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Mills v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

January 7, 2015

MICHAEL A. MILLS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

JAMES T. MOODY, District Judge.

Defendant United States Postal Service has moved to dismiss plaintiff Michael Mills's complaint for failure to state a claim. (DE # 13.) Plaintiff has filed a response (DE # 17), and defendant has filed a reply (DE # 18.) For the following reasons, defendant's motion is denied.

I. Facts and Background

In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that during his time as one of defendant's employees, supervisors and other employees asked how old he was. (DE # 10 at 2.) Plaintiff was the only City Carrier Assistant ("CCA") that did not have an assigned route. ( Id. ) During his time in defendant's employ, plaintiff was considered a "floater, " even though he had more seniority than younger CCAs. ( Id. ) Other CCAs were given work lockers, but plaintiff was not, and plaintiff had to carry his belongings to and from work every day. ( Id. )

Despite other CCAs being allowed to report to work at 8 AM, plaintiff was not allowed to report to work until 9:30 AM. ( Id. ) This prevented plaintiff from hearing the workplace daily news announcements, and also prevented plaintiff from inspecting the route he was assigned to each day. ( Id. ) Finally, plaintiff was not trained to do the CCA job through defendant's standard protocols. ( Id. )

As a result of the foregoing facts, [1] plaintiff filed the instant suit, in which he alleges defendant violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. 621, et seq. ( Id. ) Defendant has now moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint. (DE # 18.)

II. Legal Standard

Defendant has moved to dismiss plaintiff's claim under RULE 12(b)(6) of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. RULE 8 of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE sets forth the pleading standard for complaints filed in federal court; specifically, that rule requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8. "The RULE reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to focus litigation on the merits of a claim rather than on technicalities that might keep plaintiffs out of court." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). "While the federal pleading standard is quite forgiving... the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662-63 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010)); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007).

For purposes of deciding defendant's RULE 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts plaintiff's factual allegations as true. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 93.

III. Analysis

Defendant argues that plaintiff fails to state an age discrimination claim because he has failed to allege that he suffered an adverse employment action and because he has failed to allege that he is a member of a protected group under the ADEA. (DE # 14 at 3-5.) A plaintiff alleging discrimination under the ADEA may prove his or her claim using the direct or indirect method of proof. Andrews v. CBOCS West, Inc., 743 F.3d 230, 234 (7th Cir. 2014). "Under the direct method of proof, the plaintiff makes her case by pointing to evidence directly showing that her employer subjected her to an adverse employment action on an impermissible discriminatory basis...." Id. Under the indirect method of proof, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination:

(1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) she performed reasonably on the job in accord with her employers' legitimate expectations, (3) despite her reasonable performance, she was subjected to an adverse employment action, and (4) similarly situated employees outside of her protected class were treated more favorably by the employer.

Id. (citations and quotations omitted). Thus, "[w]hether the plaintiff proceeds by the direct or indirect method of proof, he must show a materially adverse employment action." Rhodes v. Ill. Dep't of Transp., 359 F.3d 498, 504 (7th Cir. 2004).

The Seventh Circuit, however, has stated that plaintiffs alleging employment discrimination "may allege these claims quite generally." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). "A complaint need not allege all, or any, of the facts logically entailed by the claim, ' and it certainly need not include evidence." Id. (quoting Bennett v. Schmidt, 153 F.3d 516, 518 (7th Cir. 1998) (emphasis in original)). "[I]n order to prevent dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint alleging [age] discrimination need only aver that the employer instituted a (specified) adverse employment action against the ...


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