United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. MAGNUSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to
Dismiss. (Docket No. 3.) For the following reasons, the
Motion is granted.
19, 2019, Plaintiff Jonathan West went to At Home, a home
décor store in Burnsville, Minnesota, to return items.
(Compl. (Docket No. 1, Ex. A) ¶¶ 6-7.) West, who is
African American, claims that he entered the store and
approached the register. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 8.) A
white female cashier “in a rather gruff manner”
instructed him to wait in line. (Id. ¶ 8.) He
did so, returned his items, and received store merchandise
credit. (Id. ¶ 9.) When Plaintiff later
approached the register to make a new purchase, he claims
that he saw a white female customer entered the store.
(Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges that the same
cashier allowed the white female customer to skip the line to
return her items. (Id.)
claims both race and sex discrimination in violation of the
Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”).
(Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Although he was not
altogether denied services, he contends that he was denied
the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services,
facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a
place of public accommodation.” (Id. ¶
20.) He claims that Defendant’s conduct made him feel
like “less than a human being” and has caused him
emotional anguish and suffering. (Id. ¶ 15.)
Plaintiff seeks damages for that mental anguish and
suffering, as well as consequential damages, statutory
damages, nominal damages, costs of suit, and attorney’s
fees. (Id. ¶ 16.)
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
need only “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A claim bears facial plausibility when
it allows the Court “to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
must accept plausible factual allegations as true. Gomez
v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 676 F.3d 655, 660 (8th Cir.
2012). But “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
” are insufficient to support a claim. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678.
MHRA prohibits preventing the “full and equal
enjoyment” of public accommodations because of a
person’s race or sex. Minn Stat. § 363A.11, subd.
1(a)(1). “[A]n actionable MHRA claim must include
‘some tangible change in . . . conditions’”
or “some ‘material . . .
disadvantage.’” Rumble v. Fairview Health
Servs., No. 14CV2037, 2015 WL 1197415, at *19 (D. Minn.
Mar. 16, 2015) (Nelson, J.) (citing Bahr v. Capella
Univ., 788 N.W.2d 76, 83 (Minn. 2010)) (additional
citations omitted). Plaintiff acknowledges that the alleged
conduct here is far less egregious compared to other
disparate treatment in “full and equal enjoyment”
cases. (Pl.’s Opp’n Mem. (Docket No. 9) at 2).
argues that his “humiliation” is severe enough to
constitute a MHRA violation. (Compl. ¶ 15.) He relies
solely on an unpublished Minnesota Court of Appeals case to
support this argument. Bray v. Starbucks Corp., No.
A17-0823, 2017 WL 6567695, at *7 (Minn.Ct.App. Dec. 26,
2017), review denied (Mar. 20, 2018) (quotation
omitted). This case states “there may be some
situations in which a person within a protected group could
be humiliated enough to the point that they are
constructively denied full use and enjoyment of services
and/or goods.” Id. But Plaintiff’s case
does not rise to the level contemplated in Bray.
Standing in line is not embarrassing or a material
disadvantage denying Plaintiff the “full and equal
enjoyment” of Defendant’s store. To the contrary,
Plaintiff’s allegations show that Plaintiff received
the same treatment as the customers in line. Further, a
customer can “reasonably anticipate” an
employee’s instruction to wait in line. Id. at
*6. Accordingly, accepting the facts in the Complaint as
true, the conduct falls within the category of
“perceived” harms or “hurt feelings”
that does not amount to a MHRA violation. Rumble,
2015 WL 1197415, at *28.
the record in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the
Court cannot plausibly infer a discriminatory motive based on
Plaintiff’s race or sex. Plaintiff likewise fails to
establish that he suffered any material disadvantage. The
bald conclusion that “[Defendant’s] conduct . . .
amounts to profiling and discrimination based on race and/or
sex” is insufficient to plead an actionable injury
under the MHRA. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Instead, the Complaint
shows that Plaintiff suffered an ordinary rebuff that we all
encounter in life. This claim fails.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s
Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 3) is GRANTED
and this matter is DISMISSED with prejudice.
JUDGMENT BE ...