United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Scott Coogler United States District Judge.
Larry Coleman (“Larry”), Chester Coleman
(“Chester”), and Freddie Seltzer
“Plaintiffs”) bring this action against
Defendants Morris-Shea Bridge Company, Inc.
(“Morris-Shea”), Richard J. Shea, Jr.
(“Dick Shea”), and Richard J. Shea, III
(“Richard Shea”) (collectively
“Defendants”), alleging violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), Title VII, 42
U.S.C. § 1981, and the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (“ADEA”). Before the Court is Morris-Shea and
Dick Shea’s motion to dismiss. (Doc. 20.) The motion
has been fully briefed and is ripe for review. For the
reasons stated below, the motion is due to be denied.
Morris-Shea is a heavy construction contractor with a focus
on deep foundation work related to bridges, highways,
buildings, and similar foundation engineering. The company is
managed and partially owned by Defendants Dick and Richard
Shea who are Caucasian. Both Dick and Richard Shea are
involved either directly or indirectly with all decisions
regarding Morris-Shea employees. Plaintiffs Larry Coleman,
Chester Coleman, and Freddie Seltzer are three brothers who
are African-American. The brothers are age sixty, fifty-six,
and fifty-two, respectively. Each brother was employed by
Morris-Shea for at least twenty-five years. Larry worked in
various positions at Morris-Shea, and his last position was
that of superintendent. Chester and Freddie were construction
crew members who worked on various projects for Morris-Shea
throughout the years.
April 10, 2017, the three brothers were all working on a
construction project at the home of Richard Shea in Mountain
Brook, Alabama. Around lunch time, Freddie and Chester left
the worksite to get a sandwich at a local restaurant. Larry
did not leave the worksite during lunch because he had
brought his lunch. Although it took Freddie and Chester less
than thirty minutes to return, Dick Shea complained to Larry
that his brothers were taking too long of a lunch break. When
they returned to the worksite, Dick Shea told Larry to send
Freddie and Chester home. The next morning, when Larry
arrived at the worksite, another superintendent for
Morris-Shea told him that Dick Shea wanted him to leave the
worksite and go home.
two weeks later, Lee Dubberly, a different superintendent for
Morris-Shea, called Larry and told him that he, Chester, and
Freddie had all been terminated by Morris-Shea. Although no
one at Morris-Shea would tell the brothers why they had been
fired, when Larry asked human resources to complete a form
necessary for him to receive food stamps, a human resource
manager wrote “lack of work” as the reason for
his termination. Since their termination, Morris-Shea has not
recalled the Plaintiffs to work and has determined that they
are not eligible for rehire. According to Plaintiffs,
Morris-Shea has never terminated a white employee for taking
more than thirty minutes at lunch. The construction workers
hired to replace Plaintiffs are all white and are
substantially younger than Plaintiffs.
2017, a month after they were terminated, Plaintiffs filed
charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging that Morris-Shea discriminated
against them. Specifically, the EEOC charges claim that the
brothers were harassed by fellow white employees and
compensated less than similarly situated white employees due
to their race. The EEOC charges also include allegations that
the brothers were terminated due to age and race
Standard of Review
general, a pleading must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). However, in order
to withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6), a complaint “must plead enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ray v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340,
1347– 48 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Stated
another way, the factual allegations in the complaint must be
sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Edwards v. Prime, Inc.,
602 F.3d 1276, 1301 (11th Cir. 2010). A complaint that
“succeeds in identifying facts that are suggestive
enough to render [the necessary elements of a claim]
plausible” will survive a motion to dismiss. Watts
v. Fla. Int’l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1296 (11th
Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, this Court first
“identif[ies] pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. This Court
then “assume[s] the veracity” of the
complaint’s “well-pleaded factual
allegations” and “determine[s] whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Id. Review of the complaint is “a
context-specific task that requires [this Court] to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
If the pleading “contain[s] enough information
regarding the material elements of a cause of action to
support recovery under some ‘viable legal
theory,’” it satisfies the notice pleading
standard. Am. Fed’n of Labor & Cong. of Indus.
Orgs. v. City of Miami, 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir.
2011) (quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice,
Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683–84 (11th Cir. 2001)).
general, if it considers materials outside of the complaint,
a district court must convert the motion to dismiss into a
summary judgment motion.” SFM Holdings, Ltd. v.
Banc. of Am. Sec., LLC, 600 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir.
2010). However, a “district court may consider an
extrinsic document if it is (1) central to the
plaintiff’s claim, and (2) its authenticity is not
challenged.” See Id. (citing Day v.
Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005)). In their
Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs refer to their EEOC charges and
notice of right to sue letters. The EEOC charges are also
referred to throughout the motion to dismiss. As the Court
finds the EEOC charges central to the plaintiffs’
claims and their authenticity is not in dispute, the Court
will take them into consideration in this
Dick Shea seeks to dismiss the § 1981 claims brought
against him in Counts Five, Six, Seven, Eleven, Twelve, and
Thirteen of the Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim. Morris-Shea also seeks dismissal of certain
allegations contained within Counts Two and Eight of the
Amended Complaint, arguing that Plaintiff Larry Coleman
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to
these allegations. Defendants also ask the Court to require
the Plaintiffs to re-plead their claims, contending that the
Amended Complaint is “needlessly long, unnecessarily
repetitive, and frustrates Defendants’ ability to
respond to material allegations against them.”
(See Doc. 20 at 12.) The Court will address each
argument in turn.
42 U.S.C. § 1981 ...