Lemon v. Myers Bigel, P.A., No. 19-1380 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, alleging claims of race- and gender-based discrimination under Title VII and racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. 1981. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of her action for failure to state a claim, because plaintiff was not an "employee" of the firm she sought to sue. The court explained that plaintiff was a partner and equal owner of the firm, not an employee, and thus she is not within the scope of Title VII's coverage.
In regard to plaintiff's section 1981 claim, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to plead specific factual allegations tending to corroborate her claim of eligibility for leave. In this case, plaintiff declined to indicate the nature of the medical conditions or events that allegedly qualified her for leave, despite being the individual best-positioned to do so. Furthermore, even if plaintiff's qualification for leave was assumed, plaintiff failed to allege that her race was the but-for cause of the Board's denial of her leave application as required by the Supreme Court's recent holding in Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media, 140 S.Ct. 1009 (2020). As to plaintiff's one factually-specific, non-conclusory allegation of racially-motivated conduct, she failed to allege any facts linking it to the Board vote denying her short-term leave.