Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

D'Angelo v. Wellstar Medical Group, LLC

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

May 3, 2019

ALISON D'ANGELO, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLSTAR MEDICAL GROUP, LLC and PAULINE BRIDGEMAN, in her individual capacity, Defendants.

          NON-FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN K. LARKINS III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Alison D'Angelo has filed an amended complaint raising claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), and state law. [Doc. 17.] This matter is presently before the Court on Defendant WellStar Medical Group, LLC's (“WellStar”) partial motion to dismiss and Defendant Pauline Bridgeman's motion to dismiss. [Docs. 18, 19.] The motions are ripe for review. For the following reasons, it is RECOMMENDED that WellStar's partial motion to dismiss be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART [Doc. 19] and that Bridgeman's motion to dismiss be GRANTED [Doc. 18].

         I. PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT

         In her amended complaint, D'Angelo, who is white and 42 years old, alleges that she worked for Defendant WellStar as a Registered Medical Assistant at the East Cobb Medical Center from January 2005 to April 10, 2018, when she was forced to resign. (Am. Compl. [Doc. 17] ¶ 12.) D'Angelo's direct supervisor was Dr. Timothy Helton. (Id. ¶ 13.) Further up the chain of command, D'Angelo also reported to Defendant Bridgeman, who served as the Manager of the East Cobb Medical Center, and Christi Carmichael, the Director of Physician Operations. (Id. ¶ 14.) Bridgeman and Carmichael, who are African-American, had decisionmaking authority with respect to the hiring and firing of employees. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Bridgeman reported to Carmichael. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         In early April 2018, WellStar began using a “temp agency” to staff Certified Medical Assistants (“CMAs”) at the East Cobb Medical Center. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) Three CMAs, who were African-American and in their 20s, were assigned to work at the East Cobb Medical Center for 13 weeks. (Id. ¶ 18.) Bridgeman assigned one CMA, identified in the amended complaint only by her first name Takesha, to train with D'Angelo. (Id. ¶ 19.) Bridgeman explained that she thought Takesha was a “problem-maker” with an “attitude” and assigned her to work with D'Angelo because she felt that D'Angelo “wouldn't take it with [Takesha].” (Id. ¶ 20.) D'Angelo alleges that Bridgeman and Carmichael assigned her to work with Takesha with the intent to cause a confrontation. (Id. ¶ 45.)

         On Takesha's first day of training, April 3, 2018, D'Angelo noticed Takesha using her cell phone to text and shop, even though the use of cell phones was prohibited. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) D'Angelo asked Takesha to put away her cell phone multiple times and eventually “lightly tapped Takesha on her arm to alert her, once again, to put her cell phone away.” (Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Takesha refused to put away her cell phone and told D'Angelo, “I don't know why it matters. I'm only going to be here thirteen weeks.” (Id. ¶ 23.) D'Angelo told Takesha that she had to follow the rules, and Takesha responded, “Well, then just report me if you have to.” (Id.) Dr. Helton and two nurse practitioners (who are not African-American) were standing nearby during that exchange. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         On April 4, 2018, Takesha called in sick. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) On April 5, she did not show up to work or call to inform WellStar of her absence. (Id.) On April 6, Bridgeman called D'Angelo into her office and informed her that Carmichael had received a formal complaint from Takesha. (Id. ¶ 25.) According to Takesha's complaint, D'Angelo “put her hands on Takesha” and told her that she would “snatch [her] out of her chair and kick her ass.” (Id.) D'Angelo denied those allegations and informed Bridgeman and Carmichael that Dr. Helton and two nurse practitioners were present during her exchange with Takesha and could corroborate her version of events. (Id. ¶ 26.) D'Angelo also asked Bridgeman and Carmichael to call Takesha into the office so that D'Angelo could talk to her, and Carmichael refused, saying that she was not sure what “Takesha is going to do to [D'Angelo].” (Id. ¶ 27.)

         At about 4:30 in the afternoon on April 9, 2018, D'Angelo was informed that she must report to WellStar's corporate office at 9:00 the next morning instead of working her shift. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 28, 30.) In her experience as a thirteen-year employee of WellStar, D'Angelo knew that WellStar was planning to fire her upon reporting to the corporate office. (Id. ¶ 29.) As a result, D'Angelo prepared a letter of resignation effective two weeks from April 9 and left it in Bridgeman's office at about 5:30, after Bridgeman had left for the day. (Id. ¶ 32.)

         D'Angelo reported to the corporate office the next morning and met with a WellStar human resources representative and Carmichael. (Am. Compl. ¶ 33.) They told D'Angelo that WellStar was “leaning toward” firing her but would give her two weeks' pay if she chose to resign immediately. (Id. ¶ 34.) D'Angelo again tried to explain what happened during her exchange with Takesha, but Carmichael and the human resources representative rebuffed her and said that “other African-American witnesses, ” whom they did not identify, had corroborated Takesha's version of events. (Id. ¶ 35.) Dr. Helton and the nurse practitioners who witnessed the exchange were not interviewed. (Id. ¶ 36.) D'Angelo mentioned the letter of resignation she had left in Bridgeman's office and was told that she could either be terminated immediately or resign immediately with two weeks' pay. (Id. ¶¶ 37-38.) D'Angelo resigned but ultimately was never given the two weeks' pay she was promised. (Id. ¶ 38.) Within one day of D'Angelo's termination, she had been replaced by one of the younger, African-American CMAs from the temp agency. (Id. ¶ 41.) D'Angelo also alleges that Bridgeman and Carmichael hired other younger, less qualified African-Americans after she resigned. (Id. ¶ 42.)

         In Count One of her complaint, D'Angelo alleges that Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of race, in violation of Title VII and § 1981, by forcing her to resign based on unfounded allegations so they could replace her with a less qualified African-American employee. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 44, 49-57.) In Count Two, D'Angelo's alleges that WellStar discriminated against her on the basis of race when it forced her to resign and replaced her with a less-qualified younger employee. (Id. ¶¶ 44, 59-63.) In Count Three, a state law claim of negligent retention and supervision, D'Angelo asserts that WellStar knew or should have known that Bridgeman and Carmichael discriminated against her, that Bridgeman and Carmichael had a practice of hiring younger, less qualified African-American individuals, that Bridgeman and Carmichael had hired a person who they knew would behave inappropriately at the office, and that Bridgeman and Carmichael caused her to suffer severe emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶ 65-69.) In Count Four, D'Angelo alleges that WellStar breached its contract with her to give her two weeks' pay if she resigned. (Id. ¶¶ 71-74.) In Count Five, D'Angelo asserts that Defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her by setting her up for a conflict with a difficulty employee, refusing to investigate the baseless complaint against her, and subjecting her to termination proceedings. (Id. ¶¶ 76-79.)

         II. THE PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         In its motion to dismiss, Defendant WellStar argues that D'Angelo has failed to state a claim of race or age discrimination because she has not alleged that she was subjected to an adverse employment action. [Doc. 19 at 4-10.] WellStar argues that D'Angelo resigned voluntarily, notwithstanding her allegation that she was “forced” to resign. [Id. at 5-7.] Moreover, WellStar notes that D'Angelo has not attempted to allege facts that would support a constructive discharge and argues that her contention that she resigned because she knew she would be fired does not establish a constructive discharge. [Id. at 7-10.] As to D'Angelo's claim of negligent retention and supervision, WellStar argues that it is not based on a plausible underlying state law tort. [Id. at 11-12.] WellStar also argues that D'Angelo's allegations are insufficient to support a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. [Id. at 12-14.] WellStar does not seek the dismissal of Count Four, D'Angelo's breach of contract claim. [Id. at 1 n.1.]

         Bridgeman also has filed a motion to dismiss, in which she incorporates the arguments in WellStar's motion to dismiss that relate to her. [Doc. 18 at 1-2.] She also argues that D'Angelo has not plausibly alleged that she was involved in the termination proceedings against D'Angelo. [Id. at 2-3.] As to D'Angelo's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, Bridgeman argues that D'Angelo has not plausibly alleged that she personally inflicted any emotional distress on D'Angelo. [Id. at 3-4.]

         D'Angelo has responded to both motions to dismiss. [Docs. 20, 21.] She argues that she has adequately alleged an adverse employment action, in that she was actually discharged because she was forced to resign in lieu of termination or, alternatively, that she was constructively discharged. [Doc. 20 at 8-20.] She also argues that Defendants' conduct supports a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress because they incited a confrontation between D'Angelo and Takesha, who submitted a fabricated complaint and “threatened physical violence.” [Id. at 20-22; Doc. 21 at 11-14.] Further, she argues that her claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress is an adequate underlying state law tort claim for purposes of her claim of negligent retention and supervision. [Doc. 20 at 23-25.] As to Bridgeman's specific argument about the § 1981 claim, D'Angelo contends that Bridgeman was personally involved in the alleged racially discriminatory conduct because she had hiring and firing authority, paired D'Angelo with Takesha for training, and participated in a sham investigation into the exchange between D'Angelo and Takesha. [Doc. 21 at 8-10.]

         Defendants have filed reply briefs in support of their motions to dismiss. [Docs. 22, 23.]

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.