United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JIMMY O. WARREN, Plaintiff,
METRO TRANSIT ST. LOUIS THE BI-STATE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF MISSOURI-ILLINOIS DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF REMAND
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand (Doc. No. 10). The motion is fully briefed and ready
for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will
Jimmy O. Warren alleges that his former employer Bi-State
Development Agency (“Bi-State”) terminated his
employment based on his disability and in retaliation for
complaining about discriminatory work place policies.
Plaintiff filed suit in state court pursuant to the Missouri
Human Rights Act (MHRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010 et
seq. (Petition for Discrimination and Damages (Pet.), Doc.
10-2) In Count I (Disability Discrimination), Plaintiff
alleges he was terminated because of his disability. In Count
II (Retaliation), Plaintiff alleges he was terminated because
he complained about discriminatory work place policies and
filed a grievance. In Count III (Wrongful Termination),
Plaintiff alleges he was terminated because of his disability
and for reporting wrongdoing or policy violations to his
superiors. In Count IV (Intentional Infliction of Emotional
Distress), Plaintiff alleges that Bi-State's
discriminatory work practices caused him severe emotional
to the petition, in 2012, after twelve years of employment
with Bi-State, Plaintiff was medically diagnosed with a
disability and requested FMLA leave. (Pet.
¶¶ 11-14) After reporting his disability and need
for accommodation to his supervisor, defendant Donna Holmes
(“Holmes”), Plaintiff states he was harassed and
threatened with termination, all while on FMLA leave. (Pet.
¶¶ 15, 16, 20, 22, 57, 58) Plaintiff alleges Holmes
failed to provide him with accommodations and placed him into
a “punitive program that violates public policy”
known as “Last Chance Agreement for Misses.”
(Pet. ¶¶ 17, 18, 21, 23) He filed a grievance for
harassment, failure to accommodate, retaliation and ill
treatment by a supervisor, but did not prevail. (Pet.
¶¶ 25-26) Plaintiff was terminated on August 22,
2014. (Pet. ¶ 27) He filed a charge of discrimination
with the EEOC for disability discrimination and retaliation
and was issued a right to sue letter on August 30, 2017.
(Pet. ¶ 28; Doc. No. 10-3)
December 27, 2017, Defendants removed the action to this
Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction,
asserting that Plaintiff's claims are based on a federal
cause of action under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29
U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq. (Doc. No. 1)
propriety of removal to federal court depends on whether the
claim comes within the scope of the federal court's
subject matter jurisdiction.” Peters v. Union
Pacific R. Co., 80 F.3d 257, 260 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)). “A defendant may remove a
state law claim to federal court only if the action
originally could have been filed there.” In re
Prempro Products Liability Litigation, 591 F.3d 613, 619
(8th Cir. 2010) (citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d
1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). The party seeking removal and
opposing remand has the burden of establishing federal
subject matter jurisdiction. Cent. Iowa Power Coop. v.
Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, 561 F.3d 904,
912 (8th Cir. 2009); In re Business Men's Assurance
Co., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993). Removal statutes
are strictly construed, and any doubts about the correctness
of removal are resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction
and remand. In re Business Men's Assurance Co.,
992 F.2d at 183.
28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal courts have jurisdiction over
“all civil actions arising under the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.” Under the
well-pleaded complaint rule, a suit “arises
under” federal law “only when the plaintiff's
statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based
upon [federal law].” Palazzolo v. Harris-Stowe
State Univ., No. 4:16-CV-00826 JAR, 2016 WL 3878470, at
*2 (E.D. Mo. July 18, 2016) (quoting Zampitella v.
Walgreens Co., No. 4:16-CV-781 (CEJ), 2016 WL 3627290,
at *2 (E.D. Mo. July 6, 2016)). A complaint that merely
references federal law does not justify federal question
jurisdiction, as “jurisdiction ‘may not be
sustained on a theory the plaintiff has not
of a complaint setting forth state law claims is proper under
the well-pleaded complaint rule where (1) federal law
completely preempts a plaintiff's state-law claim, or (2)
an issue of federal law is a “necessary and central
element” of plaintiff's state law claims.
Id. (citing Mabe v. Golden Living
Ctr.-Bransom, No. 07-03268-CV-S-FJG, 2007 WL 3326857, at
*3 (W.D. Mo. Nov. 6, 2007)). Plaintiff argues this case
should be remanded because his claims arise solely under the
MHRA and Missouri state law. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
he was retaliated against for using FMLA leave, complaining
about Bi-State's policies and practices, and for filing a
grievance against Defendants. Plaintiff argues this is a MHRA
claim, not an FMLA claim.
respond that remand is inappropriate because Plaintiff has
explicitly pled FMLA retaliation on the face of his petition,
• Plaintiff requested Family Medical Leave (FMLA) in
2012. (Pet. ¶14)
• Plaintiff was written up for being late and threatened
with termination on numerous occasions while ...