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Pointer v. Walmart Corp.

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

July 3, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Walmart's motion for partial dismissal [ECF No. 19] and Plaintiff Charles Pointer's motion for sanctions [ECF No. 22]. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         The facts, as alleged in the complaint are as follows: Plaintiff is African American, disabled, and over forty years old. [Id. at 7] On November 12, 2018, he applied for a job at Defendant's store in Kirkwood, Missouri. Based on a pre-screening test, the hiring coordinator informed Plaintiff that “he could not work good with people.” [Id.] The hiring coordinator introduced Plaintiff to the shipping and receiving manager (“the manager”), who gave Plaintiff a tour of the facility. During the tour, Plaintiff informed the manager that he received dialysis treatments from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., but he assured the manager that “it would not interfere with his work schedule at Walmart.” [Id. at 12-13] After the tour, the manager and hiring coordinator conferred. [Id. at 13] The hiring coordinator subsequently called Plaintiff into her office and informed him, “You would be too slow working in a fast paced work place taking products off the truck and placing products on the shelves.” [Id.]

         Plaintiff filed this pro se employment discrimination against Defendant 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 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.[1] [ECF No. 1] Plaintiff alleged that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of race, age, and disability in failing to hire him and failing to accommodate his disability.[2] Plaintiff also alleged claims of disparate treatment and disparate impact based on race. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and requests that Defendant “give him a job like greeting customers coming into the store or putting goods on the shelves.” [Id. at 8]

         Defendant moves for partial dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). [ECF No. 19] Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to properly plead claims for race discrimination and disparate treatment and failed to exhaust his administrative remedies for a disparate-impact claim. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion for partial dismissal and, additionally, seeks sanctions against Defendant for “malicious prosecution.” [ECF Nos. 22, 27]

         II. Legal Standard

         When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint, but it need not accept legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “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.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In applying these principles, a court must construe a plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). Thus, “if the essence of an allegation is discernible, even though it is not pleaded with legal nicety, then the district court should construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 544 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Stone, 364 F.3d at 915). However, a pro se complaint “still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.” Stone, 364 F.3d at 914.

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendant's motion for partial dismissal

         1. Race discrimination

         Defendant moves for dismissal of Plaintiff's race discrimination claim because Plaintiff “failed to plead a single actionable allegation related in any way to his race.” [ECF No. 19-1 at 5] More specifically, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to support an inference that Defendant's decision not to hire Plaintiff was based, at least in part, on Plaintiff's race. In response, Plaintiff reiterates his allegations that: (1) Plaintiff was African American; (2) Plaintiff was qualified for the job; (3) “Defendant kept on hiring people after they did not hire” Plaintiff; and (4) “Defendant did not give Plaintiff a non-discriminatory reason for not hiring him.” [ECF No. 27 at 1]

         Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race….” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). To state a claim for discriminatory failure to hire, a plaintiff must show that: (1) he belonged to a protected class; (2) he applied and was qualified for a job for which the defendant was seeking applicants; (3) the defendant rejected the plaintiff; and (4) after rejecting the plaintiff, the defendant continued to seek applicants with the plaintiff's qualifications. E.E.O.C. v. Audrain Health Care, Inc., 756 F.3d 1083, 1087 (8th Cir. 2014). Although it is not necessary for an employment discrimination plaintiff to ...

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