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Lenoir v. Nissan North America, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

June 21, 2019




         Before the Court is Premise Health Employer Solutions' motion to dismiss.


         Factual Background and Procedural History

          Plaintiffs Willie Lenoir and Courtney Blake, both African American, worked as product technicians for Defendant Nissan North America, Inc. Nissan hired Plaintiffs in early April 2003. In February 2015, Lenoir underwent a workplace drug test, was notified that the test was positive for cocaine, and was terminated despite her attempts to dispute the validity of the test results. In April 2015, the same thing happened to Blake.[1] In conducting the drug tests, Nissan contracted with Defendant Premise Health Employer Solutions, LLC to administer the drug tests. Premise subcontracted with Defendant Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories, LLC to perform the tests on the specimen.

         On August 30, 2018, Plaintiffs brought this suit against Defendants alleging federal claims of harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, and discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Plaintiffs also brought common law claims of failure to train and respondeat superior, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy, wrongful termination, tortious interference with contract, and negligence.

         On October 30, 2018, Quest Diagnostics filed its motion to dismiss. On November 13, Premise filed a joinder in that motion. Pursuant to an Agreed Order of Dismissal, all claims against Quest Diagnostics were dismissed with prejudice on December 4, 2018. What remains is whether the claims against Premise should proceed.

         The motion to dismiss first argues that Plaintiffs' common law claims are all time barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In the alternative, the motion argues that each of those claims fail as a matter of law. As for the statutory employment claims, the motion argues that Plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies and have not timely filed charges of discrimination against Premise with the EEOC. Alternatively, Premise argues those statutory claims are conclusory and insufficiently pled because Premise is not Plaintiffs' employer.

         The familiar motion to dismiss standard applies. See Arich v. Dolan Co., No. 3:11-CV-538-CWR-LRA, 2012 WL 2025202, at *2-3 (S.D.Miss. June 5, 2012).

         II. Statutory Employment Claims (Counts I-IV and VI)

         The Complaint does not explicitly assert any of the statutory employment claims against Premise. To the extent that any are implied, Premise argues that the Title VII (Counts I, IV, and VI), ADA (Count II), and GINA (Count III) claims are procedurally barred because Plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies.[2] Although Plaintiffs received their Right to Sue letter as to Nissan, Premise argues that it was not a named party or Respondent in the administrative charge. Plaintiffs do not dispute this. “Employment discrimination plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies before pursuing claims in federal court. Exhaustion occurs when the plaintiff files a timely charge with the EEOC and receives a statutory notice of right to sue.” Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378-79 (5th Cir. 2002); see also 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff-6. Generally, plaintiffs have 180 days from the date of the alleged violation to file their charge with the EEOC. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e) & (f); 29 C.F.R. § 1601.13(a)(1). The Court finds that Premise's arguments are well founded. Consequently, Plaintiffs are procedurally barred from bringing claims against Premise under Title VII, the ADA, and GINA.[3]

         III. Common Law Claims (Counts VII-XII)

         Claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) are subject to a one-year limitations period. See Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-35; see also Jones v. Fluor Daniel Services Corp., 32 So.3d 417, 423 (Miss. 2010). All of Plaintiffs' remaining common law claims are subject to the catch-all three-year statute of limitations. See Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49.

         Lenoir learned of her failed drug test and was terminated in February 2015. Blake learned of the same and was terminated in April 2015. Plaintiffs did not file their Complaint until August 30, 2018. As such, Premise argues that the IIED claim became time barred in 2016, and the remaining common law claims became time barred in February 2018 (for Lenoir) and ...

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