United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay (Dkt.
#21) and Defendants' Motion to Strike and Objections to
Portions of Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendants' Response
to Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay (Dkt. #30). Having
considered the pleadings, the Court finds that
Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay (Dkt. #21) should be denied.
Defendants' Motion to Strike and Objections to Portions
of Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendants' Response to
Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay (Dkt. #30) should be denied.
Mark Bibb and Latanya Harris (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) are current or former employees of
Defendant Huawei Technologies USA, Inc.
(“Huawei”). Defendant Pan Yao (“Yao”)
is Huawei's human resources director.
January 26, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint
(Dkt. #19) alleging Huawei and Yao (collectively,
“Defendants”) retaliated against them in
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the False Claims
Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981
(“Section 1981”), and the Equal Pay Act. On
February 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed Charges of Discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging national origin discrimination
and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964.
February 27, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion to stay the
proceedings for six months or until the EEOC concludes its
investigation (Dkt. #21). On March 13, 2017, Defendants filed
a response (Dkt. #24). On March 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a
reply (Dkt. #28).
March 24, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Strike and
Objections to Portions of Plaintiffs' Reply (Dkt. #30).
On April 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a response to the motion
to strike (Dkt. #36).
district court has broad discretion to stay proceedings in
the interest of justice and to control its docket. Landis
v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). “Proper
use of this authority ‘calls for the exercise of
judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain
an even balance.”' Wedgeworth v. Fibreboard
Corp., 706 F.2d 541, 545 (5th Cir. 1983) (quoting
Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55). “[A] court should
not stay a [Section] 1981 suit pending EEOC action on related
claims unless there appears a reasonable possibility that
EEOC conciliation efforts will be productive.”
Hines v. D'Artois, 531 F.2d 726, 736 (5th Cir.
1976). See also Hayes v. MBNA Tech., Inc., No.
CIV.A.3:03-CV1766-D, 2004 WL 1283965, at *2 (N.D. Tex. June
9, 2004) (refusing to stay proceedings pending EEOC
investigation where plaintiff also asserted claims that were
not subject to EEOC exhaustion).
argue that the Court should stay the case for six months to
allow the EEOC to complete the investigation of
Plaintiffs' Title VII claims. Filing a charge with the
EEOC is a condition precedent to filing a Title VII suit.
See Young v. City of Houston, Tex., 906 F.2d 177,
179 (5th Cir.1990). This requirement serves the dual purposes
of affording the EEOC and the employer an opportunity to
settle the dispute through conciliation, and giving the
employer some warning as to the conduct about which the
employee is aggrieved. Alexander v. Gardner-Denver
Co., 415 U.S. 36, 44 (1974); Sanchez v. Standard
Brands, Inc., 431 F.2d 455, 466 (5th Cir.1970).
Plaintiffs state that after the EEOC concludes its
investigation and issues a Notice of Right to Sue, Plaintiffs
will amend their pleadings to incorporate their Title VII
claims. Plaintiffs argue a stay is necessary because
“the same major operative facts are at issue in both
the Amended Complaint and the EEOC Charges.”
argument is without merit. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
includes claims of retaliation in violation of the Fair Labor
Standards Act, the False Claims Act, and the Family and
Medical Leave Act. Plaintiffs allege Defendants retaliated
against them in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
when they expressed objections to Defendants' employee
classification practices and Defendants' alleged
misrepresentations in connection with a Department of Labor
investigation. Plaintiffs further allege that they have
“repeatedly warned Defendant Yao of the likelihood of a
False Claims Act violation on the part of Huawei as a result
of Huawei's handling of certain types of visas.”
(Dkt. #19 at ¶ 16). Plaintiffs allege that because of
the warnings Defendants retaliated against them in violation
of the False Claims Act's anti-retaliation provision.
Plaintiff Harris alleges Defendants retaliated against her in
violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act for taking
leave in December 2014 and January 2015. Plaintiffs'
Title VII national origin discrimination claims do not
sufficiently relate to the current allegations in
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint to warrant a stay of the
proceedings pending the EEOC investigation.
Plaintiffs also bring claims under Section 1981 and the Equal
Pay Act. Unlike Title VII, Section 1981 and the Equal Pay Act
do not require exhaustion of administrative remedies. See
Stith v. Perot Sys. Corp., 122 F.App'x 115, 119 (5th
Cir. 2005). The Fifth Circuit has held that “a court
should not stay a [Section] 1981 suit pending EEOC action on
related claims unless there appears a reasonable possibility
that EEOC conciliation efforts will be productive.”
Hines v. D 'Artois,531 F.2d 726, 736 (5th Cir.
1976). EEOC conciliation is a voluntary process that occurs
after the EEOC concludes its investigation and issues a
Letter of Determination finding reason to believe
discrimination occurred. See Bourgeois v. Matrana's
Produce, Inc., 2013 WL 4525652 (E.D. La. Aug. 26, 2013).
Here, the parties dispute whether the EEOC has contacted the
parties and begun its investigation. The Court thus will not
stay the proceedings pending EEOC action. See Hines,
531 F.2d ...