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Alridge v. Rite Aid of Wash., D.C., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia

November 30, 2015

JOHN A.L.R.IDGE, Plaintiff,

          JOHN A.L.R.IDGE, Plaintiff, Pro se, Silver Spring, MD.

         For RITE AID CORPORATION, Defendant: Megan N. Tumi, LEAD ATTORNEY, LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Washington, DC.


         BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff, John Alridge, proceeding pro se, brings this lawsuit against his current employer, the defendant Rite Aid of Washington, D.C., Inc.,[1] alleging employment discrimination, defamation, and " 13th and 14th [A]mendments [c]ivil [r]ights" violations principally for events that occurred between November 2011 and February 2012. Compl. at 4, 9-10, ECF No. 1. The plaintiff alleges that he has suffered at least four years of harassment, id. at 8, forced to perform " back-breaking" labor that his coworker was not required to do, id. at 4, subjected to vicious rumors of being a " drug addict, alcoholic an[d t]hief," id. at 8, and repeatedly retaliated against by management for his attempts to report the discriminatory behavior, id. at 5, 9. Pending before the Court is the defendant's Motion to Dismiss. See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss (" Def.'s Mot." ), ECF No. 4. For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In November 2011, the plaintiff, who has worked for the defendant since about 2008 and identifies himself as a " Native American Seminole and Black," was re-assigned to work as one of two Assistant Managers at a Rite Aid pharmacy located at 5600 Georgia Avenue, Washington, D.C. (" D.C. Rite Aid" ). Compl. at 4 (noting that " May 2012" marked the plaintiff's " 4th year working in Rite Aid Corporation" ). The plaintiff's supervisor at this Rite Aid branch, store manager Bachir Jobe, is an " African" and the other employees at this store are " 90% African." Id.

         Within his first week at the store, the plaintiff alleges that the manager " made it very clear that he did not identify with [the plaintiff] at all and did not want [him] there," and repeatedly referred to the plaintiff as " Yankee." Id. The plaintiff was frequently required to work outside " in the cold and rain" and to work overnight shifts during truck deliveries, which involve " back-breaking, heavy-labor, bone-crushing work." Id. In comparison to the plaintiff's assigned tasks, the other Assistant Manager never worked outside during the " cold, rainy, winter season," and never " had to work truck nights." Id. The other Assistant Manager was given preferable treatment, according to the plaintiff, because, although he was " born in America," his " parents are directly from Africa," and the manager " identifies with and shares the same cultural values." Id.


         In December 2011, a month after the plaintiff began working at the D.C. Rite Aid, the plaintiff called the District Manager to " discuss the discriminatory, hostile and unfavorable nature" of the store manager's behavior towards him. Id. at 5. The District Manager, however, simply responded " Live with it," and discouraged the plaintiff from calling human resources, commenting that the plaintiff can " [c]all them but make sure you know what you are doing." Id.

         Tensions apparently escalated. On December 30, 2011, the store manager accused the plaintiff of stealing $100 from the store. Id. The plaintiff called the Loss Prevention Agent Manager (" LPA" ) to defend himself against these accusations. The money was ultimately discovered in the deposit bag at the bank two days later, but the manager never cleared the plaintiff's name with the LPA. Id. On January 4, 2012, the plaintiff called the LPA regarding the " unfair treatment" by the manager, to which the LPA allegedly responded " You don't wanna go above [the District Manager] and as a friend and a fellow associate, you don't wanna call HR because it would ruin your career." Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that, after he spoke to the LPA, the LPA then began spreading rumors, going " from store to store, telling everybody [he] was a drug addict, alcoholic an[d t]hief," which culminated in events on February 13, 2012. Id. at 8. An hour after the plaintiff arrived at work that day, the plaintiff alleges that the District Manager and the LPA accused him of drinking and being " a danger to the public, the customers," his coworkers and himself. Id. at 5. The plaintiff was then " escorted out of the store by security and [t]he District Manager," required to take a blood-alcohol test, with negative results, and immediately " suspended until further notice," without pay. Id. at 6; id. Ex. (" Controlled Substance Test Report, dated February 22, 2012" ) at 19, ECF No. 1.

         Eleven days later, on February 24, 2012, without evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiff, the District Manager lifted the suspension, but transferred him to another D.C. Rite Aid location that was " 45-minutes to an hour away from [the plaintiff's] home," even though the plaintiff alleges that the District Manager supervised seven stores that were closer to his home. Id. Understandably upset at his treatment, the plaintiff contacted human resources to " discuss[] the entire matter," including " all [his] concerns and what has transpired [in] [sic] the last couple of months." Id. at 7. The plaintiff alleges that the human resources (" HR" ) representative became " defensive" when the plaintiff expressed concern about his treatment by the LPA and the District Manager, who were " lunch buddies" and had " a close professional relationship" with the HR representative. Id. The HR representative " assured [the plaintiff] 500% that they have no derogatory or discriminatory intentions against [the plaintiff]." Id.

         The plaintiff continued to have difficulty upon his return to work at the new Rite Aid branch. He alleges that, due to the LPA's " slander," when he first transferred to the new Rite Aid branch, " [t]he [f]irst thing the Store manager [a]sk me was what [k]ind of drugs [was the plaintiff] on," and that " there is no drinking allowed at work." Id. at 8.

         On March 28, 2012, the plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), alleging discrimination based on national origin and retaliation. Pl.'s Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Dismiss (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) Ex. A (" EEOC Charge" ) at 3, ECF No. 7-1. Due to the preceding events and the EEOC charge, the plaintiff alleges that his " hours have been cut an[d he has b]een passed over at least six different times for promotion to store manager," even though he is " [m]ore qualified than many of the manager[]s they have place[d] in the stores," and he has had " [s]ix years of management experience." Compl. at 9.

         On August 15, 2013, the EEOC notified the plaintiff that " the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained established violations of the statutes." Compl. Ex. (" EEOC Right-to-Sue Letter, dated August 15, 2013" ) at 18, ECF No. 1. The notice further alerted the plaintiff of his " right to sue" the defendant under " Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act," but that such a lawsuit must be filed " WITHIN 90 DAYS of [the plaintiff's] receipt of this notice; or [his] right to sue based on this charge will be lost." Id. (emphasis in the original).

         On November 15, 2013, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant in this Court, Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. (" Complaint, dated November 15, 2013) at 4, ECF No. 7-1, but his application to proceed in forma pauperis (" IFP" ) was denied on November 21, 2013. Compl. Ex. (Application to Proceed without Prepaying Fees, dated November 15, 2013) (" 2013 App." ) at 2, ECF No. 1. In accordance with normal practice, the Clerk's office also notified the plaintiff in a form letter that " [a]s a result of the Judge's ruling, [his] case has not been filed with our Court and is being returned to you at this time." [2] Nearly a year later, on November 19, 2014, the plaintiff paid the requisite filing fee and filed the instant complaint, see Compl., ECF No. 1 (docket text accompanying entry of Compl., indicating receipt of filing fee), alleging employment discrimination, defamation and violations of his Thirteenth and ...

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