United States District Court, D. Arizona
Dianne G. Rivera, Plaintiff,
Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company, et al., Defendants.
Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant
(“Aetna”). (Doc. 9). For the following reasons, the
Court grants Aetna’s motion to dismiss with leave for
Rivera to amend.
Dianne Rivera is a resident and citizen of the State of
Arizona. She brings claims against Coventry/Aetna Health Care
and/or Aetna Inc. for age and race discrimination,
retaliation, hostile work environment, slander and unjust
was employed as a Concierge Specialist at Aetna from June 3,
2013 until August 4, 2014. She alleges that she was hired at
a lower wage than others with less experience. However,
according to her complaint, Aetna indicated that she would
receive bonuses as a material component of her salary
resulting in a rate of pay equivalent to $15.00 per hour. She
further alleges she was assured she would receive
opportunities for advancement before others received such
opportunities and that she would receive monetary
contributions to make up for the higher deductible that
accompanied her medical insurance benefits. Rivera claims she
accepted the job because Aetna assured her of the bonus plan
and the opportunity to advance.
claims that in October or November of 2013, her supervisor,
Aisha Bennett, threatened to terminate her because she left
work five minutes early on ten occasions. However, Rivera
alleges that on those ten occasions she began work
sufficiently early to make up her required time. Rivera
complained about this in a letter to Human Resources. In the
letter, Rivera also informed Human Resources that shortly
after she was hired, she questioned her instructors and
apparently received some form of reprimand for doing so.
Rivera claims a younger African-American coworker behaved in
a similar way but was not reprimanded.
around January 2014, some incident occurred in which Rivera
raised her voice to a customer. The complaint implies but
does not state that Rivera received a written reprimand for
three months later, Rivera wrote a letter complaining that
her supervisors had failed to give her a bonus. She alleges
that she was “written up” in retaliation for
submitting this complaint. In turn, she raised the matter
with Von Young, the director of her program. Shortly
thereafter, she was written up by Mr. Young.
Rivera recounts a department meeting on July 18, 2014, at
which she alleges her supervisor stated that Rivera refused
to help her fellow employees. During the same meeting, Rivera
alleges that her supervisor explained to the present
employees that Rivera was “always hot because she was
going through her personal summer.” Rivera alleges that
this statement singled her out for her age, which humiliated
unclear from the complaint as to why Rivera’s
Pleading Standard: Rule 8 and Iqbal/Twombly
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“F.R.C.P.”) 12(b)(6), all allegations of
material fact are assumed to be true and construed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v.
Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). To survive
dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to F.R.C.P.
12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “labels
and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action”; it must contain
factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While
“a complaint need not contain detailed factual
allegations . . . it must plead ‘enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler
Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is plausible when
Rivera presents factual content which “allows the court
to draw the reasonable inference that [Aetna] is liable for
the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard “asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts which are
‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s
liability, it ‘stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to
relief.’” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555) (internal citations omitted). Similarly,
legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not
given a presumption of truthfulness, and “conclusory
allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not
sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Pareto
v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). Rivera must
“nudge [her] claims” of invidious discrimination
“across the line from conceivable to plausible.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 547.
Lower Pleading Standard for Pro Se Litigants
pro se litigants will not be held to the same pleading
standards as lawyers. “A document filed pro se
is ‘to be liberally construed, ’ and ‘a
pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must
be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.’” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (internal quotation
marks omitted); cf. F.R.C.P. 8(f) (“All
pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial
justice”). Twombly and Iqbal did not