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Wanda Al-Raheem v. Covenant Care

September 30, 2011

WANDA AL-RAHEEM,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COVENANT CARE,
DEFENDANT.



MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND AMENDED MOTION TO DISMISS

Documents # 6 & #10

This is a civil rights action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for damages and equitable relief by pro se plaintiff Wanda Al-Raheem ("Plaintiff") against defendant Covenant Care ("Defendant"). In the instant motion, Defendant seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Federal question jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper in this court.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

The complaint in this action was filed on November 8, 2010. The claims for relief in the complaint are alleged pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e). The complaint purports to allege claims for "hostile work environment," "harassment, "retaliation" and "discrimination." Although the claims are not set out separately or formally, the court interprets Plaintiff's complaint as alleging claims for hostile work environment or harassment, retaliation and disparate treatment.

Plaintiff is an African-American woman was hired by Defendant in September 2006 as a "Business Office Manager" at Turlock Nursing Rehabilitation Facility, a Defendant-owned medical treatment facility. At the time of Plaintiff's employment, Michael Darouze was the executive director and the person to whom Plaintiff reported. Somewhat confusingly, Plaintiff's complaint alleges that a person named Toni Perkins was both Defendant's "accounts receivable consultant" and one of Defendant's employees. Although the complaint alleges that Perkins continuously harassed Plaintiff by assigning unreasonable work output goals, issuing conflicting orders to office staff and attempting to micro-manage Plaintiff's workflow, the complaint is not entirely clear as to the relationship between Plaintiff and Perkins or as between Perkins and Defendant. In particular, it is not clear whether Perkins had authority to hire, fire or direct workers, including Plaintiff.

The complaint alleges that Perkins acted to undermine Plaintiff's efforts to meet company goals and objectives such that Plaintiff felt it necessary to complain to Darouze, who failed to act to resolve the situation. The complaint is not clear on the issue of whether Darouze had supervisory authority over Perkins. The complaint alleges that following Plaintiff's complaint to Darouze, Perkins began an incessant campaign of harassment in retaliation for what Plaintiff contends was the protected activity of complaining about Perkins' subversive and intimidating behavior. Plaintiff alleges the retaliatory harassment included the imposition of highly unreasonable job demands; including requiring that Plaintiff process rejected Medicare part A and B claims dating back four years in one day. Plaintiff also alleges Perkins embarked on a campaign of interference by calling Plaintiff every sixty minutes and demanding that Plaintiff answer e-mail inquiries immediately while she was trying to process the old Medicare claims.

Plaintiff alleges that ultimately the stress caused by Perkins' harassment and the failure of Darouze or anyone from Covenant Care to address Plaintiff's complaints required Plaintiff to be placed on medical leave by her physician. After a three-day term of medical leave Plaintiff returned to work and complained that Perkins "was unreasonable, discriminatory, unprofessional, and was placing [. . .] Plaintiff's health in jeopardy." Doc. #1 at ¶ 40. Plaintiff alleges Darouze was unresponsive to Plaintiff's complaints. At paragraphs 68 and 69 of the complaint Plaintiff alleges:

The Plaintiff was retaliated against for "protected Activity" by Toni Perkins after the Plaintiff verbally complained to Executive Director Michael Darouze about [Perkins'] work ethic. [Perkins'] retaliation towards the Plaintiff became extremely pervasive in every task she assigned to the Plaintiff. This constitutes an adverse employment action. ¶ The Plaintiff was discriminated against by Toni Perkins as the Plaintiff was treated differently from the previous office manager who was white.

The complaint alleges that Plaintiff was assigned to medical leave by her physician from May 2, 2007, to May 16, 2007. Medical leave was subsequently extended by Plaintiff's physician to June 17, 2007. Plaintiff alleges that:

On May 15, 2007, upon the Plaintiff returning to the business office, to drop off medical leave extension notice, the Plaintiff discovered a Corrective Disciplinary Action, dated on May 2, 2007, [the date of commencement of her medical leave] and signed by Executive Director Michael Darouze. This write up form, listed unreasonable job deadlines, termination. This constitutes an adverse employment action."

Doc. # 1 at ¶ 76.

At paragraph 84 of the complaint, Plaintiff alleges:

On May 31, 2007, the Plaintiff decided to resign from the position of Business Office Manager at Covenant Care/TNR, which was not a voluntary choice, the thought of going bact to work continued to make the Plaintiff physically and emotional[ly] ill. The Plaintiff's resignation was a constructive discharge. The Plaintiff's objective was to return to work, and hopefully stay employed with Covenant Care until the Plaintiff retired -- as the first few months of the Plaintiff['s] employment was enjoyable. However, the Plaintiff['s] husband received a temporary job out of state and the Plaintiff decided to join him as the Plaintiff, was too emotionally depressed to be left alone.

Defendant's amended motion to dismiss was filed on February 23, 2011. On April 14, 2011, the court vacated the date set for oral argument on Defendant's motion to dismiss and took the matter under submission. ...


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