Monday, June 17, 2013

Pro se's Title VII complaint is reinstated

The Court of Appeals has reinstated a pro se plaintiff's discrimination lawsuit. This case is yet another in a recent string of pro se victories in the Second Circuit.

The case is Robinson v. Goulet, a summary order decided on May 17. Plaintiff alleges disparate treatment because of her race and gender. The complaint alleges that she was yelled at because she is a black female and that her work hours were reduced. She was also prohibited from working overtime. White male colleagues did not face similar treatment. The Second Circuit (Walker, Sack and Wesley) says that it is plausible under Rule 12 that plaintiff suffered disparate treatment. The claim is remanded to the district court for discovery.

The Court of Appeals also says that plaintiff should allowed to amend the complaint to plead a retaliation claim. Plaintiff says that her boss yelled and cursed at her when she complained that he was giving white employees favorable treatment. And when she was assigned to work with a co-worker who made sexual advances, her supervisors did not follow up with her and instead accused her of being lazy. The Court says:

Reading her allegations generously, if given the opportunity to amend her complaint, Robinson may be able to plead sufficient facts to demonstrate that she had a reasonable, good-faith belief that Goulet’s and her other co-worker’s actions were unlawful under Title VII, that her employer knew her complaints were about unlawful activity (if she in fact complained of disparate treatment or sexual harassment), that she suffered adverse employment actions, and that these adverse actions were motivated at least in part by retaliatory animus.

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