United States District Court, D. Colorado
MIA M. SHIELDS Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.
ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
B. Shaffer United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the court on Defendant United States
Postal Service's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third
Amended Complaint (doc. #48), filed on September 11, 2017.
The Postal Service argues that Ms. Shield's Third Amended
Complaint must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim for relief under the Equal Pay Act
of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). Ms. Shields filed a
Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (doc. #49) on
September 13, 2017, and then a Motion to Oppose the
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint
(doc. #51) on September 20, 2017. The Postal Service declined
to file a reply brief on September 19, 2017. The pending
motion is fully briefed and ready for decision.
parties consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §636(a) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 40.1(c) on
December 12, 2016. This case was formally referred to this
magistrate judge on February 13, 2017. The court has reviewed
Defendant's brief and Plaintiff's multiple
responses. I have also carefully considered the
entire court file and the case law cited by the parties. For
the following reasons, I conclude that Ms. Shields' claim
under the Equal Pay Act is barred by the statute of
limitations and must be denied.
Shields commenced this action on October 11, 2016 with the
filing of her original Complaint (doc. #1). That pleading
asserted claims under the Family Medical Leave Act (29 U.S.C.
§ 2601-54), the Americans with Disabilities Act (42
U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.), and the Rehabilitation
Act 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.) against the United
States Postal Service and the Office of Workers Compensation
Program (OWCP). Plaintiff's Complaint sought her return
to the Postal Service with reasonable accommodations, the
payment of back pay pursuant to the FMLA, and compensation
from the OWCP for her occupational disease/injury. On October
26, 2016, Ms. Shields filed a First Amended Complaint (doc.
#8) which asserted claims for wrongful termination and FMLA
discrimination against the Postal Service.
April 18, 2017, Ms. Shields filed a Motion to Amend the
Complaint (doc. #39) for the purpose of adding claims for age
and wage discrimination because a member of management called
her “old and slow moving on numerous occasions in front
of co-workers” and because the Postal Service refused
to sign paperwork requesting her “pay rate and
employment verification.” Ms. Shields also indicated
that she wished to add a claim for “race discrimination
because if [she] was a Caucasion (sic) employee [she] would
have received those benefits.” Unfortunately, Ms.
Shields did not comply with Local Rule 15.1(b),
D.C.COLO.LCivR 15.1(b), by attaching a proposed second
amended complaint to her motion. On April 28, 2017, this
court denied Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint,
but allowed Ms. Shields to file a new motion to amend with an
attached proposed amended complaint by June 2, 2017.
1, 2017, Ms. Shields filed an EPA Equal Pay Act Complaint
(doc. #41). This Second Amended Complaint Complaint sought to
assert a claim under the Equal Pay Act based upon the Postal
Service's failure to properly pay Ms. Shields what
employees of the opposite sex were receiving and “to
collect back wages due to employees as a result of such
unlawful payments.” On June 14, 2017, the Postal
Service filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State A
Claim (doc. #43). Ms. Shields filed an Opposition to the
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (doc. #44) on June 16,
2017. This court dismissed Ms. Shields' Second Amended
Complaint on August 18, 2017, after concluding that
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint presented “a
somewhat contradictory non-chronological narrative that is
randomly interspersed with conclusions and accusations toward
parties not part of this case.” Although the court gave
Plaintiff one more chance to file a third amended complaint,
Ms. Shields was told that she did not have an unlimited right
to amend her pleadings or allege new claims.
Shields filed her Third Amended Complaint Equal Pay Act
Violation (doc. #47) on August 29, 2107. This pleading
alleges that the Postal Service violated 29 U.S.C. §
206(d)(1) of the Equal Pay Act by compensating Ms. Shields at
a rate of pay substantially lower than the rates of pay
offered to the opposite sex. The Postal Service again moves to
dismiss this lawsuit, arguing that the Third Amended
Complaint still fails to allege facts sufficient to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
12(b)(6) states that a court may dismiss a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In
deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must
“accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations .
. . and view these allegations in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff.” Casanova v. Ulibarri, 595 F.3d
1120, 1124 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Smith v. United
States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009)). However,
a plaintiff may not rely on mere labels or conclusions,
“and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do.” See Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
enough allegations of fact “to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. As the
Tenth Circuit explained in Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v.
Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007),
“the mere metaphysical possibility that some
plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support
of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must
give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff
has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for
these claims.” “The burden is on the
plaintiff to frame ‘a complaint with enough factual
matter (taken as true) to suggest' that he or she is
entitled to relief.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519
F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint must set forth
sufficient facts to elevate a claim above the level of mere
speculation. Id. “Nevertheless, the standard
remains a liberal one, Shields' one claim under the Equal
‘a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it
strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of these facts is
improbable and that a recovery is very remote and
unlikely.'” Jordan v. Cooley, No.
13-cv-01650-REB-MJW, 2014 WL 923279, at *1 (D. Colo. March
10, 2014) (quoting Dias v. City and County of
Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1178 (10th Cir. 2009)).
pro se pleadings should be "construed liberally
and held to a less stringent standard than formal proceedings
drafted by lawyers, " Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d
1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991), a pro se plaintiff is
still required to provide a simple and concise statement of
her claims and the specific conduct that gives rise to each
asserted claim. This court cannot be a pro se
litigant's advocate. Id. Just as importantly,
the court may not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts
that have not been alleged, or that a defendant has violated
laws in ways that a plaintiff has not asserted.
Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State
Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).
complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a
claim for relief if the allegations in the complaint show
that relief is barred by the applicable statute of
limitations. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215
(2007). Cf. Brooks v. City of Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d
178, 181 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 1357, at 352 (1990), “‘[a] complaint
showing that the statute of limitations has run on the claim
is the ...