United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
COURTNEY L. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
AARON'S INC. et al., Defendants.
L. Maloney United States District Judge
an action brought by a detainee in the St. Joseph County jail
under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.
L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is
required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal
law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2). The Court must read Plaintiff's
pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept
Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly
irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these
standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
against all Defendants for failure to state a claim.
is presently housed at the St. Joseph County jail. Plaintiff
sues Aaron's Inc.; Pat Stevens, the store
manager at the Aaron's location at 1170 W.
Michigan Avenue in Three Rivers, Michigan, and Great American
RTO, Inc. Aaron's Inc. is a corporation organized under
the laws of the State of Georgia and authorized to do
business in the State of Michigan. Great American
Rent-to-Own, Inc. is a corporation organized under the laws
of the State of Michigan with its registered office at 1114
W. Michigan Avenue, #6B, Three Rivers, Michigan, 49093. It
appears that Great American Rent-to-Own may own and operate
the Aaron's franchise where Plaintiff worked.
allegations are scant:
Plaintiff Courtney L. Thomas was discriminated against by
subject of unwelcome comments and discharged based on race
(black) by store manager Pat Stevens from January 15, 2016,
to March 9, 2016 at the Aaron's store location in Three
(Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) In subsequent paragraphs
Plaintiff indicates that coworkers witnessed “racial
harassment, ” Pat Stevens displayed
“discrimination with uninvited remarks, ” and
that Defendants made “harmful and discouraging
statement with regard to race.” (Id.,
PageID.4-5.) But, Plaintiff never describes the objectionable
conduct or remarks. Plaintiff indicates that the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted an
investigation regarding Plaintiff's claims of unlawful
employment practices and provided Plaintiff a “right to
sue.” (Id., PageID.3.) Plaintiff does not
allege when he received the “right to sue” from
the EEOC. Plaintiff seeks “suitable relief” and
“punitive damages.” (Id., PageID.5.)
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court must
determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although the
plausibility standard is not equivalent to a
“‘probability requirement,' . . . it asks for
more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged
- but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
allegations might be construed as attempting to state two
different types of Title VII claims: that Defendants
subjected him to a hostile work environment based on his race
and that Defendants discharged him based on his race.
Hostile work environment
state a hostile work environment claim under Title VII a
plaintiff must demonstrate that:
(1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was subjected
to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based on
plaintiff's protected status; (4) the harassment was
sufficiently severe or pervasive to affect a term, condition,
or privilege of employment; and (5) the employer knew or
should have known ...