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Kelly v. United Dairy & Bakery Workers Local No. 87 AFL-CIO

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 17, 2017

Shonta Kelly, Plaintiff,
v.
United Dairy & Bakery Workers Local No. 87 AFL-CIO, A Michigan Labor Union, et. al., Defendants,

          Elizabeth A. Stafford U.S. Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [16]

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff's complaint against her former employer, Pinnacle Foods, for breach of contract and unlawful discrimination under Michigan's Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act was removed to Federal Court on January 5, 2016. [1]. Plaintiff was granted leave on July 8, 2016 via a stipulated order to amend Count II of her Complaint for breach of contract against Pinnacle Foods. [8]. On July 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint [9], which without consent of the Court included a third count against a new defendant, United Dairy & Bakery Workers Local 87 AFLCIO (“Local 87”), for breach of duty of fair representation under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“§301”).

         On August 18, 2016, Defendant Local 87 filed a Motion to Dismiss [16]. Plaintiff filed a response on August 31, 2016 [17] and Defendant replied on September 12, 2016 [18]. The Court finds the motion suitable for determination without a hearing, as provided by Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), with respect to Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Local 87.

         For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [16] is GRANTED and the claims against Defendant Local 87 is DISMISSED with prejudice.

         Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff worked for Pinnacle Foods from May 2013 until she was fired on June 15, 2015. On June 17, 2015, she filed a grievance with her union which simply stated, “Shonta Kelly Was UnJustly Terminated To Be Make Whole.” [17, Ex. C] (sic). Plaintiff's grievance was returned to her that same day with instructions to cite a specific violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Id. Local 87 then investigated the reasons behind Plaintiff's termination, and pursued her grievance through an internal appeals process. Ultimately, Local 87 decided not to bring Plaintiff's grievance to arbitration and Defendant informed Plaintiff of its decision in a letter dated October 5, 2015. It is undisputed that Plaintiff's cause of action against Local 87 accrued on or around this date.

         On November 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in state court against her employer, Pinnacle Foods, for breach of contract and for unlawful discrimination under Michigan's Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act. Plaintiff's original Complaint did not name Local 87 as a defendant. In fact, she referenced the union only once:

While on her way Ms. Kelly was met in a stairway by her supervisor, Cameron Levi. Mr. Levi told Ms. Kelly that she was terminated. Mr. Levi took the clients badge, provided her with no paperwork, and prevented her from speaking to a Union Representative.

         [1 at ¶ 20] (emphasis added). She never referred to her union by name. She did not mention that she filed a grievance with her union contesting her termination, or that her union appealed and investigated her termination but ultimately declined to arbitrate on her behalf. These facts do not appear until Plaintiff's July 19, 2016 Amended Complaint.

         Legal Standard

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, [plaintiffs] must allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Traverse Bay Area Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Mich. Dep't of Educ., 615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The Court will “assume the veracity of [the plaintiff's] well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief as a matter of law.” McCormick v. Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 658 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993)).

         Analysis

         Plaintiff's claim against Local 87 stems from actions her union failed to take between July 15, 2015 (the date of her termination) and October 5, 2016 (when Local 87 declined to arbitrate Plaintiff's grievance against her employer). Under a six-month statute of limitations, she would have had until April 2016 to ...


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