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Walker v. A Austin Express-Kentucky, LLC

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 26, 2013

ERRICK L. WALKER and DEMETRIUS JOHNSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
A AUSTIN EXPRESS-KENTUCKY, LLC and DHL EXPRESS (USA), INC. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on motion of the Plaintiffs, Errick L. Walker and Demetrius Johnson, against the Defendants, A Austin Express-Kentucky, LLC ("AAE") and DHL Express (USA), Inc. ("DHL") (DN 22). The Plaintiffs move for leave to file a first amended complaint, and also request that the court set aside a November 8, 2012 order that dismissed DHL from the case (DN 22).

For the reasons set forth herein, the court will deny the Plaintiffs motions. Thus, DHL will remain dismissed from the case, the November 2012 order will remain in full force, and the plaintiffs will not be permitted to file an amended complaint.

BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs, Walker and Johnson, filed suit in Jefferson Circuit Court alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981 (DN 1). The defendants, AAE and DHL, removed the action to this court under our federal question jurisdiction. On November 8, 2012, we granted defendant DHL's motion to dismiss the action (DNs 18 and 19).

In the motion at issue here, the plaintiffs move for leave to amend their complaint and move to set aside our November 2012 order dismissing DHL as a defendant in the case.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Their Complaint Fails

Plaintiffs original complaint alleges (DN 1): (1) that both plaintiffs-Walker and Johnson-were formerly employed by co-defendant AAE; (2) that co-defendant DHL was the "alter ego" or "companion company" of AAE, or was the "constructive employer" of the plaintiffs; (3) that Walker, during the course of his employment, suffered racial and sexual harassment from AAE and DHL management personnel, was demoted, was eventually terminated because of his race and refusal to continue to engage in sexual behavior with DHL management personnel, and was retaliated against for complaining about sexual misconduct; (4) that Walker suffered a racially and sexually hostile work environment which resulted in his demotion and termination, and that the goal of AAE and DHL was to rid its workforce of African American employees; and (5) that Johnson, during the course of his employment, was laid off and replaced by non-minorities for the purpose of removing African American employees from AAE and DHL.

This court's November 8, 2012 opinion and order dismissed co-defendant DHL from the action (DN 18). We recognized that the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that they were employees of AAE. However, we dismissed DHL as a co-defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (DN 18). The Sixth Circuit's standard for pleadings requires that the "[fa]ctual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir. 2012) ( quoting Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007)); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). A plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 608 ( quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678)).

Our opinion correctly dismissed the claims against DHL for three reasons. First, the opinion stated that "Walker and Johnson state no facts in their complaint to support the conclusory allegation that DHL was an alter ego' or companion company' of AAE. Nor are there any facts to support the conclusory allegation that DHL was the plaintiffs' constructive employer.'" Thus, we held that any theory of liability against DHL seeking to hold DHL accountable as an employer was wholly unsupported.

Second, we held that the complaint failed to address whether or not the plaintiffs exhausted administrative remedies, which is required in Title VII actions. See Puckett v. Tenn. Eastman Co., 889 F.2d 1481, 1486 (6th Cir. 1989).

Third, the complaint failed to state facts concerning the purported civil rights violations against the plaintiffs (DN 18):

There are no facts alleged concerning racial and sexual harassment' demotion and termination because of race or refusal to continue to engage in sexual behavior, ' retaliation' for complaining about sexual misconduct.' a racially and sexually hostile environment' perpetuated by management' and subordinate or collateral personnel, ' demotion and termination with ...

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