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Pruteanu v. Team Select Home Care of Missouri, Inc.

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

February 27, 2019

IRINA PRUTEANU, Plaintiff,
v.
TEAM SELECT HOME CARE OF MISSOURI, INC. and ALGONQUIN NURSES HOME HEALTH CARE I, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Team Select Home Care of Missouri, Inc.'s (“Team Select”) motion to dismiss (ECF No. 23) and Defendant Algonquin Nurses Home Health Care I, LLC's (“Algonquin”) motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff opposes both motions. For the reasons set forth below, Team Select's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part, and Algonquin's motion for summary judgment will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed her lawsuit in state court, asserting claims of discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy, in violation Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055, and outrageous conduct and negligent infliction of emotional distress under Missouri law. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that she was employed as an office clerk with Defendants until she was terminated on August 16, 2017, for “excessive absenteeism due to her pregnancy.” Complaint (“Compl.”), ECF No. 5 at ¶ 14. She alleges that during her employment with Defendants, Plaintiff was “subjected to discriminatory treatment” and suffered “intolerable working conditions and a hostile environment in which to work.” Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiff contends that her manager, Heather Sessions, exhibited a discriminatory attitude after being informed that Plaintiff was pregnant and had to go on medically-ordered bedrest. Plaintiff further claims that Ms. Sessions “specifically expressed discontent about being required to do any work because of any employee's maternity leave.” Id. at ¶ 17.

         On or about September 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (“MCHR”), alleging that she was terminated after she missed work due to medically-necessary pregnancy-related restrictions. ECF No. 5-2. She alleged that she was treated differently and more harshly than other employees with serious medical conditions.

         The MCHR issued a notice of right to sue on April 18, 2018, and the EEOC issued a notice of right to sue on May 2, 2018. Plaintiff filed her complaint on July 30, 2018, and she alleges in her complaint that her lawsuit was “being filed within ninety (90) days of receipt of the two letters.” Compl. at ¶ 7. On September 27, 2018, Team Select timely removed this action to federal court, and on December 10, 2018, the Court denied Plaintiff's request to remand this action to state court.

         ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES

         In its motion to dismiss, Team Select argues that Plaintiff's MHRA claim is untimely because Plaintiff filed suit more than 90 days after the right to sue letter was issued by the MCHR. It also argues that Plaintiff fails to state a claim of sex and pregnancy discrimination under the MHRA and Title VII because her complaint only contains conclusory allegations rather than specific facts establishing a prima facie case. Lastly, Team Select argues that Plaintiff fails to state a claim of outrageous conduct or negligent infliction of emotional distress under Missouri law.

         Plaintiff responds that she did not receive a copy of the MCHR right to sue letter until Plaintiff's counsel requested a copy on the date this lawsuit was filed in state court, and further that there is no proof that Plaintiff ever requested a right to sue letter from the MCHR. She next argues that she sufficiently pled facts to support her sex and pregnancy discrimination claim, as well as outrageous conduct and negligent infliction of emotional distress under Missouri common law.

         In reply, Team Select argues that whether Plaintiff expressly requested a right to sue letter from the MCHR is irrelevant. It contends that Plaintiff admits that her lawsuit was filed more than 90 days following the issuance of the right to sue letter and, as a result, her MHRA claims must be dismissed as untimely. It then reiterates its arguments with respect to Plaintiff's failure to state a claim under Title VII and Missouri law.

         Defendant Algonquin argues in its motion for summary judgment that it never employed Plaintiff, and thus should not be a party to this litigation. It submits two affidavits supporting its motion. Plaintiff responds that granting summary judgment would be premature in light of the early stage of this litigation. She also directs the Court to the Missouri Secretary of State's business search page, which indicates a relationship between Algonquin and Team Select. Thus, Plaintiff maintains that discovery on this issue is necessary.

         DISCUSSION

         Team Select's Motion to Dismiss

         a. Standard of Review

         To 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 the 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).

         b. Count I - ...


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