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Fred L. King v. Corcoran State Prison

June 8, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge




Plaintiff Fred King ("Plaintiff") is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action for damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et. seq. against Corcoran State Prison ("Corcoran") and Walden House, Inc. ("Walden House").*fn1

In his Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), Plaintiff alleges he was discharged from his employment as a counselor at Walden House because Corcoran revoked his security clearance.Plaintiff claims that his security clearance was revoked because of an "investigation b[r]ought on by false allegations made about [his] conduct . . . ." (Doc. 13 at 1.) He asserts that others, who are not African American, were not terminated from their employment despite being investigated for similar security issues. (Doc. 13 at 1.) Plaintiff also alleges that he was terminated in part because of his "knowledge of corruption and misconduct of officers" at the Department of Corrections and because "it came to light that [he] was once an inmate . . . ." (Doc 13 at 1.) Plaintiff also believes he was singled out because of his race.


A. Screening Standard

In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case, and shall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

B. Failure to State a Claim

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

C. Analysis

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) ("Title VII"), it is an unlawful employment practice 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, color, religion, sex, or national origin." A person is discriminated against when he or she is singled out and treated less favorably than others similarly situated on account of race, for example. Jauregui v. City of Glendale, 852 F.2d 1128, 1134 (9th Cir. 1988).

1. No Cognizable Claim Against Corcoran State Prison

Title VII liability is premised upon "some connection with an employment relationship." Lutcher v. Musicians Union Local 47, 633 F.2d 880, 883 (9th Cir. 1980). With only limited exceptions related primarily to prospective employers and applicants for employment, the employer charged with discrimination under Title VII must have been the plaintiff's employer at the time of the alleged discrimination for plaintiff to prevail. See City of L.A. v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 718 n.33 (1978) (Title VII "primarily govern[s] relations between employees and their employer, not ...

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