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Moschetto v. Boeing Aerospace Operations, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 17, 2014

GARY MOSCHETTO, Plaintiff,
v.
BOEING AEROSPACE OPERATIONS, INC., and MICHAEL ENGBERG, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Michael Engberg's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 6). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff was previously employed by Defendant Boeing Aerospace Operations, Inc. ("BAO") as a Tool Design Engineer III from 2009 until his termination on February 25, 2013. (Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 5) Defendant Michael Engberg was Plaintiffs supervisor. (Charge of Discrimination ¶ 9, ECF No. 5-1) Plaintiff has a medical condition affecting his back, and Plaintiff notified his employer of this condition. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 14, ECF No. 5) On November 18, 2011, Plaintiff sent a confidential letter to BAO's Reasonable Accommodations Focal, requesting reasonable accommodations for back pain and "Post-acute withdrawal symptoms." ( Id. at ¶ 15) According to Plaintiff, Defendant Engberg was notified of this request in December of 2011. ( Id. ) After a meeting with BAO's Reasonable Accommodations Focal and Engberg, Plaintiff was provided some, but not all, of his requested accommodations. ( Id. at ¶¶ 18-19) Plaintiff alleges that in February 2012, Defendant Engberg placed him on a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP") for not completing job tasks. ( Id. at ¶ 21) That same month, Plaintiff took FMLA qualified leave with an extended medical leave of absence approved by BAO. ( Id. at ¶ 22) When he returned to work in November 2012, Plaintiff again requested accommodations. ( Id. at ¶ 24) Plaintiff later complained to BAO and Engberg that his employment rights as a disabled worker were being violated, and he was subsequently placed on a new PIP. ( Id. at ¶¶ 25-26) Further, Plaintiff alleges that Engberg failed to give Plaintiff a yearly performance evaluation meeting and instead gave him all zeros in the written evaluation. ( Id. at ¶¶ 31-32; Charge of Discrimination p. 4, ECF No. 5-1). Plaintiff claims that he continued to request reasonable accommodations, but on February 25, 2013, Plaintiff was discharged for unsatisfactory work performance. (Compl. ¶¶ 34-42, ECF No. 5)

Plaintiff believed his termination was based on his disability and filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR") against BAO. (Charge of Discrimination, ECF No. 5-1) Attached to the charge was a Charge of Discrimination Particulars which listed Defendant Engberg as one of the primary BAO employees who allegedly discriminated against Plaintiff. ( Id. ) Plaintiff received a Right to Sue letter from the MCHR on February 14, 2014. (ECF No. 5-1) On April 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in State court, which the Defendants removed to federal court on June 5, 2014. (Compl., ECF No. 5)

Thereafter, Defendant Michael Engberg filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging that Plaintiff failed to state a claim against Engberg because Plaintiff did not specifically name Engberg in his Charge of Discrimination. Plaintiff, on the other hand, maintains that the Charge of Discrimination Particulars specifically named Engberg and detailed his actions, which was sufficient to exhaust administrative remedies and give Engberg actual notice of the charges against him.

Standard for Ruling on a Motion to Dismiss

A complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if the complaint fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). While the Court cautioned that the holding does not require a heightened fact pleading of specifics, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. In other words, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Id. This standard simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the claim. Id. at 556.

Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept the factual allegations as true. See Id. at 555; see also Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint); Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008) (explaining that courts should liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff). Further a court should not dismiss the complaint simply because the court is doubtful that the plaintiff will be able to prove all of the necessary factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. However, "[w]here the allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Benton v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

Discussion

Upon review of Defendant Engberg's Motion to Dismiss and related memoranda, the undersigned finds that dismissal is not warranted at this time. Engberg asserts that Plaintiff failed to name Engberg as a respondent in his charge; Engberg had no notice that Plaintiff wanted to hold him personally liable for discrimination or retaliation; and Engberg did not have the opportunity to conciliate the allegations against him. The Court finds that at the motion to dismiss stage, Plaintiff has sufficiently exhausted his administrative remedies and adequately pleaded discrimination claims against Defendant Engberg.

Under the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"):

[a]ny person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may make, sign, and file with the commission a verified complaint in writing... which shall state the name and address of the person alleged to have committed the unlawful discriminatory practice and which shall set forth the particulars thereof and such other information as may be required by the commission.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.075.1. Further, a claimant under the MHRA "must exhaust administrative remedies by timely filing an administrative complaint and either adjudicating the claim through the MCHR or obtaining a right-to-sue letter." Tart v. Hill Behan Lumber Co., 31 F.3d 668, 671 (8th Cir. 1994). Thus, for a plaintiff to exhaust his administrative remedies, "he must name all of those alleged to be involved in the discriminatory behavior in his original administrative charge." Breidenbach v. Shillington Box Co., ...


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