United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
BRIAN A. JACKSON-UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 35)
filed by Defendant. Plaintiff filed a response. (Doc. 38).
For the reasons stated herein, the motion is GRANTED
IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
began working for Defendant in 1990. (Doc. 1 at p. 2).
Plaintiff claims that she was disabled and suffered from
serious anxiety and depression due to work-related issues.
(Id. at pp. 2-3). Plaintiffs supervisors were
allegedly aware of the nature and extent of her disability.
(Id. at p. 3). From January to March of 2015,
Plaintiff took approved sick leave because of her mental
health issues. (Id.). In June of 2015, Plaintiff was
hospitalized for anxiety and depression. (Id.) After
the conclusion of her hospitalization, she began treatment
with a psychiatrist, who eventually certified that Plaintiff
was fit for duty and could return to work provided that she
be allowed to take a low dosage of Xanax as needed.
(Id.) However, in August of 2015, a
neuropsyehologist determined that Plaintiff was not fit to
return to duty and that she needed to continue working on her
recovery. (Id. at p. 4). Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant eventually determined that she was incapacitated
and terminated her employment. (Id.) Plaintiff filed
her original complaint on April 12, 2018, alleging violations
of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Doc. 1 at p. 8). On
February 12, 2019, Plaintiff amended her complaint to add
claims under the (1) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA), (2) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and (3) 42
U.S.C. § 1981. Defendant now seeks to dismiss Plaintiffs
ADEA, Title VII, and § 1981 claims under Rule 12(b)(6).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) seeks to determine
whether "a complaint... contain[s] 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. u. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
"[F]acial plausibility" exists "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. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need
not set out "detailed factual allegations," but
something "more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
"Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level." Id.
seeks to dismiss Plaintiffs ADEA and Title VII claims,
alleging that they are time-barred. Both statutes require a
plaintiff to file suit within ninety days of receiving a
notice of right to sue from the EEOC. 29 U.S.C. §
626(e); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). Plaintiff alleges
that she received her notice of right to sue on January 12,
2018. (Doc. 34 at p. 10). Plaintiff filed her original
complaint on April 12, 2018, within the ninety-day period.
(Doc. 1), However, Plaintiff filed her amended complaint on
February 12, 2019, outside of the ninety-day period. (Doc.
34). Defendant asserts that because Plaintiff did not raise
ADEA or Title VII claims in her original complaint, both
claims were asserted outside the ninety-day period and thus
should be dismissed.
Court agrees. Plaintiff alleges in her amended complaint that
she was discriminated against because of her age, race and
sex. (Doc. 34 at p. 9). However, she does not raise any of
these allegations in her original complaint. (Doc. 1). An
amended complaint relates back to the original if "the
amendment asserts a claim that arose out of the conduct,
transaction, or occurrence set out - or attempted to be set
out - in the original pleading." Fed. R. Civ. Proc.
15(c). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit has instructed that relation back is not permitted
when the amendment attempts to add a new legal theory
unsupported by factual claims raised in the original
complaint. McGregor v. Louisiana, 3 F.3d 850, 864
(5th Cir. 1993). Because Plaintiff did not allege race, age,
or sex discrimination in her original complaint, the Court
concludes that new legal claims based on such allegations
cannot relate back to the original complaint. Accordingly,
Plaintiffs Title VII and ADEA claims are dismissed.
42 U.S.C. § 1981 Claims
Defendant alleges that Plaintiffs § 1981 claims are also
time-barred. Title 42 U.S.C. § 1981 prohibits race
discrimination in the making and enforcing of contracts.
McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co., 427 U.S.
273, 295-96 (1976). Section 1981 originally only covered
conduct at the initial formation of a contract. It did not
protect conduct that occurred thereafter. The statute was
amended in 1991 to create a cause of action for conduct that
occurs after the formation of a contract.
Fifth Circuit has held that if a claim arises under the
original version of § 1981, it is subject to a one-year
statute of limitations. Hill v. Cleco, 541 Fed.Appx.
343, 345 (5th Cir. 2013). If an action arises under the
amended version § 1981, it is subject to a four-year
statute of limitations. Id. Plaintiffs § 1981
claim stems from her allegation that she was passed over for
promotion because of her race. "Failure to promote"
claims were only actionable under the original version of
§ 1981 if "the nature of the change in position was
such that it involved the opportunity to enter into a new
contract with the employer." Patterson v. McLean
Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 185 (1989). The promotion
must have resulted in a "new and distinct relation
between the employee and employer." Hill, 541
Fed.Appx. at 345. Plaintiff asserts that her failure to
promote claim does not involve such an allegation.
Court agrees. Plaintiff alleges that while employed with
Defendant, she was subjected to racial discrimination because
white male employees were promoted to positions for which she
was equally or better qualified. (Doc. 34 at p. 9). Plaintiff
specifies that she previously held the position of Plant
Process Coordinator (PPC) on a temporary basis but was passed
over for a permanent position as a PPC. (Id.). She
also claims that she was passed over for pay raises.
(Id.) On the basis of these facts alone, the Court
cannot dismiss Plaintiffs § 1981 claim. There is no
indication in the complaint that a position as a permanent
PPC would have resulted in a "new and distinct"
relationship between Plaintiff and Defendant. As such,
Plaintiffs alleged facts allow the Court to draw the
reasonable inference that ...