United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brings a three count sexual discrimination lawsuit under the
Missouri Human Rights Act against her former employer, ISG
Technology. ISG moves to dismiss portions of
plaintiff's hostile work environment claim as
time-barred. The motion will be denied.
ruling upon a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6),
I must accept as true all factual allegations in the
complaint and view them in the light most favorable to
plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain 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. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.
Although I must “accept as true all facts pleaded by
the non-moving party and grant all reasonable inferences from
the pleadings in favor of the non-moving party, ”
United States v. Any & All Radio Station Transmission
Equip., 207 F.3d 458, 462 (8th Cir. 2000), “[a]
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Where
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.,
Inc., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008).
began working as a Regional Vice President of ISG on March
23, 2016. She was fired less than a year later. Plaintiff
alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment by her
immediate supervisor Kipp Adkins from the time she was hired
until he was fired for his misconduct in June of 2016.
Plaintiff alleges that Adkins repeatedly touched her
inappropriately and made inappropriate sexual comments to and
about her to clients. Plaintiff alleges that ISG terminated
Adkins based, at least in part, on her complaint of sexual
harassment. After Adkins was terminated, plaintiff alleges
that she was subjected to a hostile work environment,
discrimination, and retaliation by different male
supervisors. Plaintiff alleges that after Adkins was fired,
her male supervisors ignored her ideas, failed to give her
instructions and feedback she needed to do her job, gave her
a negative performance review, and ultimately terminated her
employment because of her complaints about Adkins.
was fired on February 2, 2017, and filed her Charge of
Discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights
on March 2, 2017. Plaintiff alleges sex and retaliation
discrimination based on sex and indicated on the form that
the discrimination was a “continuing action.” In
her Charge of Discrimination, plaintiff complained of sexual
harassment by Adkins as well as the subsequent allegations of
discrimination and retaliation by her other supervisors.
a plaintiff may file a complaint alleging violations of the
MHRA, she must first exhaust her administrative remedies.
Richter v. Advance Auto Parts, Inc., 686 F.3d 847,
853-54 (8th Cir. 2012). Exhausting administrative remedies
requires timely filing a charge of discrimination and
receiving a right to sue letter. See Stuart v. General
Motors Corp., 217 F.3d 621, 630 (8th Cir. 2000). To be
timely, a charge of discrimination must be filed within 180
days of the alleged act of discrimination under the MHRA. Mo.
Rev. Stat. ' 213.075.1. After completing this process the
exhaustion requirement is met and a plaintiff may thereafter
“seek relief for any discrimination that grows out of
or is like or reasonably related to the substance of the
allegations in the administrative charge.” Nichols
v. Am. National Ins. co., 154 F.3d 875, 887 (8th Cir.
any sexual harassment of plaintiff by Adkins happened more
than 180 days before plaintiff filed her Charge of
Discrimination, ISG argues that these claims cannot form part
of her hostile work environment claim. In opposition to
dismissal, plaintiff argues that all her claims of
discrimination are timely filed as part of a continuing
violation. The continuing violation theory “permits a
plaintiff to recover for acts of discrimination occurring
prior to the 180-day filing period if the discrimination is a
series of interrelated events.” Wallingsford v.
City of Maplewood, 287 S.W.3d 682, 685 (Mo. banc 2009).
To demonstrate a continuing violation, plaintiff must show
that at least one act occurred within the filing period and
that “the harassment is a series of interrelated
events, rather than isolated or sporadic acts of intentional
discrimination.” Pollock v. Wetterau Food
Distribution Group, 11 S.W.3d 754, 763 (Mo.Ct.App.
1999). If a “claim is based upon a series of
closely-related, similar events that occurred within the same
general time period and stemmed from the same source, it is
in the nature of a continuing violation.” Id.
early stage of the proceedings, the Court finds that there
are fact issues regarding whether the sexual harassment by
Adkins and the subsequent actions of other supervisors
constitute a continuing violation. Dismissal is therefore
inappropriate. Here, plaintiff set out all of the
complained-of conduct in her Charge of Discrimination,
including the harassment by Adkins, and further indicated
that the alleged discrimination was a “continuing
action.” Plaintiff further alleges that her supervisors
began isolating and unjustly criticizing her as soon as
Adkins was fired to retaliate against her for Adkins'
termination. The proximity between Adkins' termination
and the subsequent actions of plaintiff s new supervisors
provide support for plaintiffs assertion that these claims
constitute a continuing violation. See id Moreover,
plaintiff is not bringing a separate claim for sexual
harassment. Instead, she only alleges that the actions of
Adkins were part of a continuing hostile working environment
that extended beyond Adkins' termination. Under these
circumstances, the Court concludes that the dismissal of
plaintiffs allegations of sexual harassment is inappropriate
at this time. In any event, these acts, even if not
independently actionable, may still be properly used as
background evidence in support of plaintiff s other claims,
including her claims for retaliation and termination. For
these reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss must be
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's
motion to dismiss  is denied.
Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her
claims against defendants Ben Foster and Miles ...