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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Indi's Fast Food Restaurant, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

December 27, 2016



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [DN 35], Defendants' Motion for Leave to File a Reply Brief Outside of the Authorized Time Period [DN 44], and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike [DN 65]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Background

         Plaintiff filed its Second Amended Complaint [DN 29] on or about September 6, 2016 alleging claims under Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Prior to the institution of the instant action, Rickesha L. Jones filed a charge with Plaintiff, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging violations of Title VII by her employer, Defendant Indi's Fast Food Restaurant, Inc. (hereinafter “Indi's Restaurant”). (Second Am. Comp. [DN 29] ¶ 8.) Beginning at the latest in 2011, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Indi's Restaurant “has engaged in unlawful employment practices at its Louisville, Kentucky restaurants in violation of Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e)-2(a)(1), by subjecting Jones and a class of similarly situated female employees to a hostile work environment created by male manages.” (Id. ¶ 14.) The male managers, while in positions of authority, allegedly subjected female employees to sexual touching, sexual comments, and requests for sexual favors. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16.)

         Plaintiff purports that Defendant Indi's Restaurant knew or should have known about these unlawful employment practices because despite Jones and other similarly situated female employees complaining about the hostile work environment, the male managers' conduct allegedly occurred on a frequent and routine basis. (Id. ¶ 17.) However, Defendant allowed this conduct to persist. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff additionally alleges that this conduct deprived Jones and other similarly situated female employees of equal employment opportunities, adversely affected their status as employees, was intentional, and was done with malice or reckless indifference. (Id. ¶ 19.)

         As a result of these complaints, on or about June 9, 2015, Plaintiff sent Defendant Indi's Restaurant a Letter of Determination finding reasonable cause to believe that Defendant violated Title VII when Jones and a class of similarly situated female employees were subject to a sexually hostile work environment. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff invited Defendant to participate in informal conciliation methods in an effort “to eliminate the unlawful employment practices and provide appropriate relief.” (Id.) That same day, Plaintiff mailed Defendant Indi's Restaurant a conciliation agreement as well. (Id. ¶ 10.) Defendant Indi's Restaurant informed Plaintiff on or about June 17, 2015 that it would not offer a counter to the proposed conciliation agreement or otherwise engage in conciliation. (Id. ¶ 11.) Later that day, Plaintiff issued a Notice of failure of Conciliation to Defendant Indi's Restaurant memorializing their inability to come to a conciliation agreement. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         Because of this inability to come to an agreement, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court originally against Defendant Indi's Restaurant. (Compl. [DN 1] at 1.) Later, Plaintiff added Defendant Evanczyk Brothers, LLC in the Second Amended Complaint and asserted similar claims against both Defendants. (Second Am. Comp. [DN 29] at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants together “have operated as a single employer and/or integrated enterprise” because of several factors indicating an interrelated enterprise. (Id. ¶ 6; Resp. [DN 38] at 3-4.)

         On or about September 29, 2016, Defendants filed their joint Motion to Dismiss denying these contentions and maintaining that the two Defendants operated distinct business entities and did not function as a single employer or integrated enterprise. (Mot. Dismiss [DN 35] ¶¶ 13-14.) Defendants do not specify the grounds on which they base their Motion to Dismiss; however, the Court will assume Defendants' Motion is premised upon Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for Plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

         B. Standard of Review

         Upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court “must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, ” League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), “accept all well-pled factual allegations as true, ” id., and determine whether the “complaint . . . states a plausible claim for relief, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Under this standard, the plaintiff must provide the grounds for its entitlement to relief, which “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff satisfies this standard only when it “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint falls short if it pleads facts “merely consistent with a defendant's liability” or if the alleged facts do not “permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. Instead, “a complaint must contain a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 663 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         If “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court” when ruling upon a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the Federal Rules require that “the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). This Rule does not require the Court to convert a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment every time the Court reviews documents that are not attached to the complaint. Greenberg v. Life Ins. Co. of Va., 177 F.3d 507, 514 (6th Cir. 1999). “[W]hen a document is referred to in the complaint and is central to the plaintiff's claim . . . [, ] the defendant may submit an authentic copy [of the document] to the court to be considered on a motion to dismiss, and the court's consideration of the document does not require conversion of the motion to one for summary judgment.” Id. (quotation omitted).

         C. Discussion

         Defendants seek dismissal presumably under Rule 12(b)(6) because they insist that they did not operate together as a “single employer” or an “integrated enterprise, ” as they were both “completely separate corporations.” (Mot. Dismiss [DN 25] ¶ 13.) Plaintiff contends that Defendants' Motion should be denied because Defendants did in fact operate together, or, alternatively that dismissal at this stage is ...

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