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Kluttz v. Worldpac

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

December 19, 2013

THOMAS S KLUTTZ, Plaintiff,
v.
WORLDPAC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KENNETH M. HOYT, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is the defendant's, WORLDPAC, Inc. (the "defendant") motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint brought pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 28). The plaintiff, Thomas S. Kluttz (the "plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, has filed a response (Dkt. No. 29) and the defendant has filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 31). Having carefully reviewed the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the Court determines that the defendant's Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint should be GRANTED; the defendant's alternative challenge, brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), is DENIED as moot.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, a 60-year old white male, started working for the defendant in August of 2005 and remained in its employ until his termination on May 15, 2011. At the time of his termination, the plaintiff worked as a branch operations manager at the defendant's Houston facility. Subsequent to his termination, the plaintiff contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and initiated a discrimination complaint based on age, sex, and retaliation. He reported to the EEOC that, at the time of his termination, he was the only male supervisor and the oldest manager in the defendant's Midwest division. The plaintiff claimed that he was terminated because he was an older male, and that a younger female replaced him. According to the plaintiff, this resulted in an all-female management staff. He also alleged that the defendant showed an obvious and distinct pattern of terminating older males. To support his claim, he identified by name other older males that had been similarly terminated. The plaintiff further alleged that he was retaliated against because he reported a harassment issue between coworkers. He maintains that the defendant's human resources department mishandled the harassment complaint and blamed him for its mishap in an attempt to legitimize his termination.

In his follow-up correspondence to the EEOC, the plaintiff alleged that older males were being terminated because they were high-risk targets for minority complaints. The plaintiff added that the defendant had a mission to create a derogatory view of older male managers, which fostered a discriminative environment against older men. Finally, the plaintiff accused the defendant of creating and embellishing employee misconduct in order to justify terminating its older male employees.

In a letter dated April 3, 2012, the EEOC responded to the plaintiff's charge of discrimination with the following findings: (1) the plaintiff was terminated because of his mishandling of a personnel matter; (2) no other female manager in the company was treated better than the plaintiff; (3) no retaliation had occurred because the plaintiff never complained to the defendant of disparate treatment prior to his termination; (4) evidence showed that only two of the ten branch managers were females; (5) only two of the ten branch managers were younger than forty; and (6) no evidence was found that older males were being systematically terminated without reason. Accordingly, on April 5, 2012, the EEOC issued a "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" letter to the plaintiff advising him that, based upon its investigation, it was unable to conclude that his charge of discrimination proved a statutory violation and further informing him of his right to commence a lawsuit within 90 days from the date of receipt of its letter. The plaintiff claims to have received the EEOC's letter on April 7, 2012.

Thereafter, on April 3, 2013, and again on May 16, 2013, the plaintiff sought reconsideration of his charge before the EEOC. He alleged, without elaborating further, that his charge was incorrectly rewritten. He also claimed that he had supplementary evidence supporting his claims. The EEOC denied his requests for reconsideration, responding that no new substantial evidence or persuasive arguments had been made by him.

On July 5, 2012, the plaintiff timely filed suit against the defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging claims of retaliation, defamation, age and sex discrimination. Thereafter, the defendant filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to partially dismiss the plaintiff's original complaint alleging that the plaintiff's defamation claim failed to state a plausible claim for relief. (Dkt. No. 3). On October 9, 2012, the Court entered an Order granting the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's defamation claim. ( See Dkt. No. 10.) On June 28, 2013, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding a disparate impact claim based on age and race. The defendant now moves to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint alleging that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his disparate impact claim. Alternatively, the defendant contends that the plaintiff's disparate impact claim should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

III. CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

A. The Defendant's Contentions

The defendant moves this Court to dismiss the plaintiff's Amended Complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a threshold matter, it intimates that the plaintiff's amended complaint superseded his original complaint, which includes claims of defamation, retaliation and disparate treatment premised on age and sex. It argues that the plaintiff's amended complaint, which solely alleges a disparate impact claim, should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(1) because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to this claim. Specifically, it contends that the EEOC never investigated a disparate impact claim on the plaintiff's behalf and, therefore, the Court lacks jurisdiction to now adjudicate the claim. Alternatively, the defendant contends that the plaintiff's amended complaint should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) because it fails to sufficiently plead an essential element of a disparate impact claim-a neutral employment policy or practice.

B. The Plaintiff's Contentions

The plaintiff argues that his original and amended complaints should not be dismissed because he has pleaded sufficient facts to support his claims. He also contends that he exhausted his administrative remedies respecting his disparate impact claim because a disparate impact investigation could have naturally grown from his EEOC charge. ...


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