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Williford v. Amazon Fulfillment

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

November 13, 2018

VICKI VERNISE WILLIFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON FULFILLMENT, ARON, RYAN, AMANDA WHITNEY, TIFFANY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON JUDGE

         This action arises out of the termination of Plaintiff Vicki Vernise Williford's employment with Amazon Fulfillment (“Amazon”). Ms. Williford, who proceeds pro se, initiated this lawsuit on June 4, 2018 against Amazon and several other employees (collectively, the “Individual Defendants”). She alleges that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race and age, and that she was retaliated against for complaining about workplace harassment. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion.

         I.

         Legal Standard

          Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim that does not state a right to relief. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide the defendant with “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         The Court construes pro se complaints liberally and holds them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See, e.g., Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027-28 (7th Cir. 2013).

         II.

         Background

         In accordance with the standard described above, the following facts are drawn from the allegations in Ms. Williford's Complaint and are accepted as true for the purpose of deciding Amazon's Motion to Dismiss.

         Beginning on September 27, 2017, Ms. Williford was employed as a packer with Amazon and reported to managers Whitney Trujillo and Tiffany Couch.[1] [Filing No. 1 at 2.] On November 9, 2017, while working on a “line, ” Ms. Williford was approached by Ms. Trujillo and asked to fix a box. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] When Ms. Williford asked a follow-up question, Ms. Trujillo pushed Ms. Williford out of the way and yelled at her. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] On the following day, Ms. Williford reported that incident to Amanda Berggren in Human Resources. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] Sometime during the following several days, Ms. Williford made a verbal complaint to manager Aaron Butcher that Ms. Trujillo was continuing to harass her. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] Ms. Williford's employment with Amazon was terminated on November 16, 2017. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] On February 6, 2018, Ms. Williford filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging retaliation and discrimination on the basis of race. [Filing No. 1-1 at 1.]

         On June 4, 2018, Ms. Williford filed the instant Complaint, alleging that Amazon and the Individual Defendants terminated her employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). [Filing No. 1 at 4.] On August 23, 2018 Amazon filed a Motion to Dismiss Ms. Williford's Complaint, [Filing No. 18], which is now fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review.

         III.

         Discussion

          Defendants move to dismiss Ms. Williford's Complaint, arguing that: (1) the five Individual Defendant employees cannot be held liable under Title VII or the ADEA; and (2) Ms. Williford's Complaint fails to state ...


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