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Mary Triplett v. Starbucks Coffee

July 26, 2011

MARY TRIPLETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STARBUCKS COFFEE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Mary Triplett, ("Triplett") filed suit against her employer, defendant Starbucks Coffee ("Starbucks"), alleging employment discrimination and a hostile work environment. Specifically, Count I alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), for racial discrimination and disparate treatment; Count II alleges a hostile work environment; and Count IV [sic] alleges racial discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Starbucks moves to dismiss the hostile work environment claim alleged in Count II for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the Court grants Starbucks's Motion to Dismiss Count II with prejudice for failure to state a claim.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

The following facts are taken from Triplett's Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this Motion to Dismiss. See, Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995).

In April 2002, Triplett began work as a barista at a Starbucks located at 200 E. Randolph in Chicago where she was promoted eventually to shift supervisor. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) After approximately two years at the store on Randolph, Triplett was transferred to a Starbucks located at 68 E. Madison in Chicago, where she remained until her employment was terminated on August 14, 2009. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Triplett alleges that she was terminated due to her race and that she was subjected to a hostile work environment. Starbucks sets forth several employee violations which it claims were the reasons for her discharge.

Nicole Lawrence ("Lawrence") is the store manager who fired Triplett. Lawrence became the store manager in December 2008. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) One month later, Lawrence commented that there were not as many black people in Boston, where she was from, as there were in Chicago. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11.)

On February 19, 2009, Triplett was unable to attend a store meeting due to illness. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) Triplett contacted her shift supervisor, Andrea Vaughn ("Vaughn"),who informed Lawrence that Triplett would not be attending the meeting. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Lawrence, however, subsequently filed a Starbucks Corrective Action Form as a verbal disciplinary action against Triplett for missing the meeting and failing to inform Lawrence of her absence. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.)

Triplett alleges that Lawrence repeatedly discriminated against black employees. For example, in June 2009, Lawrence initiated a store policy requiring Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA") employees, who were overwhelmingly African American, to make a purchase before being allowed to use the restroom. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Starbucks employees who did not follow the policy were subject to disciplinary action. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Also, in May and June 2009, two African American employees (Rosyln Nile and Renee Tullos) were terminated for tardiness. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Lawrence, however, often excused the tardiness of white employees and often accommodated white employees by scheduling them for shifts later in the day. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Then, on July 21, 2009, Triplett arranged for Maureen Wright ("Wright"), a white co-worker, to cover a shift that she was unable to work. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) Wright arrived approximately one hour after the shift was scheduled to begin. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) On July 23, 2009, Lawrence filed a Starbucks Corrective Action Form as a written disciplinary action against Triplett for not fully covering her shift, though Wright was not disciplined for being one hour late. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 17.) The disciplinary action was taken against Triplett despite the fact that on July 11, 2009, Wright arrived one and a half hours late for a shift she agreed to cover for Jayce McCue ("McCue"), another white employee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) Neither Wright nor McCue was issued a Starbucks Corrective Action Form for the gap in coverage of that shift. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) Similarly, on July 18, 2009, Wright was again one and a half hours late for a shift that she agreed to cover for Nicole Butler ("Butler"), another white employee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20.) Neither Wright nor Butler was issued a Starbucks Corrective Action Form for the gap in coverage of that shift. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.)

Finally, on August 2, 2009, Triplett allegedly left a door unlocked after closing the store. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) On August 11, 2009, Lawrence filed a Starbucks Corrective Action Form as a final written disciplinary action against Triplett. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) The Corrective Action Form cited the unlocked door on August 2, inconsistent closing procedures, and an "unwillingness to take ownership of [the] store's cleanliness." (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) On August 14, 2009, Lawrence terminated Triplett's employment. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.)

On October 21, 2009, Triplett filed a Charge of Discrimination ("Charge") with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), claiming discrimination based on race. On May 25, 2010, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue. On August 18, 2010, Triplett filed a pro se Complaint. The Court then appointed counsel to Triplett, who filed an Amended Complaint on April 14, 2011.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Murphy, 51 F.3d at 717. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, 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 the plaintiff must allege facts that, when "accepted as true . . . 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In analyzing whether a complaint has met this standard, the "reviewing court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court assumes their veracity and then determines if they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. See id. at 1949.

DISCUSSION

Starbucks moves to dismiss Count II of Triplett's Amended Complaint for failure to exhaust her remedies and failure to state a claim. The ...


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