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Krone v. City of Pine Lawn

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

April 20, 2017

DAVID KRONE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF PINE LAWN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on Defendant City of Pine Lawn's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for More Definite Statement. (ECF No. 15). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff David Krone filed claims against Defendant City of Pine Lawn pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e ("Title VII"), the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), RS Mo. 213.055, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 ("ADA"), The Missouri Sunshine Act, RSMO §610 ("Sunshine Law"), and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §1983, 1981 ("Due Process" or "Equal Protection"). (Complaint (or "Compl."), ECF No. 4, ¶¶ 7, 8, 4, 14, 19.) In Counts I and II, Plaintiff alleges racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII. (Complaint p. 1, 3). In Counts III and IV, Plaintiff alleges racial discrimination and retaliation under the MHRA. (Complaint p. 5, 7). In Counts V and VI, Plaintiff alleges a hostile work environment, discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation based on his disability under the ADA.

         (Complaint p. 9, 11). In Counts VII and VIII, Plaintiff alleges disability discrimination and retaliation under the MHRA. (Complaint p. 13, 15). In Count IX, Plaintiff alleges a violation of the Missouri Sunshine Act. (Complaint p. 17). In Counts X, XI, and XII, Plaintiff alleges violations of the U.S. Constitution's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. (Complaint p. 19-20). Lastly, in Count XIII, Plaintiff pursues a worker's compensation claim. (Complaint p. 23).

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Standard of Review

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). While a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) attack does not require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiffs responsibility to establish grounds of his entitlement to relief "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 55; Huang v. Gateway Hotel Holdings, 520 F.Supp.2d 1137, 1140 (E.D. Mo. 2007). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), the complaint "must contain: ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must view all allegations within the complaint liberally in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Luney v. SGS Auto Servs., 432 F.3d 866, 867 (8th Cir. 2005)).

         B. Discussion

         1. Counts I, II, III, and IV

         Defendant moves to dismiss Counts I and III because the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts for a racial discrimination claim under Title VII or MHRA. (Complaint at Count I and III). To sufficiently state a claim of discrimination under Title VII or the MHRA, Plaintiff must allege he: (1) is a member of a protected class; (2) was meeting his employer's legitimate job expectations; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) was treated differently than similarly situation employees who were not members of his protected class. Jackman v. Fifth Judicial Dist. Dept. of Corr. Serv., 728 F.3d 800, 804 (8th Cir. 2013); Burrow v. Boeing Co., 2011 WL 1594937 at *8 (E.D. Mo. April 27, 2011). Plaintiff alleges membership within a protected class and describes himself as Caucasian. (Complaint p.l, ¶6). Plaintiff also asserts that he was "performing his job according to his employer's legitimate expectations." (Complaint p. 2, ¶9). Plaintiff alleges he was terminated from employment, an adverse employment action, and other employees remained employed by Defendant. (Complaint p. 2, ¶8; p.l, ¶4). Plaintiffs Complaint does not need to include "specific facts", Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), but only "sufficient factual information to provide the 'grounds' on which the claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a speculative level." Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Here, Plaintiffs allegations regarding his Caucasian race, performance level, and employment termination are sufficient to overcome a 12(b)(6) motion. Under the MHRA, Plaintiff does not need to prove he was treated differently than a similarly situated employee, but such proof is one way to show race or national origin contributed to his termination. Jain v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 779 F.3d 753, 759 (8th Cir. 2015). At this early stage of the litigation, Plaintiffs allegation that Defendant retained other employees after Plaintiffs termination provides 'grounds' for relief under both Title VII and MHRA. Marez v. Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., 740 F.Supp.2d 1057, 1067 (E.D. Mo. 2010). The Court denies Defendant's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss regarding the Title VII discrimination claims, and denies Defendant's motion in the alternative for a More Definite Statement.

         Defendant also moves to dismiss Counts II and IV because the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts for a retaliation claim under Title VII and the MHRA. (Complaint at Count II and IV). Under Title VII and the MHRA, Plaintiff must allege a prima facie case of retaliation by showing: "(1) he engaged in protected conduct; (2) he suffered a materially adverse employment action; and (3) the adverse action was casually linked to the protected conduct. " Pye v. Nu Aire, Inc., 641 F.3d 1011, 1021 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Fer cello v. County of Ramsey, 612 F.3d 1068, 1077-78 (8th Cir. 2010)); Finley v. Empiregas, Inc. of Potosi, 975 F.2d 467, 473 (8th Cir. 1992). Protected conduct under Title VII includes any employee opposition to "any practice made unlawful by Title VII, or 'made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing' under the statute. " Hervey v. County of Koochiching, 527 F.3d 711, 722 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a)). Temporal connection between the statutorily protected behavior and the adverse employment action can be sufficient to establish the causal connection needed for a retaliation claim. Sisk v. Picture People, Inc., 669 F.3d 896, 900-01 (8th Cir. 2012) (citing Hite v. Vermeer Mfg. Co., 446 F.3d 858, 866 (8th Cir. 2006)). In the instant case, Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendant of the alleged discrimination and filed Charges of Discrimination with both the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Complaint p. 3, ¶8; p. 4, ¶12). Also, Plaintiff alleges he suffered an adverse an employment action, specifically termination of employment, and states his termination resulted from his report of discrimination and filing with the MCHR and EEOC. (Complaint p. 3, ¶ 10). Lastly, Plaintiff alleges harassment and termination of his employment occurred subsequent to his filing the complaints with the MCHR and EEOC. (Complaint p.3, ¶ 10). At this early stage of the litigation, Plaintiffs allegations of filing the complaints with the MCHR and EEOC, and subsequent termination are sufficient to overcome Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Reifsteck v. Paco Bldg. Supply Co., No. 4:04CV742 RWS, 2005 WL 2674941 at *6-7 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 20, 2005). The Court denies Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Retaliation claims under Title VII and MHRA in Counts II and IV and Defendant's Motion in the alternative for a More Definite Statement.

         2. Counts V, VI, VII, and VIII

         Defendant moves to dismiss Counts V, VI, VII, and VIII because the Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to result in liability under the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2) or the MHRA. In Counts V and VII, Plaintiff alleges a hostile work environment, discrimination, and wrongful termination under the ADA ...


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