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Johnson v. Shelby County Schools

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

April 11, 2017



          John T. Fowlkes, Jr. United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Judge Vescovo's Report and Recommendation for sua sponte Dismissal. (ECF No. 8). This case was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for management and for all pretrial matters for determination and/or report and recommendation as appropriate. (Admin. Order 2013-05, April 29, 2013). Judge Vescovo issued her Report and Recommendation on March 9, 2017. A copy of the Report and Recommendation was mailed to Brenda Johnson (“Plaintiff”). To date, no objections have been filed.

         After a de novo review, the Court hereby ADOPTS the Magistrate's Repot and Recommendation.


         This Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings of fact in this case. See (ECF No. 8).


         A. Standard for District Court's Review of a Report and Recommendation

         The district court has the authority to refer certain pre-trial matters to a magistrate judge for resolution. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Callier v. Gray, 167 F.3d 977, 980 (6th Cir. 1999). These referrals may include non-dispositive pretrial matters, such as a motion to compel or a motion for a protective order concerning discovery. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). The district court has appellate jurisdiction over any decisions the magistrate judge issues pursuant to such a referral. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72. The referrals may also include dispositive matters such as a motion for summary judgment or a motion for injunctive relief. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). When a dispositive matter is referred, the magistrate judge's duty is to issue proposed findings of fact and recommendations for disposition, which the district court may adopt or not. “The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the matter considered by the magistrate judge. If the magistrate judge issues a non-dispositive pretrial order, the district court should defer to that order unless it is “found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). However, if the magistrate judge order was issued in response to a dispositive motion, the district court should engage in de novo review of all portions of the order to which specific written objections have been made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App'x. 308, 311, 2003 WL 21321184 *2 (6th Cir. 2003) (“A district court normally applies a ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to law' standard of review for non[-]dispositive preliminary measures. A district court must review dispositive motions under the de novo standard.”).

         B. Standard for Motion To Dismiss

         When assessing a plaintiff's claim at the Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(6) motion to dismiss stage, the Sixth Circuit has stated that a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief, and that a reviewing court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all allegations as true.” Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir. 2012). “Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, pro se litigants “are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[A] court cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).


         A. Title VII Religious Discrimination Claim

         On March 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the defendant, Shelby County Schools (“SCS”). To establish a prima facie claim for religious discrimination under Title VII, the Sixth Circuit requires a plaintiff to show that “(1) [s]he holds a sincere religious belief that conflicts with an employment requirement; (2) [s]he has informed the employer about the conflicts; and (3) [s]he was discharged or disciplined for failing to comply with the conflicting employment requirement.” Tepper v. Potter, 505 F.3d 508, 514 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Smith v. Pyro Mining Co., 827 F.2d 1081, 1084 (6th Cir. 1987)). Plaintiff alleges that Shelia Gray (“Gray”), an employee of Shelby ...

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