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Champlin v. Manpower Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

January 24, 2018




         Before the Court is Defendant Quantlab Financial, LLC's (“Quantlab”) Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 2. Plaintiff, Jeffery S. Champlin (“Champlin”), filed a Response, Doc. 7, Quantlab filed a Reply, Doc. 9, and Plaintiff filed a Sur-Reply, Doc. 12. Also, Quantlab has filed a Notice of New Authority in Support of Its Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 16, to which Champlin has filed a response, Doc. 17. After considering these documents and the applicable law, the Court grants in part and denies in part Quantlab's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Background

         On August 30, 2016, Champlin filed his Original Petition in state court alleging that Quantlab violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. and Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”), Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 21.051, et seq. Docs. 1 at 1, 1-1 at 9-12 (Cause No. 2016-58450 in the 129th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas). On October 5, 2016, Quantlab removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal-question jurisdiction because Champlin raised federal ADEA claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331; Doc. 1 at 2. Accordingly, the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the TCHRA claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         In his Original Petition, Champlin alleges that on July 11, 2013, he received an email with “age discriminatory language” “from [Experis US, Inc. (“Experis”), ] the employment agency[, ] outlin[ing] a job position for a Software Engineer . . . with an undisclosed company's Operations/Support team.” Doc. 1-1 at 8 ¶ 4.2, 4.7; No. 4:16-CV-00421, Doc. 15 at 2.[1]According to Champlin, the e-mail included the following discriminatory language: “[w]e are not looking for anyone with overspecialization or Helpdesk/1st level support candidates or candidates with more than 10-12 years of experience. This is a pretty young, eager group, so culturally 1-5 years experience is the best fit.” Doc. 1-1 at 8 ¶ 4.3.

         Champlin states that he was “fifty-six years old at the time he received the email” from Experis, and, “[a]s a result of the discriminatory wording of the email, Champlin was deterred from applying and did not apply for the Software Engineer in Trading Support position because such an application would have been futile.” Id. at 9 ¶ 4.8. Thus, Champlin alleges that he “was effectively rejected for the position.” Id. Also, “[i]ndividuals substantially younger than Champlin and/or outside the protected class were hired for the positions.” Id. ¶ 4.9.

         Accordingly, Champlin filed a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (“TWC”) against Experis on July 17, 2013. Doc. 1-1 at 9 ¶ 4.5; No. 4:16-CV-00421, Doc. 1 at 4. On November 20, 2015, he received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. No. 4:16-CV-00421, Doc. 1 at 5. And in February of 2016, Champlin sued Experis. Id. at 1.

         Also in “Mid-February 2016, Champlin requested and received the EEOC file” concerning his claim against Experis, which identified “that Quantlab was the entity who . . . drafted the listing for the . . . position.” Doc. 1-1 at 9 ¶ 4.6. Thus, on June 6, 2016, Champlin alleges that he “timely filed a charge of discrimination with the . . [EEOC] and by deferral with the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division” (“TWC-CRD”) against Quantlab. Id. at 13 ¶ 10.1. He also alleges that he received the right to sue letter from the EEOC on July 1, 2016. Id. at 13 ¶ 10.2. On August 30, 2016, Champlin filed suit against Quantlab under ADEA and TCHRA. Doc. 1-1.

         In his suit against Quantlab, Champlin asserts four claims: discrimination and disparate-impact claims under ADEA and discrimination and disparate-impact claims under TCHRA. Doc. 1-1 at 9-12. Champlin asserts that Quantlab violated ADEA by discriminating “against Champlin because of his age by creating a discriminatory job posting indicating to Champlin and any reasonable person that it would have been futile for Champlin to apply.” Id. at 9-10. Champlin also asserts a disparate impact claim against Quantlab under ADEA by alleging that “the practice resulted in a disparate impact on older individuals, ” and “there is a causal link between the employment practice and the disparity, ” which “is not justified by a lawful business necessity [or] by a reasonable factor other than age.” Id. at 10-11. Champlin similarly asserts his discrimination and disparate impact claims under the TCHRA, which we do not recite herein. Id. at 11-12.

         Quantlab's requests that the Court dismiss Champlin's claims for three reasons: (1) “Champlin's [TCHRA and ADEA] claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations and/or failure to exhaust administrative remedies”; (2) “Champlin's failure-to-hire claim fails because he never applied for the job, and therefore, cannot make out a prima facie case” under “both the TCHRA and the ADEA”; and (3) “Champlin's disparate impact claim fails because the ADEA does not recognize such a claim for non-employee job applicants.” Doc. 2.

         Subsequent to the filing of Quantlab's Motion to Dismiss, this Court granted in part Experis's Second Motion to Dismiss, in which Experis asserted the second and third arguments above: namely that Champlin fails to state a claim under ADEA because he never applied for nor did Experis refuse to refer him for the job, and that ADEA does not recognize a claim for non-employee job applicants. No. 4:16-CV-00421, Doc. 16 at 2-3. The Court dismissed Champlin's discrimination claim, but not his disparate impact claim. No. 4:16-CV-00421, Doc. 26. The Court takes judicial notice of its opinion and order.

         II. Standard of Review

         When a district court reviews a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), it must construe the complaint in favor of the plaintiff and take all well-pleaded facts as true. Wolcott v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)). “Dismissal is appropriate only if the complaint fails to plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Leal v. McHugh, 731 F.3d 405, 410 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Montoya v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 614 F.3d 145, 148 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)) (internal quotation marks omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544 (citations omitted).

         III. Legal Principles and Discussion

         A. Administrative Exhaustion and Statute of Limitations

         Champlin and Quantilab dispute the start date from which to compute administrative exhaustion and the statute of limitations deadlines. Quantlab asserts that the Court should compute the deadlines from the date Champlin received the job posting on July 13, 2013. If so, Quantlab asserts that Champlin did not “exhaust his administrative remedies” because his EEOC and TCHRA charges were filed “over 1000 days late, ” and his TCHRA claim is barred by its “two year statute of limitations found at Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 21.256.” Doc. 2 at 5-7. Champlin, asserts, however, that the Court should compute the deadlines from the date he discovered Quantlab's identity as the employer responsible for the job posting in February of 2016. If this is so, Champlin asserts all his filings were timely. In support, Champlin asserts that all limitations were tolled by the discovery rule or otherwise equitably tolled. Docs. 1-1 at 7 ¶ 10.4; 7 at 14-16. The Court first discusses the ADEA administrative exhaustion issue, and then discusses the TCHRA administrative exhaustion and statute of limitations issues.

         i. Administrative Exhaustion under ADEA

         “Employment discrimination plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies before pursuing claims in federal court.” Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378-79 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Dao v. Auchan Hypermarket, 96 F.3d 787, 788-89 (5th Cir. 1996)). Exhaustion occurs, in part, when the plaintiff files a timely charge with the EEOC. Id. “Because Texas is a ‘deferral' state[] under the ADEA, the limitations period for filing an age discrimination charge with the EEOC is 300 ...

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