Discrimination Claims Dismissed Against Walmart; Alleged Translation Requests Etc. Deemed Insufficient

In Abubakar v. Walmart, Inc., Case No. 21-cv-06248, 2022 WL 14632902 (N.D.Ill. Oct. 25, 2022), the court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of discrimination based on color, age, national origin, religion, and race.

From the decision:

Walmart contends that Abubakar failed to state facially plausible claims for discrimination based on color, age, national origin, religion, and race because her allegations are conclusory. Dkt. 21 at 7. To state a claim for discrimination under Title VII2 and the ADEA, a plaintiff “need only aver that the employer instituted a (specified) adverse employment action against the plaintiff on the basis of” a protected characteristic. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required to survive a motion to dismiss, simply pleading that a defendant belongs to a particular protected group and suffered ill-treatment is not enough. Bell v. City of Chi., 835 F.3d 736, 738 (7th Cir. 2016). Some causal relationship between the two claims, beyond “mere labels and conclusions,” must be shown. Id. (internal quotations omitted). This relationship can be shown or inferred in a variety of ways, but without it, a discrimination claim cannot survive a motion to dismiss. Kaminski v. Elite Staffing, Inc., 23 F.4th 774, 776 (7th Cir. 2022) (“a plaintiff must advance plausible allegations that she experienced discrimination because of her protected characteristics.”).

Even construing the pro se complaint liberally, the complaint does not contain factual allegations connecting Abubakar’s mistreatment by Walmart to her color, age, national origin, religion, or race. Putting aside Abubakar’s conclusory statements that she was “discriminated against because of [her] race, Black, [her] national origin, Nigerian, [her] religion, Islam” and “[her] age, 42,” the only factual details that Abubakar provides are that she “wore a Muslim women’s heading covering (hijab)” to work, that Walmart “knew that [she] had moved here from Saudi Arabia,” and that her Walmart managers asked her to “translate from Arabic to English or vice versa.” Dkt. 18 at 8–9, 14. But this does not give rise to the inference that Walmart mistreated her on the basis of those protected characteristics.

The court, therefore, dismissed plaintiff’s discrimination claims without prejudice, thereby giving her an opportunity to cure the deficiencies in the present complaint.

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