Robinette v. Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital et al
Memorandum of Opinion and Order: Defendant Just-In-Time Staffing's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint is denied. Judge Patricia A. Gaughan on 5/4/17. (LC,S) re 15
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Cleveland Clinic/Medina Hospital, et al., )
CASE NO. 1:16 CV 3097
JUDGE PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN
Memorandum of Opinion and Order
This matter is before the Court upon defendant Just-In-Time Staffing’s Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. 15). This case arises out of the termination of plaintiff’s
employment. For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Brenda Robinette, proceeding pro se, filed her Amended Complaint against
defendants Cleveland Clinic/Medina Hospital and Just-In-Time Staffing. The Amended
Complaint alleges the following.
Plaintiff, who is black, was hired by Just-In-Time Staffing (hereafter, defendant) on
June 29, 2015, to work at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wooster, Ohio location as a Contract
Phlebotomist. Plaintiff was interviewed by defendant’s recruiter, Antoinette Crimi, who was
also plaintiff’s primary contact person throughout the assignment. During the interview,
Crimi explained to plaintiff that once placed on assignment, she would basically be employed
by the Cleveland Clinic. Plaintiff was told she would do her training at the Cleveland Clinic
Medina Hospital prior to starting at the Wooster location. Bruce Williams was plaintiff’s
supervisor. Plaintiff did work at both locations but was not compensated for “floating.”
Plaintiff had an incident with a patient who yelled at her while plaintiff was trying to get a
blood specimen from his wife. Plaintiff believed the incident was motivated by her race.
Plaintiff wrote an incident report and gave it to Williams. She gave a copy to Crimi. The next
day, Williams called plaintiff into his office to address several complaints he had about
plaintiff. When plaintiff inquired as to her incident report, Williams stated that he would give
it to security. Two black patients complained to plaintiff about not being treated fairly at the
hospital by other white staff members, including a phlebotomist. A white phlebotomist
refused to draw a black patient’s blood and plaintiff did it instead. Defendant scheduled a
younger white male phlebotomist to work at both Wooster as well as Medina, although he
lived in Akron. Plaintiff lived in Canton and was told by defendant that it tried to send
phlebotomists to locations closest to them. Plaintiff contacted defendant about this and was
told not to worry about someone else’s schedule. Ultimately, plaintiff had to draw the blood
of an infant at the hospital, a job not considered by plaintiff to be one of her “strong points.”
In doing so, “some blood smeared on [the] pk card.” The phlebotomist plaintiff was working
with “made a big deal about it.” She yelled at plaintiff and plaintiff yelled back. The next
morning, plaintiff was notified by defendant that her assignment had been terminated by
Williams due to the incident. Thereafter, Williams refused to give plaintiff a reference for
While the Amended Complaint does not contain enumerated counts, it asserts race
discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation under federal law.
This matter is now before the Court upon defendant Just-In-Time Staffing’s Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint.
Standard of Review
“Dismissal is appropriate when a plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). We assume the factual allegations in the complaint are true
and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Comtide Holdings,
LLC v. Booth Creek Management Corp., 2009 WL 1884445 (6th Cir. July 2, 2009) (citing
Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir.2008) ). In construing
the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, “the court does not accept
the bare assertion of legal conclusions as enough, nor does it accept as true unwarranted
factual inferences.” Gritton v. Disponett, 2009 WL 1505256 (6th Cir. May 27, 2009) (citing In
re Sofamor Danek Group, Inc., 123 F.3d 394, 400 (6th Cir.1997). As outlined by the Sixth
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not
necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.”Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). However,
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level” and to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555, 570. A plaintiff must “plead[ ] 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).
Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir.2012). Thus, Twombly and Iqbal require
that the complaint contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face based on factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint must contain “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Defendant argues that plaintiff fails to state a claim because she admits in her pleading
that defendants had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating her. Therefore,
she admits the absence of pretext. In particular, defendant points to plaintiff’s allegation that
she had difficulty drawing infants’ blood. In doing so one evening, she smeared the sample
on a PK card. This precipitated a yelling match with the other phlebotomist working that
night. Plaintiff was notified the next day that she had been terminated due to the “incident that
night.” (Am.Compl.¶¶14, 15) On this basis, defendant maintains, plaintiff acknowledges the
misbehavior and that it led to the termination.
It is well-established that once a plaintiff in a Title VII discrimination case establishes
a prima facie case, the employer must set forth a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the
adverse action and the plaintiff must then establish that the reason was pretextual. The
plaintiff may meet her burden of establishing pretext by showing: (1) the stated reasons had
no basis in fact; (2) the stated reasons did not actually motivate the adverse employment
action; or (3) the stated reasons were insufficient to warrant the challenged conduct. Maben v.
Southwestern Med. Clinic, 630 Fed.Appx. 438 (6th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted).
As for pleading, other courts have recognized that “for Title VII claims, the plaintiff is
not required to establish a prima facie case to withstand a motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512-14 (2002). The Sixth Circuit has
continued to apply Swierkiewicz's holding even after the Supreme Court's decisions in
Twombly and Iqbal. See Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 609 (6th Cir. 2012).” Clemons
v. City of Memphis, 2016 WL 7471412 (W.D.Tenn. Dec. 28, 2016). “Consequently, so long
as a plaintiff's complaint provides a defendant with fair notice of the basis of his claims, and
an adequate factual basis for those claims, a plaintiff's claim of employment discrimination
will survive a motion to dismiss.” Id. (citing Swierkiewicz, other citations and internal
Nor can dismissal be justified for the failure to plead pretext. Plaintiff may have
alleged, and consequently acknowledged, that the stated reason for her termination had a basis
in fact, but the Court cannot assume, at this stage, that the stated reason actually motivated the
termination or was sufficient to warrant the termination.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant Just-In-Time Staffing’s Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Patricia A. Gaughan
PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN
United States District Judge
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