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Gbeintor v. Office of Legislative Counsel

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 6, 2016

AMOS GBEINTOR, SR., Plaintiff
v.
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Gregory G. Hollows UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, proceeding in this action pro se, has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302(21), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Plaintiff has filed an incomplete application to proceed without prepayment of fees. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(a). Plaintiff states that he receives a take home salary of $3400 but has not specified a pay period for this amount. (ECF No. 2.)

         Plaintiff will be provided the opportunity to submit either the appropriate affidavit in support of a request to proceed in forma pauperis or the appropriate filing fee. If plaintiff submits another affidavit, he must set forth precisely the amount he receives as take home wages and the pay period for the amount stated.

         The determination that plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis does not complete the required inquiry. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court is directed to dismiss the case at any time if it determines the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

         A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1216, pp. 235-235 (3d ed. 2004). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). "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.

         Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595-96 (1972); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). Unless it is clear that no amendment can cure the defects of a complaint, a pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to notice and an opportunity to amend before dismissal. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1230.

         The complaint alleges that plaintiff, a business analyst and product manager in the Chambers and Committee Divisions of the Office of Legislative Counsel ("Legislative Counsel"), was denied equal pay for the period 2011 through 2015 "for performing the same tasks along with colleagues in the same department with higher classifications." (ECF No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff also claims all his colleagues received promotions but he did not, despite working with them and performing the same work load. Id. The complaint seeks retroactive pay from Legislative Counsel, as well as punitive damages.

         The Equal Pay Act provides in part:

No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees ... at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions....

29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1).

         An Equal Pay Act case requires a plaintiff to prove discrimination by showing that employees of the opposite sex were paid different wages for equal work. Stanley v. University of Southern California, 178 F.3d 1069, 1073-74 (9th Cir. 1999).

         Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the Equal Pay Act ("EPA") because he has not alleged that Legislative Counsel paid men less than women for performing equal work. If plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must ...


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