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Hoaglin v. Hyvee Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

May 8, 2019

HELEN HOAGLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
HYVEE INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Hyvee, Inc. (“Defendant”)'s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and for Lack of Jurisdiction (“Motion to Dismiss”), and the Motion to Dismiss is fully briefed. (Docs. 23, 24, 30, 33.) After careful consideration and for the reasons below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and this case is DISMISSED.

         Background[1]

         Plaintiff Helen Hoaglin (“Plaintiff”) has amended her complaint once with leave of this Court. (Docs. 18.) On April 30, 2019, Plaintiff was granted leave to amend her Complaint a second time but only as to two narrow issues as directed by the Court's Order. (Doc. 40.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint was due on or before May 7, 2019. To date, Plaintiff has not filed a second amended complaint. Therefore, the Amended Complaint (Doc. 19) is the operative complaint for Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges a claim for sex discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) against Defendant. (Doc. 19.) The Amended Complaint provides the following allegations. At all relevant times, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant. Plaintiff was in a romantic relationship with her manager Zack Robinson (“Robinson”), who was employed by Defendant. This relationship ended on or about January 19, 2017. Thereafter, Robinson began to “torment” and “abuse” Plaintiff at work. On October 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The charge of discrimination filed with the Missouri Human Rights Commission states:

Before January 20, 2017 I was in a relationship with Zack Robinson. After we broke up he cut hours and began to torment met when I was at work. After I broke up with Robinson, I asked for a transfer to avoid his abuse. I was transferred and then immediately laid off. I was not reinstated even though Hyvee was advertising open positions. Gail Mayes told me that I would be back on the schedule by August 14 and then later September 4, 2017. I am not on the schedule.

(Doc. 19, ¶ 14.)

         The Amended Complaint alleges, “[i]n retaliation, [o]n or about January 20, 2017 Hyvee created a sexually hostile work environment described . . . in Plaintiff's charge of discrimination.” (Doc. 19, ¶ 14.) The Amended Complaint also alleges, “Plaintiff was never scheduled for work again as retaliation by the Defendant for not continuing her relationship with . . . Robinson” and “Plaintiff's sex was the contributing factor in the termination of her employment.” (Doc. 19, ¶ ¶ 15, 18.) In support, the Amended Complaint alleges the following: she “is a member of the category of persons protected from sex;” “Plaintiff performed her job duties in a satisfactory manner;” and “Defendant knew or should have known of the sex discrimination and unfair treatment against Plaintiff and failed to implement prompt and appropriate corrective action.”

(Doc. 19, ¶ ¶ 4, 10, 20.)

         Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for 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 is facially plausible where the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Wilson v. Arkansas Dept. of Human Serv., 850 F.3d 368, 371 (8th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While a complaint does not need to include detailed factual allegations, the complaint must allege more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully to survive a motion to dismiss. Wilson, 850 F.3d at 371 (citation omitted). When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the well-pled allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Osahar v. U.S. Postal Service, 263 Fed.Appx. 753, 864 (8th Cir. 2008).

         When considering a motion to dismiss in a discrimination case at the pleading stage, the plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). “The prima facie standard is an evidentiary standard, not a pleading standard, and there is no need to set forth a detailed evidentiary proffer in a complaint.” Rodriguez-Reyes v. Molina-Rodriguez, 711 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512). “[E]lements of the prima facie case are [not] irrelevant to a plausibility determination in a discrimination suit, ” and these “elements are part of the background against which a plausibility determination should be made . . . the elements of a prima facie case may be used as a prism to shed light upon the plausibility of the claim.” Id. (citing Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512).

         Discussion

         A motion to dismiss is viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff; therefore, the Court will construe the Amended Complaint liberally as to what claims are alleged. In viewing the Amended Complaint in this light, the Court finds the Amended Complaint alleges the following potential claims against Defendant: (1) sexual discrimination; (2) ...


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