United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Shawn Martin brings this suit for
employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal
Pay Act. This matter is now before the Court upon
plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, or without prepayment of fees. Having reviewed
plaintiff's motion and financial affidavit, the Court
finds that plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to pay the filing
fee. Plaintiff's motion will be granted and the filing
fee will be waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
However, for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds
that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted and will therefore dismiss the complaint
without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is
frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. To state a claim
for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal
conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a
plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679.
“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.” Id. at 678. Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.
Id. at 679.
reviewing a pro se complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915, the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true,
White v. Clark, 750 F.2d 721, 722 (8th Cir. 1984),
and liberally construes the complaint. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A “liberal
construction” means that if the essence of an
allegation is discernible, the district court should construe
the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits his or
her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.
Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir.
2015). However, even pro se complaints are required
to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a
matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282,
1286 (8th Cir. 1980). Federal courts are not required to
assume facts that are not alleged. Stone v. Harry,
364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (refusing to supply
additional facts or to construct a legal theory for the
pro se plaintiff that assumed facts that had not
brings this action for employment discrimination against two
defendants: his previous employer, O'Fallon Modern
Dentistry, and its parent company, Pacific Dental Services.
Plaintiff, who was born in 1972, alleges that defendants
discriminated against him based on his age during the period
of December 2015 to April 6, 2018. According to
plaintiff's complaint, defendants' discriminatory
conduct included termination from employment, retaliation,
and harassment. Plaintiff describes the circumstances as
was terminated from his employment with O'Fallon Modern
Dentistry on April 6, 2018, by regional manager Katie
Orschlen, with Dr. David King present. Plaintiff
“believe[s]” that his termination was
“under the direct direction of Simon Abrahms,
” a regional partner at O'Fallon
Dentistry. ECF No. 1 at 6. According to plaintiff, Abrahms
had previously complained about plaintiff's “lack
of treatment primary crowns not done” and about
plaintiff's dental assistants. Plaintiff alleges that
Abrahms told him numerous times in front of other employees
to fire the lead dental assistant because she was making too
much money and she “wasn't making the doctors
produce more treatment.” Id. at 6-7. Abrahms
also made statements about doctors of certain races and
national origins not being “good fits” in certain
office locations. Id. at 7.
mid-2017 closed-door meeting with Abrahms and former regional
manager, Nick Dillard, plaintiff expressed to Abrahms
“how hard [Abrahms] made it working at O'Fallon
Modern Dentistry.” Id. Plaintiff also spoke
with Dr. David King in early 2018 about his concerns. Dr.
King had started at O'Fallon Modern Dentistry in June
2017 and he was an “owner doctor.” Id.
Dr. King informed plaintiff that he told Abrahms and Orschlen
that plaintiff “was the right person for the job”
and that plaintiff “could lead the office into the
alleges that he was told by Dillard that his termination was
at the direction of Abrahms. Id. at 5. Approximately
two months prior to plaintiff's termination, Dillard had
a meeting with Abrahms in which the two decided that Dillard
should give his two weeks' notice of resignation.
Plaintiff alleges that Dillard informed him that during this
meeting, Abrahms told him that he did not like plaintiff and
that plaintiff needed to find another job. Abrahms said that
the new regional manager “would be a ‘Yes'
manager and would follow Simon [Abrahms']
direction.” Id. at 6. Orschlen started as the
new regional manager on March 8, 2018. Plaintiff states that
he worked under her supervision for twenty-one business days
- five of which he took as vacation days - before Orschlen
terminated his employment.
asserts that he filed a charge of discrimination with the
EEOC in October 2018, however, the charge of discrimination
documents attached to the complaint indicate that plaintiff
signed them on November 30, 2018. See ECF Nos. 1 at
3, 1-1 at 3, 5. On those documents, plaintiff specified the
time period for the alleged discrimination as being between
“04-06-2018” and “04-06-2018.” ECF
No. 1-1 at 3. In the particulars of the charge, plaintiff
explains that he was hired by defendants as an office manager
around October 8, 2015, and then terminated by Orschlen and
Dr. King on April 6, 2018. He was told at the time of
termination that “his services were no longer
required.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that, prior
to his termination, regional partner Abrahms had been
overheard “discussing about employees who make to[o]
much [money], and [that] those employees should be
fired.” Id. Plaintiff believes that at the
time of his termination, he was the oldest and highest paid
office manager within the regional area supervised by
Abrahms. Based on this belief, plaintiff alleges that he was
discharged because of his age.
December 4, 2018, plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter
from the EEOC, which he also attached to the complaint. ECF
No. 1-1 at 1-2. Plaintiff filed this suit on March 1, 2019,
seeking an unspecified amount of monetary relief.
claims of employment discrimination based on termination,
retaliation, and harassment under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e, et seq.; the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 621, et seq.; and the Equal Pay Act
(“EPA”), 29 ...