United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Lars St. John, Plaintiff,
Cuyahoga County, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN United States District Court Chief Judge
se Plaintiff Lars St. John filed this action under Title
VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981
against Cuyahoga County. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges
the Defendant discriminated against him in the hiring process
on the basis of his race and gender. He seeks $1, 000, 000.00
filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (ECF No.
2) and a Motion to Amend his Complaint (ECF No. 3) to add
David Fried, Rebecca Kopcienski, and George Vaughn as
Defendants to this action. These Motions are granted.
took the civil service exam for the Cuyahoga County
Department of Jobs and Family Services on April 18, 2016. He
contends he arrived one minute before the exam started and
then had to check in and find his seat. He missed the
instructions for the test and no one repeated them for him.
The instructions, however, were printed in the test booklet.
Plaintiff alleges Fried was the test proctor. He states Fried
walked around the room during the math portion of the test,
and stopped in back of him. He contends Fried was standing so
close to him that he could feel Fried's genitalia
touching his back. Plaintiff contends he asked Fried to move
away from him because he was uncomfortably close, but Fried
remained behind him for a few more minutes. Plaintiff claims
he was so traumatized by the experience, he went to the Human
Resources Department to report it.
did not obtain a passing score. He failed the math, spelling
and grammar, and keyboarding portions of the test, receiving
scores of 3/20, 11/20, and 6/20 respectively on each of these
sections. While he obtained scores of 15/20 in situational
judgment, and 17/20 in reading comprehension, he could miss
no more than 30 points total to receive a minimum overall
passing score of 70 out of 100 points. He missed 48 points,
and obtained a score of 52 points out of 100. He requested
review of his answers and scores and received a letter
informing him he did not follow the instructions printed in
the test booklet for the math portion of the test for
rounding and converting income. Answers that were not in the
proper format were marked as incorrect. Plaintiff states he
is an African American male. He asserts claims under Title
VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for sexual harassment and
pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag
v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam);
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the
Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis
action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d
1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of
Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim
lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on
an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual
contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in
the Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual
allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the
right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption
that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell
Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not
required to include detailed factual allegations, but must
provide more than “an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal
conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not meet this pleading standard. Id.
In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must construe the
pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff.
Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559,
561 (6th Cir. 1998).
initial matter, Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to
state a claim for relief under Title VII for racial or gender
discrimination. The Court is aware that, at this stage,
Plaintiff is not required to plead his discrimination claim
with heightened specificity. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513-14 (2002). Nevertheless,
Plaintiff must still provide enough factual allegations
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative level
on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint
are true.” New Albany Tractor v. Lousiville
Tractor, 650 F.3d 1046, 1051 (6th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.)
Complaint never rises above the speculative level. The
essential elements of a Title VII discrimination failure to
hire claim are: (1) that the Plaintiff is a member of a
protected class; (2) that he applied for, and did not
receive, a job; (3) that he was qualified for the job; and
(4) that a similarly situated individual who is not a member
of the protected class received the job. Seay v. Tenn.
Valley Auth., 339 F.3d 454, 463 (6th Cir. 2003)
(citations omitted). Here, the Court is left to guess whether
Plaintiff applied for a job, was qualified for the position
for which he applied, and how his race or his gender or both
played a role in the Defendant's decision not to hire
him. This is not sufficient to cross the threshold of basic
pleading requirements in Federal Court. See Fed.
Civ. R. 8 (Complaint must provide “a short and plain
statement of the claim” made by “simple, concise,
and direct allegations.”); see also Morgan v.
Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir.
Plaintiff failed the civil service exam which appears to have
been a criteria for employment with the Cuyahoga County
Department of Jobs and Family Services. He admits he arrived
one minute before the exam was to begin, missed the verbal
instructions, did not read or follow the instructions in the
exam booklet, and failed the math portion of the test because
he did not properly round his answers as instructed and did
not make the correct income conversions from weekly and
bi-weekly income to monthly income as instructed.
Furthermore, Plaintiff's scores in other areas of the
test were also deficient. Even if Plaintiff had attained a
perfect score on the math portion of the exam, he would only
have achieved an overall score of 69. A score of 70 is needed
to pass the exam.
Plaintiff had stated a plausible claim under Title VII, he
would not be able to proceed with this claim against Fried,
Kopcienski or Vaughn. An employee or supervisor who does not
otherwise meet the statutory definition of
“employer” cannot be held individually liable
under Title VII. Wathen v. General Electric Company,
115 F.3d 400 (6th Cir. 1997). There are no facts alleged in