United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
ROSENTHAL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Taylor sued her employer, Texas Southern University, alleging
that TSU pays a male employee with the same job title $924.12
more per year. (Docket Entry No. 15-1). Taylor asserts a
violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).
(Docket Entry No. 15 at ¶ 3.3). TSU has moved to
dismiss, arguing that Taylor has not alleged that the male
employee has the same job responsibilities as Taylor, and
that Taylor has brought the same or similar claims twice
before, without success. (Docket Entry No. 12). Taylor
amended her complaint and responded that the amended
complaint alleges enough facts to state a plausible Equal Pay
Act claim, and that, although the claims she raises are not
new, she bases this complaint on a different comparator and
so preclusion does not apply. (Docket Entry Nos. 15-16). The
court heard oral argument on the motion. (Docket Entry No.
considering the pleadings, the properly considered documents,
the motion and response, and the applicable law, the court
grants TSU's motion to dismiss, without prejudice.
(Docket Entry No. 12). Taylor may amend no later than
September 27, 2019. The reasons for this
ruling are explained in detail below.
The Amended Complaint Allegations
facts are drawn from Taylor's amended complaint
allegations and the document referred to and central to those
allegations. Brand Coupon Network, L.L.C. v. Catalina
Mktg. Corp., 748 F.3d 631, 635 (5th Cir. 2014). Taylor
submitted TSU's letter responding to her discrimination
complaints; the court may consider that letter.
has worked as an Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies at TSU
for 19 years. (Docket Entry No. 15 at ¶ 4.1). She has
been a TSU employee since 1972. (Id. at ¶ 4.2).
Taylor has a doctorate. (Id. at ¶ 4.1). She
alleges that in 2016,  TSU hired Naveed Haider as an Assistant
Dean of Graduate Programs at the Jessie H. Jones School of
Business, with “essentially the same” job
functions and duties that she had. (Id. at
¶¶ 4.1-4.8). Taylor alleges that she and Haider
both report “to their immediate supervisors who, in
turn, report to the Provost”; “perform academic
advising tasks and policies and procedures for graduate
students and the matriculation process”; and
“oversee graduate programs and act as a point of
contact for graduate programs.” (Id. at
¶¶ 4.6, 4.9). TSU pays Haider $924.12 more than
Taylor per year. (Id. at ¶ 4.12; see
Docket Entry No. 15-1).
complained to TSU that Haider was paid more than she was,
although she had a doctorate and he only a master's
degree, and she had allegedly more relevant experience.
(Docket Entry No. 15 at ¶ 4.2; see also Docket
Entry No. 15-1). TSU responded that Haider is paid $924.12
more than Taylor annually, but his job and job duties are
different than Taylor's, and “there is insufficient
evidence to support [her] gender discrimination
grievance.” (Docket Entry No. 15-1).
moved to dismiss Taylor's Equal Pay Act claim, arguing
that she fails to allege facts supporting a plausible
inference that she and Haider held positions requiring
“equal skill, effort, and responsibility, ” and
that Taylor's previous lawsuits bar the claim. (Docket
Entry No. 12 at 5-7 (quoting Chance v. Rice Univ.,
984 F.2d 151, 153 (5th Cir. 1993))). Taylor amended her
complaint and responded, arguing that the amended complaint
alleges that she and Haider had the same job
responsibilities, and that claim preclusion does not apply
because she did not name Haider as a comparator in her two
previous lawsuits. (Docket Entry No. 15; Docket Entry No. 16
parties' arguments are considered in detail below.
The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
12(b)(6) allows dismissal if a plaintiff fails “to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in
conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint
must contain “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). Rule 8 “does
not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “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.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“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. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556).
court should generally give a plaintiff at least one chance
to amend under Rule 15(a) before dismissing the action with
prejudice, unless it is clear that to do so would be futile.
See Pervasive Software Inc. v. Lexware GmbH & Co.
KG, 688 F.3d 214, 232 (5th Cir. 2012); Carroll v.
Fort James Corp., 470 F.3d 1171, 1175 (5th Cir. 2006)
(“[Rule 15(a)] evinces a bias in favor of granting
leave to amend.” (quotation omitted)); Great Plains
Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313
F.3d 305, 329 (5th Cir. 2002). “Whether leave to amend
should be granted is entrusted to the sound discretion of the
district court.” Pervasive Software, 688 F33d
at 232 (quotation omitted).