Griffin v. Delta Technical College, et al.
ORDER ADOPTING Report and Recommendations 21 ; DISMISSING Griffin's complaint; DENYING AS MOOT 16 Griffins motion for extension of time and 19 Defendants motion to rule. Signed by Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr on 11/29/2017. (Mays, Samuel)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
JAMES DEWAYNE GRIFFIN,
DELTA TECHNICAL COLLEGE,
Before the Court is the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation, dated September 22, 2017 (the “Report”).
The Report recommends granting Defendant Delta
Technical College’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 15).
an objection to the Report on October 6, 2017.
(ECF No. 22.)
Defendant has not filed a response to Griffin’s objection, and
the deadline to do so has passed.
Also before the Court are Griffin’s March 17, 2017 motion
for extension of time to respond to Defendant’s Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 16), and Defendant’s July 24, 2017 motion to
rule on its Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 19).
For the following reasons, the Report is ADOPTED.
Griffin’s complaint is DISMISSED.
Griffin’s motion for
extension of time and Defendant’s motion to rule are DENIED as
On January 20, 2017, Griffin filed a pro se complaint
against Defendant and individual defendants 1, asserting
employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.
(Compl., ECF No. 1.)
The complaint alleges that Defendant
discriminated against Griffin based on Griffin’s race (AfricanAmerican), gender (male), and color (brown-dark skinned).
Defendant’s alleged discriminatory conduct includes
termination of Griffin’s employment, failure to promote,
unequal terms and conditions of employment, and retaliation.
The complaint also alleges that Griffin was humiliated,
intimidated, and disrespected.
It alleges that
Defendant “fabricate[d] facts” and violated the Federal Motor
Safety regulations by asking Griffin to perform work with a
flat tire on a tractor-trailer, clean a restroom, and cut grass
–- despite Griffin’s informing Defendant that he was allergic
The individual defendants were dismissed from this action on June
14, 2017. (Order, ECF No. 17.)
On March 3, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim.
(ECF No. 15.)
On March 17, 2017, Griffin filed a motion for extension of
time to respond to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
On July 24, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to rule, asking
the Court to rule on its Motion to Dismiss.
(ECF No. 19.)
Defendant filed its answer on September 8, 2017.
United States Magistrate Judge Edward G. Bryant entered
the Report on September 22, 2017.
(ECF No. 21.)
finds that the complaint fails to state a claim for
discrimination based on race because the complaint “fails to
allege sufficient factual allegations to determine if [Griffin]
was qualified for the position he held with Defendant or if
[Griffin] was treated differently than similarly situated
members of an unprotected class.”
(Id. at 67.)
finds that the complaint fails to state a claim based on color
discrimination because the “complaint lacks any facts that link
discrimination to the color of [Griffin’s] skin. . . .”
The Report finds that the complaint fails to state a
claim for discrimination based on gender because the complaint
fails “to present any facts that support that Defendant is an
‘unusual employer who discriminates against the majority’ . . .
[and] does not allege any treatment of female employees. . . .”
(Id.) The Report finds that the complaint fails to state a
claim for retaliation because the complaint does “not
satisfactorily allege what protected activity [Griffin]
engaged in, the knowledge of that protected activity by
Defendant, or a causal connection between the protected
activity and the adverse action.”
(Id. at 69.)
also finds that that the complaint’s “unspecified Federal Motor
Safety Violation would not in itself be prohibited under Title
Griffin filed a timely objection on October 6, 2017.
Griffin includes new assertions about his treatment
by Defendant’s employees.
He claims he faced racial
discrimination when he was terminated from his position as a
Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) instructor, despite his
(Id. at 70.)
Griffin represents that he
“never had unsatisfactory job performance and had the best
success rate out of all instructors.”
(Id. at 72.)
claims that Lead Instructor Ryals would require Griffin to work
before starting his shift and would later claim Griffin was
(Id. at 70.)
Griffin includes new assertions about the
day before his termination.
He claims he had a conversation
with CDL Program Director Sloan and Lead Instructor Ryals about
Griffin’s alleged tardiness and certain Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration issues and violations that had occurred.
(Id. at 71.)
The conversation ended with CDL Program Director
Sloan’s insisting Griffin take the day off.
evening, Griffin sent Brian Huff, Defendant’s Chief Executive
Officer (“CEO”), an email describing racist practices of Lead
Instructor Ryals and other managing employees.
The next morning, Griffin was asked to meet with
Defendant’s School Director Fitzgerald and CDL Program Director
Sloan at an office in Horn Lake, Mississippi.
(Id. at 72.)
School Director Fitzgerald and CDL Program Director Sloan gave
Griffin a Separation Notice Document to sign.
signed “DO NOT IN AGREEMENT WITH BUT ACCEPT.”
As to his color discrimination claim, Griffin asserts that
he was denied time off for a medical physical, while lightskinned and white CDL instructors received time off “none
military related and medical for personal reasons.”
As to his gender discrimination claim, Griffin asserts
that he “was falsely accused of my sex (male-not conforming to
gender stereotypes), racial slurs, and degrading
indentifications [sic] multiple times in which Plaintiff deny
by Delta (Lead Instr. Ryals) and he transfer the false
accusations to some students.”
As to his retaliation claim, Griffin asserts he was
provided defective equipment and was asked to conduct tasks
outside the scope of his position.
Griffin also asserts
that Lead Instructor Ryals and School Director Fitzgerald would
harass and name-call Griffin, despite Griffin’s requests that
Defendant has not responded to Griffin’s objections.
Standard of Review
A. Report and Recommendation
Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636 to relieve the burden on
the federal judiciary by permitting the assignment of districtcourt duties to magistrate judges.
See United States v.
Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Gomez v.
United States, 490 U.S. 858, 869-70 (1989)).
matters, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part
of the magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C.
After reviewing the evidence, the court is free
to accept, reject, or modify the magistrate judge’s proposed
findings or recommendations.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The district court is not required to review -- under a de
novo or any other standard -- “any issue that is not the
subject of an objection.”
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150
The district court should adopt the findings and
rulings of the Magistrate Judge to which no specific objection
Id.; United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 950
(6th Cir. 1981.)
Objections to any part of a Magistrate Judge’s disposition
“must be clear enough to enable the district court to discern
those issues that are dispositive and contentious.”
Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995); see also Arn, 474
U.S. at 147 (stating that the purpose of the rule is to “focus
attention on those issues . . . that are at the heart of the
Each objection to the magistrate judge's
recommendation should include how the analysis is wrong, why it
was wrong and how de novo review will obtain a different result
on that particular issue.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).
“[W]hile the Magistrate Judge Act . . . permits de
novo review by the district court if timely objections are
filed, absent compelling reasons, it does not allow parties to
raise at the district court stage new arguments or issues that
were not presented to the magistrate.”
Murr v. United States,
200 F.3d 895, 902 (6th Cir. 2000).
B. Motion to Dismiss
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows dismissal
of a complaint that “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted.”
As such, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion permits the
“defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff
is entitled to legal relief even if everything alleged in the
complaint is true.”
Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th
Cir. 1993) (citing Nishiyama v. Dickson Cnty., 814 F.2d 277,
279 (6th Cir. 1987)).
A motion to dismiss only tests whether
the plaintiff has pled a cognizable claim and allows the court
to dismiss meritless cases which would waste judicial resources
and result in unnecessary discovery.
Brown v. City of Memphis,
440 F.Supp.2d 868, 872 (W.D. Tenn. 2006).
When evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim, the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
If a court decides in light of its
judicial experience and common sense, that the claim is not
plausible, the case may be dismissed at the pleading stage.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
The “[f]actual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above [a] speculative level.”
Ass'n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, 502 F.3d
545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
claim is plausible on its face if “the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations.
However, a plaintiff's “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.”
When deciding a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court may
look to “matters of public record, orders, items appearing in
the record of the case and exhibits attached to the complaint”
Barany-Snyder v. Weiner, 539 F.3d 327, 332 (6th
Cir. 2008) (quoting Amini v. Oberlin Coll., 259 F.3d 493, 502
(6th Cir. 2001)).
All of Griffin’s objections assert facts and make
allegations that are not in the complaint.
moved to amend the complaint.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
Griffin has not
He has also failed to respond to
An objection to a Magistrate
Judge’s Report and Recommendation is not the proper vehicle to
amend the complaint.
It is also not the proper vehicle to
raise arguments or issues not presented to the Magistrate
On either of those grounds, Griffin’s objections would
Even if Griffin had amended his complaint to include his
new assertions, his complaint would fail to state a claim under
A. Racial Discrimination
To establish a prima facie case for racial discrimination
under Title VII, a plaintiff must show: (1) he is a member of a
protected class; (2) he suffered an adverse employment action;
(3) he was qualified for the position; and (4) he was replaced
by a person outside his protected class or was treated
differently than similarly situated members of the unprotected
Michael v. Caterpillar Fin. Servs. Corp., 496 F.3d 584,
593 (6th Cir. 2007).
Griffin fails to state a claim for discrimination based on
race because he fails to allege sufficient facts to show he was
treated differently than similarly situated members of an
The plaintiff is required to “demonstrate
that he or she is similarly-situated to the non-protected
employee in all relevant respects.”
Ercegovich v. Goodyear
Tire & Rubber Co., 154 F.3d 344, 350 (6th Cir. 1998).
argues that two white instructors received time off “none
military related and medical for personal reasons,” 2 although
Griffin was denied time off to receive his CDL Medical
(ECF No. 22 at 72.)
Griffin also argues that he was
senior to those white instructors.
It is unclear
whether the white instructors were CDL instructors, like
It is clear that Griffin and the white instructors
did not have comparable seniority.
Griffin offers no other
facts to satisfy the fourth prong of the test.
failed to demonstrate he was treated differently than other
similarly-situated, non-protected employees in all respects.
Griffin’s racial discrimination claim is DISMISSED.
B. Color Discrimination
Griffin failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
before bringing his color discrimination claim.
not make a claim of color discrimination in his Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge.
“[C]olor discrimination is distinct from race
discrimination in that the former arises when the particular
hue of the plaintiff's skin is the cause of the
Cooper v. Jackson–Madison Cnty. Gen. Hosp.
It is unclear from this allegation whether the white instructors
received time off for medical physicals. Construing Griffin’s allegations
liberally, the Court assumes the white instructors received time off for
Dist., 742 F.Supp.2d 941, 951 (W.D. Tenn. 2010) (internal
Because a Title VII plaintiff cannot
assert claims in a lawsuit that were not properly alleged in a
charge filed with the EEOC, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(f)(1),
Griffin’s color discrimination claim is DISMISSED.
C. Gender Discrimination
Griffin fails to state a claim for discrimination based on
gender because he does not present any facts that support that
Defendant discriminates against men and does not allege that
female employees were treated more favorably.
To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination,
a plaintiff is required to show that: (1) he is a member of a
protected group; (2) he was subjected to an adverse employment
decision; (3) he was qualified for the position; and (4)
similarly situated non-protected employees were treated more
Peltier v. United States, 388 F.3d 984, 987 (6th
Where the plaintiff is a member of a majority
claiming discrimination, the Sixth Circuit modifies the first
and fourth prongs of the four-pong test.
385 F.3d 683, 690 (6th Cir. 2004).
Leadbetter v. Gilley,
Instead of membership in a
protected class, the plaintiff must “demonstrate ‘background
circumstances [to] support the suspicion that the defendant is
that unusual employer who discriminates against the majority.’”
Sutherland v. Michigan Dep't of Treasury, 344 F.3d 603, 614
(6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Zambetti v. Cuyahoga Cmty. Coll., 314
F.3d 249, 255 (6th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks
“To satisfy the fourth prong in a reverse-
discrimination case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant
treated differently employees who were similarly situated but
were not members of the protected class.”
Leadbetter, 385 F.3d
Griffin makes no allegation that Defendant is the “unusual
employer” that discriminates against men or that similarlysituated females were treated more favorably.
discrimination claim is DISMISSED.
Griffin fails to state a claim for retaliation because he
does not allege that the decision makers who terminated him
knew that Griffin had engaged in protected activity.
To establish a prima facie case for retaliation, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) he engaged in activity
protected by Title VII; (2) his exercise of protected activity
was known by Defendant; (3) Defendant took an action that was
materially adverse to Plaintiff; and (4) a causal connection
exists between the protected activity and the materially
Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 730
(6th Cir. 2014).
Griffin contends in his objection that he sent an e-mail
to Defendant’s CEO the evening before termination, complaining
of racist behavior by Defendant’s employees.
71-72 (citing ECF No. 22-12).)
(ECF No. 22 at
That qualifies as protected
Cf. Brown v. VHS of Michigan, Inc., 545 F. App'x 368,
374 (6th Cir. 2013) (finding plaintiff’s single e-mail to a
supervisor that did not reference sex, race, or age
discrimination did not constitute protected activity).
Griffin fails to cite any facts establishing that the
decision makers who terminated him knew of his protected
Mulhall v. Ashcroft, 287 F.3d 543, 551–52 (6th Cir.
There is no contention that the e-mail was received or
circulated to any other employees, or that Defendant’s CEO was
the decision maker in Griffin’s case.
claim is DISMISSED.
E. Violations of Federal Motor Safety
Griffin does not object or refer to the determination
that violations of Federal Motor Safety are not prohibited
under Title VII.
That portion of the Report is adopted.
Arn, 474 U.S. at 150-51.
Griffin’s Federal Motor Safety claim
For the foregoing reasons, the Report is ADOPTED.
Griffin’s complaint is DISMISSED.
Griffin’s motion for
extension of time to respond and Defendant’s motion to rule are
DENIED AS MOOT.
So ordered this 29th day of November, 2017.
/s/ Samuel H. Mays, Jr.
SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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