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Lumar v. Monsanto Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 17, 2018




         Before the Court is a Partial Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 6) filed by the Defendant, Monsanto Company, seeking dismissal of the Plaintiff's claims for sex discrimination pursuant to Title VII, violation of The Equal Pay Act, and negligence. The Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint. R. Doc. 11. Thereafter, Monsanto filed a reply addressing the amended complaint. R. Doc. 16. The motion was heard on the briefs.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The plaintiff, Dwayne Lumar, (“Lumar”) an African-American male, began working as a production technician for Monsanto Company (“Monsanto”) in April of 2013. Rec. Doc. 1, p. 3. The training tests and requirements for the production technician position included climbing steel ladders, tank ladders, harnesses, and scaffolds. Id. At the time of hiring, Plaintiff weighed 465 pounds and was able to pass all physicals and complete the position requirements successfully. Id.

         Nearly four months into his job, Plaintiff alleges that Monsanto advised him that he could no longer qualify for a production technician position as his weight prevented him from climbing the steel ladders. Id. According to Lumar, Monsanto advised him that he must get his weight under 400 pounds in order to maintain employment. Id.

         However, the Plaintiff alleges that he was able to successfully complete all tasks involving the climbing of the steel ladders from April 2013 through August 2013. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Monsanto created a hostile work environment by holding meetings every two weeks critiquing his weight, assigning a nurse to him, and not permitting him to complete the work duties that he was successfully completing previously. Id. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that he was advised that he could not discuss the situation with other employees. Id. at p. 4.

         Around October of 2013, the Plaintiff contends that Monsanto placed him on medical leave and allegedly required that he have surgery to address his weight of 443 pounds. Id. During his medical leave Plaintiff states he underwent the surgery and was allegedly prohibited from qualifying for a wage raise during this time. Id.

         In or around April of 2014, Plaintiff states he reached a weight of 399.5 pounds, but Monsanto continued to require meetings with the plant nurse. Id. Plaintiff alleged that at all pertinent times, Monsanto employed “his counterpart, ” Ron Schexnayder, a Caucasian male, who also held the position of production technician who weighed over 400 pounds. Id.; See also Rec. Doc. 6-2, p. 2. Plaintiff alleged that Schexnayder was never required to undergo the same treatment regarding his weight as Plaintiff. Rec. Doc. 1, p. 4.

         On November 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging that he suffered losses in compensation, earning capacity, humiliation, family issues, mental anguish, and emotional distress as a result of Defendant's actions. He alleges four claims in the original complaint: (1) unlawful discrimination and harassment on the basis of race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (2) discrimination based on disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); (3) discrimination due to his disability of morbid obesity and race in violation of The Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. §206, et seq.; and (4) the infliction emotional distress upon him by allegedly requiring him to undergo unnecessary surgery. R. Doc. 1.

         Defendant thereafter filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on February 14, 2018. R. Doc. 6 It argues that several of Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed as a matter of law for the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Defendant contends the following claims should be dismissed: (1) any claim for discrimination based on sex for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (2) alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act for failing to state a claim; and (3) claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress are barred by the Louisiana Worker's Compensation Act. Rec. Doc. 6.

         In response, the Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint asserting claims for: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII; (2) discrimination based on a disability pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act; and (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress. The amended complaint, however, no longer asserts any claims for sex discrimination and violations of the Equal Pay Act. As a result, the motion to dismiss is moot with respect to the claims that have been withdrawn and abandoned by the Plaintiff.

         At the same time as filing the Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff filed his opposition to the motion to dismiss and for the first time suggest that the alleged infliction of emotional distress was intentional. Rec. Doc. 12, p. 2. Further, the Plaintiff requested that the Court permit him to amend the complaint as opposed to dismissing the claims. Id.

         The Defendant, in reply to the Amended Complaint and opposition contend that Plaintiff fails to re-assert the sex discrimination claim and violation of the Equal Pay Act claim and that Plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress should be dismissed because the allegations are insufficient as a matter of law, and that any claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress is barred by the Louisiana Workers Compensation Act. R. Doc. 16. The Defendant also contends that any additional amendment would be futile, the Plaintiff has already had the opportunity to amend, and has done so in order to address the motion to dismiss. Id.

         II. Stand ...

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