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Agnew v. Brennan

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 3, 2017

SAUNDRA AGNEW, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN BRENNAN, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Saundra Agnew is a United States Postal Service employee. She brings this lawsuit against the Postal Service claiming that it discriminated against her in her employment by subjecting her to a hostile work environment on account of her race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. The Postal Service now moves to dismiss Agnew's complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Agnew has not responded to the motion, and the time to do so has passed. I will grant the motion.

         Legal Standard

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, I assume the allegations in the complaint to be true and construe the complaint in plaintiff's favor. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). I am not bound to accept as true, however, a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Id. at 555.

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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). The factual allegations must be sufficient to “‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Parkhurst v. Tabor, 569 F.3d 861, 865 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). More than labels and conclusions are required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Background[1]

         Plaintiff Saundra Agnew is an African-American woman who works for the Postal Service at the National Distribution Center in Hazelwood, Missouri. Pam Meehan, a Caucasian woman, is the plant manager at the distribution center who Agnew claims subjected her to a hostile work environment on account of her race.

         With respect to alleged discriminatory conduct directed toward her, Agnew claims as follows:

• An employee meeting was called in June 2016 for the purpose of recognizing the good work of certain employees, but Meehan did not acknowledge Agnew as such an employee. Agnew claims that Meehan yelled at her and “got into [her] face” for talking while Meehan was talking, at which time Agnew left the meeting and returned to her work station. Meehan and another manager followed Agnew to her work station, and Meehan stated that she wanted to speak with her. Agnew requested that a union representative be present, but Meehan refused. Agnew avers that the denial of this request was because Meehan has a pattern of yelling at and berating African-American employees and did not want a union representative present while she engaged in this conduct. Agnew also avers that the presence of both Meehan and the other manager at her work station was intended to physically intimidate her, which caused Agnew to fear for her safety.
• On an unspecified date, an employee town hall meeting was held where employees were told that Meehan would answer questions put to her. Meehan answered questions posed by two white employees with no incident. When Agnew asked Meehan about supervisors making a “big deal” about employees requesting certain days off, Meehan yelled at her.
• On an unspecified date, Meehan requested Agnew to perform physical tasks that were outside her medical restrictions. Agnew avers that Meehan made this request for the purpose of disrespecting her as an African-American.

         Agnew also claims generally that Meehan gives hostile looks to African-American employees, refuses to speak to them, and ignores them. Agnew avers that this conduct causes African-American employees to be isolated from white employees. Agnew contends that Meehan's bullying and disrespect toward African-American employees has created a hostile work environment, which is perceived by Agnew to be abusive. Agnew claims that this environment causes her to feel humiliated and embarrassed and has caused emotional distress, loss of dignity, and sleeplessness. She seeks monetary damages.

         Discussion

         In its motion to dismiss, the Postal Service claims that Agnew's complaint fails to state a claim of discriminatory hostile work environment because the conduct of which Agnew complains is not actionable harassment and the facts fail to allege that the conduct affected a term, condition, or privilege of her employment. Agnew has not responded to the motion, and ...


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