United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING THE
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is presently before the Court on plaintiff's
application to proceed in forma pauperis [docket entry 2].
For the following reasons, the Court shall (1) grant the
application and therefore allow the complaint to be filed
without prepayment of the filing fee, and (2) dismiss the
complaint because it fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may permit a person
to commence a lawsuit without prepaying the filing fee,
provided the person submits an affidavit demonstrating that
he/she “is unable to pay such fees or give security
therefor.” In the present case, plaintiff's
application to proceed in forma pauperis makes the required
showing of indigence. The Court shall therefore grant the
application and permit the complaint to be filed without
requiring plaintiff to prepay the filing fee.
complaints are held to “less stringent standards”
than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nonetheless, the Court is required by
statute to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if it
(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted;
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To avoid dismissal for
failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “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 678. “Threadbare recitals of all the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. “Asking for plausible
grounds to infer an agreement does not impose a probability
requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough
fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of illegal agreement.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
present case, plaintiff claims that defendant violated her
rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on
January 17 and March 5, 2019. Compl. ¶ III.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on January 17, 2019,
while working for defendant as a prep cook, another employee,
chef Anthony Matta, chastised her for cracking eggs.
Plaintiff alleges that Matta frightened her with his
“disruptive behavior and abusive tone.” Compl.
(“Statement of Fact”) at 1. Plaintiff asserts
that she is “a Senior Citizen, a woman and . . . should
not have to work in a hostile environment.”
Id. at 2. Further, plaintiff alleges that on March
5, 2019, Matta gave her a verbal warning about her tardiness,
alleging she had been late once in December and three times
in February. Plaintiff alleges that Matta issued this warning
in retaliation for plaintiff complaining about his poor
treatment of her during a January 31, 2019, meeting with a
human resources representative. Compl. (“Statement of
Fact”) at 3, 5 and 6. Plaintiff indicates she believes
that defendant retaliated against her and that it
discriminated against her based on her race and age. Compl.
allegations fail to state a claim for relief under Title VII
for three reasons. First, this statute prohibits an employer
from discriminating against an employee (based on the
employee's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin) or from retaliating against an employee for engaging
in protected conduct. But in the present case,
plaintiff's allegations focus exclusively on alleged
discrimination and retaliation committed by a fellow
employee, chef Matta, not by a manager or supervisor who
could be deemed to have acted on the employer's behalf.
even if Matta could be deemed to have acted on behalf of
defendant, the complaint contains no facts to support
plaintiff's claim that Matta chastised her in a
threatening way because of her race or age. As noted above, a
complaint must make more than “conclusory
statements.” In the present case, the complaint offers
no facts that would permit the inference that Matta
mistreated plaintiff because of her race or age or for any
other prohibited reason.
again assuming that Matta was acting on behalf of defendant,
a Title VII claim, whether for discrimination or retaliation,
requires a showing that plaintiff suffered some form of
“adverse employment action.” White v.
Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 364 F.3d 789, 797
(6th Cir. 2004). The Sixth Circuit requires “a
significant change in employment status, such as hiring,
firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly
different responsibilities, or a decision causing a
significant change in benefits.” Id. at 798
(quoting Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524
U.S. 742, 762 (1998)). In the present case, plaintiff alleges
that Matta chastised her for cracking eggs and that he
retaliated when she complained about him by giving her a
verbal warning about her tardiness on four occasions.
Plaintiff does not allege that the chastisement or the
tardiness warning had any effect on her employment status.
Under White and Ellerth, these was not
adverse employment actions, and therefore no Title VII claim
has been stated.
these reasons, the Court concludes that the complaint fails
to state a claim for which relief may be granted under Title
VII. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff's
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is
granted. The complaint is filed and the filing fee need not
FURTHER ORDERED that the complaint is dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § ...