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Carter v. Snc Lavalin Constructors, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 30, 2018




         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this civil rights case is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 77 (“Defendant Union”). (ECF No. 20). The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual History

         According to the amended complaint:

On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff was assigned by [Defendant Union] to work as an Excavator Operator at SNC Lavalin. Beginning August 24, 2016, Plaintiff was subjected to race harassment which took the form of having the words, "N ----- looking up out a hole go back to Africa, " written in a portable bathroom. Plaintiff reported it to his supervisor and nothing was done.
Plaintiff began using the office restrooms to avoid the race harassment, but was told by supervisors that he had to use the portable bathrooms. Plaintiff reported this discriminatory conduct to his supervisor Reno Herbert and the Safety Director Sam Knight. On September 13, 2016, Plaintiff complained to union representative, Gregory Strohman, about all white employee meetings being held by union representatives on site. On September 16, 2016, Plaintiff was terminated in retaliation for his complaint. The union has been retaliating against the Plaintiff since his termination interfering with job opportunities.

(ECF No. 14, at 6).

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against IUOE Local 77 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on or before June 1, 2017.[2] In the charge, he checked the boxes for discrimination on basis of race and retaliation and identified the discrimination as occurring on September 16, 2016. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on July 28, 2017. Plaintiff filed his initial complaint on October 30 against Defendant Union Union and SNC Lavalin Constructors, Inc. Plaintiff's complaint purported to assert claims of retaliation and termination on the basis of race. (ECF No. 1). Defendant Union moved to dismiss, and instead of responding, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint purporting to raise the same claims. (ECF Nos. 9, 14). Defendant Union moved to dismiss again, Plaintiff responded, and Defendant Union replied. (ECF Nos. 20, 22, 23).

         II. Standards of Review

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Under Title VII, a plaintiff can establish his or her case by demonstrating elements which “enable the fact-finder to conclude, in the absence of any further explanation, that it is more likely than not the adverse employment action was the product of discrimination.” Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 57-58 (4th Cir. 1995). “[W]hile a plaintiff is not required to plead facts that constitute a prima facie case in order to survive a motion to dismiss, ‘factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Coleman v. Md. Court of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal citations and alterations omitted).

         Defendant Union also moves to dismiss a portion of the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction properly exists in the federal court. See Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). In a 12(b)(1) motion, the court “may consider evidence outside the pleadings” to help determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case before it. Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991); see also Evans, 166 F.3d at 647. The court should grant the 12(b)(1) motion ...

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