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Langston v. UFCW Local 919

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 16, 2019

JAMILAH LANGSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
UFCW LOCAL 919 et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Jamilah Langston has filed this lawsuit pro se and in forma pauperis under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. She principally alleges that she was fired from her job at a supermarket because of her race. The only facts alleged by Langston to support her claim of race discrimination are that the persons who took adverse actions against her are a different race than her. I conclude that these facts alone do not plausibly suggest discrimination. Accordingly, I will dismiss the complaint.

         Background

         The complaint names the following three defendants: The Stop and Shop Supermarket Company (“Stop and Shop”); the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 919 (“UFCW”); and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”). The following facts as alleged in the complaint are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. Doc. #1.[1]

         Langston identifies as African-American and Black. Doc. #1-1 at 1. She worked as a cashier at Stop and Shop in several of its locations beginning in May 2017. Id. at 2 (¶¶ 1-2, 5). In June 2018, Langston transferred to a store location in Trumbull where she felt mistreated by her manager, Laura Bedoya, who made her pick up all the mats and fix all the coolers as well as made her use crumpled plastic bags. Id. at 3 (¶ 6). Bedoya rejected Langston's request for this extra work to be split among all the cashiers. Ibid. (¶ 7). Bedoya's supervisor and Langston's union steward took no action when informed about the situation. Ibid. (¶ 8).

         In July 2018, Langston was suspended because customers complained about how she spoke to Bedoya and because she said aloud that she felt “treated like a slave.” Ibid. (¶ 9). Later that month, Langston met with store manager Michelle and her union representative Shane. Ibid. (¶ 10). After Langston asked why it was her fault that a white customer took offense to her comment, Shane pulled her out of the office and told her to “let him do the talking.” Ibid.

         When Langston returned to work, she was assigned to self-service registers. Ibid. (¶ 11). But three or four customers walked off without paying for merchandise while Langston was helping other customers, and Langston was concerned that this could be potential grounds for her suspension. Ibid. She reported the walk-offs to management but was concerned that she had been put in a position where her performance could be called into question. Ibid.

         Later, when she apparently returned to working as a cashier, Langston had an altercation with a customer who kept placing items in front of other items on the checkout conveyor belt while she was trying to ring them up. Id. at 3-4 (¶ 12). When the customer became verbally abusive, Langston covered her face with her hands and said, “I am tired of these motherf***ers.” Ibid. She alleges that her comment was referring to Stop and Shop and its racism, rather than to the customer, but the customer apparently complained to a manager. Ibid. After this incident, a manager asked to meet with Langston and, when she refused to meet without union representation, the manager suspended her. Id. at 4 (¶ 13).

         At a meeting in August 2018, a Stop and Shop representative told Langston that she could not return to the Trumbull location. Ibid. (¶¶ 14-15). Langston said she would accept transfer to any of three locations, and her union representative Jorge Cabrera told her to contact the King's Highway location. Ibid. (¶ 15). A manager at the King's Highway location contacted Langston and told her that a human resources representative said Langston had “open availability, ” which Langston denied. Ibid. (¶¶ 15-16). The opportunity seemed to fall through after this conversation.

         In September 2018, Langston told Cabrera about the misinformation as to her availability, and though he said he would look into it, there was no resolution. Ibid. (¶ 17). Langston was notified about a week later that she had been terminated the day before she spoke to Cabrera. Ibid.

         Langston later filed complaints with the CHRO against Stop and Stop and against UFCW. Id. at 1-12. The CHRO dismissed both complaints without further investigation on the ground that there was no reasonable probability that an investigation of the complaints would result in a finding in Langston's favor. As to Langston's complaint against Stop and Shop, the CHRO noted that Langston was the subject of several customer complaints that she had violated Stop and Shop's policy of professional conduct, such that an investigation would not likely conclude that race motivated the adverse action against her. Id. at 15. As to Langston's complaint against UFCW, the CHRO determined that her underlying discrimination claim against Stop and Shop was not likely to succeed, and that the union had otherwise acted in her favor by previously filing a grievance on Langston's behalf. Id. at 18.

         All throughout Langston's complaint papers she identifies the persons involved by their race and color. While identifying herself as “African American” and “Black, ” she identifies most of those who took adverse action against her as “Caucasian” and “White, ” or “Latina” and “White, ” or “Latina” and “Brown.” Id. at 1-3.

         Langston alleges she was terminated by Stop and Shop because of her race and that both UFCW and the CHRO aided and abetted the discrimination by Stop and Shop. Id. at 4 (¶ 18), 11 (¶ 17); Doc. #1 at 4. According to Langston, UFCW did not properly represent her, and the CHRO did not investigate her complaint against Stop and Shop. Docs. #1-1 at 11 (¶ 17); #1 at 2.

         Stop and Shop and the CHRO have now moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Docs. #26, #30. Although UFCW has not moved to dismiss the complaint, I have separately entered an order to show cause to allow Langston to explain why the complaint should ...


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