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Hamilton v. Manpower, Inc.

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

May 13, 2016

CORLISSA HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MANPOWER, INC., et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs claims against Loretta Dodson ("Dodson") (ECF No. 30). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. Upon review of the motions, the responses, and the exhibits, the Court will grant Defendants' motion with respect to Plaintiffs claims under the MHRA and Title VII.

         Background

         Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Manpower, Inc. ("Manpower") and Dodson under the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), Mo. Rev. Stat. §§213.010, et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff alleges discrimination based on her race, African American, stemming from an October 16, 2014 work incident that allegedly involved a piece of tape with a written racial epithet on her work cart.[1] (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 17-19, ECF No. 20) Plaintiff further alleges that neither her supervisor, Defendant Dodson, nor her employer, Defendant Manpower, followed proper procedure in addressing her report of discrimination. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-35) Instead, Plaintiff claims that she was fired at the end of her shift in retaliation for reporting the racial discrimination after she preserved the evidence by taking a photo. Defendants told Plaintiff she was "fired" for violating company policy prohibiting cameras on-site. (Id. at ¶¶ 37, 40-44)

         On December 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against Defendant Manpower on the basis of race and retaliation. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, ECF No. 24) In the Particulars, Plaintiff mentions two line leaders/supervisors to which she reported the incident, Dodson, a Caucasian individual, and Kelvin Mackins, an African American individual. (Id.) Plaintiff states that Dodson tried to convince her that the workers were not racist, and Mr. Mackins told her the line was from a rap song. (Id.) In the Intake Questionnaire, Plaintiff mentions three individuals, Ms. Dodson, Mr. Mackins, and the on-site manager, Nick Reynolds. Plaintiff states that Loretta Dodson informed her of the reason she was let go and that Dodson failed to act as thought the situation was important. (Pl.'s Ex. 2, ECF No. 24)

         Plaintiff filed a Petition against Defendants Manpower, The Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, [2] and Dodson in state court on September 16, 2015. She filed a First Amended Petition on September 17, 2015. Defendants removed the case to federal court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. After Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Petition ("Complaint"). Defendants then renewed their Motion to Dismiss the claims against Dodson for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 30)

         Legal Standards

         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. 544, 570 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Id. at 555. Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept the factual allegations as true. See 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). 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

         Defendants argue that the Court must dismiss the claims against Dodson because Plaintiff failed to name Dodson as a respondent in the Charge of Discrimination, thus failing to exhaust her administrative remedies. Plaintiff responds that she named Dodson in the Particulars and in the EEOC Intake Questionnaire such that Dodson knew or should have known of the charge against her. In addition, Plaintiff contends that she was not represented by an attorney during the administrative process, and she should retain her right to complete redress without hindrance from procedural requirements. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Dodson has not been prejudiced.

         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 her administrative remedies, "[s]he must name all of those alleged to be involved in the discriminatory behavior in [her] original administrative charge." Breidenbach v. Shillington Box Co., LLC, No. 4:11CV1555 JCH, 2012 WL 85276, at *6 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 11, 2012) (citing Hill v. Ford Motor Co., 277 S.W.3d 659, 669 (Mo. 2009)).

         The requirement that an individual be named in the charge to then be included in a later civil suit serves the purpose of "giv[ing] notice to the charged party and providing] an avenue for voluntary compliance without resort to litigation ... ." Hill, 277 S.W.3d at 669 (citations omitted). "If allowing suit would not be inconsistent with these purposes, then some federal cases have forgiven a failure to join the individual in the initial charge." Id. (citation omitted). A plaintiff meets the requirements for naming an individual where a substantial identity of interest exists between ...


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