CAVINESS v. ARAMARK CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, LLC et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Joseph E. Irenas on 4/15/2015. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil No. 14-07068 (JEI/KMW)
SERVICES, LLC, and JOHN DOE,
LAW OFFICE OF GERALD F. MIKSIS
By: Gerald F. Miksis, Esq.
1125 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 647
Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401
Counsel for Plaintiff
MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP
By: James P. Walsh, Jr., Esq.
Nitin Sharma, Esq.
502 Carnegie Center
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
Counsel for Defendant
IRENAS, Senior United States District Judge:
In this diversity action, Plaintiff Carl Caviness alleges
race and age discrimination by his employer Aramark Correctional
Services (Aramark) in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against
Aramark presently moves to dismiss
Caviness’s Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
For the reasons stated herein, Aramark’s motion will
Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in Atlantic County
Superior Court on September 25, 2014 and Defendant then removed
to this Court.
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges the following
Caviness, an African American man over the age of forty,
worked as a supervisor in the food service division at Aramark’s
Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey.
(Compl. ¶¶ 1-2).
From January 2013 to July 2013, Aramark
reduced Caviness’s work hours from forty hours per week to
twenty-eight hours per week.
(Id. at ¶ 4).
Caviness claims his
reduced hours were “the result of direct discrimination against
plaintiff as a result of a status of an African American over
the age of 40.”
(Id. at ¶ 5).
Aramark moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s initial Complaint on
November 20, 2014 for failure to state a claim.
(Docket No. 3)
Caviness subsequently amended his Complaint by adding only a
reference to N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, the NJLAD provision regarding
discriminatory employment practices, as the particular statute
(Am. Compl. ¶ 5).
The relevant paragraph
now states that the reduction of Caviness’s hours was “the
result of direct discrimination against plaintiff as a result of
a status of an African American over the age of 40, violation of
N.J.S.A. 10:5-2 [sic].”
Caviness added no new facts to
support his claim.
Aramark filed the instant motion to dismiss Caviness’s
Amended Complaint on December 10, 2014.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a
court may dismiss a complaint “for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.”
In order to survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must allege facts that make a right to
relief more than speculative.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
court must accept all allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint
as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d
Cir. 2008), but a court is not required to accept sweeping legal
conclusions cast as factual allegations.
Morse v. Lower Merion
Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).
In its initial motion to dismiss, Aramark commented that Plaintiff’s
Complaint did not identify the statute under which Plaintiff seeks relief.
must state sufficient facts to show that the legal allegations
are not simply possible, but plausible.
Phillips, 515 F.3d at
“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
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
As Caviness makes clear in his Amended Complaint, he brings
this action pursuant to the NJLAD, particularly N.J.S.A. 10:512.
The NJLAD makes it unlawful for an employer “because of the
race . . . [or] age . . . of any individual . . . to
discriminate against such individual in compensation or in
terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”
When assessing NJLAD employment discrimination claims, New
Jersey courts have adopted the burden-shifting framework
articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
Viscik v. Fowler Equip. Co., 173 N.J. 1, 13-14 (2002).
Under that framework, in order to prove a prima facie of
employment discrimination, a plaintiff must show (1) he belongs
to a protected class, (2) he was qualified for the position at
issue, (3) he was subject to an adverse employment action, and
(4) under circumstances that raise an inference of
discriminatory action, the employer continued to seek out
individuals with qualifications similar to the plaintiff’s to
fill the position.
Sarullo v. U.S. Postal Serv., 352 F.3d 789,
797 (3d Cir. 2003).
However, an employment discrimination plaintiff need not
plead a prima facie case of discrimination in order to survive a
motion to dismiss.
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506,
A plaintiff need only “plead facts sufficient to
meet the standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).”
Co., 754 F. Supp. 2d 702, 705 (D.N.J. 2010).
DiTommaso v. Meds.
Still, in line
with Rule 8(a), Twombly, and Iqbal, a plaintiff must plead facts
that would make his case under the McDonnell Douglas framework
See Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc.,
522 F.3d 315, 322 (3d Cir. 2008) (“The plausibility paradigm
announced in Twombly applies with equal force to analyzing the
adequacy of claims of employment discrimination.”).
Here, Caviness has not pled sufficient facts in support of
The Amended Complaint states only that Caviness is a
black man over the age of forty, that he experienced a reduction
in hours from January 2013 to July 2013, and that the reduction
in hours was the “result of direct discrimination against [him]
as a result of a status of an African American over the age of
(Am. Compl. ¶ 5)
These allegations may establish that
Caviness is a member of a protected class and that he suffered
an adverse employment action, but they do not provide a
plausible basis for inferring that his reduced hours were the
result of age or race discrimination.
In his opposition papers, Caviness asks the Court to accept
his statement as to the cause of his reduction in hours as a
But Caviness cannot merely state that his hours were
reduced due to his age and race.
That is exactly the type of
conclusory assertion cast as factual allegation that the Court
is not required to accept.2
While Caviness need not prove the
elements of a prima facie employment discrimination claim in his
pleadings, he must provide actual factual allegations from which
the Court could draw a reasonable inference that Aramark engaged
Caviness’s age and race, along with the fact
Aramark reduced his hours, do not alone support that inference.
The Amended Complaint therefore fails to state a plausible claim
for relief and must be dismissed.
Aramark requests that the Court dismiss Caviness’s Amended
Complaint with prejudice.
While the Court recognizes that
Caviness failed to allege any additional facts in his Amended
Complaint, the Court will allow Caviness 30 days to submit a
Caviness’s addition of the reference to the NJLAD in his Amended Complaint
did not make his claim more plausible. If anything, the citation underscores
that his “allegation” regarding the cause of his reduction in hours is, in
fact, a legal conclusion.
motion for leave to file a second amended complaint that meets
the pleading requirements described above.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court will GRANT
Defendant Aramark’s motion and dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended
An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Date: April 15, 2015
s/ Joseph E. Irenas
Joseph E. Irenas, S.U.S.D.J.
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