could not attend a 2:00pm meeting with
Mr. Ellsworth, she would be terminated. id. ¶
7jj. Ms. Doe allegedly agreed to attend the meeting so long
as a neutral third party or her attorney was in attendance.
Id. ¶ 7jj. Ms. Doe did not attend the meeting.
Id. ¶ 7nn.
27, 2015 Ms. Doe contacted Human Resources and learned that
she had been terminated. Id. ¶ 7mm.
Ms. Doe was terminated, Paychex allegedly failed to continued
her insurance and refused to authorize her unemployment
compensation. Am. Comp. ¶ 9eee-fff.
January 19, 2016, Ms. Doe filed an employment discrimination
complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities. CHRO Compl., ECF No. 16-1.
February 22, 2016, Ms. Doe allegedly filed a Wage and Labor
dispute with the Department of Labor for outstanding
commissions owed to her under her contract with Paychex.
Id. ¶ 9oo.
Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
allegedly issued Ms. Doe a “Notice of Right to
Sue” letter. Am. Compl. ¶ 10.
December 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint,
Compl., and a motion to seal the case. Mot. to Seal.
March 12, 2018, before the Defendants had responded to the
initial Complaint, Plaintiff filed an amended Complaint. Am.
March 26, 2018, Defendants moved to unseal the case, Mot. to
April 27, 2018, Paychex moved to dismiss the Complaint, Mot.
7, 2018, Plaintiff moved to recuse attorney Marc L. Zaken and
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Steward, P.C., Mot. to
Recuse, and responded to Defendants' motion to unseal the
case, Response re: Mot. to Unseal, ECF No. 20.
18, 2018, Defendants filed a reply in support of unsealing
the case. Reply to Resp. to Mot. to Unseal Case, ECF No. 24.
24, 2018, Defendants opposed the motion to recuse attorney
Zaken and his law firm. Mem. in Opp. to Recusal, ECF No. 22.
August 14 and 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed further briefs in
support of her motion to recuse. ECF Nos. 31-32.
September 6, 2018, Plaintiff opposed Paychex's motion to
dismiss. Pl. Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF
October 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed her second amended
complaint. Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 35.
November 8, 2018, Plaintiff moved for default entry and
default judgment against the USI Defendants. Mot. for Default
Entry ECF No. 36; Mot. for Judgment, ECF No. 37.
November 14 and 15, 2018, the Court denied default entry and
default judgment. Orders, ECF No. 39 and 40.
November 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a memorandum in support of
default entry. Mem. of Points in Supp. of Default Entry, ECF
November 30, 2018, Plaintiff moved for default judgment
against Defendants. ECF No. 44. The Court denied the motion
on December 3, 2018. Order, ECF No. 45.
January 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend, Mot. to
Amend, and attached a fourth version of the Complaint to the
motion, ECF No. 46-1.
January 24, 2019, Paychex moved to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint. Paychex Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl. That
day, USI Defendants also moved to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint. USI Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl.
February 5, 2019, Ms. Doe objected to the motions to dismiss.
Obj. to Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl. ECF No. 50.
February 14, 2019, the USI Defendants opposed the motion to
amend the second amended complaint. Mot. in Opp. to Mot. to
Amend, ECF No. 52.
February 26, 2019, Paychex and the USI Defendants each filed
a reply in support of the motion to dismiss. ECF Nos. 54-55.
March 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment
against the Defendants, Mot. Default J., ECF No. 56, and a
motion for default judgment and injunction against the
Defendants, Mot. for Default J. and Injunction, ECF No. 57.
March 11, 2019, Defendants objected to the motion to amend
the second amended complaint. Obj. to Amend. Second Am.
Compl., ECF No. 57.
March 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed a memorandum in support of
her motions for default judgment. ECF No. 60.
April 9, 2019, the Court held a hearing on all pending
motions. Minute Entry, ECF No. 62.
April 26, 2019, Ms. Doe submitted a supplement filing to the
Court and requested a new hearing to allow her to clarify her
arguments. Mot. for New Hearing on the Mots.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Any claim that fails
“to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted” will be dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In
reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), a court applies a
“plausibility standard” guided by “two
working principles.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id.; see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (“[A]
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of [his or her] ‘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.”
(internal citations omitted)). Second, “only a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Thus, the complaint must contain “factual amplification
. . . to render a claim plausible.” Arista Records
LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2010),
quoting Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 546 (2d
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) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(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 the “special solicitude” courts
afford pro se litigants).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider
“documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of
which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing
suit.” Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987
F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993); Patrowicz v. Transamerica
HomeFirst, Inc., 359 F.Supp.2d 140, 144 (D. Conn. 2005).
This is particularly true if the documents are
“‘integral' to the complaint.”
Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d
Cir. 2002); see also Blue Tree Hotels Inv. (Canada), Ltd.
v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., 369
F.3d 212, 222 (2d Cir. 2004) (rejecting allegations that were
“belied by the letters attached” to the
complaint); L-7 Designs, Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, 647
F.3d 419, 422 (2d Cir. 2011) (when reviewing a judgment on
the pleadings, courts assume facts alleged are true
“unless contradicted by more specific allegations or
Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act require
plaintiffs to exhaust administrative remedies before filing
in federal court. Littlejohn v. City of New York,
795 F.3d 297, 322 (2d Cir. 2015) (“Before bringing a
Title VII suit in federal court, an individual must first
present ‘the claims forming the basis of such a suit .
. . in a complaint to the EEOC or the equivalent state
agency.') (quoting Williams v. N.Y.C. Hous.
Auth., 458 F.3d 67, 69 (2d Cir.2006) (per curiam));
Kelly v. N. Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Sys.,
166 F.Supp.3d 274, 288 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (“The ADA
requires that a plaintiff exhaust all available
administrative remedies before filing an employment
courts will consider allegations that reasonably relate to
the discrimination claims submitted to the administrative
agency. Jute v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 420 F.3d
166, 177 (2d Cir. 2005) (“Thus, [w]e have recognized .
. . that claims that were not asserted before the EEOC may be
pursued in a subsequent federal court action if they are
reasonably related to those that were filed with the
agency.”) (quotingLegnani v. Alitalia
Linee Aeree Italiane, S.P.A.,274 F.3d 683, 686 (2d
Cir.2001) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
“Reasonably related conduct is that which ‘would
fall within ...