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Lynch v. Forge Fabrication Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 28, 2019

BARBARA LYNCH
v.
FORGE FABRICATION SERVICES, LLC

         SECTION A(3)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JUDGE JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The following motions are before the Court:

         Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 8) filed by Defendant Forge Fabrication Services, LLC (“Forge”). Plaintiff Barbara Lynch opposes the motion (Rec. Doc. 18) and Forge replied (Rec. Doc. 29). This motion, noticed for submission on February 6, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

         Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Claims Raised in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 32) filed by Forge. Plaintiff opposes the motion (Rec. Doc. 38) and Forge replied (Rec. Doc. 42). This motion, noticed for submission on February 6, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

         Having considered the motions, memoranda of counsel, the oppositions, the replies, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 8) and Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Claims Raised in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 32) are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for the reasons set forth below.

         I. Background

         Around December 18, 2017, Lynch received a raise and job promotion as an employee at Forge. (Rec. Doc. 31 Amended Complaint, ¶ 5). Contemporaneous with the raise, Lynch alleges that a co-worker, Thomas Keegan, began to make harassing epithets concerning Lynch's race, gender, and age. (Id. at 10-15). Lynch also alleges that several co-workers began to refuse to cooperate with her which created a hostile work environment that impeded her ability to perform her job. (Id. at 14). After verbal complaints regarding her co-workers' behavior, Lynch sent an email to her supervisor, Marc Distefano. (Id. at 45). The following day, Forge terminated Lynch because of a “corporate restructure.” (Id. at 48). Lynch alleges that her discharge was not because of a “corporate restructuring, ” but rather, the discharge was a retaliation for her complaint and related to her race, gender, and age. (Id. at 52-53).

         Lynch brought the instant suit alleging claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Rec. Doc. 1 Complaint, ¶ 1). Lynch has since filed a nearly identical Amended Complaint alleging claims also pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (Rec. Doc. 31, ¶ 1). Prior to the Amended Complaint, Forge filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After the Amended Complaint, Forge filed a second motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         II. Legal Standard

         In the context of a motion to dismiss the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Lovick v. Ritemoney, Ltd., 378 F.3d 433, 437 (5th Cir. 2004)). However, the foregoing tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Thread-bare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550, U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         The central issue in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is whether, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint states a valid claim for relief. Gentilello v. Rege, 627 F.3d 540, 544 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Doe v. MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008)). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). “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.” Id. The Court does not accept as true “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.” Id. (quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess, Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005)). Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950).

         III. Discussion

         In the first motion to dismiss, Forge contends that Lynch only asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 which only prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race. (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 1). Forge also argues that Lynch has not alleged facts to state such a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Id. at 2). In the second motion to dismiss, Forge argues that Lynch's complaint doesn't state any actionable harassment claim because: (1) the harassment Lynch alleges was not objective based on her protected characteristics; (2) Lynch does not allege that she was subjected to severe and pervasive harassment; and (3) Lynch does not allege facts from which one could plausibly conclude Forge knew or should have known of the alleged harassment. (Rec. Doc. 32, p. 1-2). Forge also argues that the Court should dismiss Lynch's retaliation claims because she has not plead sufficient ...


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