United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Kristyna Hayes brings this suit under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), for alleged
employment discrimination and retaliation. Having reviewed
plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and the information submitted in support, the
Court has determined that plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to
pay the filing fee. The motion will be granted and the filing
fee will be waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
For the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct the
Clerk of Court to issue process or cause process to be issued
against defendant Express Scripts.
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). See also 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
Complaint and Charge of Discrimination
brings this action for alleged unlawful employment practices
which occurred on April 24, 2017, against her former
employer, defendant Express Scripts. Plaintiff asserts
employment discrimination based on race, disability, and
because she “took a stress leave from work due to
hostile working conditions.” ECF No. 1 at 5. Plaintiff
complains about the termination of her employment, the terms
and conditions of her employment differing from those of
similar employees, and retaliation. Plaintiff filed a charge
of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on July 10, 2017,
she received a right-to- sue letter from the EEOC dated March
14, 2019. Plaintiff timely filed this civil action on June
10, 2019. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).
allegations are summarized in the complaint, with additional
information in the EEOC charge of discrimination. ECF Nos. 1
& 1-3. Plaintiff began her employment with Express
Scripts in October 2013 as an Insurance Reimbursement
Specialist. Around March 3, 2017, plaintiff states that she
took a two-month “stress leave” due to her
“disability.” Before her leave, plaintiff had no
record of discipline and her performance had always scored as
“satisfactory or above.” ECF No. 1 at 5.
Plaintiff states that she was paid for the first month of her
leave, but that sometime during the leave, she received a
letter stating that she was no longer eligible to receive
payment under her “FMLA disability claim” and
that she needed to return to work. Id. at 6.
was terminated when she returned to work on April 24, 2017.
Plaintiff was told by program supervisor Mandy Harris that
the reason for plaintiff's termination was that she had
violated the company's social media policy while she was
on leave. Harris explained that while plaintiff was on leave
“several negative comments were made [about
employer regarding disability and need for a reasonable
accommodation.” ECF No. 1-3. Plaintiff denies violating
the defendant's social media policy.
describes herself as “Black” and alleges that at
Express Scripts “[m]any black employees had been
getting fired, not able to get promotions and being
mistreated.” Id.; ECF No. 1 at 5. Plaintiff
asserts specifically that supervisor Harris “has a
practice of treating Black employees less favorably than
White employees.” ECF No. 1-3. In addition, when
employees were terminated due to unfair treatment by Harris,
all their termination papers were signed by Harris'
friend in the human resources department. ECF No. 1 at 5.
Plaintiff believes that she was terminated due to her race,
disability, and in retaliation for her need for (and receipt
of) a reasonable accommodation for her disability.
relief, plaintiff requests that the defendant “be held
accountable, ” and plaintiff seeks damages for her
pain, suffering, and lost wages. Id. at 7.
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for an
employer to discriminate against an individual because of her
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2. In order to state a claim under Title VII, a
plaintiff must show either direct evidence of discrimination,
or evidence that is sufficient to create an inference of
discrimination under the McDonnell
Douglas burden shifting framework. Onyiah v.
St. Cloud State University, 684 F.3d 711, 716 (8th Cir.
2012) (citation omitted). Under the framework, a plaintiff
must show: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she
was meeting his employer's legitimate job expectations;
(3) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4)
similarly situated employees outside the protected class were
treated differently. Id. (citation omitted).
plaintiff is a member of a protected racial class; she never
received a bad performance review and was therefore meeting
the expectations for her position; she suffered the adverse
employment action of termination; and she states that white
employees were treated differently in firing and promotion
decisions by defendant. Plaintiff also alleges that the
reason for her termination - a social media policy violation
- was pretext. Although plaintiff will be required to prove
her assertions later, at this stage of the proceeding, she