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Greer v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 27, 2019

TERESSA GREER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHWESTERN BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ERIC F. MELGREN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court is presented with Defendant Southwestern Bell Telephone Company's (“SBTC”) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim for Counts 2, 3, and 4 of Plaintiff Teressa Greer's complaint (Doc. 6). For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

         From 2000 to 2017, Greer worked as a customer service representative for SBTC's AT&T branch. Greer also held the position of secretary/treasurer for her union, the Communication Workers of America.

         In 2016, Greer received multiple complaints about three of the managers at the office: Charlie McGee, Myesha Peterson, and Sherelle Bolden-Humphrey. At least one employee complained that McGee sexually harassed her. Other employees brought to Greer's attention an inappropriate relationship between Peterson and her subordinate, Marcus Martinez. Others complained of a pattern of inappropriate fraternization and fraud among the staff.

         With these allegations in mind, Greer called a supposedly confidential meeting with herself, Nancy Fantroy (another union leader), and Jonathan Wilson, the manager of McGee, Peterson, and Bolden-Humphrey. Upon learning of this meeting from Wilson, Peterson allegedly proclaimed to the staff that “'Union' is going to get everyone fired.” Greer claims that the woman who made the sexual harassment allegation threatened to “shoot ‘Union' in the face, ” not wanting the accusation reported. Wilson reputedly refused to address his role in breaking the confidentiality of the meeting, instead ominously telling Fantroy “I hope no one brings a gun to work.”

         After these incidents, Greer claims that SBTC moved her desk and moved her to an unfamiliar position with no training. She also alleges that the sales team left her out of important meetings. As a result, she contacted Rick Eddy, Wilson's supervisor, to complain of retaliation and reiterate the inappropriate relationship between Peterson and Martinez. Eddy requested proof of this relationship, so she took photos of Martinez' car outside Peterson's house.

         On one of Fantroy and Greer's regular union visits, Greer asserts, Martinez followed them, having been advised that they were spying on him. Martinez angrily confronted and threatened the pair, and the parties called 911 on each other. Greer reported this incident to Wilson. Nothing apparently came of this, and Greer was eventually laid off.

         Greer filed this suit against SBTC for retaliation under Title VII (Count 1), and negligent hiring/retention, training, and supervision (Counts 2-4). The defendant now moves to dismiss Counts 2-4 under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that these counts fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move for dismissal when the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[2] Upon such motion, the court must decide “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”[3] A claim is facially plausible if the plaintiff pleads facts sufficient for the court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct.[4] The court is required to accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, but is free to reject legal conclusions.[5]The plausibility standard reflects the requirement in Rule 8 that pleadings provide defendants with fair notice of the nature of claims and the grounds on which the claim rests.[6]

         III. Analysis

         A. Negligent Retention, Supervision, and Training

         Greer claims that SBTC was negligent in retaining and failing to train and supervise McGee, Peterson, and Martinez, which caused her emotional and physical harm. SBTC moves to dismiss, arguing that Greer's status as an employee prevents ...


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