RODRIGUEZ v. INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/27/2017. (tf, n.m.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
JEAN EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-4172 (JBS/AMD)
INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
In this action, Plaintiff Jean Emmanuel Rodriguez alleges,
inter alia, a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for
racial discrimination after he was not hired for a job with an
IHOP restaurant located in Mays Landing, New Jersey. [Docket
Item 1-1 at 6-7.] Defendant AT Corp. d/b/a IHOP (“IHOP”) removed
the case from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County,
where Plaintiff filed it pro se, to this Court [Docket Item 1]
and subsequently filed the instant motion to dismiss or for a
more definite statement. [Docket Item 5.] IHOP claims that
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). Plaintiff has not filed opposition.1 For the reasons
Plaintiff’s deadline to file opposition expired on August 1,
2016. The Court sent a letter to Plaintiff on February 15, 2017
advising him of the opportunity to oppose Defendant’s Motion to
Dismiss and granting him an additional fourteen days within
which to file his opposition, if he chose to do so. [Docket Item
discussed below, the Court will grant Defendant’s motion to
dismiss.2 The Court finds as follows:
The facts of this case are imprecisely alleged in
Plaintiff’s original complaint. Plaintiff applied for employment
as a server/bus-person/dishwasher at an IHOP restaurant in Mays
Landing, New Jersey, on April 27, 2016. [Docket Item 1-1 at 4.]
Plaintiff claims that he was denied “employment based on race
and not plaintiff’s ability to perform the task required.”
Plaintiff states that Defendant’s “only concern was the
plaintiff’s ability to communicate to employees that did not
speak English” and not his ability to perform the duties of the
position. [Id. at 9.] Plaintiff alleged that “ethnicity was the
primary factor to acquiring the job.” [Id. at 10.] Plaintiff did
not specify his race or ethnicity, or detail further his ability
(or not) to speak English or any other language. He did not
offer any further details about the hiring process or why he
believed the hiring process had been discriminatory and biased.
9.] The Court also stated in this letter that, should the Court
not receive an opposition in writing from Plaintiff, it would
treat Defendant’s motion as unopposed. [Id.] To date, the Court
has not received any opposition from Plaintiff, nor any filings
by Plaintiff after this case was removed on July 11, 2016.
2 Because Plaintiff asserts a claim under the Civil Rights Act of
1964, the Court exercises jurisdiction over this action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Plaintiff sought damages for discrimination, his lost time, and
When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all wellpleaded allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam). A pro se complaint in
particular should be construed liberally. Alston v. Parker, 363
F.3d 229, 234 (3d Cir. 2004); Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365,
369 (3d Cir. 2003).
A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the court
concludes that the plaintiff has failed to set forth sufficient
facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Fleisher v. Standard
Ins. Co., 679 F.3d 116, 120 (3d Cir. 2012). “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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To determine if a complaint
meets this pleading standard, the Court must strip away
conclusory statements and “look for well-pled factual
allegations, assume their veracity, and then determine whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief.” Bistrian
v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Although the court must accept as true all wellpleaded factual allegations, it may disregard any legal
conclusions in the complaint. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).
After reviewing Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Court
agrees with Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff has failed to
state a cognizable cause of action for discrimination.
A plaintiff alleging racial or ethnic discrimination
may prove his case through direct evidence of such
discrimination (e.g., oral or written statements by the
defendant evincing a discriminatory motivation). See Trans World
Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 121-22 (1985). In the
absence of direct evidence, to establish a prima facie claim for
racial or ethnic discrimination in employment or hiring under
Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., a plaintiff must show
that (1) he is a member of a protected class, (2) he was
qualified for an employment position, (3) the employer rejected
him despite his qualifications, and (4) he was afforded less
favorable treatment than similarly situated individuals outside
his class. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802
(1973). If he makes such a prima facie case, the defendant then
has the burden of identifying a legitimate non-discriminatory
reason for failing to hire the plaintiff. Id. If the defendant
meets that burden, the plaintiff then has the burden of proving
that the defendant’s stated reason was pretextual and the actual
reason was unlawful discrimination. Id. at 804.
Viewed in light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the
allegations are insufficient to establish a prima facie case for
racial or ethnic discrimination. Plaintiff does not identify
himself as a member of a protected class, nor does he show that
he was qualified for the position for which he applied. Although
his application for employment does list previous positions, the
most recent position appears not to have been at a restaurant.
[Docket Item 1-1 at 4.] While he does list having been a busperson for approximately four months in 2014 and a cashier at a
deli, id., those experiences do not allow the Court to find a
sufficient factual basis for the second prong of the prima facie
case Plaintiff is required to plead under McDonnell Douglas.
While he does state that he was denied employment by IHOP, he
does not allege any facts regarding whether he was treated
differently than a person similarly situated to himself but
outside of his protected class. Plaintiff makes only a
conclusory allegation that he was denied employment with IHOP
because of his race, and suggests that the employer was
concerned not with his ability to do the job but with his
ability to communicate with other employees. Because Plaintiff
has failed to plead sufficient facts supporting a prima facie
case of racial discrimination under the McDonnell Douglas
framework, and because he has not identified any direct evidence
of racial or ethnic discrimination in the hiring process, the
Court must dismiss his claim.
Having found that the Complaint fails to state a
claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s state law
Accordingly, the Court will grant the unopposed motion
to dismiss by Defendant. The accompanying Order will be entered.
March 27, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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