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Morris v. Michigan Automotive Compressor, Inc.

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

June 21, 2019




         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on September 12, 2018, alleging that Defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of federal and Michigan law. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on November 20, 2018. (ECF No. 14.) In that pleading, Plaintiff asserts two counts against Defendants Michigan Automotive Compressor, Inc. (“MACI”) and Anchor Staffing, Inc. (“Anchor”): (I) sex harassment and discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”); and (II) retaliation in violation of Title VII and ELCRA. The matter is presently before the Court on Anchor's motion to dismiss, filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6) on November 28, 2018. (ECF No. 15.) The motion has been fully briefed. (ECF Nos. 16, 17.) Finding the facts and legal arguments sufficiently presented in the parties' briefs, the Court is dispensing with oral argument with respect to Anchor's motion pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f).

         I. Anchor's Arguments & Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Anchor first argues in its motion to dismiss that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking over Plaintiff's action against it because Plaintiff failed to file a charge of discrimination against Anchor with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Alternatively, Anchor argues that Plaintiff fails to plead sufficient facts to assert her claims against it.

         On June 3, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision addressing whether Title VII's charge-filing precondition to filing suit is “jurisdictional.”[1] Fort Bend Cty., Texas v. Davis, -- S.Ct. --, 2019 WL 2331306 (June 3, 2019). The Court held that it is not. Id. at *2. Accordingly, Plaintiff's failure to file an EEOC charge against Anchor prior to initiating this lawsuit is not determinative of whether there is federal subject matter jurisdiction.[2] The Court therefore will not evaluate Anchor's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1)'s standard.

         The Court will, however, consider Anchor's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and decide whether Plaintiff fails to state a viable Title VII claim against this defendant because she filed her EEOC charge against it after she initiated this lawsuit and more than three hundred days after she was terminated. The Court also will consider whether Plaintiff states any viable claim(s) against Anchor in her Amended Complaint.

         II. Applicable Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]” Under this notice pleading standard, a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . ..” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         As the Supreme Court provided in Iqbal and Twombly, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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 “does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal [conduct].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In deciding whether the plaintiff has set forth a “plausible” claim, the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). This presumption, however, is not applicable to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 668. Therefore, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III. Applicable Law and Analysis

         A. Title VII

         Plaintiff appears to be asserting Title VII harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims against Anchor.[3] Plaintiff attaches to her response brief the EEOC charge she filed against Anchor on November 8, 2018, alleging sex discrimination and retaliation. (Pl.'s Resp. Ex. A, ECF No. 16-2 at Pg ID 134.) According to Plaintiff's EEOC charge and Amended Complaint, she suffered discrimination from November 21, 2017 to January 2, 2018, the latter being the date she was terminated. (Id.; see also Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-23, ECF No. 14 at Pg ID 80-81.)

         The exhaustion of administrative remedies is a condition precedent to filing a Title VII action. Zipes v. TWA, 455 U.S. 385, 392-98 (1982). To exhaust administrative remedies, a plaintiff must file an EEOC charge “within 180 days ‘after the alleged unlawful employment practice occur[s].'” Fort Bend Cty., 2019 WL 2331306, at *2 (brackets in original) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b), (e)(1)). A plaintiff initiating proceedings in a State or political subdivision with a fair employment agency of its own has 300 days to file an EEOC charge. Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)). Once the EEOC dismisses the charge and issues a right-to-sue letter, the plaintiff has 90 days to file a civil action. Id. at *3 (citing 42 U.S.C. ยง 200e-5(f)(1)). The failure to adhere to Title VII's time limits is an appropriate basis for dismissal of a plaintiff's claims under the ...

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