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Tate v. Valero Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 19, 2019

JAMES C. TATE, SR.
v.
VALERO SERVICES, INC.

         SECTION: “KWR”

          ORDER & REASONS

          KAREN WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 12) filed by Valero Services Inc. (“Valero”) seeking an order from the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's suit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for a failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The motion is opposed. R. Doc.7.

         I. Factual Background

         James C. Tate, Sr. (“Tate”) filed the subject lawsuit alleging that he was employed at the Meraux facility of Murphy Oil since September 1994 where he worked for twenty-two plus years as a Production Operator. He alleges that Murphy Oil was purchased by Valero Services on October 1, 2011 when he volunteered to serve as an Emergency Medical Technician, on the Emergency Response Team.

         He alleges that while the companies were in transition he was subjected to discrimination, wrongful termination and hostile work environment. He alleged that his supervisor, who is white subjected him to harassment at the new Valero site and that the harassment began in 2009. He alleges that his supervisor made statements such as, “I'd have all those niggers running” and he also observed another white employee threaten a black employee with a knife in his hand. He alleges that although he observed this hostile encountered by another employee, he calmed the conflict down and was told by his supervisor to not mention the incident. He alleges another incident occurred on the job when a contractor was impaled with a pipe through his torso when the chief operator left the site, even though his shift did not end until 6 a.m. He complains that despite leaving the job early, the chief operator who was white, was not disciplined when the black operators were disciplined.

         He alleges that he tried to complain about his observations but that the area manager refused to meet with them and the chief operator. He alleges that he made a complaint to the union and was not pleased by their lack of response and resigned from the union. Tate alleges that while attending a refresher training that the instructor who conducted the training at Meraux discovered that they were operating one of the boilers in an unsafe manner and that after Tate complained in the class, he noticed that the performance reports started to show a decline even though he outperformed.

         The plaintiff complains that he was wrongly disciplined for threatening a coworker when he provided an answer to the coworker that was unsolicited. Tate alleges that he was terminated on September 1, 2017 allegedly because of his behavior which cost the company money and that he was given the option to retire under the duress of job termination. Tate, therefore seeks monetary damages, a permanent injunction against all forms of discrimination, the creation of policies providing for equal employment opportunities, back pay, loss future income, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages. He also seeks compensation for alleged defamation, harassment, humiliation and retaliation. Finally, he seeks the award of costs.

         Valero filed the subject motion contending that Tate failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to his gender discrimination and hostile work environment claims. It further contends that all of his claims are time barred. Tate opposes the motion. He concedes that he did not file a gender base claim. He also provided the documentation establishing when he had had his meeting with the EEOC.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may dismiss a complaint if it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter or for failure to state a claim upon which any relief may be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The same standard is applied for a motion to dismiss brought under either Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction or under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir. 1992).

         “To 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.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The Court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010); Guidry v. Am. Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 177, 180 (5th Cir. 2007).

         The Supreme Court, however, has declared that “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citation omitted). Moreover, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” and “[t]he plaintiff must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Guidry v. Am. Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 177, 180 (5th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks omitted). The United States Supreme Court has explained:

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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a ...

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