JIMENEZ v. GCA SERVICES GROUP, INC. et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge John Michael Vazquez on 11/21/16. (cm,)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 16-1871
GCA SERVICES GROUP, INC., SEIU
LOCAL 32BJ. JOHN DOES 1-10, and
ABC CORPORATION 11-20,
John Michael Vazguez, U.S.D.J.
This matter comes before the Court by way of the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant
SEIU Local 32BJ (“Local 32BJ” or “the Union”). D.E. 4. Plaintiff Analive Jimenez did not
oppose Defendant’s motion.
The Court reviewed Local 32BJ’s submissions in support and
considered the motion without oral argument pursuant to L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the reasons stated
below, the Union’s motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff filed this matter in the Superior Court of New Jersey on December 21, 2015.
asserting claims against the Union, GCA Services Group, Inc. (“GCA”), and unidentified John
Doe individuals and ABC corporations. See Compl., D.E. 1-1. Plaintiff alleges that she was a
contracted GCA employee but was wrongfully terminated on or about December 20, 2013. Id.
1. Plaintiff brings four claims against GCA and the John Doe and ABC Corporation Defendants
for her allegedly wrongffil termination. Id. ¶j 1-5, 11-25.
Plaintiff also alleges that she was a member of Local 32BJ. Id.
Plaintiffbdngs a single
claim against the Union, alleging that it breached an unidentified contract. Plaintiff contends that
as a union member, Local 32BJ “was contractually obligated to protect Plaintiffs interest
regarding her employment and assist Plaintiff in any disputes between Plaintiff and her employer.”
Plaintiff alleges that Local 32BJ failed to thIfill its contractual duties, and as a result, she
was terminated from her employment with GCA. Id.
Plaintiff served Local 32BJ with a Summons and Complaint in this matter on March 28,
2016, and on April 4,2016, Local 32BJ filed a Notice of Removal.’ See Notice of Removal
(D.E. I). Local 32BJ alleges that the only contract that Plaintiff could possibly be referencing in
the breach of contract claim is a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and GCA (the
8-9. The Union therefore argues that Plaintiffs claims are governed by federal
law because the Complaint is “best understood as stating claims under
Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C.
301” of the Labor
Shortly afler filing its Notice of Removal, the Union filed this Motion to Dismiss pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 1 2(bX6). D.E. 4. As in its Notice of Removal, Local 32BJ argues that the breach
of contract claim asserted against it should be construed as a claim for breach of the duty of fair
301 of the LMRA. See Dc? s Br. at 3-4. As such, the Union contends that
the claim must be dismissed because it is time-barred and because Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient
facts to plead a viable claim. See Def’s Br. at 4-10. As noted, Plaintiff did not oppose Local
32BJ’s Motion to Dismiss.
Because GCA has not been served yet and the other Defendants are unnamed individuals and
corporations, the Union did not need to obtain the consent of any of its co-defendants to remove
this matter. See Grnnovsky c Pfizer, Inc., 631 F. Supp. 2d 554, 559 (D.N.J. 2009) (stating that
defendant need not obtain consent to remove from unknown defendants or a non-resident
defendant that had not been served).
Local 32BJ argues for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
Del’s Br. at 2-3.
complaint to survive dismissal under Rule l2(b)(6), it must contain sufficient factual matter to
state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.s. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
At!. Corp. v. Twonzblv, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Further, a plaintiff must “allege sufficient facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will uncover proof of her claims.” Connelly
C’orp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016).
In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, district courts must separate the factual and
legal elements. Fouler v. UPIvIC Shadvside, 578 F.3d 203,210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Restatements
of the elements of a claim are legal conclusions, therefore, they are not entitled to a presumption
of truth. Bunch v. Mitherg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011). The Court, however,
“must accept all of the complaint’s well-pleaded facts as true.” Fouler, 578 F.3d at 210.
Local 32BJ argues that “the only contract under which Plaintiff could conceivably have a
cause of action regarding her discharge is the collective bargaining agreement between Local 32BJ
and GCA.” Del s Br. at 4. Plaintiffs Complaint alleges that the terms of an unnamed contract
“obligated [Local 32BJ] to protect Plaintiffs interest regarding her employment and assist Plaintiff
in any disputes between Plaintiff and her employer.” Compl.
8. Based on this language, the
Court agrees that the contract at issue is the CBA.
Local 32BJ therefore contends that the breach of contract claim should be construed as one
for breach of the duty of fair representation pursuant to
301 of the LMRA. Del s Br. at 3-4.
When a state law claim “is substantially dependent” upon an analysis of the terms of a labor
contract, including a collective bargaining agreement, “that claim must either be treated as a
claim or dismissed as pre-empted by federal labor-contract law.” Egas v. Pit Rite Both’ Parts, Inc.,
No. 11-2340, 2011 WL 6935314, at *4 (D.NJ. Dec. 30, 2011) (quoting Allis-Chalmers Corp.
Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 220 (1985)) (dismissing breach of contract claim against union because it
was completely preempted by
“An action wherein a union member sues his or her
employer for breaching its contractual obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and
the union for breaching its duty of fair representation is referred to as a ‘hybrid’ action under
of the [LMRAJ.”2 Lee v.
2010) (quoting Beidehnan
Transit, No. 08-5972, 2010 WL 1382392, at *4 (D.N.J. Apr. 6,
Stroh Brewan’ Co., 182 F.3d 225, 236 (3d Cir. 1999)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). In this instance, the breach of contract claim against the Union is clearly
dependent on the terms of the CBA. As a result, the Court will construe this claim as a “hybrid”
The Union first argues that Plaintiffs claim is time-barred. Del s Br. at 4-6. The statute
301 claim is six months. Lee, 2010 WL 1382392, at *4 (quoting
of limitations for a “hybrid”
Da,iiels v, Pipefitters’Ass
Local Union No. 597, 945 F.2d 906, 922 (7th Cir. 1991)). For a
breach of a union’s duty of fair representation, “the limitations period commences when the
plaintiff receives notice that the union will proceed no further with the grievance.” Vadino
An employee bringing a “hybrid” action may bring suit against the union, her employer or both
parties. Simoni v. Diamond. No. 10-6798. 2014 WL 4724677, at *4 (D.N.J. Sept. 23, 2014)
(quoting DelCostdllo v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 161, 165 (1983)). In ahybrid action, the
claims against the employer and the union are “inextricably interdependent.” Id. (quoting
DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 165). As a result, even if the plaintiff only sues one party she “must prove
both that the employer breached the collective bargaining agreement and that the union breached
its duty of fair representation.” Corrigan i’. Local 6. Bakey, Confectionaiy & Tobacco Workers,
91 F. Supp. 3d 618, 626 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (emphasis added).
Valey Eng ‘rs, 903 F.2d 253, 260 (3d Cir. 1990). Notice need not be explicit. Athright v. Virtue,
273 F.3d 564, 566 (3d Cir. 2001) (“We have not required that union members who wish to file suit
against the union or their employers be given explicit notice that their grievances have been
rejected.”). Further, a
301 claim begins to run “when the claimant discovers, or in the exercise
of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the acts constituting the alleged violation.”
Vadino, 903 F.2d at 260.
Generally, the statute of limitations is not an appropriate basis for a Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal. There is an exception, however, if “the plaintiffs tardiness in bringing the action [is]
apparent from the face of the complaint.” IV Penn Allegheny Health Si’s., Inc.
UPMC. 627 F.3d
85, 105 n. 13 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 135 & n.3 (3d Cir. 2002)).
Here, the only date that appears in Plaintiffs Complaint is December 20, 2013
allegedly terminated from her employment with GCA. Comp.
the day she was
Plaintiff, however, waited two
years before filing this suit on December 21, 2015. The Union makes a colorable argument as to
the statute of limitations. But based on the extremely limited factual record and viewing the facts
in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court cannot conclude as a matter of law that Plaintiffs
claims are time-barred. Therefore, the Court will not grant Local 32BJ’s motion to dismiss on
statute of limitations grounds.
The Court. however, will dismiss Plaintiffs claims against the Union for failure to state a
claim. Plaintiffs Complaint is a bare-bones pleading that cannot survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss. As discussed, for a “hybrid”
301 claim, a plaintiff must prove that the employer
breached the CBA and that the union breached its duty of fair representation. Corrigan, 91 F.
Supp. at 618. The duty of fair representation is breached when “a union’s conduct toward a
is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.” Ahmad v. United Parcel Sen’., 281 F.
App’x 102, 105 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Vaca
Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 190 (1967)). Here, Plaintiff
does not (I) provide any facts to substantiate how the Union breached its contractual duties under
the unnamed contract; (2) plead that GCA breached the CBA; or (3) allege that the Union’s actions
towards her were arbitran’. discriminatory, or in bad faith. See, e.g., Johnson
LCL 141 & Agents, 419 F. App’x 146, 148 (3d Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal of”hybrid” action
because plaintiffpled “no facts suggesting that the CRA was violated” or that “Local 141’s conduct
was arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith”). Because Plaintiff fails to plead the necessary
elements of a “hybrid”
§ 301 claim and provides absolutely no facts to plausibly support her claim,
Plaintiffs cause of action against the Union is dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant SEll) Local 32BJ’s Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED without prejudice. Plaintiff may file an amended complaint that cures the deficiencies
as explained above within thirty (30) days. If Plaintiff does not file an amended complaint within
this timeframe, the claim against Defendant SEll) Local 32BJ will be dismissed with prejudice.
An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Dated: November21, 2016
John Michael Vazquez.
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