Kaiser v. Trofholz Technologies, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 7 MOTION TO DISMISS, as further set out in order. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 3/28/13. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
INC., et al.,
CASE NO.: 2:12-cv-665-MEF
(WO – Publish)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case involves claims of race and gender discrimination. Before the Court is
Defendant Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #7) filed on August 27,
2012. In its motion, Defendant Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Booz Allen”)
claims that Plaintiff Kristal Kaiser (“Plaintiff”) has failed to allege sufficient factual
allegations in her Complaint to establish that Booz Allen was her employer for Title VII
purposes. Defendant contends that, as a result, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over Plaintiff’s claims against it, and that Plaintiff has also failed to state a claim against
Booz Allen for which relief can be granted. For the reasons explained herein, the Court
disagrees and finds that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is due to be DENIED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff is an African-American female who was hired by Defendant Trofholz
Technologies, Inc. (“Trofholz”) in November 2010 to work as a database administrator at
Maxwell Air Force Base. (Doc. #1, ¶ 5.) Plaintiff’s contract of employment was with
Trofholz for a period of one year. (Doc. #1, ¶ 5.) Trofholz was a subcontractor for Booz
Allen. (Doc. #1, ¶ 5.) Specifically, Trofholz and Booz Allen were contracted to prepare a
database for the United States Air Force that would track language capabilities of Air Force
service members. (Doc. #1, ¶ 5.)
Plaintiff’s supervisors, Pete Ingenloff (“Mr. Ingenloff”) and Sheila Miltersen, were
Booz Allen employees and were the only supervisors from whom Plaintiff and her coworker, Randall Jones (“Mr. Jones”), received direction. (Doc. #1, ¶ 6.) This resulted in
Booz Allen regularly determining and directing Plaintiff’s work roles and responsibilities.
(Doc. #1, ¶ 6.)
Plaintiff was assigned to work in an office with three men: two Caucasians and one
of Indian descent. (Doc. #1, ¶ 7.) Two of these men were Booz Allen employees, while the
other was employed by Trofholz. (Doc. #1, ¶ 7.) One of these men, Micah Cordes (“Mr.
Cordes”), a Booz Allen employee, treated Plaintiff badly and told racist and sexist jokes.
(Doc. #1, ¶ 8.) In January 2011, Plaintiff complained about Mr. Cordes’ conduct to the
corporate office of Trofholz, and he was moved to another office. (Doc. #1, ¶ 9.)
Following Mr. Cordes’ move, Mr. Ingenloff contacted Trofholz’s corporate office and
gave them false information about Plaintiff’s job performance. (Doc. #1, ¶ 11.) This resulted
in Plaintiff receiving a written warning and a negative evaluation. (Doc. #1, ¶ 12.)
Plaintiff’s co-workers from Trofholz and Booz Allen would also interfere with her work,
causing her production to fall behind. (Doc. #1, ¶ 11.) Mr. Ingenloff would then harass
Plaintiff about her productivity and berate her in meetings in front of co-workers and
customers. (Doc. #1, ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Ingenloff’s actions were in retaliation
for her January 2011 complaints to Trofholz, and in March 2011, Plaintiff complained to
Trofholz about Mr. Ingenloff’s conduct. (Doc. #1, ¶ 13.)
Plaintiff was subsequently terminated by Joel Johnson (“Mr. Johnson”), a Trofholz
supervisor. (Doc. #1, ¶ 15.) Mr. Johnson told Plaintiff that the reason for her termination
was that Booz Allen had told Trofholz that if she continued to work there, Trofholz would
lose its contract. (Doc. #1, ¶ 16.) Booz Allen was involved with the decision to terminate
Plaintiff because Mr. Ingenloff was angry that Plaintiff had complained and gave Trofholz
the ultimatum to either fire Plaintiff or lose its contract. (Doc. #1, ¶ 17.)
On August 3, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint, asserting claims of gender and race
discrimination and retaliation against Trofholz and Booz Allen. As Plaintiff’s claims arise
under Title VII, a federal statute, her Complaint invoked this Court’s “federal question”
subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. #1, ¶ 1.) On August 27, 2012, Booz Allen moved to
dismiss1 Plaintiff’s claims against it (Docs. #7, 8), arguing that her claims are due to be
dismissed under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), (6).
More specifically, Booz Allen claims that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to
establish that it was her employer for purposes of Title VII liability, and, therefore, this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against it. (Docs. #7, 8, 20.) Booz
Defendant Trofholz has answered Plaintiff’s Complaint. (Doc. #19.)
Allen further contends that, even if this Court does have subject matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiff’s claims against it, because the allegations of her Complaint fail to establish that
Booz Allen was her employer for purposes of Title VII, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
against Booz Allen for which relief can be granted. (Docs. #7, 8, 20.) Booz Allen submitted
the Declaration of Charles R. Mehle, II to support its subject matter jurisdiction argument.
Plaintiff responds that her Complaint alleges sufficient factual allegations to
demonstrate that Booz Allen was her “joint employer” for Title VII purposes. As a result,
Plaintiff contends that this Court can exercise subject matter jurisdiction over her claims
against Booz Allen and that she has also stated a claim for relief against Booz Allen that
passes muster under Rule 12(b)(6). (Docs. #17, 22.) To support her position, Plaintiff
submitted the unsworn affidavit of Joel Johnson, Plaintiff’s supervisor and a Trofholz
employee, a handful of PowerPoint slides from what appears to be a presentation by Booz
Allen, and several emails between Booz Allen and Trofholz employees. (Doc. #17-1.)
The parties’ arguments are addressed in turn below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal courts have limited jurisdiction. To establish a claim in federal court, the
plaintiff must display complete diversity of citizenship or raise a question of federal law for
subject matter jurisdiction to exist. The Eleventh Circuit recognizes two challenges to a
district court’s exercise of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure: facial and factual attacks. See Whitson v. Staff Acquisition, Inc.,
41 F. Supp. 2d 1294, 1296 (M.D. Ala. 1999). “A facial attack questions the sufficiency of
the pleading and the plaintiff enjoys similar safeguards to those provided when opposing a
motion to dismiss” under Rule 12(b)(6). Id. “The court accepts the plaintiff’s allegations
as true, construes them most favorably to the plaintiff, and will not look beyond the face of
the complaint to determine jurisdiction.” Id.
“A factual attack, on the other hand, permits ‘the trial court [to] proceed as it never
could under [Rule] 12(b)(6).’” Id. (quoting Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th
Cir. 1990) (per curiam)). A district court may consider “matters outside the pleadings, such
as testimony and affidavits[.]” Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1529. Indeed, to determine whether
it has the power to hear a case, the district court “may weigh the evidence to confirm its
jurisdiction.” Whitson, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1296. “‘No presumptive truthfulness attaches to
plaintiff’s allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts does not preclude the trial
court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.’” Id. (quoting Dunbar,
919 F.2d at 1529).
“However, there is an important, if not always clear, distinction between the court’s
power to determine whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction and its ability to reach the
substantive federal-law claims which form the basis of the case.” Id. “When a jurisdictional
challenge implicates the merits of a plaintiff’s underlying claim, the proper course of action
is to find that jurisdiction exists and deal with the objection as a direct attack on the merits
of the plaintiff’s cause of action.” Giannola v. WW Zephyrhills, LLC, No. 8:10-cv-2541-T5
17TBM, 2011 WL 2784617, at *3 (M.D. Fla. July 14, 2011) (citing Morrison v. Amway
Corp., 323 F.3d 920 (11th Cir. 2003)). This procedural course provides a plaintiff with
“protection from the court’s power to weigh the facts under a Rule 12(b)(1) motion” and to
consider matters outside the four corners of the complaint. Whitson, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1296.
The standard of review for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is higher. In
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “the court accepts the plaintiff’s allegations
as true . . . and construes the complaint liberally in the plaintiff’s favor.” Id. at 1297.
Further, a district court must favor the plaintiff will “all reasonable inferences from the
allegations in the complaint.” Stephens v. Dep’t of Health and Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571,
1573 (11th Cir. 1990).
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain 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 (internal quotations omitted). A complaint states a
facially plausible claim for relief “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. A complaint does not state a facially plausible claim for relief if it shows only “a sheer
possibility that the defendant acted unlawfully.” Id. While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[a] pleading that offers labels
and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Id. (internal quotation and citations omitted). Absent the necessary factual allegations,
“unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” will not suffice. Id.
Courts are also not “bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Granting a motion to dismiss is
appropriate only “when it is demonstrated beyond a doubt the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of [her] claim that would entitle [her] to relief.” Reeves v. DSI Sec. Servs.,
331 Fed. App’x 659, 661 (11th Cir. 2009).
Rule 12(b)(1) – Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Title VII provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to
“discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect
to . . . terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race,
color, religion, sex, or national origin[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The statute defines an
“employer” as “a person engaged in industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more
employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or
proceeding calendar year[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). A person includes “corporations” under
the statute. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(a).
While only the statutory definition of “employer” is spelled out in the language of
Title VII itself, courts have generally recognized another requirement that a defendant must
meet before it can qualify as an employer under Title VII: there must be an “employment
relationship” between the plaintiff and the defendant. See Reeves, 331 Fed. App’x at 661;
Roque v. Jazz Casino Co., LLC, 388 Fed. App’x 402, 404S05 (5th Cir. 2010); 42 U.S.C. §
2000e(b). This is presumably because to qualify as an “employee” of an “employer,” a
plaintiff must have some sort of employment relationship with the alleged employer. In this
case, Booz Allen does not dispute that it meets Title VII’s statutory definition of an
“employer” in that it is a person engaged in industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or
more employees for the statutorily-required time period. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). What
Booz Allen does dispute, however, is that it had an employment relationship with Plaintiff
sufficient to subject it to Title VII liability. Absent such a relationship, Booz Allen argues,
Title VII cannot apply and there can be no statutory basis from which this Court could
exercise “federal question” subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. #8.) Plaintiff responds that
Booz Allen qualifies as her “joint employer” with Trofholz under Title VII and, as a result,
this Court can exercise subject matter jurisdiction over her claims. (Doc. #17.)
Whether Booz Allen qualifies as Plaintiff’s employer under Title VII is likely a
dispositive issue in this case, at least with respect to Plaintiff’s claims against Booz Allen.
What is not as clear, however, is whether the determination of Booz Allen’s status as an
“employer” under Title VII is a threshold jurisdictional issue, or one that implicates an
element of Plaintiff’s substantive cause of action. If this determination is jurisdictional, then
a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) would be
appropriate and, given that Defendant’s jurisdictional challenge is a factual one,2 this Court
Defendant submitted the Declaration of Charles R. Mehle, II in support of its motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1). (Doc. #8-1.) Plaintiff also submitted evidence outside of the pleadings
in support of her opposition to Defendant’s motion to dismiss. (Doc. #17-1.)
could consider the extrinsic evidence presented by the parties in making its decision.
Whitson, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1296. However, if subject matter jurisdiction is “‘inextricably
intertwined’ with the merits of the case,” then the Court must treat a Rule 12(b)(1) motion
as one under Rule 12(b)(6) “to provide the plaintiff with the appropriate protections.” Id.
(quoting Dunbar, 919 F.3d at 1529).
For many years, the law in this Circuit concerning whether a defendant qualified as
an employer, and consequently, whether an employment relationship existed between the
plaintiff and the defendant, for purposes of liability under Title VII has been muddled.3
Compare Virgo v. Riviera Beach Assocs., Ltd., 30 F.3d 1350, 1360 (11th Cir. 1994)
(holding that whether the defendants are joint employers for Title VII purposes is a threshold issue
that bears on the court’s jurisdiction”), and Hulsey v. Gunn, 905 F. Supp. 1067, 1070 (N.D. Ga.
1995) (“Whether Defendants are ‘employers’ within the definition of Title VII is a ‘jurisdictional
prerequisite to the maintenance of a Title VII action.’” (quoting Harris v. Palmetto Tile, Inc., 835
F. Supp. 263, 266 (D.S.C. 1993))), and McLeod v. City of Newton, 931 F. Supp. 817 (M.D. Ala.
1996) (“According to the Eleventh Circuit, the definition of ‘employer’ in Title VII is a question of
subject matter jurisdiction.”), and Lyes v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., 166 F.3d 1332, 1343 (11th Cir.
1999) (“Because we have treated the question of whether a defendant meets the statutory definition
of ‘employer’ as a threshold jurisdictional matter under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that her
‘employer’ has fifteen or more employees for the requisite period provided under the statute before
her Title VII claims can be reached.” (internal citation omitted)), and Walker v. Boys and Girls Club
of Am., 38 F. Supp. 2d 1326, 1329 (M.D. Ala. 1999) (“If the Plaintiff cannot establish that the
Defendants meet the statutory definition of ‘employer,’ this court lacks jurisdiction to hear the
plaintiff’s Title VII and ADA claims.”), and Scarfo v. Ginsberg, 75 F.3d 957, 961 (11th Cir. 1999)
(“Whether the appellees constitute an ‘employer’ within the definition of Title VII is a threshold
jurisdictional issue. . . . Whether the appellees constitute an employer under Title VII does not
implicate an element of the cause of action.”), and Watson v. Adecco Employment Servs., Inc., 252
F. Supp. 2d 1347, 1354 (M.D. Fla. 2003) (“Whether a defendant meets the statutory definition of
‘employer’ poses a threshold jurisdictional matter under Title VII.”), and Thomason v. Maui
Tacos/Tiki Takoz, LLC, No. 3:05-cv-169-F(WO), 2005 WL 2002079, at *2 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 17,
2005) (“Whether a defendant meets Title VII’s definition of an ‘employer’ is a threshold
jurisdictional issue.”), with Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1261 (11th Cir.
1997) (“[W]hether or not the defendant is an ‘employer’ is an element of an ADEA claim and noting
that “there is no real difference (other than numerical) between the definitions [of employer] in the
two statutes [referring to the ADEA and Title VII.]”), and Whitson v. Staff Acquisitions, Inc., 41 F.
However, in 2006, the United States Supreme Court recognized this confusion and used
Arbaugh v. Y&H Corporation to specifically address the “distinction between two sometimes
confused or conflated concepts: federal-court ‘subject matter’ jurisdiction over a controversy;
and the essential ingredients of a federal claim for relief.” 546 U.S. 500, 503 (2006).
In Arbaugh, the plaintiff brought a Title VII sexual harassment claim that was
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the defendant’s failure to meet Title
VII’s “15-or-more employee requirement.” Id. at 509S10. Noting that “this Court and others
have been less than meticulous” with “the subject-matter jurisdiction/ingredient-of-claim-forrelief dichotomy,” the Court held that the “threshold number of employees for application
of Title VII is an element of a plaintiff’s claim for relief, not a jurisdictional issue.” Id. at
1245 (emphasis added). The Court based its ruling on the fact that Congress could have
made “the employee-numerosity requirement ‘jurisdictional,’ just as it has made an amountin-controversy threshold an ingredient of subject-matter jurisdiction in delineating diversityof-citizenship jurisdiction[,]” but instead “the 15-employee threshold appears in a separate
provision [of Title VII] that does not speak in jurisdictional terms or refer in any way to the
jurisdiction of the district courts.” Id. (internal quotations omitted) (alteration to original).
As a result, the Arbaugh Court reasoned, because “Congress does not rank a statutory
Supp. 2d 1294, 1298S99 (M.D. Ala. 1999) (“Whether the Staff defendants are employers (or a joint
employer) under the EEOC is a substantive element of a Title VII claim, although intertwined with
jurisdictional issues.”), and Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 929S30 (11th Cir. 2003)
(holding that, based on Garcia, whether the defendant qualified as an employer under the FMLA
“implicated both jurisdiction and the underlying merits” of the plaintiff’s claim and, therefore,
should not be resolved on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss).
limitation on coverage [under Title VII] as jurisdictional, courts should treat the restriction
as nonjurisdictional in character.” Id. (alteration to original).
Since Arbaugh, courts in this circuit have applied its “readily administrable bright
line” rule, id., and held that a defendant’s status as an employer under Title VII is a nonjurisdictional element of the plaintiff’s cause of action. See Smith v. Angel Food Ministries,
Inc., No. 3:08-cv-79, 2008 WL 515037, at *2 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 4, 2008) (“The Court finds .
. . that Defendant’s status as an ‘employer’ is a non-jurisdictional element of Plaintiff’s
substantive cause of action[.]”); Giannola v. WW Zephyrhills, LLC, No. 8:10-cv-2541-T17TBM, 2011 WL 2784617, at *3 (M.D. Fla. July 14, 2011) (recognizing that a challenge
to the defendant’s status as an employer under Title VII is nonjurisdictional and instead
“implicates the merits of a plaintiff’s underlying claim”). While Booz Allen attempts to
distinguish the Arbaugh rule as applying only to Title VII’s employee numerosity
requirement (see Doc. #8, n.2), this Court is not convinced that the Arbaugh Court intended
for its holding to be so limited. Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has “held that the definition of
employers under Title VII is to be construed liberally.” McLeod, 931 F. Supp. at 820. More
importantly, if Booz Allen’s distinction were the rule, then a defendant could take advantage
of the more defense-friendly standard applied to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack
of jurisdiction by simply asserting that an “employment relationship” does not exist, as
opposed to circumventing qualification as an employer by asserting a failure to meet Title
VII’s numerosity requirement. In effect, this would allow the “trier of law, rather than the
trier of fact, to weigh the merits of the case.” Whitson, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1297. This Court
does not believe that Arbaugh intended such a result.
Based on the foregoing, this Court holds that Booz Allen’s status as Plaintiff’s
employer is a nonjurisdictional element of her substantive cause of action, and therefore, a
Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is not the appropriate
procedural vehicle for presenting this defense. Rather, “[w]here a jurisdictional challenge
implicates the merits of a plaintiff’s underlying claim, the proper course of action is to find
that jurisdiction exists and deal with the objection as a direct attack on the merits of
plaintiff’s cause of action.” Giannola, 2001 WL 2784617 at *3. Accordingly, the Court
finds that it has jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant Booz Allen, and
Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
Rule 12(b)(6) – Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted
Because Booz Allen’s status as Plaintiff’s employer is an element of her substantive
cause of action, rather than a jurisdictional prerequisite, the Court will review Defendant’s
motion to dismiss under the standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6), thereby affording “the
plaintiff with the appropriate protections.” Whitson, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1297. The Court will
not consider matters outside of the pleadings, including the extrinsic evidence submitted by
both Plaintiff and Booz Allen.4 Instead, the Court may only consider whether Plaintiff’s
Additionally, the Court did not consider the extrinsic evidence submitted by both Plaintiff
and Booz Allen in ruling on Booz Allen’s Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, as the Court’s finding
that Booz Allen’s status as Plaintiff’s employer under Title VII was nonjurisdictional prevented any
Complaint contains sufficient factual allegations, when accepted as true, state a claim for
relief against Booz Allen that is “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.
It is possible for two or more businesses to be held liable for violations of Title VII
under the “joint employer” theory of recovery. See Virgo v. Riviera Beach Assocs., Ltd., 30
F.3d 1350, 1359S61 (11th Cir. 1994). To be considered a joint employer, an entity must
exercise sufficient control over the terms and conditions of a plaintiff’s employment. See id.
at 1360. Courts usually make such a determination by analyzing: (1) the means and manner
of the plaintiff’s work performance; (2) the terms, conditions, or privileges of the plaintiff’s
employment; and (3) the plaintiff’s compensation. Llampallas v. Mini-Circuits, Inc., 163
F.3d 1236, 1245 (11th Cir. 1998).
Booz Allen argues that Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to allege any facts that would
establish that Booz Allen qualified as her joint employer for Title VII purposes. (Docs. #7,
8.) Plaintiff responds that her Complaint contains detailed facts that establish a plausible
claim that Booz Allen was her joint employer along with Defendant Trofholz for purposes
of Title VII liability. According to Plaintiff, these allegations are: (1) that her supervisors
were employees of Booz Allen and were the only supervisory personnel from whom she
received direction (Doc. #1, ¶ 6); (2) that Plaintiff’s supervisor, Mr. Ingenloff, was a Booz
Allen employee and carried a lot of authority over Plaintiff (Doc. #1, ¶10); (3) that Mr.
Ingenloff could affect whether Trofholz maintained its contract with Booz Allen (Doc. #1,
¶ 10); (4) that Mr. Ingenloff contacted Trofholz on multiple occasions and gave them false
information about Plaintiff’s job performance, which resulted in Plaintiff receiving a written
warning and negative evaluation (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 11-12); (5) that Mr. Ingenloff harassed and
berated Plaintiff (Doc. #1, ¶ 11); (6) that Booz Allen told Trofholz that if Plaintiff continued
to work there, Trofholz would lose its contract (Doc. #1, ¶ 16); and (7) that Booz Allen was
involved with her termination because Mr. Ingenloff was angry that she had complained and
Booz Allen gave Trofholz the ultimatum to either fire Plaintiff or lose its contract (Doc. #1,
¶ 17). Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates each of these allegations into the various counts
of her Complaint. (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 20, 29, 36.)
At this stage of the proceedings, having to accept Plaintiff’s allegations as true, the
Court finds that Plaintiff has alleged sufficient factual allegations to raise a reasonable
expectation that evidence will reveal that Booz Allen was indeed her joint employer for
purposes of Title VII liability. These allegations demonstrate that while Booz Allen might
not have hired Plaintiff, assigned her to a work location, received her complaints, or fired her,
Booz Allen did have sufficient control, authority, and influence over the terms and conditions
of Plaintiff’s employment to support the contention that it was Plaintiff’s joint employer with
Trofholz for purposes of Title VII liability.
This is not to say, however, that the determination of whether Booz Allen qualifies
as Plaintiff’s employer under Title VII cannot be presented at the summary judgement stage
after the parties have had an opportunity to uncover facts through discovery to support or
refute this claim. Nonetheless, at this early stage in the proceedings, the Court is limited to
passing solely upon the sufficiency of the Complaint itself and must construe the factual
allegations contained therein in a light most favorable to Plaintiff. Applying this standard,
Defendant Booz Allen’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted is due to be DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant Booz Allen
Hamilton, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #7) is DENIED.
DONE this the 28th day of March, 2013.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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