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Johnson v. CRF First Choice, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 22, 2016

DAWN JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CRF FIRST CHOICE, INC., and UNKNOWN EMPLOYEES, Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by Defendant CRF First Choice, Inc. (“CRF”) (Filing No. 7). After working for CRF for nearly five years, pro se Plaintiff Dawn Johnson's (“Ms. Johnson”) employment was terminated, reportedly because she was a “no-call, no-show.” However, Ms. Johnson suspected that her termination was in retaliation for reporting abuse of patients or was possibly motivated by racially discriminatory bias. Therefore, she filed this action, asserting various employment law claims. CRF filed its Motion to Dismiss, asserting Ms. Johnson failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the Court must GRANT the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true; but, as required when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the Complaint and draws all inferences in favor of Ms. Johnson. See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633 (7th Cir. 2008).

         CRF operates several residential centers that provide residential assistance to developmentally disabled individuals. CRF has offices in Anderson, Indiana, and operates a residential center in Anderson. Ms. Johnson was employed by CRF in the Anderson residential center and reported to this location whenever she was scheduled to work. (Filing No. 1-1 at 1.)

         Ms. Johnson is an African-American woman and was employed by CRF as an assistant living coach from September 2010 through May 2015. In her role as an assistant living coach, Ms. Johnson had direct care responsibilities for the residents at the residential center. She began experiencing problems at work when she started noticing scratches, bruises, scrapes, abrasions, and cuts on her “clients” when she came to work. (Filing No. 1-1 at 2.) Ms. Johnson would make a mental note that bruises and scrapes were not present when she left work for the day. She would then notice when she returned to work that her clients had bruises or scrapes. She consulted the care logs, and there were no indications of how or when these injuries occurred despite requirements to document such injuries. Ms. Johnson began to inquire and complain about her clients' injuries, and various theories were discussed among the employees. Id.

         When Ms. Johnson's clients' injuries did not abate, she decided to report the injuries to the Indiana state licensing board that oversees and inspects residential care facilities. A nurse inspector came to the facility to inquire regarding the report. She encouraged Ms. Johnson to continue reporting any suspicious activities or injuries. Ms. Johnson continued reporting the activities at the facility, and she reported to the residential managers at the facility that she believed clients were being abused. (Filing No. 1-1 at 3.)

         While the residential managers at CRF said that they would look into Ms. Johnson's suspicions of abuse, nothing was done and the managers got angry and impatient with Ms. Johnson. Ms. Johnson increased her reporting to the Indiana state licensing board. “Ms. Johnson [was] aware that other white employees beg[a]n to also complain about the conditions inflicted upon the clients.” Id. CRF did not conduct an investigation into the reports of client abuse, and if any investigation ever did occur, Ms. Johnson was never provided with the results of such an investigation. (Filing No. 1-1 at 4.)

         In May 2015, Ms. Johnson arrived at work and was told that her employment with CRF was being terminated. She was told that her employment was ending because she was a “no-call, no-show, ” which was not true. Ms. Johnson suspected that her termination was really the result of her reports to the Indiana state licensing board. Id. Additionally, Ms. Johnson noted that “[n]o other white employees who complained were terminated, ” and she was “terminated from her employment, although white females were treated in a different way while faced with the same exact circumstances.” (Filing No. 1-1 at 4-5 ¶¶ 28, 32.)

         Following her May 2015 termination, on December 29, 2015, Ms. Johnson filed her Complaint against CRF in Madison County Circuit Court. On January 6, 2016, CRF removed Ms. Johnson's action to this Court based on the Court's federal question jurisdiction. Then on February 17, 2016, CRF filed its Motion to Dismiss Ms. Johnson's Complaint.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint that has failed to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Bielanski, 550 F.3d at 633. However, courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002).

         The 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)(2). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court explained that the complaint must allege facts that are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, mere “labels, ” “conclusions, ” or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are insufficient. Id.; see also Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 603 (7th Cir. 2009) (“it is not enough to give a threadbare recitation of the elements of a claim without factual support”). The allegations must “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Stated differently, the complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

[T]he record under 12(b)(6) is limited to the language of the complaint and to those matters of which the court may take judicial notice. The complaint cannot be amended by the briefs filed by the plaintiff in opposition to a motion to dismiss. By the same token, the defendant cannot, in presenting its 12(b)(6) challenge, attempt to refute the complaint or to present a different set of allegations. The attack is on the sufficiency of the complaint, and the defendant cannot set or alter the terms of ...

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