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Barnes v. Quality Fab & Mechanical, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 7, 2015

DEVIN BARNES, Plaintiff,
v.
QUALITY FAB & MECHANICAL, L.L.C., QUALITY FAB & MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS, INC., ST. ROSE DRIVING RANGE, L.L.C., AND BRUCE M. BOURGEOIS, SECTION: R(3), Defendants.

ORDER AND REASONS

SARAH S. VANCE, District Judge.

Defendants Quality Fab & Mechanical, Quality Fab & Mechanical Contractors, St. Rose Driving Range, and Bruce Bourgeois move the Court to dismiss plaintiff's Title VII sexual harassment claims under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Defendants also move the Court to dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The Court denies defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's sexual harassment claims because plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies and has pleaded sufficient facts to make out a hostile work environment claim. The Court grants defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim because plaintiff has an alternative remedy at law.

I. Background

Plaintiff alleges that he was hired by Bourgeois in June of 2013 to work as a assistant manager at St. Rose Driving Range. Although he was hired as an assistant manager at the driving range, plaintiff alleges that he regularly performed work for Quality Fab & Mechanical and Quality Fab & Mechanical Contractors. Plaintiff alleges that Bourgeois owns and operates all three corporate defendants.[1]

Plaintiff alleges that defendants improperly classified him as a "independent contractor" and failed to pay plaintiff overtime when he worked more than 40 hours a week, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 206 and 207. Plaintiff also asserts an unjust enrichment claim based on the same conduct.

Plaintiff also asserts a Title VII claim against all defendants based on Bourgeois' alleged sexual harassment of plaintiff throughout the course of his employment. The alleged harassment includes both verbal and physical harassment.[2] Plaintiff alleges that he quit working for defendants several times because of Bourgeois's conduct but was forced to return because he needed the money.[3] The harassment culminated in December of 2013 when Bourgeois allegedly removed plaintiff's shirt, rubbed plaintiff's chest, and stuck his hands down plaintiff's pants. Plaintiff allegedly complained of Bourgeois's behavior to a manager, Peggy Labit, who spoke to Bourgeois about his conduct. As a result, Bourgeois allegedly attacked plaintiff in the St. Rose Driving Range parking lot and threatened to kill plaintiff if he complained to anyone else. After the December incidents, plaintiff "felt he had no alternative but to quit the job, and because he feared bodily harm by defendant Bourgeois, to claim he was quitting because he couldn't handle the night work."[4]

Plaintiff filed a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charge which identified Quality Fab & Mechanical, LLC as his employer.[5] In the charge worksheet, plaintiff indicated that the alleged discrimination was based on sex and that he was asserting a hostile work environment claim.[6] In the "dates discrimination took place" section, plaintiff indicated that the earliest discrimination took place around June 20, 2013 and the latest discrimination took place on December 8, 2013. Although plaintiff indicated that the discrimination took place from his start date, June 20, 2013, until the day he quit, December 8, 2013, he did not check the "continuing action" box. Nevertheless, plaintiff stated that he was subjected to "inappropriate touching" by Bourgeois on December 3, 2013 and was constructively discharged on December 8, 2013 when Bourgeois attacked and threatened plaintiff. Plaintiff also alleged that "Mr. Bourgeois created a sexually hostile work environment in violation of Title VII...."[7] The EEOC sent Bourgeois, in his capacity as the Human Resources Director of Quality Fab & Mechanical, LLC, notice of plaintiff's EEOC charge on March 6, 2014.[8] The EEOC never attempted conciliation; it sent Plaintiff his right to sue letter on June 11, 2014.[9]

On July 25, 2014, plaintiff's counsel sent Quality Fab & Mechanical[10] and Bruce M. Bourgeois a "notice of intent to seek court action" letter under La. Rev. Stat. § 23:303C. The letter provided Bourgeois with notice of plaintiff's intent to initiate court proceedings based on Bourgeois's "unwelcome verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature" that "occurred throughout his employment and culminated with egregious conduct... on or about December 3, 2013."[11]

Defendants now move the Court to dismiss plaintiff's sexual harassment claims and his unjust enrichment claim under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

II. Legal Standard

A. Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits dismissal for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of a claim. In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the Court may rely on (1) the complaint alone, presuming the allegations to be true, (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts, or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts and by the court's resolution of disputed facts. Den Norske Stats Ojeselskap As v. HeereMac Vof, 241 F.3d 420, 424 (5th Cir. 2001); see also Marrera-Montenegro v. United States, 74 F.3d 657, 659 (5th Cir. 1996). The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that the district court possesses jurisdiction. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "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. A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., ...


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