United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
SHELIA R. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
LEAR CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FITZWATER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
employment discrimination action by plaintiff Shelia R.
Taylor (“Taylor”) against defendants
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and
Agricultural Implement Workers of America, and Local Union
129 (collectively, “UAW”), and Lear Corporation
(“Lear”), UAW moves to strike Lear's first
amended complaint (“amended complaint”), and all
three defendants move under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss
the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the
reasons that follow, the court denies UAW's motion to
strike, grants UAW's motion to dismiss, grants in part
and denies in part Lear's motion to dismiss, and grants
Taylor leave to replead.
is employed by Lear at its Arlington, Texas facility, and is
a member of the UAW. UAW and Lear are parties to a collective
bargaining agreement (“CBA”).
December 4, 2015 Taylor filed a Charge of Discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) in which she alleged that she was denied
overtime in retaliation for her April 16, 2015 complaint of
race and sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e et seq. On April 5, 2016 the EEOC
dismissed Taylor's charge and issued a Notice of Right to
Sue. On June 14, 2016 Taylor sued Lear and UAW in Case No.
3:16-CV-1583-L (Lindsay, J.), alleging claims under Title
VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29
U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and Section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29
U.S.C. § 1985. On October 7, 2016 Judge Lindsay
dismissed Taylor's lawsuit without prejudice because of
her failure to comply with a court order. Taylor then filed
the instant lawsuit on December 1, 2016. On June 13, 2017 the
court granted Taylor's motion for leave to amend her
complaint, and ordered her to file her amended complaint
within 28 days of the court's order. Taylor filed her
amended complaint on July 17, 2017.
amended complaint, Taylor appears to allege claims for
hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII;
discrete discrimination under the FLSA; “Negligent
Training, Negligent Hiring, ” which “creat[ed] a
hostile work environment in its workforce . . . [that was]
‘severe and pervasive' and in violation of Title
VII, ” Am. Compl. ¶ 25; and violation of §
301 of the LMRA. UAW moves to strike Taylor's amended
complaint on the ground that it is untimely,  and UAW and Lear
each move to dismiss Taylor's amended complaint under
Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief
can be granted. Taylor opposes the motions.
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court
evaluates the sufficiency of plaintiff['s] amended
complaint by accepting all well-pleaded facts as true,
viewing them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Bramlett v. Med. Protective Co. of Fort
Wayne, Ind., 855 F.Supp.2d 615, 618 (N.D. Tex. 2012)
(Fitzwater, C.J.) (internal quotation marks and brackets
omitted) (quoting In re Katrina Canal Breaches
Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007)). To survive a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level[.]”).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘shown-‘that
the pleader is entitled to relief.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (brackets omitted) (quoting
Rule 8(a)(2)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.” Id. at 678 (citation
obtain a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal based on an affirmative
defense, the “successful affirmative defense [must]
appear clearly on the face of the pleadings.”
Cochran v. Astrue, 2011 WL 5604024, at *1 (N.D. Tex.
Nov. 17, 2011) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (quoting Sivertson v.
Clinton, 2011 WL 4100958, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 14,
2011) (Fitzwater, C.J.)). In other words, defendants are not
entitled to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) based on an
affirmative defense unless Taylor “has pleaded
[her]self out of court by admitting to all of the elements of
the defense.” Id. (quoting Sivertson,
2011 WL 4100958, at *3).
court begins with Taylor's claims for hostile work
environment and retaliation brought under Title
Lear move to dismiss Taylor's Title VII claims on the
grounds that she has failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies and that any claims arising from the December 4,
2015 EEOC charge are time-barred.
is well settled that courts may not entertain claims brought
under Title VII as to which an aggrieved party has not first
exhausted [her] administrative remedies by filing a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC.” Kretchmer v. Eveden,
Inc., 2009 WL 854719, at *3 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2009)
(Fitzwater, C.J.) (citing Taylor v. Books A Million,
Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378-79 (5th Cir. 2002)
(“Employment discrimination plaintiffs must exhaust
administrative remedies before pursuing claims in federal
court. Exhaustion occurs when the plaintiff files a timely
charge with the EEOC and receives a statutory notice of right
to sue.”), aff'd, 374 Fed.Appx. 493 (5th
Cir. 2010). “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.” Hayes v. MBNA Tech.,
Inc., 2004 WL 1283965, at *3 (N.D. Tex. June 9, 2004)
(Fitzwater, J.) (citing Alexander v. Gardner-Denver
Co., 415 U.S. 36, 44 (1974); Sanchez v. Standard
Brands, Inc., 431 F.2d 455, 466 (5th Cir. 1970)).
this court treats exhaustion of administrative remedies in a
Title VII case as an affirmative defense, see Clemmer v.
Irving Independent School District, 2015 WL 1757358, at
*3 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 17, 2015) (Fitzwater, J.), aff'd
on other grounds, No. 16-10493 (5th Cir. May 19, 2017)
(per curiam), defendants are not entitled to dismissal of
Taylor's Title VII claims on this basis unless it appears
from the face of the complaint that Taylor has not
exhausted her administrative remedies. Id. The
amended complaint does not mention the filing of any charge
with the EEOC or the receipt of a right to sue letter.
Accordingly, with respect to her Title VII claims, the court
cannot conclude that Taylor has pleaded herself out of court
based on a failure to exhaust her administrative remedies.
court next considers defendants' argument that
Taylor's Title VII claims are time-barred. In deferral
states such as Texas, an aggrieved party must file a charge
of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days after the
alleged unlawful practice occurred. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(e)(1). If the EEOC dismisses this charge, it
must “notify the person aggrieved and within ninety
days after the giving of such notice a civil action may be
brought against the respondent named in the charge.” 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). A plaintiff has ninety days from
the date she receives this notice from the EEOC,
i.e., a right-to-sue letter, to file a lawsuit.
Duron v. Albertson's LLC, 560 F.3d 288, 290 (5th
Cir. 2009) (per curiam) (“A plaintiff alleging
employment discrimination must file a civil action no more
than ninety days after she receives statutory notice of her
right to sue from the EEOC.”). The requirement that a
plaintiff file a lawsuit within this ninety-day period is
“strictly construed.” Taylor, 296 F.3d
at 379. “Although filing of an EEOC charge is not a
jurisdictional prerequisite, it ‘is a precondition to
filing suit in district court.'” Taylor,
296 F.3d at 379 (citation omitted).
attached as an exhibit to her complaint a copy of the
EEOC's notice of right to sue letter, which is dated
April 5, 2016. She filed this lawsuit on December 1,
2016, which is 240 days after the EEOC mailed Taylor her
right to sue letter. To the extent Taylor intends to argue
that the 90-day filing period was tolled while her case was
pending before Judge Lindsay,  the Fifth Circuit has held in a
per curiam opinion that the 90-day period for a Title VII
claim is not tolled by the filing of a lawsuit that
is later dismissed without prejudice for want of prosecution.
Price v. Digital Equip. Corp., 846 F.2d 1026, 1027
(5th Cir. 1988) (per curiam). But even assuming
arguendo that the 90-day window was tolled
during the 115 days that Taylor's suit was pending before
Judge Lindsay, Taylor still did not file this lawsuit within
the 90-day window.
to the extent Taylor intends to rely on her December 4, 2015
charge of discrimination and the EEOC's April 5, 2016
notice of right to sue to establish that she exhausted her
administrative remedies with respect to her Title VII claims
against Lear, the court grants Lear's motion to
contends that Taylor's Title VII claims alleged against
it-to the extent that Taylor intended to plead these claims
against UAW-should be dismissed because Taylor has not
pleaded that UAW (as opposed to Lear) is her employer and has
not plausibly alleged a prima facie case of
with Taylor's hostile work environment claim, the court
concludes that this claim is asserted only against Lear, not
UAW. Although in the amended complaint Taylor alleges in
support of her hostile work environment claim that
“Defendants [are] employer[s] within the
meaning of Title VII, ” Am. Compl. ¶ 9 (emphasis
added), and refers to the CBA as the “contract
govern[ing] the interaction of the employer and that of its
unionized employees, ” id. ¶ 11, her
hostile work environment allegations appear to be directed
only at her actual employer, Lear:
[t]he managerial team of the defendant uninhibited
unobjectionable and racial animus was repletely demonstrated,
by the untamed verbal abuse of Mark Pedito the Mark Mc
Sparren Quality Manager Plant who repeatedly failed to
admonish the hostile action of the open and unbroken
demoralizing culture posture such hostile assaults. This
unchecked hostile tenor continued from September 2015 at each
5S efficiency meeting and on or about October 2016. Moreover,
on several other instances during her shift the supervisor,
knowingly and intentionally refused Ms. Taylor, who maintain
seniority, to participate in any overtime scheduling, while
openly threaten terms and condition of Ms. Taylor regarding
her present position.
Id. ¶ 12. In support of her hostile work
environment claim, Taylor has not plausibly alleged that UAW
was her employer or that UAW subjected her to a hostile work
environment. Accordingly, to the extent Taylor intends to
assert her Title VII hostile work environment claim against
UAW, the court grants UAW's motion to dismiss this claim.
court turns next to Taylor's retaliation claim. In
deciding UAW's motion, the court assumes
arguendo that Taylor has exhausted her
administrative remedies against UAW and that she can bring
this claim against a union that does not employ her. Even
with these assumptions, Taylor's Title VII retaliation
claim against UAW is subject ...