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McFarland v. Air Engineering Metal Trades Council

June 19, 2007

DOUGLAS MCFARLAND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AIR ENGINEERING METAL TRADES COUNCIL AND AFFILIATED UNIONS AFL-CIO (AEMTC) AND TEAMSTERS LOCAL 327, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Mattice

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Court Doc. No. 25) asserts causes of action against one or more Defendants under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. §185; §§ 101 and 102 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 411, 412; and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and corresponding provisions of the Tennessee Human Rights Act ("THRA"), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 4-21-101 to 1004.

Before the Court is the Joinder of Unions in Company's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, or in the Alternative, Motion to Strike (Court Doc. No. 35) by Defendants Air Engineering Metal Trades Council and Affiliated Unions, AFL-CIO (AEMTC), and Teamsters Local 327 ("Unions"). Each seeks dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). As stated in its Order of March 5, 2007 (Court Doc. No. 47), the Court will also consider the briefs accompanying Defendants' earlier motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff's response thereto.

For the reasons stated below, the Court will DENY IN PART Defendants' motion to dismiss as to Plaintiff's hybrid claim under § 301 of the LMRA. The Court will GRANT IN PART Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's claim under §§ 101 and 102 of the LMRDA. Finally, the Court will GRANT IN PART the Unions' motion to dismiss as to Plaintiff's Title VII claim, and will DENY IN PART the same as to Plaintiff's claim under the THRA.

Also before the Court is the Defendant Unions' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Court Doc. No. 48.) While the Court will not address the merits of such motion because it is not yet ripe for the Court's consideration, this ruling on the Defendants' motion to dismiss renders moot certain portions of the Unions' motion. The Court will delineate those portions in its CONCLUSION, infra.

Before proceeding to the merits of Defendants' motion, however, the Court must address a preliminary matter. The Plaintiff responded to Defendants' earlier motion to dismiss by submitting an affidavit instead of a responsive memorandum. (See Court Doc. No. 23, Affidavit of Douglas McFarland in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss.) When one or both parties present matters outside the pleadings in conjunction with a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may, in its discretion, either consider these matters and convert the motion to one for summary judgment or exclude the extra-pleading materials and apply the standard set forth in Rule 12(b)(6). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b); Shelby County Health Care Corp. v. S. Council of Indus. Workers Health & Welfare Trust Fund, 203 F.3d 926, 931 (6th Cir. 2000); Aamot v. Kassel, 1 F.3d 441, 443 (6th Cir. 1993); see also Batt v. United States, 976 F. Supp. 1095, 1096-97 (N.D. Ohio 1997) ("The decision to exclude material outside the pleadings is entirely within the discretion of the trial court.").

In the instant case the Court will exclude the extra-pleading matters and treat the instant motion as one under Rule 12(b)(6) for two reasons. First, given the status of the litigation at the time Defendants filed their motion, converting Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment would be premature. Little or no discovery had taken place so as to allow the parties to argue, and the Court to determine, whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Equal Justice Found. v. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Ams., 412 F. Supp. 2d 790, 799-800 (S.D. Ohio 2005); Black v. Franklin County, No. Civ. A. 3:05-18-JMH, 2005 WL 1993445, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 16, 2005). Second, the arguments set forth in Defendants' motion are legal, as opposed to factual, in nature. Accordingly, the Court will EXCLUDE the Affidavit of Douglas McFarland in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (Court Doc. No. 23), and will treat Defendants' motion as being made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

The Court need not, however, exclude the collective bargaining agreement (Court Doc. Nos. 20-2 to 20-5), which USAI attached to their original Motion to Dismiss. Documents attached to a Rule 12 motion "are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to the plaintiff's claim." Jackson v. City of Columbus, 194 F.3d 737, 745 (6th Cir. 1999), abrogated on other grounds by Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002). Plaintiff refers to the Collective Bargaining Agreement in his Complaint (see Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16, 26-27) which, as discussed below, is central to certain of his claims.

I. FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6) STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is to permit a defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to relief even if everything alleged in the complaint is true. Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Arrow v. Fed. Reserve Bank, 358 F.3d 392, 393 (6th Cir. 2004). The complaint must contain either "direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery . . . ." Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The Court must determine not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence to support his claims. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). In making this determination, the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff and accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations. Arrow, 358 F.3d at 393; Mixon v. Ohio, 193 F.3d 389, 400 (6th Cir. 1999). The Court need not accept as true mere legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. Id.

II. FACTS

The facts, as pled by Plaintiff, are as follows.

Plaintiff is an African American and a member of the Defendant Unions. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff was an employee of former defendant USAI. (Id. ¶ 5.)

Before being terminated on June 20, 2005, Plaintiff had been under USAI's employ for eight years. (Id.) During this time, Plaintiff received favorable evaluations, and passed random drug tests as he did not use illegal drugs. (Id.)

Shortly before Plaintiff was terminated, the Unions selected a new steward. (Id. ¶ 8.) Instead of holding a union-wide vote, the Unions appointed a steward who had not been a paying member of Teamsters Local 327. (Id.)

In early June of 2005, Plaintiff approached the steward and expressed concern about the steward's lack of contact with African-American employees. (Id. ΒΆ 9.) The steward replied that he would talk to Plaintiff about his concerns after the steward returned from his brief obligation with the National Guard. (Id.) In the interim, USAI required Plaintiff to undergo a random drug test. (Id.) During the ...


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