United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. ATLAS, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JLTDGE.
employment case is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss
[Doc. # 10] filed by Defendant UBS Financial Services Inc.
(“UBS”), to which Plaintiff James Simmons filed a
Response [Doc. # 11], and UBS filed a Reply [Doc. # 12].
Having reviewed the record and the applicable legal
authorities, both binding and persuasive, the Court
grants the Motion to Dismiss.
sells life insurance. From 2011 until August 2015, Plaintiff
was an employee of UBS. In August 2015, Plaintiff became an
employee of Defendant Prelle Financial Group, Inc.
(“Prelle”). See Complaint, ¶ 7. As
a employee of Prelle, Plaintiff worked as a third-party
wholesaler of life insurance to clients of UBS.
daughter, Jo Aldridge, was an employee of UBS. She made an
internal complaint of pregnancy discrimination and, in
December 2015, filed a charge of discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
See id., ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that UBS began
to “take adverse actions” against him. See
id., ¶ 9. In February 2017, Prelle told Plaintiff
that he could not work at UBS offices, but could continue to
work for Prelle. See id., ¶ 16. Plaintiff
“elected not to continue working for Prelle” and,
in March 2017, filed an EEOC Charge. See id.,
August 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Prelle
and UBS. Plaintiff asserts a Title VII retaliation claim
against both Defendants, and a claim against Prelle for
unpaid commissions. UBS filed its Motion to Dismiss, arguing
that Plaintiff lacks standing to assert a Title VII
retaliation claim against it because he was neither an
employee of UBS or an applicant for employment with the
company. The Motion to Dismiss has been fully briefed and is
now ripe for decision.
TITLE VII STANDING
addition to having Article III standing, a plaintiff must
have Title VII standing to assert a Title VII claim. See
Thompson v. N. Am. Stainless, LP, 562 U.S. 170, 177-78
(2011); White Glove Staffing, Inc. v. Methodist Hosps. of
Dallas, 2017 WL 3925328, *2 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 7, 2017). A
party has standing under Title VII when the injured person
“falls within the ‘zone of interests' sought
to be protected by the statutory provision whose violation
forms the legal basis for his complaint.”
Thompson, 562 U.S. at 177. The Supreme Court held
that this standard for Title VII standing excludes
“plaintiffs who might technically be injured in an
Article III sense but whose interests are unrelated to the
statutory prohibitions in Title VII.” Id. at
178. The Supreme Court noted that “the purpose of Title
VII is to protect employees from their
employers' unlawful actions.” Id.
Thompson, the plaintiff was an employee of the
defendant. See Thompson, 562 U.S. at 172.
His employer fired him after his fiancé, also an
employee of the defendant, filed an EEOC charge alleging sex
discrimination. See Id. The Supreme Court, noting
that Title VII makes it an unlawful employment practice
“for an employer” to retaliate against “any
of his employees, ” and noting that the plaintiff had
been an employee of the defendant at the time of the alleged
retaliation, held that the plaintiff had Title VII standing
to assert the retaliation claim against the defendant.
See Id. at 172, 178.
concurring opinion in Thompson, Justice Ginsburg,
joined by Justice Breyer, added “a fortifying
observation” -- that the EEOC Compliance Manual
prohibits retaliation “against someone so closely
related to or associated with the person” engaging in
protected activity. See Id. at 179. “Such
retaliation ‘can be challenged,' the Manual
affirms, ‘by both the individual who engaged in
protected activity and the relative, where both
are employees.'” Id.
(quoting EEOC Compliance Manual § 8-II(B)(3)(c))
case, however, it is undisputed that Plaintiff was not an
employee of UBS at the time his daughter filed her charge of
pregnancy discrimination with the EEOC or at the time of the
alleged adverse actions against Plaintiff. The Supreme Court
in Thompson did not hold that a
non-employee has standing to sue for retaliation
based on protected activity by a third-party employee of the
defendant. The law in the Fifth Circuit remains that, absent
an employment relationship between the plaintiff
and the defendant, the plaintiff lacks standing
to bring a Title VII retaliation claim.See
Thompson, 562 U.S. at 178; White Glove
Staffing, 2017 WL 3925328 at *2; see also Body by
Cook, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins., 869 F.3d 381,
391 (5th Cir. 2017) (“To maintain a claim under Title
VII, the plaintiff must demonstrate an ‘employment
relationship' between the plaintiff and the
defendant”); Baker v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 228
F.Supp.3d 764, 770 (N.D. Tex. 2017) (“In the Fifth
Circuit, to recover under Title VII, a plaintiff must have an
employment relationship with the defendant”).
Therefore, Plaintiff lacks Title VII standing to assert a
retaliation claim against UBS in this case. The Motion to
Dismiss is granted.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
at the time of the alleged retaliation was neither an
employee of, nor an applicant for employment with, UBS. As a
result, Plaintiff lacks Title VII standing to assert a
retaliation claim against UBS, and it is hereby
that UBS's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 10] is
GRANTED. All claims against UBS are