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Thomas v. St. Louis Board of Education

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

July 24, 2019

EURAL R. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. LOUIS BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss plaintiff's first amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, filed by defendant Special Administrative Board of the Transitional School District of St. Louis.[1] Plaintiff has not filed a response and the time to do so has passed. For the following reasons, the Court will grant defendant's motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a former employee of defendant whose employment was terminated in June of 2018. On February 8, 2019, plaintiff filed this action as a pro se litigant against defendant on the Court's form Employment Discrimination Complaint. Plaintiff checked boxes indicating his complaint is brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”). Plaintiff also checked the box for “Other” and listed the following additional claims: “Equal Pay Act, Violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, The Missouri Administrative Procedures Act 168.281, Emotional Distress, Invasion of Privacy, Retaliation, Defamation.” (Doc. 1). Under the heading titled “Nature of the Case, ” plaintiff checked boxes for (1) failure to hire me; (2) termination of my employment; (3) failure to accommodate my disability; (4) terms and conditions of my employment differ from those of similar employees; (5) retaliation; (6) harassment; and (7) other conduct, which he indicated as: “Worked In a ‘Hostile Work Environment' [and] Constant Ignoring of Company Rules, Regulations and Policies.” (Doc. 1).

         Prior to filing the complaint, plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (“MCHR”) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Docs. 27-1, 1-1). In the Charge, plaintiff checked only the box for “Retaliation” as his basis for discrimination. In the space provided for “particulars, ” plaintiff described defendant's allegedly retaliatory conduct:

I. I was hired by the St. Louis Board of Education as a Custodian in June 1990. I was employed as a Stationary Engineer at the time of my discharge on June 5, 2018. I believe that my discharge was in retaliation for my participation as a Trustee on the Pension Board and for my service as a Shop Steward for the union.
II. I was discharged for violations of SAB Policy - 4840 Code of Conduct and Ethics. The allegations levied against me are untrue and my discharge was not handled in accord with Missouri Statute, Chapter 168, Section 168.281.1 and in violation of the School Board's own policies.
III. I believe that I have been discriminated against by being discharged on the basis of retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; and in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(Doc. 27-1).

         The EEOC provided plaintiff with a notice of right to sue. (Doc. 1-1). The MCHR, however, issued plaintiff a Notice of Termination of Proceedings, stating that it lacked jurisdiction over the matter because the complaint did not involve an activity covered by the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). (Doc. 27-3).

         On March 5, 2019, defendant filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for a more definite statement, arguing that plaintiff's complaint did not sufficiently plead detailed or specific factual allegations as to his claims. (Doc. 8). On March 27, 2019, the Court issued an order affording plaintiff an opportunity to cure the alleged pleading defects and granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2). (Doc. 12).

         On April 23, 2019, counsel filed an entry of appearance on behalf of plaintiff. (Doc. 13). On May 20, 2019, plaintiff, now represented by counsel, filed a first amended complaint, alleging disability discrimination under the MHRA §§ 213.010, et seq., Mo. Rev. Stat. (Count I), and the ADA (Count II). (Doc. 21). Specifically, plaintiff alleges he was discriminated against by defendant as a result of a diagnosed medical condition and that disability was the motivating factor in defendant's termination of plaintiff. Retaliation is not included as a claim in the first amended complaint.

         II. Discussion

         Defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's claims under the MHRA and ADA for failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bring suit. It is well settled a plaintiff may not bring a claim that was not included in the administrative charge to the EEOC. Lindeman v. Saint Luke's Hosp. of Kansas City, 899 F.3d 603, 608 (8th Cir. 2018) (plaintiff must administratively exhaust specific claim under ADA prior to filing suit); Russell v. TG Missouri Corp., 340 F.3d 735, 748 (8th Cir. 2003) (same). Likewise, under the MHRA, “[t]he filing of an administrative complaint ‘is a prerequisite to seeking judicial relief.'” Richter v. Advance Auto Parts, Inc., ...


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