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Hatcher v. Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 7, 2019

BARON K. HATCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
BIRMINGHAM JEFFERSON COUNTY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Alternatively for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. # 7)[1] and Motion to Strike (Doc. # 9). The Motions have been fully briefed (Docs. # 8, 11, 13-15, 19-20[2]) and are ripe for decision. After careful review, and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that the Defendant's Motion to Strike is due to be denied, and its Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, Baron K. Hatcher, alleges that he is a homosexual (Doc. # 4 at ¶ 5) and claims that Defendant discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (See generally Doc. # 4). He also claims that he complained about mistreatment aimed at him because of his sexual orientation and that he was retaliated against for doing so. (Id. at ¶ 7). As a result, Plaintiff asserts a retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). (Id. at ¶ 18).[3] In support of these claims, Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiff, a homosexual male, has worked as a Bus Operator with Defendant Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority since July of 1991. (Doc. # 4 at ¶ 5). Plaintiff asserts that although he is the sixth most senior employee, Defendant “regularly and consistently discriminated against [him] because of his homosexuality.” (Id. at ¶ 6).

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that two of his female coworkers, Cortessa Bell and Tenesha Williams, discriminated against him by neglecting to assign him unscheduled overtime work on the same basis as other non-homosexual drivers. (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff claims that Defendant prepares the bus drivers' schedules one day in advance of the scheduled work day and requires all drivers to be ready to begin any shift ten minutes prior to the start time of the shift. (Id. at ¶¶ 10, 16). According to Plaintiff, Bell frequently changed the schedule to give other less senior, non-homosexual drivers opportunities to earn unscheduled overtime hours[4] and disproportionately enforced Defendant's ten-minute policy against him. (Id.). Plaintiff contends that these allegedly discriminatory actions were motivated by his sexual orientation. (Id. at ¶ 10).

         In support of this contention, Plaintiff alleges that in July 2017, Bell chose several employees to travel to North Carolina to drive a number of school buses back to Birmingham, Alabama. (Id. at ¶ 11). Bell did not invite Plaintiff to participate in the trip. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that during this trip, Bell asked another employee how long Plaintiff had been a homosexual. (Id.). Plaintiff also claims that Bell told the employee “that she had tried to get along with Plaintiff, but he would not accept her attempts to be nice to him.” (Id.).

         Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he repeatedly submitted written complaints to his supervisors, Peter Walcott and Allen E. Perdue, Jr. (Id. at ¶ 7). Specifically, he complained that Bell assigned him overtime work hours less frequently than other less senior, non-homosexual drivers because of his sexual orientation. (Id.). However, Plaintiff avers that Defendant's allegedly discriminatory actions continued despite his complaints. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. International Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 Fed.Appx. 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (unpublished) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task is context specific and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis

         For the reasons explained below, the court concludes that Defendant's Motion to Strike is due to be denied, but ...


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