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Peeples v. Kaiser Permanente The Southeast Permanente Medical Group

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

May 2, 2017

ANGELA F. PEEPLES, Plaintiff,
v.
KAISER PERMANENTE THE SOUTHEAST PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge John K. Larkins, III's Final Report and Recommendation [33] (“R&R”), recommending that Defendant Kaiser Permanente The Southeast Permanente Medical Group (“Defendant” or “TSPMG”) Motion to Dismiss [29] be granted, and that this action be dismissed. Also before the Court are Plaintiff Angela F. Peeples' (“Plaintiff”) Objections [35] to the R&R.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         From November 2008 to early 2015, Plaintiff, who is African-American, worked as a nurse practitioner in the oncology department at Defendant's Cumberland Medical Center (“CMC”). In December 2014, Defendant informed Plaintiff that her position would be eliminated “due to the closing of the [CMC's] Cumberland Infusion Center.” ([1.2] at 179). Although Defendant “usually retains staff” during department closures, and Plaintiff applied for jobs at TSPMG's Cobb Clinic and neurology department, Defendant did not offer Plaintiff a position in another department or clinic. ([25] at 5-6).[1] Plaintiff alleges that “all African American staff [were] laid off” but that Defendant did not lay off two white employees, a nurse and a pharmacist, who both worked in the “Cumberland office.” ([25] at 4-5).

         Plaintiff alleges she was terminated “after reporting unethical concerns . . . concerning [herself], staff, and patients, ” including “harassment, ” “sabotage, ” “cliques, ” and “negative comments” about her. ([25] at 2, 4). This appears to include one instance in which a TSPMG employee wrongly told a patient that Plaintiff never informed the employee of the patient's visit. ([25] at 4). Plaintiff also alleges Defendant failed to provide her with a letter of recommendation when she was laid off, and did not offer her a “job coach” to help her transition to a new job. ([25] at 6).

         Plaintiff claims she was subject to three racist remarks from coworkers at TSPMG. First, during a tuberculosis training session, a pharmacist remarked, while laughing, that a group of staff members “look[ed] like a bunch of KKK.” ([1.2] at 117). Second, Plaintiff's supervisor, Dr. Hamrick, referred to a newly-hired program coordinator, who is white, as the “new face of oncology.” ([1.2] at 105).[2] Third, when Plaintiff asked a nurse if she ate collard greens, the nurse said that she did and stated “we have slaves in Brazil.” ([1.2] at 127). When Plaintiff later asked the nurse to explain her comment, the nurse said “she did not finish her story” and that Plaintiff was “blowing things totally out of proportion.” ([1.2] at 127).

         Plaintiff claims that, on April 9, 2014, she informed Defendant that she has attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”). ([25] at 5-9). Plaintiff states that her ADHD adversely affected her work, and that Defendant “failed to offer [her] support.” ([25] at 5). Plaintiff states that Dr. Hamrick believed she was depressed, recommended that she see a TSPMG behavioral health doctor, and subjected her to “putdowns” about her “mental status.” ([25] at 2).

         B. Procedural History

         On August 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Application for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [1] (“IFP Application”). On September 29, 2015, the Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff's IFP Application and allowed Plaintiff's pro se Complaint [5] to proceed. ([4]). On April 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint [23], asserting claims, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), for disability discrimination, race discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation. ([25] at 4; [1.1] at 1-2).

         On September 2, 2016, Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff did not file a response, and the motion is thus deemed unopposed. See LR 7.1(B), NDGa. On December 14, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued his R&R, recommending that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss be granted, that Plaintiff's ADA claims be dismissed without prejudice as unexhausted, and that Plaintiff's remaining claims be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim. On December 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Objections to the R&R. On January 10, 2017, Defendant filed its response to Plaintiff's Objections, arguing that the objections should be disregarded because they are (i) “nonspecific, unsupported and conclusory” and (ii) assert factual allegations not included in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. ([36] at 2-3).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         After conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1112 (1983). A district judge “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With respect to those findings and recommendations to which objections have not been ...


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