United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Isiah Fisher's motion to
remand and request for fees, Doc. 14, and Fisher's
conditional motion for leave to file an amended complaint,
Doc. 19. For the following reasons, Fisher's motion to
remand is granted, his request for fees is denied, and his
conditional motion for leave is denied as moot.
has worked for Spire, Inc. since January 2017. He alleges
that since day one, he has been subjected to a hostile,
discriminatory and retaliatory working environment.
Specifically, he claims that his supervisors have used racial
epithets in reference to him, that he is denied training and
interaction with management that is integral to an
employee's success and advancement, and that he is
subject to different standards than Caucasian employees.
After filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Missouri
Commission on Human Rights, Fisher brought suit against Spire
Missouri, Inc. and Spire, Inc (collectively, Spire) in state
court for violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA).
Spire removed the case, claiming that Section 301 of the
Federal Labor Management Relations Act completely preempts
Fisher's claims. Doc. 1. Fisher filed a motion to remand
challenging the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. Doc.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Ark. Blue
Cross & Blue Shield v. Little Rock Cardiology Clinic,
P.A., 551 F.3d 812, 816 (8th Cir. 2009). Removal to
federal court is only proper when the court would have had
original jurisdiction had the action initially been filed
there. Krispin v. May Dep't Stores Co., 218 F.3d
919, 922 (8th Cir. 2000). Defendants, as the parties invoking
the federal jurisdiction, must present facts supporting
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Schubert
v. Auto Owners Inc., Co., 649 F.3d 817, 822 (8th Cir.
2011). Any doubt about the propriety of federal jurisdiction
must be resolved in favor of remand. In re Business
Men's Assur. Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir.
Federal Question Jurisdiction
courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Typically, a
claim only arises under federal law when “a federal
question is presented on the face of [a] plaintiff's
properly pleaded complaint[, ]” but a corollary to the
well-pleaded-complaint rule is the doctrine of complete
preemption. Boldt v. N. States Power Co., 904 F.3d
586, 590 (8th Cir. 2018). Under complete preemption,
“any claim purportedly based on [a] preempted state law
is considered, from its inception, a federal claim, and
therefore arises under federal law.” Caterpillar,
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987).
301 of the Labor Management Relations Act completely preempts
state law in order to ensure uniformity in federal labor law.
Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 209-10
(1985). Section 301 preempts both “state-law contract
actions . . . [and] . . . claims that are substantially
dependent on analysis of a [collective bargaining agreement
(CBA)].” Williams v. Nat'l Football
League, 582 F.3d 863, 874 (8th Cir. 2009) (citations and
quotation marks omitted). In other words, federal
jurisdiction exists if a CBA “actually sets forth the
right upon which the claim is based, ” id., or
“[t]he elements of [the] state-law claim are . . .
‘inextricably intertwined with consideration of the
terms of the labor contract.'” Bogan v. Gen.
Motors Corp., 500 F.3d 828, 833 (8th Cir. 2007)
course, not every dispute concerning employment, or
tangentially involving a provision of a collective-bargaining
agreement, is pre-empted by § 301.”
Allis-Chalmers Corp., 471 U.S. at 211. For example,
“the bare fact that a [CBA] will be consulted in the
course of state-law litigation plainly does not require the
claim to be extinguished, ” Livadas v.
Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 124 (1994), and “[p]urely
factual questions about an employee's conduct or an
employer's conduct and motives do not require a court to
interpret any term of a [CBA].” Humphrey v.
Sequentia, Inc., 58 F.3d 1238, 1244 (8th Cir. 1995)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). Further, Section 301
does not preempt claims which pertain to “nonnegotiable
rights conferred on individual employees as a matter of state
law.” Markham v. Wertin, 861 F.3d 748, 755
(8th Cir. 2017).
proper starting point for determining whether interpretation
of a CBA is required in order to resolve a particular state
law claim is an examination of the claim itself.”
Trs. of Twin City Bricklayers Fringe Ben. Funds v.
Superior Waterproofing, Inc., 450 F.3d 324, 331 (8th
Cir. 2006). Fisher's claims assert violation of state
anti-discrimination law, not violation of a right set forth
in the CBA. Thus, Fisher's claims are preempted only if
the elements of his claims are “inextricably
intertwined” with the CBA.
alleges hostile work environment in Count I, and that his
discriminatory treatment limited his employment opportunities
in Count II. A hostile work environment claim requires
proof that “(1) the plaintiff is a member of a group
protected by the MHRA; (2) the plaintiff was subjected to
unwelcome protected group harassment; (3) the plaintiff's
membership in the protected group was a contributing factor
in the harassment; and (4) . . . [the harassment was]
sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to alter the
conditions of [plaintiff's] employment and create an
abusive working environment.” Bram v. AT&T
Mobility Servs., LLC, No. WD 81538, 2018 WL 6611594, at
*7 (Mo.Ct.App. Dec. 18, 2018). A “discrimination claim
has three elements: (1) [plaintiff] suffered an adverse
employment action; (2) [plaintiff's] race was a
contributing factor; and (3) [plaintiff] was damaged as a
result.” Id. at *5.
argues that Fisher's claims implicate the portions of the
CBA related to job training, bidding for positions, and
probation. Spire has not, however, shown which legal element
of Fisher's claims requires a court to interpret the CBA.
Instead, Spire highlights the following factual allegations
in Fisher's petition: other employees told Fisher that
few African-Americans “actually make it through
training” and that foremen consistently denied minority
employees on-the-job training; that foremen reminded Fisher
that they could disqualify him from jobs and stated to others
that they “intended to disqualify him from any and
every job he bid on;” and that foremen lengthened
Fisher's probationary period. Doc. 1-2 (Petition),
¶¶ 18-20, 23-24, 33. These “purely
factual” allegations concerning “the conduct of
the parties and their motivation” do not substantially
depend on or require interpretation of the terms of the CBA.
Humphrey, 58 F.3d. at 1244.
extent that the CBA provides alternative, non-discriminatory
explanations for Fisher's training, bidding and probation
period, the CBA provides Spire with a defense. “The
presence of a federal question, even a § 301 question,
in a defensive argument does not overcome the paramount
policies embodied in the well-pleaded complaint rule.”
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 398. Thus, “[t]he
fact . . . that there [may be] ‘just cause' under
the terms of the CBA for the [treatment] plaintiff received
does not create a ...