United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. KALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Paul Ramsey brings this employment discrimination case under
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 104 Stat. 327,
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (the ADA) and the
Tennessee Human Rights Act, T.C.A. § 4-21-101 et
seq. (the THRA), against his employer, Greenbush
Logistics, Inc. Ramsey alleges that Greenbush failed to
reasonably accommodate his disability and retaliated against
him when he requested an accommodation in the first instance.
Greenbush has now moved to dismiss this action under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, doc. 55.
That motion is fully briefed, docs. 56; 59; and 60, and ripe
for review. After carefully examining the complaint and the
parties' thorough and well-reasoned briefs, the court
concludes Greenbush's motion is due to be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Mere “‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action'” are insufficient. Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when a
complaint fails to comply with Rule 8(a)(2) or does not
otherwise state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
When evaluating a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
accepts “the allegations in the complaint as true and
constru[es] them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Hunt v. Aimco Props., L.P., 814
F.3d 1213, 1221 (11th Cir. 2016). However, “[t]o
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must . . .
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A complaint states a
facially plausible claim for relief “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint must
establish “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.; see
also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (emphasizing that
“[f]actual allegations [included in the complaint] must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level”). Ultimately, the line between possibility and
plausibility is a thin one, and making this determination is
a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
who suffers from epilepsy, was hired as a mechanic by
Greenbush, an Alabama corporation, on May 14, 2012. Doc. 54
at 3. As a new hire, Ramsey informed Greenbush of his
condition and requested that Greenbush allow him to work the
day shift. Id. Greenbush originally scheduled Ramsey
to work from 4:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m., but, after Ramsey
requested an earlier shift, rescheduled him to work from 3:00
p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Id. However, on June 2, 2013,
Greenbush switched Ramsey to the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
alleges that this change caused him to suffer from sleep
deprivation and worsened his epileptic symptoms. Id.
Seeking to avoid these symptoms, Ramsey requested a shift
“swap” with a coworker on the day shift but,
after a two week interval, Greenbush ended the swap and
assigned Ramsey to work from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Id. at 3-4. Shortly after the change, Ramsey
notified Greenbush in writing that he could not perform his
job adequately on the night shift in light of his disability,
and that he needed a more accommodating work schedule.
Id. at 4. As part of this request, Ramsey provided
medical information indicating that sleep deprivation and
irregular sleep patterns due to frequent shift changes could
worsen his epileptic symptoms. Id. Roughly two
months later, Ramsey followed up on his request with a letter
from his attorney documenting his disability. Id.
Finally, in late August 2014, Ramsey's treating
physician, Dr. Norman McNulty, also provided Greenbush with
information regarding Ramsey's disability noting that,
while Ramsey could work regular hours during the day, working
at night impaired his ability to perform his job safely.
Id. at 4-5.
addition to purportedly failing to accommodate Ramsey,
Greenbush also allegedly retaliated against him by denying
him raises, insisting that he perform more tasks than other
employees, and issuing him multiple “write-ups”
for failure to complete tasks. Id. at 5, 7. Ramsey
remains employed at Greenbush, at least at the time he filed
the second amended complaint now before the court.
Id. at 3. On June 21, 2016, Ramsey filed a charge
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
alleging disability discrimination and retaliation. Doc. 56-1
at 12. Seven days later, the EEOC dismissed the charge as
untimely. Id. at 9. Ramsey subsequently filed suit
in the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Tennessee, doc. 1, and Greenbush filed a motion to dismiss
or transfer, arguing, among things, that the Tennessee court
lacked personal jurisdiction. Doc. 24 at 1. The court agreed
and transferred the case to the Northern District of Alabama
where, it explained, Ramsey's cause of action arose. Doc.
31 at 9. After the transfer, Greenbush renewed the motion to
dismiss presently under consideration. Doc. 55.
raises three arguments in support of its motion: (1) that
Ramsey has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2)
that Ramsey has failed to plead sufficient factual
allegations to support his claims; and (3) that there is no
basis for imposing liability under the THRA because all of
the relevant employment decisions took place in Alabama and
the Act is limited to claims arising within Tennessee. The
court will address each argument in turn.
Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies
parties agree that “under the ADA, plaintiffs must
comply with the same procedural requirements to sue as exist
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Zillyette v. Capital One Fin. Corp., 179 F.3d 1337,
1339 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a)). As
relevant here, the plaintiff must show that she timely filed
her complaint with the EEOC. See, e.g., Maynard
v. Pneumatic Prods. Corp., 256 F.3d 1259, 1262 (11th
Cir. 2001). Moreover, to make sure that the EEOC has
“the first opportunity to investigate the alleged
discriminatory practices, ” a plaintiff's
subsequent “judicial complaint is limited by the scope
of the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to
grow out of the charge of discrimination.” Gregory
v. Ga. Dep't of Human Res., 355 F.3d 1277, 1279-80
(11th Cir. 2004) (quotation omitted).
read, Ramsey's EEOC charge alleges that Greenbush both
failed to reasonably accommodate his disability and
retaliated against him for seeking an accommodation. Doc.
56-1 at 12. Greenbush contends, however, that Ramsey failed
to timely file the charge and that Ramsey's retaliation
claims are not logically encompassed by the contents of his
EEOC charge. The court will examine each claim to verify ...