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Barrett v. American Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

May 11, 2017




         Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, American Airlines, Inc., to dismiss. The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, Detra Barrett, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted.

         I. Underlying Proceedings

         Plaintiff was employed by defendant. Doc.[1] 8 at 2, ¶ 4. On April 11, 2011, she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division, on the basis of color, sex, and retaliation. On June 20, 2011, she filed an amended charge, and, in October 2 012, she filed another charge alleging age discrimination and retaliation. Doc. 8 at 4, ¶ 11. On July 7, 2015, the EEOC issued its notice of right to sue.[2] Doc. 10 at 004. On August 12, 2015, the Texas Workforce Commission issued its notice of right to file a civil action. Doc. 10 at 008.

         On September 29, 2015, plaintiff filed her original petition in the 236th Judicial District Court of Tarrant County, Texas. Doc. 10 at 010-019. Plaintiff alleged that she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex and age and that she was unlawfully retaliated against by defendant. Doc. 10 at 015. Plaintiff sought judgment against defendant "as follows: 1. That this Court adjudge and decree that Defendant has violated Texas Labor Code Ann. 21.051." Doc. 10 a 017.

         On December 6, 2016, defendant filed a traditional motion for summary judgment, alleging that plaintiff's claims were barred by limitations because she had not filed her original petition until more than two years after the filing of her administrative complaint. Doc. 5, Ex. 1-K. Instead of filing a response acknowledging that her state claims were barred but that she had also asserted federal claims that were not barred, plaintiff filed, on January 12, 2017, her first amended petition. The amended petition was virtually identical to the original, except that plaintiff added a paragraph to the "discrimination" section of the pleading to state that she sought relief pursuant to Title VII, and she omitted any reference to the Texas Labor Code. Doc. 5, Ex. 1-L. On February 9, 2017, defendant filed its notice of removal, bringing the action before this court. Doc. 1. Defendant stated that the notice of removal was timely because the January 12 amended petition asserted for the first time that plaintiff sought relief under Title VII. Doc. 1, ¶ 1. Plaintiff did not file a motion to remand.

         The court ordered the parties to replead. On March 27, 2017, plaintiff filed her amended complaint asserting claims for sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII. Doc. 8. In response, defendant filed the motion to dismiss now before the court.

         II. Ground of the Motion

         Defendant alleges that plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because they were hot timely filed. Specifically, her Title VII claims cannot relate back to the filing of plaintiff's original petition because the original petition itself was time-barred.

         III. Applicable Legal Principles

         A motion to dismiss may be granted on a statute of limitations defense where the pleadings show that the action is time-barred. Taylor v. Bailey Tool, Mfg. Co., 744 P.3d 944, 946 (5th Cir. 2014); Jones v. Alcoa, Inc., 339 F.3d 359, 366 (5th Cir. 2003). Specifically, a Title VII action may be dismissed for plaintiff's failure to. file suit within 90 days of receipt of the EEOC's notice of right to sue. Harris v. Boyd Tunica, Inc., 628 F.3d 237, 239 (5th Cir. 2010).

         Whether claims asserted in an amended pleading relate back to an earlier pleading depends upon whether the amendment was filed in state or federal, court. When a plaintiff amends her pleading in state court prior to removal to federal court, state court relation-back rules apply. Taylor, 744 P.3d at 947. And, under Texas law, an-amended petition does not relate back to the original petition if the earlier pleading was itself untimely. Id.; Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.068 (amended and supplemental pleadings relate back only if the original claim was not subject to a plea of limitation).

         Pursuant to Texas Labor Code § 21.256, a civil action must be brought within two years of the filing of an administrative complaint or the claim is time-barred. Goss v. City of Houston, 391 S.W.3d 168, 171 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist. ] 2012, no pet.); Vu v. ExxonMobil Corp., 98 S.W.3d 318, 320-21 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, pet. denied). The limitations period under the statute is mandatory and jurisdictional. Lottinger v. Shell Oil Co., 143 F.Supp.2d 743, 753 (S.D. Tex. 2 001). The failure of the Texas Workforce Commission to issue a notice of ...

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