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Soong v. Bath Iron Works

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 15, 2019

RUTH SOONG, Plaintiff,



         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 24). For reasons briefly explained herein, the Court GRANTS the Motion.


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3). A viable complaint need not proffer “heightened fact pleading of specifics, ” but in order to survive a motion to dismiss it must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a complaint states a plausible claim, we ‘perform [a] two-step analysis.'” Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (alteration in original) (quoting Cardigan Mtn. School v. N.H. Ins. Co., 787 F.3d. 82, 84 (1st Cir. 2015)). First, “the court must separate the complaint's factual allegations (which must be accepted as true) from its conclusory legal allegations (which need not be credited).” Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of Puerto Rico, 676 F.3d 220, 224 (1st Cir. 2012). Second, the court “must determine whether ‘the factual content … allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Id. at 224 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court assumes the truth of the facts contained in the pleadings and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012). In assessing whether a complaint adequately states a claim, the Court considers the “facts and documents that are part of or incorporated into the complaint.” United Auto., Aerospace, Agric. Implement Workers of Am. Int'l Union v. Fortuño, 633 F.3d 37, 39 (1st Cir. 2011) (quotation marks omitted). When reviewing a pro se pleading, a somewhat “less stringent” standard applies and the Court may consider other filings by the pro se litigant in order to “understand the nature and basis of his claims.” Wall v. Dion, 257 F.Supp.2d 316, 318 (D. Me. 2003) (internal citations omitted).


         Plaintiff Ruth Soong (“Soong”), worked for Defendant Bath Iron Works (“BIW”) for nearly eleven years. Soong was hired as a designer on January 8, 2007. She voluntarily resigned her position at BIW and took early retirement effective November 14, 2017.

         For some period of time in 2017 prior to her resignation, Soong was on FMLA leave related to anxiety. She returned to work from this leave on August 2, 2017. She received “a warning for not finishing work on schedule” on August 10, 2017. (Am. Compl. ¶ 193.) Thereafter, she received “a good evaluation” on August 14, 2017. (Am. Compl. ¶ 194.) On November 7, 2017, Soong came to believe “her termination was imminent” based on feedback she received from two BIW employees, Michelle Riley and Nick Carter. (Am. Compl. ¶ 80.) Thus, she made the decision to retire and avoid the risk “of losing all her entitlement for pension and retirement benefits” that could occur if she was terminated. (Am. Compl. ¶ 83.) Soong's last day of work was November 14, 2017. She asserts that she was “not accorded a standard conventional retirement” and was denied the opportunity to pack up her personal belongings upon her departure. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 84-99.)

         On April 18, 2018, Soong filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. She subsequently received a right-to-sue letter on May 10, 2018. This complaint was in fact the second time Soong had made a charge of discrimination against BIW before the EEOC. Soong first filed with the EEOC on July 27, 2015, while still actively employed by BIW. This first EEOC complaint was dismissed on August 15, 2016. (See Exs. A & B (ECF Nos. 24-1 & 24-2).)

         Soong filed the present action pro se on August 3, 2018.


         The Court reads Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 19) as stating the following federal claims: (1) violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), (2) Disability Discrimination in violation of Title VII & Section 1981, (3) Age Discrimination in violation of Title VII & Section 1981, (4) Race Discrimination in Violation of Title VII & Section 1981, and (5) Retaliation in violation of Title VII & Section 1981.[2] Plaintiff also appears to plead related state claims, including Conspiracy, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith & Fair Dealing.

         A. Plaintiff ‘s Time-Barred Federal Claims

          “Title VII requires, as a predicate to a civil action, that the complainant first file an administrative charge with the EEOC within a specified and relatively short time period (usually 180 or 300 days) after the discrimination complained of, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1), and that the lawsuit be brought within an even shorter period (90 days) after notice that the administrative charge is dismissed or after the agency instead issues a right-to-sue letter . . . .” Clockedile v. New Hampshire Dep't of Corr., 245 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2001). Here, the federal statutes invoked by Plaintiff in support of her claims for discrimination and retaliation required her to file her administrative claim within 300 days. See, e.g., Burnett v. Ocean Properties, ...

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