Gidley v. Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa
MEMORANDUM OPINION - For the foregoing reasons, Gidley has failed to state a Title VII sex discrimination claim. Defendants motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), (doc. 8), is due to be GRANTED. Signed by Magistrate Judge John H England, III on 8/17/2017. (KEK)
2017 Aug-17 PM 03:20
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MARILYN Y. GIDLEY,
HOTEL AND SPA,
Case Number: 2:16-cv-01698-JHE
Plaintiff Marilyn Y. Gidley (“Gidley”) filed this employment discrimination action on
October 18, 2016, using this Court’s form “Application under Section 706(f) of Civil Rights Act
of 1964.” (Doc. 1). On this form, Gidley requested appointment of an attorney and leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Id.).
On November 1, 2016, the undersigned denied Gidley
appointment of counsel and granted her leave to proceed in forma pauperis, provided she file an
amended complaint. (Doc. 2). Gidley filed an amended complaint on November 28, 2016. (Doc.
4). It is apparent from Gidley’s amended complaint she is attempting to assert a sex discrimination
claim. (See id.). Defendant PCH Hotels and Resorts d/b/a/ Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and
Spa (“Defendant”) moves to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 8). The motion is fully briefed and ripe
for review. (Docs. 22 & 23). For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss, (doc. 8), is
In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 73, the parties have voluntarily consented to have a United States Magistrate Judge
conduct any and all proceedings, including trial and the entry of final judgment. (Doc. 15).
I. Factual Allegations2
Gidley is a current “on call” employee of Defendant’s Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and
Spa, where she previously worked as bartender. (Doc. 4 at 1, 3). On May 3, 2015, Gidley placed
her money bag next to the register, and then allowed Willie Reese, a Jani King employee,3 behind
the bar to clean. (Id.). Reese stole $300.00 while Gidley stood at the end of the counter. (Id. at
1, ¶E). Gidley was initially terminated based on cash handling issues, but was hired back and now
works as an “on call” employee for Defendant. (Id. at 2, 3). That same day, Reese also stole a
television from an unlocked office belonging to Gary Jones, a male board member. (Id. at 1, 3).
Jones was not punished for the theft or for leaving the office door unlocked. (Id. at 1).
II. Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain Aa short and plain
statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.@ A[T]he pleading standard Rule 8
announces does not require >detailed factual allegations,= but it demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.@ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citing Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Mere Alabels and conclusions@ or A a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action@ are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). ANor does a complaint suffice if it tenders >naked
assertion[s]= devoid of >further factual enhancement.@ Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 557).
Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., permits dismissal when a complaint fails to state a claim
AWhen considering a motion to dismiss, all facts set forth in the plaintiff=s complaint
>are to be accepted as true and the court limits its consideration to the pleadings and exhibits
attached thereto.=@ Grossman v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000)
(quoting GSW, Inc. v. Long Cnty., 999 F.2d 1508, 1510 (11th Cir. 1993)).
According to the amended complaint, “Jani King” is a second chance programs that
hires individuals with criminal histories. (Doc. 4 at 2). Jani King paid for all of the stolen items.
upon which relief can be granted. ATo survive a 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.@
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint states a
facially plausible claim for relief Awhen the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.@ Id. (citation
omitted). The complaint must establish Amore than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.@ Id.; see also Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (AFactual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.@). Ultimately, this inquiry is a Acontext-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.@ Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679.
Gidley comes before the court representing herself, without the benefit of counsel: i.e., pro
se. “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,’ . . . and ‘a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.’” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976)). Nevertheless, “the pro se plaintiff's complaint must meet the minimum requirements
of presenting a viable claim.” Hales v. City of Montgomery, 347 F. Supp. 2d 1167, 1171 (M.D.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation, 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). In her amended complaint, Gidley alleges she was “[t]erminat[ed] from [her]
position for being robbed, but [her] male co-worker was robbed and no type of disciplinary action
was taken. (Doc. 4 at 1). Gidley refers to this as “[d]iscrimination.” (Id.)
The Supreme Court has held that, in considering a motion to dismiss, “it is not appropriate
to require a plaintiff to plead facts establishing a prima facie case” that would be sufficient to
satisfy the McDonnell Douglas framework that is often applied at summary judgment.
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002). Nonetheless, “the prima facie elements
are not entirely irrelevant, and no plaintiff is exempt from her obligation to allege sufficient facts
to state all the elements of her claim.” Streeter v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., No. 6:12–
cv–163–Orl–22DAB, 2012 WL 717865, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 13, 2012).
undersigned will use the prima facie elements as a point of reference in discussing Gidley's claim.
“A plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of disparate treatment by showing that she was
a qualified member of a protected class and was subjected to an adverse employment action in
contrast with similarly situated employees outside the protected class.” Wilson v. B/E Aerospace,
Inc., 376 F.3d 1079, 1087 (11th Cir.2004). Those three basic elements—membership in a
protected class, an adverse employment action, and better treatment of a similarly situated
employee outside the protected class—are not rigid, and courts have developed different sets of
elements for specific theories of disparate treatment. The protected group to which Gidley belongs
is her sex, female, and the first element of the prima facie case is satisfied. Furthermore, she
alleges an adverse employment action, that she was terminated from her bartender position and
only later rehired as an “on-call” employee. See Lucas v. W.W. Grainger, Inc., 257 F.3d 1249,
1261 (11th Cir. 2001) (explaining that an employment action is adverse if it results in some
tangible, negative effect on the plaintiff’s employment); see also Alexander v. Evening Shade, Inc.,
No. 3:09cv605-MHT, 2010 WL 3168132, *3 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 10, 2010) (explaining that a
reduction in hours qualifies as an adverse employment action because “a reduction in hours results
directly in a reduction in pay”). Defendant argues that Gidley’s claim fails because her allegations
establish that she and Jones were not similarly situated as required to state a claim. (Doc. 8 at 34).
To be an adequate comparator, the preferentially treated individual must be from outside
the plaintiff’s protected class and must be similarly situated in all respects. Edmond v. Univ. of
Miami, 441 Fed. Appx. 721, 724 (11th Cir. 2011). To be considered “similarly situated,” an
employee allegedly receiving lesser or no discipline must have been involved in or accused of the
“same or similar misconduct” and have operated under the same workplace rules or polices.” Dent
v. Federal Mogul Corp., 129 F. Supp. 2d 1311, 1314 (N.D. Ala. 2001). “In a comparator analysis,
the plaintiff is matched with a person or persons who have very similar job-related characteristics
and who are in a similar situation to determine if the plaintiff has been treated differently than
others who are similar to him [or her].” Lee v. Mid-State Land & Timber Co., 285 F. Appx. 601,
606 (11th Cir. 2008).
Gidley, a bartender at the time of the alleged incident, allowed cash that was in her custody
to be stolen from in front of her. Jones, a “board member,” is not alleged to have been on the
premises when the television was stolen. Instead, Gidley implies that Jones was responsible for
the theft because he left his office door unlocked, but fails to allege that having an unlocked door
was inappropriate or violated any rules or procedures. Although Gidley and Jones were both
connected to thefts by the same individual, the circumstances surrounding each of the thefts were
Furthermore, even if Gidley had alleged that Jones caused the television theft by violating
some locked door policy, it would be a different policy violation than the cash handling policy that
caused Defendant to remove Gidley from her bartender position. Additionally, the positions of
bartender and board member are obviously very different positions within Defendant’s company
and further demonstrate Gidley and Jones are not similarly situated. Gidley’s allegation that the
rule book she received stated that all employees, no matter their level, would “take punishment at
the same level,” (doc. 4 at 1), does not change this result.
For the foregoing reasons, Gidley has failed to state a Title VII sex discrimination claim.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), (doc. 8), is
due to be GRANTED.
DONE this 17th day of August, 2017.
JOHN H. ENGLAND, III
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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