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Atem v. Accurate Homecare, LLC

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

September 25, 2013

ISABELLE ATEM, Plaintiff,
v.
ACCURATE HOMECARE, LLC, Defendant.

Michael A. Fondungallah, FONDUNGALLAH & KIGHAM, LLC, 2499 Rice Street, Suite 145, St. Paul, MN 55113, for plaintiff.

Gina K. Janeiro and Antone M. Melton-Meaux, JACKSON LEWIS LLP, 225 South Sixth Street, Suite 3850, Minneapolis, MN 55402, for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Isabelle Atem, worked for defendant, Accurate Homecare, LLC ("Accurate"), for a little over one year before resigning in May 2011. Atem alleges that Accurate engaged in racial and national origin discrimination and pregnancy/sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), Minn. Stat. §§ 363A et seq. Atem also brings claims for hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and constructive discharge. Accurate moves to dismiss all of Atem's claims. The Court will grant in part Accurate's motion to dismiss because Atem failed to adequately plead claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. The Court will deny in part Accurate's motion to dismiss because Atem adequately alleges claims for race and national origin discrimination and pregnancy/sex discrimination in violation of Title VII or the MHRA.

BACKGROUND

Atem is a Cameroonian American nurse. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 9, Apr. 19, 2013, Docket No. 1.) Atem began working for Accurate in December 2009, and during her employment she provided care exclusively for one patient, "GS." ( Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) GS requires 24-hour nursing care by a registered nurse. ( Id. ¶ 10.) A personal care attendant ("PCA") assists the nurse in caring for GS for four hours each day. ( Id. )

I. ATEM'S DISPARATE TREATMENT ALLEGATIONS[1]

Atem alleges that in spite of being named employee of the month in February 2010 and February 2012 ( id. ¶ 11), she was treated differently than Caucasian employees. For example, in August 2010, Atem left GS in the care of a PCA, Andrea, [2] for approximately twenty minutes. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Accurate suspended Atem for not demonstrating proper delegation, placed her on a verbal performance improvement plan, and notified the Board of Nursing. ( Id. ¶ 13.) Accurate did not suspend or report Andrea, a Caucasian woman, to the Board of Nursing. ( Id. )

In August 2010, Atem corrected the behavior of a different PCA, Robin, to better conform with patient care standards. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Robin, a Caucasian woman, complained to Accurate that Atem was harassing her on the job and refused to continue to work with Atem. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Accurate noted in Atem's file that she was not "getting along with other staff and care providers." ( Id. ) Accurate did not discipline Robin. ( Id. ¶ 44.)

In October 2010, Atem called a third party, Pinnacle, to report that the facilities used by GS were not clean. ( Id. ¶ 17.) When Pinnacle did not send someone to clean the facilities, Atem called a manager at Pinnacle. ( Id. ) The manager apologized and stated that the next time it happened" Atem should call him directly. ( Id. ) When another "incident" occurred, Atem called the manager. ( Id. ) A Caucasian employee of Pinnacle later called Accurate and complained that Atem was "demanding and condescending." ( Id. ¶ 18.) Atem contends that this complaint was "documented against" her. ( Id. )

Atem also generally alleges that Accurate did not "respond to requests for supplies made by African and African American employees" but that it did respond to similar requests by Caucasian employees. ( Id. ¶ 48.) In the same vein, Atem alleges that she could not reach management by phone and "had to go through white employees to reach management." ( Id. ¶ 60.)

II. ATEM'S PREGNANCY AND RESIGNATION

In early 2011, Atem became pregnant. ( See id. ¶ 19.) In April 2011, Accurate organized a care conference for GS. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Atem was unable to attend this conference but alleges that during the conference "an [Accurate] manager said that if pregnant nurses could not do their jobs, they would not be allowed to continue to work." ( Id. ) Also in April 2011, one of Atem's co-workers informed her that Accurate was recruiting other nurses to work Atem's shift, and Atem was asked to train two other nurses to care for GS. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) During this same period, Atem alleged that another nurse who was pregnant was "taken off her work schedule." ( Id. ¶ 21.)

Atem alleges that a co-worker told her that her name was not on the following month's schedule. ( Id. ¶ 22.) After receiving this information, Atem tendered her two ...


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