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Princeton v. Lowe's Homes Centers

November 16, 2009

BALDY PRINCETON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LOWE'S HOMES CENTERS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen District Judge

MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the court on the motion of defendant Lowe's Home Centers, Inc. ("Lowe's") to dismiss plaintiff Baldy Princeton's ("Princeton") amended complaint. For the reasons set forth below, Lowe's motion to dismiss [25] is granted.

BACKGROUND

On January 16, 2009, Princeton filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination on the basis of race and national origin. The charge stated:

I began my employment with Respondent in March 2008. My current position is Customer Sales Associate. In or around December 2008, I applied for several management positions and was not selected.

I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my race, Black and my national origin, Ghanian, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

That same day, Princeton requested the EEOC issue a right to sue letter. On January 26, 2009, the EEOC issued that letter. On March 30, 2009, Princeton filed a this lawsuit alleging only a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000 et. seq. In the charge he filed with the EEOC, Princeton had only alleged discrimination based on race and national origin and not a claim of retaliation against Lowe's.

On August 19, 2009, Princeton filed an amended complaint correcting an error in the initial complaint regarding defendant's name, which Princeton had previously and incorrectly stated as being Lowe's Commercial Services rather than Lowe's Home Centers, Inc. Although the amended complaint did not include any additional facts supporting his retaliation claim, Princeton did attach a letter dated June 3, 2009 to his amended complaint setting forth the factual circumstances of his claim.

In that letter, Princeton alleges that on March 1, 2008, Lowe's hired him as a Team Leader in the department for Outside Lawn and Garden in a Maryland store. In or around June 2008, Princeton alleges he was transferred from the Outside Lawn and Garden department to the Tools department. The following week, Princeton alleges that he requested to transfer to store #2301 in Chicago. Princeton alleges that he enrolled in an entry management training program conducted by Lowe's for Team Leaders desiring additional responsibilities. Around December of 2008, Princeton alleges that two management positions became available in store #2301: Outside Lawn and Garden department manager and department manager of PSA. When Princeton inquired about the positions, he claims that a Lowe's human resources representative told him that the positions had already been filled. Around January of 2009, Princeton claims that Lowe's hired a Customer Service department manager without posting the position and additionally eliminated all of the Team Lead positions within the company nationwide. Based on these facts, Princeton alleges that in and around March of 2009, Lowe's retaliated against him for the charge of discrimination he filed with the EEOC by transferring him from the Tools department to the Inside Garden department without any explanation.

Based upon the allegations set forth in his initial complaint, the amended complaint and letter, Princeton has asserted a retaliation claim against Lowe's. On August 31, 2009, Lowe's filed a motion to dismiss Princeton's claim against them. While Princeton did not file a response to this motion, the court has considered the facts alleged in his EEOC charge of discrimination, initial complaint, amended complaint, and the letter he attached to his amended complaint in considering Lowe's motion to dismiss.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint must be construed in a light favorable to the plaintiff and the court must accept all material facts alleged in the complaint as true. Jackson v. E.J. Branch Corp., 176 F.3d 971, 978 (7th Cir. 1999). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

Additionally, a complaint must describe the claim with sufficient detail as to "give the defendants fair notice of what the.claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint does not need to set forth all relevant facts or recite the law. Rather, all that is required is "a short and plain statement of the claim sowing that the pleader ...


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