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Mendoza v. Macy's Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 19, 2019

RENEE C. MENDOZA, Plaintiff,
MACY'S INC., Defendant.




         On August 23, 2019, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a civil complaint against Defendant Macy’s Inc. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff alleges claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., related to her suspension and subsequent demotion from a full-time position to part-time. (Id. at 5–6.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $100, 000, plus one-week pay for lost wages during her suspension. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, which was granted on September 4, 2019. (Docs. 2, 3.)

         Plaintiff’s complaint is now before the Court for screening. The Court finds Plaintiff has not stated a cognizable claim, but may be able to correct the deficiencies in her pleading. Thus, Plaintiff is provided the pleading and legal standards for her claims and is granted leave to file a first amended complaint.

         A. Screening Requirement and Standard

         The Court is required to screen complaints in cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiffs complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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).

         The Court’s screening of the complaint is governed by the following standards. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory; or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep ’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Plaintiff must allege a minimum factual and legal basis for each claim that is sufficient to give each defendant fair notice of what Plaintiffs claims are and the grounds upon which they rest. See, e.g., Brazil v. U.S. Dep ’t of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995); McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).

         B. Pleading Requirements

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). Moreover, since Plaintiff is appearing pro se, the Court must construe the allegations of his complaint liberally and must afford Plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. See Karim Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep’t, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiffs factual allegations.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat’l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         Further, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do . . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ 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.”) (internal citations omitted).


         A. Plaintiff’s Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated her civil rights and discriminated against her in response to her “cooperation in [a] lawsuit against [Defendant] previously.” (Doc. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 5, 2019, she was “told to sign a form of suspension” but refused to sign it, and “later [her] full-time position was lost.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims this action prevented her from earning a living wage, caused her to lose her benefits, and created a hostile work environment for her where she was made to feel not welcome at her job. (See id.)

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant’s action in suspending and later demoting her was discriminatory and in violation of Title VII and the ADEA. (See Id . at 5–6.)

         B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Cognizable Claim under Title VII

         1. Title VII Discrimination

         a. ...

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