United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
employment discrimination and sexual harassment matter comes
before the court on Defendant W.L. Petrey Wholesale Company,
Inc.'s “Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Claim/Alternatively Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Name
Indispensable Parties or for Joinder.” (Doc. 19).
Petrey asserts that Plaintiff Willie Smith cannot state a
Title VII or § 1981 claim against Petrey because the
company was not Mr. Smith's employer as a matter of law.
Petrey also argues in the alternative that, because Mr. Smith
did not name as defendants the staffing agency that hired
him, his alleged harasser at Petrey, and the staffing agency
that hired the alleged harasser, the court must dismiss this
case or order that those parties be joined in this case. For
the following reasons, the court will deny Petrey's
motion to dismiss.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
brings its motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), “failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, ” and Rule 12(b)(7),
“failure to join a party under Rule 19, ” so the
court presents the standards of review under both Rules.
Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant can move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” The complaint will survive the motion to
dismiss if it alleges “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). For a
complaint to be “plausible on its face, ” it must
contain enough “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). And the court accepts
as true the factual allegations in the complaint.
Rule 12(b)(7), a defendant can move to dismiss a complaint
for the plaintiff's “failure to join a party under
Rule 19.” Rule 19 provides that certain persons
must be included as parties to an action if
feasible. Rule 19(a)(1) defines a “required
party” as a person (1) whose absence will preclude the
court from affording “complete relief among existing
parties”; or (2) who “claims an interest relating
to the subject of the action and is so situated that
disposing of the action in the person's absence may . . .
impair or impede the person's ability to protect the
interest or . . . leave an existing party subject to a
substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise
inconsistent obligations because of the interest.”
a Rule 12(b)(7) motion to dismiss, the court looks at the
pleadings and any evidence presented by the parties to
determine whether an absent person is a “required
party” under Rule 19(a)(1), and, if so, must order that
person joined if joinder is feasible. Auto-Owners Ins.
Co. v. Morris, 191 F.Supp.3d 1302, 1303 (N.D. Ala.
2016). If joinder is not feasible, then the court may permit
the case to proceed without that person or dismiss the case.
with the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review stated above, the
court accepts the following facts alleged in Mr. Smith's
amended complaint as true.
20, 2018, Mr. Smith, “a man of African ancestry,
” began working as an order puller for Petrey through a
staffing agency. (Doc. 16 at ¶ 8). A forklift driver
working for Petrey told Mr. Smith that the driver would pay
Mr. Smith to perform oral sex on him. Mr. Smith refused, but
the forklift driver pursued Mr. Smith throughout Petrey's
facility, repeatedly grabbed his thigh, and continued to
offer to perform oral sex. After Mr. Smith rejected several
advances, the forklift driver said he would not pull any of
Mr. Smith's orders until he agreed to oral sex.
Smith reported the forklift driver to his supervisor at
Petrey and said that he wanted to leave for the day. The
supervisor spoke to the forklift driver in Spanish and the
driver became angry and pointed at Mr. Smith in a threatening
manner. Mr. Smith left the facility for the day out of fear
that the driver wanted to fight him.
following morning, the staffing agency that placed Mr. Smith
at Petrey called Mr. Smith and informed him that he was not
allowed back on Petrey's property because Petrey accused
him of walking off the job.
these facts, Mr. Smith brings claims against Petrey for race
discrimination and sexually hostile work environment under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981, retaliation under Title VII, and the tort of
outrage under Alabama law.