United States District Court, N.D. California
SECTION 1915 SCREENING OF COMPLAINT RE: DKT. NO.
JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rivers brings this action against the University of San
Francisco (the “University”), for alleged
employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. (Dkt. No. 1.) Having granted Mr.
Rivers' application to proceed in forma pauperis,
(see Dkt. No. 5), the Court now screens the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and concludes
that the complaint is deficient for the reasons stated below.
Rivers' “Employment Discrimination Complaint”
alleges that he was subject to adverse employment actions
because of his race and sex. (Dkt. No. 1 at 1-2 ¶¶
4-5.) The form complaint itself includes no factual
allegations and instead references an attachment that
includes “General Facts.” (See Id. at 2
¶ 6; see also Id. at 5.) Mr. Rivers became an
employee of the University “[i]n or around September
2018.” (Id. at 5.) He “was elected to
the position of Graduate Student Senator Representative for
the School of Education, ” and also “appointed to
the Board of Trustees' Academic Affairs Committee as the
only Graduate Student Representative on campus.”
(Id.) Mr. Rivers and the University agreed that Mr.
Rivers would hold both positions “from September 2018
until May 2019.” (Id.) Mr. Rivers was required
to attend all meetings for both positions, and the
“meeting dates [were] communicated by email.”
University disabled Mr. Rivers' email account on March 1,
2019, in retaliation for a lawsuit Mr. Rivers filed on
February 4, 2019. (Id.) In doing so, the University
“knowingly and intentionally” precluded Mr.
Rivers from completing his work. (Id.) Further, by
blocking Mr. Rivers' email access, the University is
“trying to erase and/or hid crucial evidence for the
pending lawsuit.” (Id.) Mr. Rivers was also
unable to obtain online access to his classes despite having
paid tuition for the 2019 Spring semester. (Id.)
Rivers requests “relief due to the negative actions of
the [University]: 1) using unfair disciplinary actions, 2)
the denial of ongoing growth and training, 3) and work
termination/firing.” (Id. at 6.)
Court has a continuing duty to dismiss any case in which a
party is proceeding in forma pauperis upon a determination
that the case is: (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The
standard of review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) mirrors
that of Rule 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d
1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Lopez v. Smith,
203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000)). Thus, the complaint
must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A facial plausibility
standard is not a “probability requirement” but
mandates “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted). To avoid dismissal, a complaint
must contain more than “naked assertion[s], ”
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57. “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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
plaintiff files a complaint without an attorney, the Court
must “construe the pleadings liberally . . . to afford
the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Upon dismissal,
self-represented plaintiffs proceeding in forma pauperis must
be given leave to “to amend their complaint unless it
is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint
could not be cured by amendment.” Franklin v.
Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228 n.9 (9th Cir. 1984)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
state a claim for employment discrimination under Title VII,
a plaintiff must show that (1) he is a member of a protected
class, (2) he was performing his job in a satisfactory
manner, (3) he suffered an adverse employment decision, and
(4) he was treated differently than similarly situated
persons outside his protected class. McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Here, the
complaint does not include any allegations from which it can
be plausibly inferred that the University discriminated
against Mr. Rivers in violation of Title VII. Mr. Rivers
includes no factual allegations whatsoever regarding any
incidents of discrimination on the basis of his sex or race;
instead, Mr. Rivers simply checked boxes on the Employment
Discrimination form complaint indicating that the University
discriminated against him based on his “race or
color” and “sex.” (See Dkt. No. 1
at 2 ¶ 5.) As for the alleged retaliation in response to
a lawsuit Mr. Rivers filed in February 2019, Mr. Rivers does
not specify what the suit entailed or who it was against and
therefore the Court cannot conclude that Mr. Rivers has
plausibly alleged a Title VII retaliation claim.
the complaint fails Section 1915 review.
reasons set forth above, Mr. Rivers' complaint fails
section 1915 review. Mr. Rivers may file an amended complaint
within 30 days; the amended complaint must identify his
claims and include a plain statement of facts in support. The
Court encourages Mr. Rivers to seek free assistance from the
Northern District's Legal Help Center, 450 Golden Gate
Avenue, 15th Floor, Room ...