United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the separate motions of
Defendants Aarons, Inc. and Fred Royal to dismiss Plaintiff
Gary Wayne Hernton's first amended complaint. ECF Nos. 37
and 38. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant
Royal's motion will be granted, and Defendant Aarons
Inc.'s motion will be granted in part.
filed this employment action pro se on May 4, 2017, naming as
Defendants his employer, Defendant Aarons, Inc., and his
supervisor, Defendant Royal. Plaintiff retained counsel and
filed a first amended complaint, alleging that he was
discriminated against on the basis of his race, age, and
color, in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5,
et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 626, et seq.,
and the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Mo.
Rev. Stat. § 213.010, et seq., which led to his
being wrongfully discharged. He alleges that he was
terminated on December 4, 2015, and he was notified of his
termination the next day, December 5, 2015. Plaintiff alleges
that he filed a charge of discrimination on or about
September 30, 2016,  and he was provided with a right-to-sue
letter on or about January 31, 2017.
filed separate motions to dismiss Plaintiff's first
amended complaint. Defendant Royal argues that
Plaintiff's allegations against him must fail because (1)
an individual cannot be held personally liable on federal
employment discrimination claims such as those asserted by
Plaintiff; and (2) Plaintiff's MHRA claim fails on its
face because Plaintiff failed to file his charge of
discrimination within 180 days after the alleged act of
discrimination took place. Defendant Aarons, Inc. argues that
Plaintiff's federal and MHRA claims fail because the
charge of discrimination was untimely filed; and (2)
Plaintiff failed to allege facts establishing that his
termination was due to his race, color, or age. In response,
Plaintiff argues that the action is not time-barred because
Plaintiff filed his charge of discrimination within 300 days
after Plaintiff was terminated from his employment and that
Plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim for which relief could
be granted. Both Defendants filed replies addressing
Plaintiff's arguments and identifying points not
addressed by Plaintiff.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
plaintiff's allegations 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)). The reviewing court must accept the plaintiff's
factual allegations as true and construe them in
plaintiff's favor, but it is not required to accept the
legal conclusions the plaintiff draws from the facts alleged.
Id. at 678; Retro Television Network, Inc. v.
Luken Commc'ns, LLC, 696 F.3d 766, 768-69 (8th Cir.
2012). A court must “draw on its judicial experience
and common sense, ” and consider the plausibility of
the plaintiff's claim as a whole, not the plausibility of
each individual allegation. Zoltek Corp. v. Structural
Polymer Grp., 592 F.3d 893, 896 n.4 (8th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
order to initiate a claim under Title VII and the MHRA a
party must timely file a charge of discrimination with the
administrative agency and receive a right-to-sue letter. 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); Nat'l R.R. Passenger
Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 109-10 (2002); Stuart
v. General Motors Corp., 217 F.3d 621, 630 (8th Cir.
2000). Title 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1) is a charge
filing provision that “specifies with precision”
the prerequisites that a plaintiff must satisfy before filing
suit. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. 536 U.S. at
101. A plaintiff is required to file his charge of
discrimination within 300 days of the allegedly
discriminatory occurrence under Title VII and within 180 days
under the MHRA. Holland v. Sam's Club, 487 F.3d
641, 643 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(e)(1) and Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.030). Missouri is
a deferral state and a work-sharing agreement exists between
the EEOC and Missouri Human Rights Commission, so a complaint
filed with the EEOC is considered filed with the MHRA on the
same date. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.075(2).
Plaintiff alleges in his first amended complaint that he was
terminated on December 4, 2015 and notified of such
termination on December 5, 2015. ECF No. 1 at ¶¶
13, 23). He alleges that he filed a charge of discrimination
with the EEOC and Missouri Human Rights Commission on
September 30, 2016, or 300 days after December 5, 2015, the
date he was notified of the dismissal.
United States Supreme Court has clearly held that the filing
time for an EEOC charge begins to run when the plaintiff
receives notice of a termination decision. Chardon v.
Fernandez, 454 U.S. 6, 8 (1981); Delaware State
College v. Ricks, 449 U.S. 250, 259 (1981). Thus, it
appears that Plaintiff's federal claims are
timely. However, Plaintiff's MHRA claim was
filed well beyond the 180-day window. Failure to satisfy the
exhaustion requirement under the MHRA bars the claim.
Reuther v. Operating Engineers Local 513, Journeymen
& Apprenticeship Training Fund, No. 4:11-CV-1781
CEJ, 2012 WL 2856473, at *1 (E.D. Mo. July 11, 2012).
Consequently, Plaintiff's MHRA claims against both
Defendants will be dismissed.
Plaintiff's federal claims will be dismissed as to
Defendant Royal because the definitions of
“employer” in Title VII and the ADEA do not
include individual supervisors, so Royal cannot be held
liable under those acts. McGuire v. St. Louis Cty.,
Missouri, No. 4:17 CV 2818 CDP, 2018 WL 705050, at *2
(E.D. Mo. Feb. 5, 2018) (citing Bonomolo-Hagen v. Clay
Cent.-Everly Comm. Sch. Dist., 121 F.3d 446, 447 (8th
Cir. 1997) (Title VII); Kelleher v. Aerospace Comm.
Credit Union, 927 F.Supp. 361, 363 (E.D. Mo. 1996)
then, are Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Aarons,
Inc. under Title VII and the ADEA. Defendant Aarons, Inc.
argues that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for which
relief may be granted. A plaintiff asserting a race
discrimination claim must plead that (1) he is a member of a
protected class; (2) he was qualified for the position
(sometimes articulated as meeting the employer's
legitimate expectations); (3) he suffered an adverse
employment action; (4) under circumstances permitting an
inference that the action was a result of unlawful
discrimination. Anderson v. Durham D & M,
L.L.C., 606 F.3d 513, 520 (8th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff
asserting an age discrimination claim must plead that (1) he
is over forty; (2) he was qualified for the position; (3) he
suffered an adverse employment action; and (4)
similarly-situated employees outside the class were treated
more favorably. Id. at 523.
amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he is an African
American man over the age of 42. He claims that over the
course of a nine-month period prior to July 2015, he received
bonuses for exemplary work. Plaintiff contends that starting
in July 2015, he was systemically harassed at his workplace
by Defendant Royal and his “lunch-buddies” and
that such harassment was motivated by antipathy toward
Plaintiff's rage, age, and color and ultimately resulted
in his termination. He details many of these incidents in his
first amended complaint. He further alleges that other
similarly-situated employees were not subjected to the
hostility or harassment and were given better treatment than
Plaintiff, including being allowed extended lunch breaks and
to come in late without consequences. Plaintiff nowhere
alleges, however, that the similarly-situated employees
receiving better treatment were outside the class claimed by
Plaintiff. As such, Plaintiff's ...