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Shelley v. Wesleyan College

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

June 21, 2019




         Defendant Wesleyan College has moved to dismiss pro se Plaintiff Kourtney Shelley's complaint. Doc. 6. For the following reasons, the motion (Doc. 6) is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 27, 2017, the Plaintiff, who is African-American, began working for the Defendant as a Transfer Support Coordinator in the Strategic Enrollment Management Division, which consists of two departments-Admissions and Financial Aid. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 7-9. According to the Plaintiff, soon after beginning her employment, she “was faced with bullying, causing a hostile work environment, from a Caucasian female co-worker whose job title was Traditional Student Coordinator.” Id. ¶ 14. Though the co-worker was tasked to train the Plaintiff, “she made it her mission to reduce [the Plaintiff's] worth to that of a slave.” Id. ¶ 15. For example, the co-worker allegedly threw a box on the floor in front of the Plaintiff and told the Plaintiff to “take this to the conference room, ” even though the co-worker was closer to the room. Id. ¶ 16. The following are other examples of what the Plaintiff alleges amount to bullying:

• the co-worker placed notes on the Plaintiff's desk, telling the Plaintiff to take certain things to the Registrar's Office;
• the co-worker double-booked appointments for the Plaintiff to meet with various employees and then reported that the Plaintiff was late and questioned her whereabouts;
• the co-worker sent the Plaintiff “across campus to make deliveries” and then questioned her whereabouts;
• the co-worker accused the Plaintiff of “belittling Wesleyan College” by trying to enforce practices of other colleges at which the Plaintiff had worked; and
• the co-worker assigned tasks that the Plaintiff could not perform and blamed her for lack of productivity.

Id. ¶¶ 17, 23-27.

         The alleged bullying only “escalated” once the co-worker learned that the Plaintiff had requested a meeting with her Caucasian male supervisor to inform him that her co-worker assigned her a supposedly unethical task-not converting grade point averages for students transferring from a two-year college in Middle Georgia. Id. ¶¶ 19-20, 22. Two weeks into her employment, the Plaintiff finally met with her supervisor. Id. ¶ 28. At the meeting, the supervisor told the Plaintiff that he did not believe this practice of not converting grade point averages was unethical and, presumably addressing her concern about the bullying, advised the Plaintiff to report to him, not her co-worker.[1] Id. ¶¶ 20-21, 28.

         But that did not stop the alleged bullying. According to the Plaintiff, “[i]t became a team effort, ” such that the supervisor stopped speaking to the Plaintiff, and when the Plaintiff saw the supervisor in the co-worker's office, the two ended their conversation when she came near. Id. ¶ 29. During an Admissions' Advisory Council Meeting, the Plaintiff recalls the supervisor telling people that the Plaintiff was “close acquaintances with the only other African-American employee in the room, ” even though that comment was neither requested nor necessary. Id. ¶ 31. The Plaintiff also alleges she overheard the supervisor tell someone that the “black students at Wesleyan were resentful of the White and Asian students because they had more financial means. Wesleyan College should only accept students with high ability and low need.” Id. ¶ 32. Upon hearing this, the Plaintiff believed there was “no one to protect [her].” Id.

         Finally, the Plaintiff alleges that another caucasian female co-worker “was recruited to join the bullying, teaming up with the initial Caucasian female co-worker to create a myriad of mendacious falsehoods regarding [the Plaintiff].” Id. ¶ 33. These co-workers allegedly misquoted and misrepresented words that the Plaintiff had actually said. Id. Though the Plaintiff requested another meeting with her supervisor to address and resolve the bullying, the meeting never occurred. Id. ¶ 34. Rather, on January 8, 2018, less than six weeks into her employment, the Plaintiff was discharged. Id. ¶ 12. The supervisor and Human Resource Director allegedly gave the following reason: “You are just not a good fit.” Id. ¶ 34. The Plaintiff then received a letter stating that the Plaintiff was discharged for “[f]ailure to perform job duties as assigned.” Id. ¶ 35.

         On April 30, 2018, the Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge, alleging race discrimination, retaliation, and bullying and harassment by a Caucasian female co-worker.[2]Id. ΒΆ 13. The Plaintiff then filed her complaint on October 12, 2018. Doc. 1. After ...

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