United States District Court, D. Colorado
Mia M. Shields, Plaintiff,
United States Postal Service, Defendant.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
B. Shaffer U.S. Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the court on Defendant United States
Postal Service's Motion to Dismiss (doc. # 43), filed
June 14, 2017. Pro se Plaintiff Mia M. Shields filed
her Response (doc. # 44) on June 16, 2017. This case was
reassigned to the court pursuant an Order Drawing Case (doc.
# 10), and all parties consented (doc. # 13) to magistrate
judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C § 636(c) and
D.C.COLO.LCivR 40.1 for all proceedings in this action. The
court has reviewed the motion and related briefing, the
pleadings, the entire case file, and the applicable laws, and
is sufficiently advised in the premises.
Mia Shields is a former employee of Defendant United States
Postal Service [hereinafter USPS]. Ms. Shields commenced this
action by filing her initial Complaint (doc. # 1) on October
11, 2016, alleging claims under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family and
Medical Leave Act. Her first Amended Complaint (doc. # 8)
alleged claims for wrongful termination and violations of the
Family and Medical Leave Act. Ms. Shields' Second Amended
Complaint (doc. # 41) was filed on June 1, 2017, and remains
the operative pleading in this case. The Second Amended
Complaint drops the previous claims and alleges only
violations of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206.
Shields' Second Amended Complaint (doc. # 41) consists of
a single full-page paragraph which is repetitious and in
parts difficult to understand. Ms. Shields contends that she
was hired as a City Carrier Assistant on May 18, 2013, for a
90 day probationary period. She then alleges that she worked
a full 365 days before serving a second 90 day probationary
period that ended in August 2014. While the chronology of
events is unclear, Ms. Shields goes on to suggest that she
suffered a “compensable traumatic on the job spinal
injury” in March 2014. Ms. Shields alleges that she was
converted to a “Career status[sic] Mail Carrier
Technician” on August 23, 2014. Ms. Shields indicates
that starting in August 2014, she was on “light
duty” as a result of her injury, and that a “USPS
nurse” “stated [she] needed to attempt to carry
the mail on a trial basis or else [she would] be
separated.” According to Ms. Shields, she was then
reassigned to the Northglenn Post office, 18 miles from her
residence, despite “definitely need[ing] a reasonable
accommodation.” She contends that USPS changed her work
location in order to induce attendance issues. Ms. Shields
then takes issue with the “Union's” lack of
help, and ends her Second Amended Complaint
writing “Many men have converted to full time regular
positions after 90 days under this agreement. I am requesting
equal pay, benefits and damages up to 300, 000USD to
full-time career status.”
USPS's Motion to Dismiss (doc. # 43) argues that Ms.
Shields' operative pleading fails to state a claim
suitable for relief and is appropriately dismissed under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendant
additionally raises the two year statute of limitations for
Equal Pay Act claims, arguing that the Second Amended
Complaint should not relate back under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15. Ms. Shields' Response argues (doc. # 44)
that she was not paid equally to her male colleagues, and
that because her termination was willful, her claim is within
the appropriate three year statute of limitations.
moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion
to dismiss, the complaint must contain enough factual
allegations “to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Under
Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations of the complaint are
taken as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in
favor of the plaintiff. See Moore v. Guthrie, 438
F.3d 1036, 1039 (10th. Cir. 2006).
Ms. Shields is a pro se plaintiff her
“pleadings are to be construed liberally and held to a
less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110
(10th Cir. 1991) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972)). Pleadings involving a pro se
litigant should be considered to state a valid claim when
reasonable, even if a pro se litigant fails to cite
proper authority, confuses legal theories, or is unfamiliar
with pleading requirements. Id. To that end,
“[t]he Haines rule applies to all proceedings
involving a pro se litigant.” Id. at
n. 3. However, the court cannot be a pro se
litigant's advocate. Yang v. Archuleta, 525 F.3d
925, 927 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2008). Although the court construes
a pro se plaintiff's pleadings liberally, a
litigant “still retains the burden of alleging
sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be
based.” Nasious v. Nu-Way Real Estate, No.
07-cv-01177-PSF-MEH, 2007 WL 4858800, at *1 (D. Colo. Dec.
of action under the Equal Pay Act arises when an employer
pays different wages to employees of opposite sexes for equal
work in jobs that are substantially similar. See Corning
Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 195 (1974).
Specifically, to state a claim under the Equal Pay Act, a
plaintiff must allege facts that show she was 1) performing
substantially similar work considering the skills, duties,
supervision, effort and responsibilities of the jobs, 2) the
conditions of the work were basically the same, and 3)
employees of the opposite sex were paid more under the same
circumstances. See Sprague v. Thorn Americas, Inc.,
129 F.3d 1359, 1364 (10th Cir. 1997).
argues that Ms. Shields has not alleged facts demonstrating
that she was paid differently from her male counterparts for
performing the same work. Defendant asserts that the only
mention of male employees in the Second Amended Complaint is
Ms. Shields' contention that male employees have
converted to full-time positions while she has not. Ms.
Shields' Response (doc. # 44) includes a series of
uncited quotations from a “Union Contract”
discipline procedure, with several statements randomly
interspersed throughout block excerpts of the purported
contract. Ms. Shields mentions at various points that,
“The United States Postal Service cannot be allowed to
keep stating I was a probationary employee and deny back pay
when evidence clearly shows I was a Career Mail Carrier
Technician 2, ” and that the USPS “has failed to
pay me what they would pay a male mail carrier with my same
job title.” She concludes saying, “I have not
been paid or allowed to be paid equal to the male mail
carriers or the white mail carriers.”
Shields' Second Amended Complaint does not allege facts
that support any element of an Equal Pay Act
claim. The only facts she brings forth concerning
her work responsibilities are that she was on “light
duty, ” that a nurse told her she would have to attempt
to carry mail, and that she needed a reasonable
accommodation. Ms. Shields' contention that many men have
converted to full-time positions is not sufficient to state a
claim. Even if her transfer to the Northglenn office was a
form of constructive discharge, as she appears to allege,
that alone would still not justify relief under the Equal Pay
Act. In her Response, Ms. Shields states in conclusory
fashion that she was not paid an equal amount compared to
male employees. However, Ms. Shields cannot modify her
pleadings in a response brief, nor would the mere conclusory
accusation of pay discrimination suffice to state a claim.
See Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 547. Drawing
all reasonable inferences for Plaintiff, the Second Amended
Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to state a
plausible claim under the Equal Pay Act.
even though she is pro se, Ms. Shields'
complaint must still comply with the pleading requirements of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. See Moore v. Delta
County Police, 396 Fed.Appx. 529, 532 (10th Cir. 2010).
The purpose of a complaint is to give the opposing parties
fair notice of the basis for the claims so that they may
respond, as well as to allow the court to conclude that the
allegations show the plaintiff is entitled to relief if
proven. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City,
Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d
1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). As Ms. Shields was instructed
after her initial complaint, Rule 8 requires that a complaint
contain 1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for
jurisdiction, 2) a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and 3) a
demand for the relief sought. See also Order
Directing Plaintiff to File Amended Complaint (doc. # 5).
Rule 8(d)(1) requires that “[e]ach allegation must be
simple, concise, and direct.” See also Id.
is nothing simple, concise, or direct about Ms. Shields'
Second Amended Complaint. It presents a somewhat
contradictory non-chronological narrative that is randomly
interspersed with conclusions and accusations toward parties
not part of this lawsuit. While an arrangement of the facts
she presents may state some type a claim, her current
pleading is barely intelligible. It ...