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Jones v. Lakeland Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

September 24, 2019

TAMMIE JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKELAND REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH A. KOVACHEVICH UNITED DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tammie Jones sues Defendant Lakeland Regional Medical Center ("Lakeland") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VE"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e etseq., the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 etseq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. (Doc. 19). Lakeland moves to dismiss. (Doc. 20). Jones opposes. (Doc. 22). The Court will grant-in-part and deny-in-part the motion.

         I. Background [1]

         Jones is a 51-year-old African American female. She is the primary caregiver for her disabled daughter, who was previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

         Lakeland is a large medical center operating in Polk County, Florida. Jones was previously employed by Lakeland as a customer service representative. Ann Ragsdale, a white female, was Jones' direct supervisor. Michelle Allen, a white female, oversaw Lakeland's entire customer service department.

         In February and March of 2015, Jones requested her work schedule be altered. Specifically, Jones requested permission to report to work later in the morning so that she could care for her daughter. Allen denied Jones' requests. Jones complained to both Ragsdale and Allen that Allen's denial was discriminatory. After Jones complained, Ragsdale and Allen allegedly became "hypercritical" of Jones, unfairly disciplined her for minor tardiness, and altered her timesheets to make it appear she'd been late to work.

         In March of 2016, Allen promoted Christie Southerland, a white female, to a position more senior than Jones'. Southerland was substantially younger than Jones and had considerably less experience, tenure, and seniority. Jones alleges the position wasn't posted to Lakeland's internal job board, and, despite her superior qualifications, Jones wasn't given an opportunity to apply for the position. Jones also alleges that, at the time Allen promoted Southerland, Allen stated she wanted to promote someone younger who wasn't a minority.

         Lakeland fired Jones on May 27, 2016, for excessive tardiness. Jones, however, felt she'd been discriminated against, so she submitted an intake questionnaire to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on November 25, 2016. She subsequently filed a formal charge of discrimination with the EEOC on December 21, 2016. The EEOC issued Jones a right to sue letter on June 6, 2017. Proceeding pro se, Jones initiated the instant action on September 1, 2017.

         On motion by Lakeland, the Court dismissed Jones' original complaint for failure to state a plausible claim for relief. However, the Court granted Jones leave to amend her complaint to correct her pleading deficiencies. Jones, now represented by counsel, filed her operative, amended complaint on January 9, 2019. Lakeland again moved to dismiss on January 23, 2019. Jones responded in opposition to Lakeland's motion on February 6, 2019. Lakeland's motion is ripe for the Court's review.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires complaints to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12 allows the Court to dismiss a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must state a claim that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomblv. 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 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true but doesn't credit "mere conclusory statements" or "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action." L± Additionally, dismissal is warranted under Rule 12 if, assuming the truth of the complaint's factual allegations, a dispositive, legal issue precludes relief. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27(1989).

         HI. Discussion

         Jones' amended complaint asserts three separate claims:

1. "Race Discrimination in Violation of Title VIP (predicated on a failure to ...

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