Isaacs v. Felder Services, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting 7 MOTION to Dismiss, and Isaacs's claims against Arbor Springs are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 6/20/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
FELDER SERVICES, LLC, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO: 2:13-cv-693-MEF
(WO – Do Not Publish)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is Defendant Arbor Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center,
Ltd.’s (“Arbor Springs”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #7) filed on October 22, 2013. In its
motion, Arbor Springs claims that Plaintiff Roger Isaacs (“Isaacs”) has failed to allege
sufficient factual allegations in his complaint to establish that Arbor Springs was his
employer for Title VII purposes. Arbor Springs contends that, as a result, Isaacs has
failed to state a viable claim against it. Having considered the motion, the arguments of
counsel, and the applicable case law, the Court finds that Arbor Springs’s motion is due
to be GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Isaacs was hired by Defendant Felder Services, LLC (“Felder”) to work as a
registered dietician on site and under the supervision of management at Arbor Springs.
Isaacs is also homosexual.
During the time in question, Arbor Springs employed Cheri Place (“Place”) as
Assistant Director of Nursing. On July 26, 2012, Isaacs attended a committee meeting
conducted by Place. Also at the meeting were Isaacs’s “co-workers and subordinates”,
including Tammy Fetner, Director of Nursing for Arbor Springs, Tanya Jackson, Arbor
Springs Unit 3 Clinical Coordinator, and three other Arbor Springs employees.1 During
the meeting, Isaacs questioned restrictions in physicians’ orders provided to him by Place
that did not match Felder’s manual. In response, Place asked, “Does anyone have any
tape to put on [his] mouth?” Isaacs also alleges that when he continued to assert that
there were inconsistencies between the physicians’ orders and Felder’s forms, Place came
within two to three feet of him and mimicked a male dog urinating and gestured as if she
were masturbating a penis. Once another employee pointed out that Isaacs was correct
about the forms, Place referred to him as “cupcake” and then acknowledged that he was
On July 31, 2012, Isaacs reported what transpired at the July 26 meeting to Debbie
McGarvey, his supervisor at Felder. McGarvey told Isaacs to contact Brenda Guess, a
Felder employee, and Linda Hoffman, an Arbor Springs employee, and it appears
(although unclearly) that he did. Just over a week later, on August 9, 2012, Felder
terminated Isaacs for falsifying a June 30, 2012 expense report.
The EEOC charge indicates that a Unit 2 Clinical Coordinator named Wanda, a Unit 4 Clinical
Coordinator named Jill, and a Memory Support staff member named Sam were also Arbor
Springs employees who attended the July 26 meeting. None of these employees’ last names,
however, are known.
On September 20, 2012, Isaacs filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging sex discrimination, sexual
harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On
June 24, 2013, the EEOC issued Isaacs a notice of right to sue, and Isaacs timely filed his
complaint in this case on September 24, 2013. In his complaint, Isaacs asserts claims of
gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII. On
October 22, 2013, Arbor Springs moved to dismiss Isaacs’s claims against it on the basis
that Isaacs had failed to allege that Arbor Springs was his employer for Title VII liability.
(Doc. #7.) In response, Isaacs contends that he has alleged sufficient factual allegations
to demonstrate that Arbor Springs was his “joint employer” for Title VII purposes. The
Court addresses the parties’ arguments below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.”
Whitson v. Staff Acquisition, Inc., 41 F. Supp. 2d 1294, 1297 (M.D. Ala. 1999). Further,
a district court must favor the plaintiff with “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 (2009) (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 his claim that would
entitle him to relief.” Reeves v. DSI Sec. Servs., 331 Fed. App’x 659, 661 (11th Cir.
Two or more employers may be held liable for Title VII violations under the “joint
employer” theory of recovery. See Virgo v. Riveria Beach Assocs., Ltd., 30 F.3d 1350,
1359–61 (11th Cir. 1994). Joint employers must exercise sufficient control over the
terms and conditions of a plaintiff’s employment. See id. at 1360. Courts will typically
analyze three factors to determine if sufficient control has been exercised to qualify an
entity as a joint employer: (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
The complaint and the charge of discrimination2 attached thereto contain
essentially three allegations regarding Isaacs’s “employment relationship” with Arbor
Springs. First, Isaacs alleges that he was hired to work on-site and under the supervision
of management at Arbor Springs. (Doc. #1, ¶ 10.) Second, Isaacs alleges that he
attended a committee meeting conducted by Place, Arbor Springs’s Assistant Director of
Nursing, who allegedly harassed him. (Doc. #1, ¶ 11.) Third, Isaacs alleges that his
supervisor at Felder informed him to contact an Arbor Springs employee in regards to
Place’s alleged offensive conduct at the July 26 meeting. The Court does not find these
allegations sufficient to establish a plausible Title VII claim against Arbor Springs based
on a “joint employer” theory of liability.
Simply alleging that Isaacs worked “under the supervision of management” at
Arbor Springs, without providing any supporting allegations as to the manner or extent of
that supervision, or the amount of control Arbor Springs exerted over Isaacs, falls short of
demonstrating that an employment relationship existed between Isaacs and Arbor Springs
sufficient to sustain Title VII liability.
Indeed, this allegation leaves the Court
The Court may consider documents outside of the complaint, such as a charge of
discrimination, when the document is central to the claim and is undisputed. See Speaker v. U.S.
Dept. of Health and Human Servs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371,
1379 (11th Cir. 2010). Thus, the Court will consider the charge attached to Isaacs’s complaint
when ruling on this motion to dismiss.
questioning what working “under the supervision of management” at Arbor Springs even
means. The same can be said for the allegation that Isaacs attended a meeting called by
Place, an Arbor Springs employee, who allegedly harassed him. Being called to a
meeting by an Arbor Springs employee does not demonstrate with any level of
plausibility that Arbor Springs was his joint employer. This is particularly true because
there are no allegations that Isaacs was required to attend the meeting or that Place had
any control over the terms and conditions of Isaacs’s employment. Finally, while the
allegation that Isaacs reported Place’s behavior to an Arbor Springs employee may
demonstrate that Arbor Springs might have some control over Place’s action, it does not
demonstrate that Arbor Springs had the type of control over Isaacs’s actions necessary to
make Arbor Springs his joint employer.
Both Isaacs and Arbor Springs have cited this Court’s previous ruling in Kaiser v.
Trofholz Technologies, 935 F. Supp. 2d 1286 (M.D. Ala. 2013). In Kaiser, this Court
found that the plaintiff had pled sufficient factual allegations to raise a reasonable
expectation that Booz Allen was her joint employer. Id. at 1290. In that case, however,
the plaintiff had pled several allegations demonstrating that Booz Allen maintained
substantial control over the terms and conditions of her employment, including: (1) that
her supervisors were Booz Allen employees and she received orders from those
supervisors; (2) that the plaintiff’s Booz Allen supervisors could affect whether Trofholz,
her primary employer, kept its contract with Booz Allen; (3) that the plaintiff’s Booz
Allen supervisors reported to Trofholz about the plaintiff’s job performance and could
affect plaintiff’s job evaluation; and (4) that the plaintiff’s Booz Allen supervisors caused
her firing by threatening to pull their contract with Trofholz unless she was terminated.
Id. at 1293.
Allegations with a similar level of specificity are not present here. In fact, Isaacs
alleges that he was hired by Felder, that his direct supervisor was a Felder employee, that
Felder approved his work-related travel, lodging, and meals, and that he was terminated
by Felder.3 While the Court recognizes that Isaacs is not expected to prove his case in the
complaint, at the same time, the Court cannot presume or speculate as to facts not
contained in the compliant. Indeed, facts that Isaacs would have personal knowledge of,
and that make his complaint more plausible, should be pled in the complaint. Otherwise,
the inferences asked of the Court are a bridge too far and lack the necessary factual
support to survive Arbor Springs’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant Arbor Springs’s
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #7) is GRANTED, and Isaacs’s claims against Arbor Springs
are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
DONE this the 20th day of June, 2014.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The Court also notes that Isaacs’s complaint repeatedly refers to wrongdoing by a single
defendant, and that Plaintiff would be wise to make clear in his pleading which defendant
committed the specific wrongs of which he is complaining. (See Doc. #1, ¶¶ 21, 22, 23, 24, 31,
32, and 34.)
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?