United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. Miller, Senior United States District Judge
before the court is United Airlines, Inc.’s
(“United”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Jill
Hill’s (“Hill”) amended complaint (Dkt. 16)
(“Complaint”). Dkt. 24. Hill responded. Dkt. 27.
Defendant International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (“IAMAW”) separately
answered Hill’s Complaint, in which it also requests
dismissal of Hill’s claims. Dkt. 22. Having considered
the motions, response, reply, sur-reply,  and applicable
law, the court is of the opinion that United’s and
IAMAW’s motions (Dkts. 22, 24) should be GRANTED.
dispute arises from United’s termination of
Hill’s employment after twenty-three years of service.
Dkt. 16 at 3. A collective bargaining agreement between
United and IAMAW (the “CBA”) governed
Hill’s employment relationship with United at all
relevant times. Id. at 1-2, 20; Dkt. 11-1 at
17-148. The CBA is in turn subject to the
requirements of the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”).
Dkt. 11-1 at 17; 45 U.S.C. §§ 181-88.
October 17, 2017, United asked Hill to meet with a Corporate
Security investigator during her regularly scheduled work
hours (the “Interview”). Dkt. 16 at 13-14. Before
commencing the Interview, United asked if Hill would like
union representation present at the meeting and arranged for
an IAMAW representative to attend the entire Interview.
Id. at 14. Corporate Security presented Hill with
the names of several individuals during the Interview and
requested Hill disclose her relationship to those listed.
Id.; Dkt. 11-1 at 4. Hill provided the requested
information and admitted to changing tickets in violation of
United’s Waivers and Favors Policy. Dkt. 11-1 at 4. At
the conclusion of the Interview, United confiscated
Hill’s United ID and her company issued hand held
device. Dkt. 16 at 15.
alleges that United twice violated the CBA in connection with
this Interview. According to Hill, United was required to
provide advance written notice of the Interview and allow
Hill an opportunity to consult with IAMAW prior to the
Interview, but United did neither. Id. at 14-15.
Hill raised her concerns with IAMAW and asked that IAMAW
grieve United’s alleged violations pursuant to the CBA.
Id. at 3-4, 14-15. But, “[a]t no point before,
during, or after” the Interview did IAMAW object to or
grieve these alleged procedural violations. Id. at
November 1, 2017, United informed Hill it would be pursuing
termination of her employment, and notified her of an
investigatory review meeting (“IRM”) scheduled
for November 7, 2017. Id. at 4. Hill met with IAMAW
in advance of the IRM and again protested United’s
alleged CBA violations. Id. at 4, 15. IAMAW stated
that it wasn’t “going to simply throw mud just to
see what might stick, ” and counseled Hill to keep her
comments “very limited” during the IRM.
Id. IAMAW further advised Hill that
“it’s very difficult to get your job back in a
Step 2. [Her] best chance for saving [her] job occurs during
a Step 3.” Id. at 5 (emphasis omitted).
“However, Hill did reiterate the confluence of serious
personal issues she was dealing with [and] her desire to
provide excellent customer service in the wake of multiple
public relations fiascos plaguing United.” Id.
IAMAW requested a “last chance agreement” during
the IRM, but declined to press Hill’s personal
terminated Hill on December 7, 2017. Id. at 6. Hill
subsequently contacted IAMAW, which assigned a representative
to handle the Step 3 proceedings. Id. Hill was
notified on March 8, 2018 that her Step 3 meeting would occur
on March 19, 2018. Id. At the Step 3 meeting, IAMAW
renewed its request for a last chance agreement and proffered
Hill’s mitigating personal circumstances as
justification. Id. at 6-7. Hill’s Step 3
meeting with United’s representative lasted one hour
and a half. Id. at 7. United upheld Hill’s
termination on April 23, 2018. Id. at 7. Hill
alleges that four days later IAMAW informed her that
United’s Step 3 termination notice came nine days after
the CBA imposed deadline. Id. On June 21, 2018,
IAMAW declined to appeal Hill’s termination to
filed suit against United and IAMAW on December 11, 2018.
Dkt. 1. Hill alleges United breached the CBA when it
terminated her because it (1) failed to establish
‘“just cause’ under standards of
disciplinary due process and other protections afforded Hill
pursuant to the CBA;” and (2) provided its Step 3
termination notice after the CBA established deadline. Dkt.
16 at 1-2, 17, 24-26. Hill also alleges two breaches of
IAMAW’s duty of fair representation under the RLA.
Specifically, Hill claims IAMAW breached its duty when it did
not grieve United’s failure to provide written notice
and an opportunity to consult with IAMAW prior to the
Interview. Id. at 21-24. Hill further alleges IAMAW
generally denied her fair representation throughout the
termination process because Hill’s IAMAW dues payments
were in arrears and she had publicly feuded with IAMAW
regarding her dues payments. Id. at 7, 17-20.
Rule 12(b)(1), a party can seek dismissal of an action for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).
“In determining whether the court has subject matter
jurisdiction, [it] must accept as true the allegations set
forth in the complaint.” Crane v. Johnson, 783
F.3d 244, 251 (5th Cir. 2015) “[A] trial court has the
power to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on
any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2)
the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in
the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed
facts plus the court’s resolution of disputed
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ‘a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.’” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007).
“Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes the filing of motions to
dismiss asserting, as a defense, a plaintiff’s failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Inclusive Cmtys. Project, Inc. v. Lincoln Prop. Co.,
920 F.3d 890, 899 (5th Cir. 2019). In considering a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “the court must accept all
well-pleaded facts as true, and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Id.
complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need
detailed factual allegations, [but] 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 555 (internal
citations omitted) (quotations omitted). The factual
allegations must be enough to state a claim that is plausible
on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“[F]acial plausibility exists ‘when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.’” Inclusive Cmtys.,
920 F.3d at 899 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
“Factual allegations that are merely consistent with a
defendant’s liability, stop short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief, and
thus are inadequate.” Id. (internal quotations
determining whether a plaintiff’s claims survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the factual information to which
the court addresses its inquiry is limited to (1) the facts
set forth in the complaint, (2) documents attached to the
complaint, and (3) matters of which judicial notice may be
taken under Federal Rule of Evidence 201.” Id.
at 900. The court also can properly consider documents
presented by the defendant that are referenced in the
complaint and are central to the plaintiff’s claims.
Id. A complaint that shows relief to be barred by an
affirmative defense, such as the statute of ...