United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DALTON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint with Incorporated
Memorandum of Law In Support (Doc. 25
("Motion")) and Plaintiff's
opposition (Doc. 26). For the following reasons, the Motion
is due to be denied.
employment discrimination case, Plaintiff asserts that he was
unlawfully terminated from his position as a line cook for
Defendant's restaurant located a stone's throw from
the University of Central Florida campus ("UCF
Location"). (Doc. 19, ¶¶ 10,
12.) Plaintiff claims that two of his managers cornered him,
accused him of sexually harassing three female co-workers on
October 7, 2015, and terminated him on the spot
("Sexual Harassment Accusations").
(Id. ¶¶ 10, 15, 17-19.) An investigation,
Plaintiff contends, would have cleared him of these false
charges, as he was not working on October 7, 2015.
(Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) But Defendant, intent on
matching its staff with the collegiate crowd that frequents
the UCF Location, refused to allow Plaintiff to give a
statement. (Id. ¶ 10, 19.) According to
Plaintiff, Defendant fabricated the Sexual Harassment
Accusations in order to terminate him because he is a male
and the only non-managerial employee 40 years of age.
(Id. ¶ 13, 16-17.)
on the Sexual Harassment Accusations, Plaintiff maintains
that "he was treated differently and less
favorably" than similarly situated female employees and
younger employees because "[n]o female employee was ever
falsely accused of sexual harassment" nor has any
"younger employee-male or female-... [been] falsely
accused of sexually harassing three women or fired on
fraudulent, defamatory [, ] and malicious grounds."
(Id. ¶¶ 20-22, 27, 38.) Prior to these
false accusations, Plaintiff contends he had a superlative
employment record. (Id.¶ 23.)
his termination, Plaintiff initiated this action alleging
that Defendant terminated him on the basis of his gender and
age. (Id. ¶¶ 25-45.) In Count I, Plaintiff
alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII")
and the Florida Civil Rights Act ("FCRA").
(Id. ¶ 26.). In Count II,
Plaintiff alleges violations of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA")
and the FCRA. (Id. ¶ 37.) Defendant then filed
the instant Motion. (Doc. 25.) Plaintiff opposed (Doc. 26),
and the matter is now ripe for the Court's consideration.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure set forth minimum pleading
requirements. Rules 8 and 10 require plaintiffs to provide
short and plain statements of their claims with simple and
direct allegations set out in numbered paragraphs and
distinct counts. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), (d)
("Each allegation must be simple, concise, and
direct."); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b). The
"short and plain statement" must include
"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, 678 (2009). "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. A claim is not plausible
"when on the basis of a dispositive issue of law, no
construction of the factual allegations will support the
cause of action." Glover v. Liggett Grp., Inc.,
459 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2008).
applying notice pleading principles, courts should: "1)
eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely
legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, 'assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.'" See Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna
Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290-91 (11th Cir. 1990); Ray
v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340, 1347 (11th Cir.
2016) (accepting truth of "the allegations in the
complaint" and construing "them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiffs"). In doing so, "courts
may infer from the factual allegations in the complaint
obvious alternative explanation[s], which suggest lawful
conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the plaintiff would
ask the court to infer." Id. Further, courts
may dismiss any claim that rests only on "conclusory
allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal
conclusions masquerading as facts." See Oxford Asset
Mgmt, Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir.
Counts I and II, Plaintiff improperly comingles state and
federal causes of action in a single count in violation of
Rule 10(b). (See, e.g., Doc. 19, ¶¶ 26-27,
37-38.) Notwithstanding this pleading deficiency, Defendant
seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs gender and age discrimination
claims -under both federal and state law-arguing that
Plaintiff has failed to plead sufficient facts. (Doc. 25, pp.
7-14.) The Court disagrees.
Gender Discrimination Claims
first asserts a claim for gender discrimination under Title
VII and the FCRA. (Doc. 19, ¶ 27.) Both Title VII and
the FCRA proscribe employers from discriminating against
employees on account of the employee's
gender.42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); Fla. Stat.
§ 760.10(1)(a). Liability under Title VII encompasses
disparate treatment or intentional discrimination by a
tangible employment action, such as a termination. Ricci
v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 577 (2009); Reeves v.
CM. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594 F.3d 798, 807 (11th
Cir. 2010) (en banc). To state a disparate treatment claim, a
plaintiff "need not plead a prima facie case of
discrimination." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.,
534 U.S. 506, 510 (2002) overruled in part on other
grounds by Towmbly, 550 U.S. at 544 (noting that the
prima facie case "is an evidentiary standard, not a
pleading requirement"). To survive dismissal, a complaint
"must simply provide enough factual matter to plausibly
suggest intentional discrimination." Evans v. Ga.
Regional Hosp., 850 F.3d 1248, 1253 (11th Cir. 2017);
Surtain v. Hamlin Terrace Found., 789 F.3d 1239,
1246 (11th Cir. 2015).
viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, his
allegations plausibly suggest that Defendant intentionally
discriminated against him on the basis of his gender when it
terminated him. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant terminated him based on the Sexual Harassment
Accusations while knowing that such charges were false. (Doc.
19, ¶ 27.) Standing alone, the Sexual Harassment
Accusations suggest that Defendant terminated Plaintiff based
on these false charges, not his gender. See, e.g., Nurse
v. Teleperformance, Inc., No. 1:15-CV-94, 2016 WL
3766374, at *3 (S.D. Ga. Jul. 8, 2016) (dismissing the
plaintiffs Title VII gender discrimination claim because
plaintiffs allegations suggested only that the defendant
fired him based on false accusations that it knew were false
and did not allege that he was terminated because of his
gender). But Plaintiff further alleges that because the
Sexual Harassment ...