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Myles v. General Motors, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

July 29, 2019

DERRICK J. MYLES PLAINTIFF
v.
GENERAL MOTORS, LLC DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Chief Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (DN 4). The motion is ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

         PLAINTIFF Derrick Myles (“Myles”) is African American and was employed by Defendant General Motors (“GM”) in its Bowling Green, Kentucky, facility. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 5, 14, DN 1-1). In March 2018, Myles was placed in supervision of the “care line” within the facility after his predecessor, a Caucasian male, was terminated for threatening another supervisor. (Compl. ¶¶ 6, 8). Myles implemented long work hours, required the team leader to work more than he had previously, addressed production issues, and cut two jobs to comply with the budget. (Compl. ¶¶ 9, 11). At some point, Myles was counseled by some unspecified person not to enter identified product defects into the quality defect tracking system as required. (Compl. ¶ 11). The team leader and other hourly employees became disgruntled after Myles assumed his new duties and changed the care line operations. (Compl. ¶ 10).

         In July 2018, the care line was run by all African-American males after Myles interviewed and selected an African-American male named “Lee” as the new supervisor of the care line and another African-American supervisor frequently came to the care line to help Lee learn his new job. (Compl. ¶ 13). During this time, numerous comments were made by various employees about “a black guy needing two black body guards to run quality.” (Compl. ¶ 15). The hourly employees were afforded harassment training less than a month later. (Compl. ¶ 16).

         In August 2018, Myles informed the union that he had increased the speed on the care line by one car per hour, but only a few days later at a union meeting many complaints were directed by unidentified persons at Myles and his African-American supervisors regarding the changes in the care line. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 18). The following day, Myles was directed by Lolita Fortenberry (“Fortenberry”), whose position is not described, to meet with her to discuss these complaints. (Compl. ¶ 19). At this meeting, Fortenberry made no mention of the union complaints but instead informed Myles of allegations that he had shared inappropriate images on his cell phone with Lee and the other African-American supervisor. (Compl. ¶ 19). Myles claims these were false accusations levied against him because of his race and recent elevation to a supervisory position. (Compl. ¶ 21). Myles and the two African-American supervisors were immediately suspended with pay while the allegations were investigated. (Compl. ¶¶ 22, 24).

         In September 2018, Myles was “interrogated” by Fortenberry regarding his previous method of payment to a contract supervisor. (Compl. ¶ 26). Myles alleges he was terminated a week later with no mention of the accusations related to the inappropriate images on his cell phone. (Compl. ¶ 27).

         On November 8, 2018, Myles filed this action in state court, which GM removed to this Court on December 6, 2018. The Complaint asserts two claims: that GM violated the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (“KCRA”) by terminating Myles because of his race; and that Myles was terminated for retaliatory purposes for refusing to participate in behavior that was “illegal, unethical, and/or contrary to the recognized business practices of [GM].” (Compl. ¶¶ 28-29). GM has moved to dismiss both claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         II. JURISDICTION

         This Court has jurisdiction over “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction” that is “removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). This Court has “original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . the citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).

         III. STANDARD OR REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted is a procedural motion that tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must contain a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief for it to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “[The] pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. Legal conclusions can provide a framework for the complaint but will not be given the presumption of truth unless they are supported by factual allegations. Id. at 679. “A complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007). The Supreme Court's “plausibility” standard for assessing whether a complaint's allegation supports its legal conclusions applies to causation in discrimination claims. Sam Han v. Univ. of Dayton, 541 Fed.Appx. 622, 626 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing HDC, LLC v. City of Ann Arbor, 675 F.3d 608, 612 (6th Cir. 2008)). “A complaint that allows the court to infer only a “mere possibility of misconduct, ” is insufficient to “show” that the complainant is entitled to relief . . . .” Sam Han, 541 Fed.Appx. at 626 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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