United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
this court is the Defendant Milwaukee Electric Tool
Corporation's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 7]. Upon due
consideration, the court finds that the motion should be
granted in part and denied in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Joshua Darnell, who is white, alleges that from October 2015
until February 2016, he was employed by Defendant Milwaukee
Electric Tool Corporation as a factory worker. PI. Comp.
[Doc. No 1] at ¶ 4. In December 2015, Plaintiff told his
manager, who was black, that productivity was down because
some of his co-workers, all of whom were black, were under
the influence of marijuana. Id. at ¶ 6.
Plaintiff later told a human resources representative, who
was also black, the same thing. Id.
claims that after reporting on his co-workers' alleged
marijuana use, the coworkers began harassing him by
"calling him derogatory names, and accusing him of being
gay." Id. at ¶ 8. He also claims that
those co-workers told management that Plaintiff was harassing
the co-workers. Id.
terminated Plaintiff in March 2016, "apparently on the
false grounds that he had threatened his co-workers."
Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges the Defendant
subsequently hired a black employee to replace him.
Id. at ¶ 12.
his termination, Plaintiff filed an EEOC discrimination
charge, and he received a Notice of Right to Sue on April 20,
2017. EEOC Notice of Right to Sue [Doc. No. 1-2]. He timely
filed his compliant in this matter, claiming that Defendant
had racially discriminated against him by firing him because
of his race and creating a hostile work environment, and that
Defendant had fired him for reporting illegal activity.
Defendant has now filed this 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
arguing that Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently plead his
race discrimination claims, and that the court should refuse
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining
state law claims. Plaintiff has responded. The matter is ripe
STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL UNDER RULE 12(B)(6)
to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) "are viewed with
disfavor and are rarely granted." Kocurek v. Cuna
Mut. Ins. Soc'y, 459 Fed.Appx. 371, 373 (5th Cir.
2012) (citing Gregson v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 322
F.3d 883, 885 (5th Cir. 2003)). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the Court is limited to the allegations
set forth in the complaint and any documents attached to the
complaint. Walker v. Webco Indus., Inc., 562
Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citing
Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d
833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)).
plaintiffs] complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." ' "
Phillips v. City of Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772,
775-76 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007))). A claim is
facially plausible when the pleaded factual content
"allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955).
"[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the
elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid
claim." Webb v. Morella, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241
(5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (quoting City of Clinton,
Ark v. Pilgrim 's Pride Corp., 632 F.3d 148, 152-53
(5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
"[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions
masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to
prevent a motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting
Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987
F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks
omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff
has not alleged 'enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face' and has failed to
'raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.' " Emesowum v. Hous. Police
Dep't, 561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014) (per
curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127
Wrongful Termination under Title VII and Section
claims that his race was a motivating factor in
Defendant's decision to fire him, in violation of Title
VII and Section 1981. "The analysis of discrimination
claims under § 1981 is identical of analysis of Title
VII claims." Body by Cook, Inc. v. State Farm Mut.
Auto. Ins., 869 F.3d 381, 386 (5th Cir. 2Ol7)(citing
Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp. L.P., 714 F.3d 987, 992
*5th Cir. 2005)). To establish a prima facie case of
discrimination, a plaintiff must show that he (1) is a member
of a protected group; (2) was qualified for the position at
issue; (3) was discharged or suffered some adverse employment
action by the employer; and (4) was replaced by someone
outside his protected group or was treated less favorably
than other similarly situated employees outside the protected
group. Morris v. Town oflndep., 827 F.3d 396, 400
(5th Cir. 2016).
argues that Plaintiff has failed to plead the fourth element
because he has not, in his complaint, alleged that he was
treated less favorably than similarly situated black
employees. Plaintiff argues that he has pled the fourth
element by alleging that he did not commit the rule violation
for which the Defendant terminated him, and alleging that he
was replaced by a black employee.
not necessary for a plaintiff to "make out a prima
facie case of discrimination in order to survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss." Raj v. La. State
Univ.,714 F.3d 322, 331 (5th Cir. 2013.) "[T]he
prima facie case should not be transposed into a
rigid pleading standard for discrimination" cases.
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A.,534 U.S. 506, 507, 122
S.Ct. 992, 995, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002). However, "[a]
negations related to that prima facie inquiry may
nonetheless be helpful in satisfying the general
Iqbal plausibility standard." Haskett v.
Cont'l Land Res., L.L.C.,668 Fed.Appx. 133, 134
(5th Cir. 2O\6)(Leal v. McHugh,731 F.3d 405, 413
(5th Cir. 2013)). Thus, were the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs
claim because he did not identify similarly situated
employees of a different race who were treated differently,
it would err "by ...