Van Beek v. Professional Data Systems, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re: 19 MOTION to Dismiss , filed by Professional Data Systems, Inc. The motion to dismiss is GRANTED. The Clerk is instructed to terminate the motion (Doc. #19) and close the case. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Vincent L. Briccetti on 2/6/17) (yv) Modified on 2/6/2017 (yv).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
RYAN VAN BEEK,
PROFESSIONAL DATA SYSTEMS, INC.,
16 CV 610 (VB)
Plaintiff Ryan Van Beek brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and New York state law against defendant Professional Data
Systems, Inc. (“PDS”), alleging PDS wrongfully terminated him on the basis of a prior
Now pending is PDS’s motion to dismiss the complaint. (Doc. #19).
For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
In deciding the pending motion, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations of
plaintiff’s complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff’s favor.
In 2000, when plaintiff was twenty-two years old, he was convicted of a misdemeanor
offense in state court. (Compl. ¶¶ 14, 20).
Plaintiff was hired by PDS in 2008, and by 2015 he held the position of Senior Technical
Advisor. (Compl. ¶ 13). Plaintiff alleges PDS was aware of his misdemeanor conviction when
he was hired and throughout the term of his employment. (Id. ¶ 15). Moreover, plaintiff alleges
PDS “regularly and routinely promoted” plaintiff and provided him “pay raises and
advancement” within the company, despite his prior misdemeanor conviction. (Id. ¶ 16).
In 2014, PDS underwent a “merger and/or acquisition with” Stemp Systems Group, Inc.
(Compl. ¶ 18). During the negotiation of that merger/acquisition, “multiple authorized members
of PDS management” told plaintiff that “representatives of Stemp Systems, Inc., had taken the
position that [p]laintiff’s employment must be terminated immediately upon completion of said
merger/acquisition” because of “the existence of the misdemeanor conviction.” (Id. ¶¶ 19-20).
Plaintiff was terminated in July 2015. (Id. ¶ 16).
Plaintiff alleges he was terminated “solely on the basis of” his misdemeanor conviction.
(Compl. ¶ 21). He alleges this constituted discrimination and caused him humiliation, physical
illness, and emotional distress. (Id. ¶ 22).
On September 28, 2015, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). Plaintiff thereafter received a right to sue letter from the EEOC, and he
timely commenced this lawsuit on January 28, 2016.
Standard of Review
In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court evaluates the sufficiency of the operative
complaint under the “two-pronged approach” articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). First, plaintiff’s legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,” are not entitled
to the assumption of truth and are thus not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Id. at 678;
Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 161 (2d Cir. 2010). Second, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the allegations in the complaint must meet a standard
of “plausibility.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
564 (2007). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
PDS argues plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a Title VII claim.
The Court agrees.
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to “discharge any individual . . . because of
such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2. To
establish a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge under Title VII, a plaintiff must “show
that (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was qualified for the position he held; (3) he
suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the adverse action took place under
circumstances giving rise to the inference of discrimination.” Ruiz v. Cty. of Rockland, 609 F.3d
486, 492 (2d Cir. 2010).
Here, plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he “is a member of a protected class as
defined by Title VII,” but he does not indicate membership in any of the classes Title VII
protects. (Compl. ¶ 11). Instead, plaintiff alleges only that he was terminated “solely on the
basis of [his prior] misdemeanor conviction.” (Id. at ¶ 21).
Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of a prior criminal conviction. See
e.g., Booker v. City of New York, 2017 WL 151625, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 13, 2017) (collecting
cases) (“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against individuals with criminal records.”).
Accordingly, the complaint fails to state a claim under Title VII.
Civil Rights Act of 1991
Plaintiff also purports to assert a cause of action under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, but
provides no detail regarding facts that supposedly support that claim or what portion of that Act
he believes defendant violated. The Court therefore dismisses that claim for lack of specificity.
See Tubner v. West, 162 F.3d 1148 (2d Cir. 1998) (summary order) (“The Civil Rights Act of
1991 amended various civil rights laws, including 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
and 42 U.S.C. § 12111. Because [plaintiff] did not specify what portion of the Act the defendants
allegedly violated, this claim was properly dismissed for lack of specificity.”) (internal citation
Because the Court grants PDS’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s federal claims, there are no
claims remaining over which it has original jurisdiction. “A district court’s decision whether to
exercise [supplemental] jurisdiction after dismissing every claim over which it had original
jurisdiction is purely discretionary.” Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639
(2009); 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
the remaining state law claims here.
Leave to Amend
The Court should freely grant leave to amend a complaint “when justice so requires.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a).
By Order dated May 27, 2016, after PDS filed the instant motion to dismiss, the Court
sua sponte granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. #15). The Order further
stated that if plaintiff chose to rely on the original complaint, he would not be granted leave to
file an amended complaint absent special circumstances.
By letter dated June 3, 2016, plaintiff’s counsel informed the Court that plaintiff intended
to file an amended complaint by June 17, 2016. (Doc. #16). However, on June 15, 2016,
plaintiff’s counsel stated that “[a]fter further review of the existing complaint and Defendant’s
motion, Plaintiff has reconsidered [his] position regarding amendment and instead prefers not to
amend his complaint.” (Doc. #18).
As a result, the Court has already given plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to show he has
a valid claim and an opportunity to ameliorate his complaint, and plaintiff has declined to do so.
Accordingly, the Court declines to grant plaintiff a further opportunity to amend.
The motion to dismiss is GRANTED.
The Clerk is instructed to terminate the motion (Doc. #19) and close the case.
Dated: February 6, 2017
White Plains, NY
Vincent L. Briccetti
United States District Judge
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