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Boyd v. Trinity Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 30, 2015

DONNELL BOYD,
v.
TRINITY INDUSTRIES, INC.,

RULING

SHELLY D. DICK, District Judge.

Before the Court is a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss [1] filed by Defendant, Trinity Marine Products (hereinafter "Defendant" or "Trinity"). Plaintiff, Donnell Boyd ("Boyd"), has filed an Opposition [2] to Defendant's Motion, to which Defendant has filed a Reply. [3] For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion shall be denied.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This dispute arises out of allegedly racially-motivated employment actions taken by Trinity against Donnell Boyd. Boyd, an African American, worked for Trinity as a welder and a crane operator for approximately seven years. On January 7, 2013, Boyd claims he was allegedly terminated for "a safety violation." Following his termination, Boyd filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, in which he claimed to have been discriminated against because of his race and as a form of retaliation. After receiving his right to sue letter, Boyd filed the instant lawsuit against Trinity in which he asserted Title VII claims of race discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. As a result of his employer's alleged discriminatory conduct, Boyd claims to have suffered emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment, and he seeks compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and benefits, reinstatement with promotions, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Trinity now moves this Court for dismissal of Boyd's claims on the grounds that his claims are time-barred under Title VII and for failure to state a claim.

II. APPLICABLE LAW - Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "[t]he court accepts all wellpleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'"[4] However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."[5] "Furthermore, while the court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, it will not strain to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff.'"[6] Rather, "[t]o 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.'"[7] In order to satisfy the plausibility standard, the plaintiff must show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully."[8] "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."[9] Furthermore, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do."[10] On a motion to dismiss, the court may consider "the complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.'"[11]

III. ANALYSIS

A. Title VII Administrative Filing Deadlines

In deferral states, [12] such as Louisiana, a Title VII plaintiff has 300 days from the alleged discriminatory act to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity.[13] In other words, a discrimination claim not brought within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act is time-barred. The time to file a claim of discrimination with the EEOC "begins to run from the time the complainant knows or reasonably should have known that the challenged act has occurred."[14] "[A] one-time employment event, including the failure to hire, promote, or train and dismi[ss]als or demotions, is the sort of discrete and salient event that should put the employee on notice that a cause of action has accrued.'"[15] These "discrete adverse actions, although racially motivated, cannot be lumped together with the day-to-day pattern of racial harassment" and therefore, if otherwise untimely, cannot be saved by the continuing violation doctrine.[16]

According to the Original and Amended Complaints and their attachments, Boyd filed an EEOC Charge on July 17, 2013 alleging race discrimination.[17] Therefore, Trinity argues that all of the alleged discriminatory conduct that occurred prior to September 21, 2012 is time-barred. In response, Boyd argues that the acts that occurred outside of the 300 day period should be considered under the continuing violations doctrine.

The following are the specific incidents of purportedly discriminatory conduct that, according to the Complaints, occurred between 2007 and 2013:

• On September 17, 2007, Plaintiff alleges he was issued an inappropriate warning and that he was denied "training on a machine" and had to train "on his own";
• On January 16, 2008, Plaintiff alleges he was issued an inappropriate warning and that he was denied "training on a ...

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