Hamilton v. Manpower, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs claims against Defendant Dodson (ECF No. 30) is GRANTED with regard to the claims under the MHRA and Title VII, and those claims are DISMISSED with prejudice as to Defendant Dodson. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 5/13/2016. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MANPOWER, INC., et al. ,
No. 1:15CV204 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs claims
against Loretta Dodson ("Dodson") (ECF No. 30). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
disposition. Upon review of the motions, the responses, and the exhibits, the Court will grant
Defendants' motion with respect to Plaintiff s claims under the MHRA and Title VII.
Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Manpower, Inc. ("Manpower") and
Dodson under the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), Mo. Rev. Stat.§§ 213.010, et seq.,
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981. Plaintiff alleges discrimination based on her race, African American, stemming from an
October 16, 2014 work incident that allegedly involved a piece of tape with a written racial
epithet on her work cart. 1 (Second Am. Compl. ~~ 14, 17-19, ECF No. 20) Plaintiff further
alleges that neither her supervisor, Defendant Dodson, nor her employer, Defendant Manpower,
followed proper procedure in addressing her report of discrimination. (Id.
Plaintiff claims that she was fired at the end of her shift in retaliation for reporting the racial
The piece of tape read, "just another nigga with a scrap." (Second Am. Compl.
discrimination after she preserved the evidence by taking a photo. Defendants told Plaintiff she
was "fired" for violating company policy prohibiting cameras on-site. (Id. at iii! 37, 40-44)
On December 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Missouri
Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC") against Defendant Manpower on the basis of race and retaliation. (Pl. ' s Ex. 1, ECF
No. 24) In the Particulars, Plaintiff mentions two line leaders/supervisors to which she reported
the incident, Dodson, a Caucasian individual, and Kelvin Mackins, an African American
individual. (Id.) Plaintiff states that Dodson tried to convince her that the workers were not
racist, and Mr. Mackins told her the line was from a rap song. (Id.) In the Intake Questionnaire,
Plaintiff mentions three individuals, Ms. Dodson, Mr. Mackins, and the on-site manager, Nick
Reynolds. Plaintiff states that Loretta Dodson informed her of the reason she was let go and that
Dodson failed to act as thought the situation was important. (Pl. ' s Ex. 2, ECF No. 24)
Plaintiff filed a Petition against Defendants Manpower, The Procter & Gamble Paper
Products Company, 2 and Dodson in state court on September 16, 2015. She filed a First
Amended Petition on September 17, 2015 . Defendants removed the case to federal court on the
basis of federal question jurisdiction. After Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a
Second Amended Petition ("Complaint"). Defendants then renewed their Motion to Dismiss the
claims against Dodson for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Defs. ' Mot. to Dismiss,
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss Party, and this Court dismissed The Procter & Gamble
Paper Products Company without prejudice on November 20, 2015. (Order of Dismissal, ECF
A complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted if the complaint fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face. " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
"Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level .... "
Id at 555 . Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff and accept the factual allegations as true. See Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp. , 517
F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as true all factual
allegations in the complaint); Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F .3d 801 , 806 (8th Cir. 2008)
(explaining that courts should liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff). However, "[w]here the allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some
insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Benton v._Merrill Lynch
& Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).
Defendants argue that the Court must dismiss the claims against Dodson because Plaintiff
failed to name Dodson as a respondent in the Charge of Discrimination, thus failing to exhaust
her administrative remedies. Plaintiff responds that she named Dodson in the Particulars and in
the EEOC Intake Questionnaire such that Dodson knew or should have known of the charge
against her. In addition, Plaintiff contends that she was not represented by an attorney during the
administrative process, and she should retain her right to complete redress without hindrance
from procedural requirements. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Dodson has not been
Under the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"):
[a]ny person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may
make, sign, and file with the commission a verified complaint in writing ...
which shall state the name and address of the person alleged to have committed
the unlawful discriminatory practice and which shall set forth the particulars
thereof and such other information as may be required by the commission.
Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 213.075.1. Further, a claimant under the MHRA "must exhaust administrative
remedies by timely filing an administrative complaint and either adjudicating the claim through
the MCHR or obtaining a right-to-sue letter." Tart v. Hill Behan Lumber Co., 31F.3d668, 671
(8th Cir. 1994). Thus, for a plaintiff to exhaust her administrative remedies, " [s]he must name
all of those alleged to be involved in the discriminatory behavior in [her] original administrative
charge." Breidenbach v. Shillington Box Co., LLC, No. 4:11CV1555 JCH, 2012 WL 85276, at
*6 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 11, 2012) (citing Hill v. Ford Motor Co. , 277 S.W.3d 659, 669 (Mo. 2009)).
The requirement that an individual be named in the charge to then be included in a later
civil suit serves the purpose of "giv[ing] notice to the charged party and provid[ing] an avenue
for voluntary compliance without resort to litigation .... " Hill, 277 S.W.3d at 669 (citations
omitted). "If allowing suit would not be inconsistent with these purposes, then some federal
cases have forgiven a failure to join the individual in the initial charge." Id. (citation omitted).
A plaintiff meets the requirements for naming an individual where a substantial identity of
interest exists between the parties sued and those charged. Id. Factors to consider when
determining whether a sufficient identity of interests exists include:
" 1) whether the role of the unnamed party could through reasonable effort by the
complainant be ascertained at the time of the filing of the EEOC complaint; 2)
whether, under the circumstances, the interests of a named [party] are so similar
as the unnamed party's that for the purpose of obtaining voluntary conciliation
and compliance it would be unnecessary to include the unnamed party in the
EEOC proceedings; 3) whether its absence from the EEOC proceedings resulted
in actual prejudice to the interests of the unnamed party; 4) whether the unnamed
party has in some way represented to the complainant that its relationship with the
complainant is to be through the named party."
Id. at 669-70 (quoting Gius v. G.C. Murphy Co., 562 F.2d 880, 888 (3rd Cir. 1977)).
Upon thorough consideration of the pleadings and exhibits, the Court finds that Plaintiff
has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies such that her MHRA and EEOC claims against
individual Defendant Dodson must be dismissed. 3 First, as evidenced by the information
provided in the Charge of Discrimination and the Intake Questionnaire, Plaintiff could have
ascertained Dodson and named her individually at the time she filed her EEOC complaint. 4 See
Perkins v. Davis, No. 4:14-CV-01755-SPM, 2015 WL 3572501, at *3 (E.D. Mo. June 5, 2015)
(finding plaintiff's knowledge that the individual defendant was his supervisor and the mention
of that supervisor' s name and role in the Particulars demonstrated that plaintiff could have
ascertained the supervisor' s role at the time he filed the charge); Thomas v. Nash, No. 4:14-CV1993 ERW, 2015 WL 1222396, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 17, 2015) (stating that plaintiff's
knowledge of her direct supervisor at the time she filed her charge demonstrated that plaintiff
could have named the supervisor in the charge if she intended to pursue individual claims).
Thus, the Court finds that the first factor weighs in favor of dismissal. Id.
Plaintiff also raises a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 , to which both Defendants filed an answer.
Defendants do not address the § 1981 claim in the Motion to Dismiss, and therefore that claim
against Dodson remains.
Plaintiff contends that she was pro se when she filed her Charge and relied upon the
investigator' s representations when completing her Charge. Further, she maintains that she
provided sufficient information to inform Dodson that she would be party to the discrimination
claims. However, the Intake Questionnaire merely states that Dodson provided the reasoning for
letting Plaintiff go, taking a picture against company policy, and failed to act as if the situation
was important. In the substantive portion of the Charge, Plaintiff simply mentions that Dodson
was one of the team leaders and that Dodson tried convincing Plaintiff that the company was not
racist. Finally, Plaintiff's First Amended Affidavit merely indicates that she provided Dodson' s
name in the Particulars and the Intake Questionnaire. (Pl. ' s First Am. Aff. iii! 9, 13, ECF No. 43)
The Charge of Discrimination and Particulars provide no details indicating that Dodson's actions
were discriminatory that would give rise to notice of the charge. See Jackson v. Mills Props, No.
4:11CV419SNLJ, 2011WL3607920, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 12, 2011) (finding no substantial
identity of interests between the named defendant and the individual defendants where plaintiff's
documents failed to show that the individual defendants should have been considered as part of
her administrative charge).
With regard to the second factor, Dodson' s interests are not so similar to Manpower' s
such that it would have been unnecessary to include Dodson in the EEOC proceedings. "An
employer-employee relationship, standing alone, cannot create such similarity of interests."
Perkins, 2015 WL 3572501 , at *4 (citations omitted). "The risk of an individual being
personally sued is very different from a suit against the employer." Thomas, 2015 WL 1222396,
at *4 (citation omitted). An individual employee may approach the conciliation process
differently when he or she has a personal interest at stake. Id. Because nothing in the pleadings
demonstrates that Dodson' s interests are similar to Manpower's, this factor favors dismissal.
Perkins, 2015 WL 3572501, at *4 (citations omitted).
The third factor requires the Court to consider whether Dodson was prejudiced by the
inability to respond to the EEOC investigation or engage in the conciliation process. Here,
Manpower was provided the opportunity to address the charges, and did so in a letter to the
investigating officer. (Pl. ' s Ex. 4, ECF No. 24-1) The letter provides details and explains
Manpower' s position on Plaintiffs allegations of discrimination. Further, the letter only
mentions Mr. Mackins by name, not Dodson. The fact that Dodson was unable to respond
during this investigation is prejudicial to Dodson. "Answering questions as part of an
investigation against your employer presents a far different scenario compared to being named as
an individual defendant from the outset." Borders v. Trinity Marine Prods., Inc., No.
1:10CV146 HEA, 2010 WL 5139343 , at *3 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 9, 2010). Thus, the prejudice to
Dodson under the third factor weighs in favor of dismissal.
Finally, nothing in the record indicates that Dodson represented to Plaintiff that Dodson's
relationship with Plaintiff was to be through Manpower. "Courts have refused to find an
individual supervisor to be an alter ego of her employer merely based on the employment
relationship, noting that to do so ' would make every employee of every corporate defendant
subject to a discrimination lawsuit even when he or she is unnamed in the Charge. "' Perkins,
2015 WL 3572501 , at *4 (quoting Thomas, 2015 WL 1222396, at *4). Therefore, the fourth
factor favors dismissal.
In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiff is unable to satisfy the "identity of interest" factors
in Hill. The Court is aware that in certain instances, courts in this district will allow a case to
proceed against a party not named in the Charge of Discrimination. However, the Court finds
those cases distinguishable, as the Particulars contained specific details of the supervisor' s direct
role in the allegedly discriminatory acts. See Moschetto v. Boeing Aerospace Operations, Inc.,
No. , 2014 WL 5320277, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 17, 2014) (noting that the Particulars detailed the
individual defendant' s supervisory and direct role in the plaintiffs requests for accommodation
and in the actions taken against plaintiff); Humphrey v. Vision Fin. Corp., No. 4:12-CV-198JAR, 2012 WL 3038539, at *2 (E.D. Mo. July 25, 2012) (denying motion to dismiss for failure
to exhaust administrative remedies where plaintiff specifically identified her supervisor as the
perpetrator of the alleged discriminatory and retaliatory acts). As previously stated, however,
Plaintiff merely names Dodson, along with two other supervisors, and does not provide any
information regarding her role in the alleged discrimination and retaliation. Thus, the Court
finds that dismissal of Plaintiffs MHRA and Title VII claims against Defendant Dodson for
failure to exhaust administrative remedies is warranted. Perkins, 2015 WL 3572501 , at *4.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs claims
against Defendant Dodson (ECF No. 30) is GRANTED with regard to the claims under the
MHRA and Title VII, and those claims are DISMISSED with prejudice as to Defendant Dodson.
Dated this 13th Day of May, 2016.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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