Cargo et al v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co

Filing 464

MEMORANDUM RULING re 181 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment on Claims of Leo Tolbert, 186 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment on Claims of Charles Stinson filed by Kansas City Southern Railway Co filed by Kansas City Southern Railway Co. Signed by Judge S Maurice Hicks on 9/16/2009. (crt,Reasor, M)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA S H R E V E P O R T DIVISION C L A R E N C E CARGO, et al., V ER SU S K A N S A S CITY SOUTHERN C IV I L ACTION NO. 05-2010 J U D G E S. MAURICE HICKS, JR. MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY M E M O R AN D U M RULING B e fo re the Court are Defendant's Motions for Partial Summary Judgment on P la in tiff Charlie Stinson and Plaintiff Leo Tolbert's claims filed pursuant to Title VII a n d the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). [Record Documents 181, 1 8 6 ]. The motions are grounded in a claim that Stinson and Tolbert failed to e xh a u s t their administrative remedies with respect to these claims because they h a ve not filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC. See id. Plaintiffs Stinson a n d Tolbert state in response that, under the "single filing rule," their administrative re m e d ie s as to their Title VII claims have been exhausted by co-Plaintiffs Derek L a m a tte , Randall Corsentino, and Frederick Green. [Record Documents 227, 230]. P la in tiffs do not, however, state any opposition to Defendant's motions with respect to their ADEA claims. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motions for Partial S u m m a ry Judgment are GRANTED. I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD S u m m a ry judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil P r o c e d u re "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions o n file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to a n y material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of la w ." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). "R u le 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for d is c o ve ry and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which th a t party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Stahl v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 283 F .3 d 254, 263 (5th Cir. 2002). If the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine iss u e of material fact, "the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate s p e c ific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Littlefield v. Forney In d e p . Sch. Dist., 268 F.3d 275, 282 (5th Cir. 2001). Where critical evidence is so w e a k or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of th e nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See Alton v. Tex. A&M U n iv., 168 F.3d 196, 199 (5th Cir. 1999). II. LAW AND ANALYSIS E m p lo ym e n t discrimination plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies b e fo re they may seek judicial relief. McCain v. Lufkin Ind., Inc., 519 F.3d 264, 273 ( 5 th Cir. 2008). In order to exhaust his or her administrative remedies, a plaintiff m u s t first file a timely charge with the EEOC. "The charge enables the EEOC to in v e s tig a te and, if appropriate, negotiate a resolution with an employer." Id. Once 2 of 6 a d m in istra tive efforts terminate and the EEOC issues a statutory notice of right to s u e , a plaintiff has 90 days to file a Title VII action. It is undisputed that Plaintiffs Stinson and Tolbert failed to file charges of d is c rim in a tio n with the EEOC. However, the Fifth Circuit has recognized that "literal c o m p lia n c e does not always effectuate the requirement's purpose of promoting in fo rm a l settlements." Price v. Choctaw Glove & Safety Co., 459 F.3d 595, 598 (5th C ir. 2006) (citing Crawford v. United States Steel Corp., et al., 660 F.2d 663, 666 (5 th Cir. 1981)). "[I]t would be wasteful, if not vain, for numerous employees, all with th e same grievance, to have to process many identical complaints with the EEOC. If it is impossible to reach a settlement with one discriminatee, what reason would th e re be to assume the next one would be successful[?]" Id. (quoting Oatis v. Crown Z e lle rb a c h Corp., 398 F.2d 496 (5th Cir. 1968)). Thus, the Fifth Circuit has carved o u t a limited exception to the Title VII filing requirement that allows a non-filing party to "opt-in to a suit filed by any similarly situated plaintiff" who followed the a d m in istra tive procedures." Id. In Bettcher v. The Brown Schools, Inc., 262 F.3d 492, 494-95 (5th Cir. 2001), th e Fifth Circuit explained that there are three conditions that must be satisfied b e fore a plaintiff may invoke the "single filing rule": F irs t, the plaintiff must be similarly situated to the person w h o actually filed the EEOC charge. Second, the charge m u s t have provided some notice of the collective or classw id e nature of the charge. Finally, a prerequisite­implicit to be sure­for piggybacking under the single filing rule is 3 of 6 th e requirement that the individual who filed the EEOC c h a rg e must actually file a suit that the piggybacking p la in tiff may join. Id . (internal citations and quotations omitted). In addition, a plaintiff attempting to p ig g yb a c k on another plaintiff's charge must show that the charge was filed within th e applicable 300-day time period for the plaintiff to file. See Lumpkin v. Coca-Cola B o t t lin g , Co. United, Inc., 216 F.R.D. 380, 385 (S.D. Miss. 2003) ("a class action c o m p la in t cannot revive claims which were already time-barred when the original c h a rg e was filed. . . [I]rrespective of a continuing pattern or practice of discrimination b y an employer, those individuals who terminated their employment with the d e fe n d a n t prior to the 300-day cutoff under Title VII may not join the class c h a lle n g in g such discrimination") (internal citations omitted). In this lawsuit, Stinson claims "racial discrimination prevented his being a llo w e d into engine service for years, that defendant failed to promote him based u p o n his race, and that he worked in a racially Hostile W o rk Environment." [No. 065 7 2 , First Supp. Compl., Doc. 51]. Similarly, Colbert claims he "was wrongfully d e n ie d the opportunity to be trained to become an engineer," that he "was given d is p a ra te discipline from comparable white conductors," and that he "was subjected to a hostile work environment." Id. Both Stinson and Colbert's claims arose during th e ir employment with defendant, which terminated in November 2002 and October 2 0 0 3 , respectively. [Doc. 186, Ex. A, #4; No. 06-572, Doc. 51]. However, Plaintiffs D e re k Lamatte, Randall Corsentino, and Frederick Green did not file their charge 4 of 6 q u e s tio n n a ire s 1 and formal administrative charges with the EEOC until sometime in 2 0 0 4 and 2005--more than 300 days after Stinson and Tolbert's employment with th e Defendant ceased and any claim under Title VII or the ADEA arose. [See Doc. 2 3 0 , Exs. B-D]. Consequently, irrespective of whether Stinson is able to satisfy the th re e conditions set forth by the Fifth Circuit in Bettcher, Stinson cannot use the s in g le filing rule to piggyback his Title VII and ADEA claims onto the charges of the o th e r Plaintiffs. See e.g., Lumpkin, 216 F.R.D. at 385. In the absence of a timely file d administrative charge of discrimination, Plaintiffs Stinson and Tolbert and barred fro m asserting any Title VII and ADEA claims in this matter. III. CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, IT IS ORDERED that the foregoing motions [Record Documents 1 8 1 , 186] be and are hereby GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT Plaintiff Stinson and Plaintiff Tolbert's re q u e s ts for sanctions be and are hereby DENIED. Nothing in the argument s u b m itte d by Plaintiffs' counsel in support of the claim for sanctions leads this Court to believe that Defendant unreasonably multiplied the motion practice and p ro c e e d in g s in this case. Because the charge questionnaires were not filed within the applicable statute of limitations, the Court need not decide whether the charge questionnaires filed by the other plaintiffs can properly be considered by this Court as "request[s] for the agency to take remedial action to protect the employee's rights or otherwise settle a dispute b e tw e e n the employer and the employee." See Fed. Express Corp. v. Holowecki, -- U.S. --, 128 S.Ct. 1147, 1158 (2008) 5 of 6 1 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT each party shall bear its own costs with re s p e c t to the briefing of the instant motions. T h u s done and signed, in Shreveport, Louisiana, this 16th day of September, 2009. 6 of 6

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