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Morris v. Michigan Automotive Compressor, Inc.

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

July 12, 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 MACI's motion to dismiss, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on February 11, 2019. (ECF No. 18.) The motion has been fully briefed. (ECF Nos. 20, 21.) Finding the facts and legal arguments sufficiently presented in the parties' briefs, the Court is dispensing with oral argument with respect to MACI's motion pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f).

         I. Applicable Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). 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).

         Ordinarily, the court may not consider matters outside the pleadings when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Weiner v. Klais & Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing Hammond v. Baldwin, 866 F.2d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1989)). A court that considers such matters must first convert the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P 12(d). However, “[w]hen a court is presented with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, it may consider the [c]omplaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to [the] defendant's motion to dismiss, so long as they are referred to in the [c]omplaint and are central to the claims contained therein.” Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008).

         MACI attaches three exhibits to its motion to dismiss: (1) Anchor's Temporary Staffing Contract pursuant to which it provides services of temporary employees to companies, such as MACI; (2) pages from Anchor's website; and (3) additional pages from Anchor's website. None of these fall within the category of materials a court may consider on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion without converting the motion to one for summary judgment. The Court therefore declines to consider them in deciding MACI's motion. Further, MACI makes several factual assertions within its brief in support of its motion that the Court will not consider, as they go beyond the factual allegations in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (See, e.g., MACI's Br. in Supp. of Mot. at 3 (“MACI exercised no control over Anchor Staffing's employees with regard to hiring, discipline, compensation or termination decisions.”).

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         Anchor is an employee leasing company, with offices in Parma, Michigan. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Anchor's Parma office is located within MACI's principal place of business. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff began her employment with Anchor on or about October 17, 2017, and was assigned to work at MACI as a “lead wire” and then in the dye cast area. (Id. ¶ 10.) According to Plaintiff, Anchor and MACI were her “co/dual-employers.” (Id. ¶ 11.)

         On or about November 2017, Plaintiff was told by supervisor Mark Ward of MACI that he was going to hire her directly as an employee of MACI, only. (Id. ¶ 12.) Shortly thereafter, on November 21, 2017, a co-worker sexually assaulted Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 13.) The co-worker approached Plaintiff from behind, pushed her against a plexi-glass wall, rubbed his body against hers including his pelvic area, and whispered in Plaintiff's ear. (Id.) Plaintiff pushed the co-worker off, turned around, and warned him to never do that again. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         Following the sexual assault, Plaintiff went on a break to collect her composure. (Id. ¶ 15.) When Plaintiff returned to work, the same co-worker sexually assaulted her again. (Id.) Plaintiff immediately went to “Cristy” to complain about her co-worker's conduct. (Id. ¶ 16.) Cristy told Plaintiff that she needed to speak with Mark Ward about her allegations. (Id. ¶ 17.)

         Plaintiff then advised Ward of the initial and subsequent assaults. (Id. ¶ 18.) Ward took Plaintiff's statement and then told her to go home. (Id.) On the way home, Plaintiff complained to Anchor that she was being sexually harassed by a co-worker and Anchor instructed her to not return to work as long as the co-worker was working in the same area as Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 19.) Following the instructions of MACI and Anchor, “her dual employers[, ]” Plaintiff remained home without pay from November 21, 2017 until November 28, 2017. (Id. ¶ 20.)

         When Plaintiff returned to work, she was moved from the department where Ward said he was going to hire her as a direct employee to another department, HUBA, where direct employment was not available. (Id. ΒΆ 22.) On January 2, 2018, ...

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