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Myers v. Red Classic Transit, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Lexington

November 18, 2019

SUSAN MYERS, Plaintiff,
v.
RED CLASSIC TRANSIT, LLC, COCA-COLA CONSOLIDATED and WILLIAM STINSON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Notice of Removal. [DE 1]. Myers requests the Court remand this case to the Fayette Circuit Court, arguing this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. [DE 9]. In particular, Myers alleges that Defendant, William Stinson (“Stinson”), is a Kentucky resident, like herself. As a result, she argues that the lack of complete diversity amongst the parties destroys diversity jurisdiction over the instant action. [Id].

         The Defendants disagree. [DE 8]. They claim that Myers has no colorable cause of action against Stinson and Myers fraudulently joined Stinson solely to defeat diversity jurisdiction. [Id.]. Thus, the Defendants request the Court dismiss the claims against Stinson and retain jurisdiction. [Id.]. After careful consideration, the motion to remand is, and hereby shall be, GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Factual Background

         On May 1, 2018, Plaintiff, Susan Myers (“Myers”), began working as a transport driver for Defendant, Red Classic Transit, LLC (“Red Classic”), in Lexington, Kentucky. [DE 1-1 at 2, PageID #10, ¶¶ 5-6]. Every day Myers reported to the Lexington facility to receive her orders for the day, and regularly transported freight for Red Classic to facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio. [Id. at 2, PageID #10, ¶¶ 6-7].

         Myers was the only female transport driver at the Lexington office, [Id. at 2, PageID #10, ¶ 9], and was one of the only female drivers in the entire Red Classic organization. [Id. at 2, PageID #10, ¶ 10]. Myers never met any other female transport driver employed by Defendant, Coca Cola Consolidated, Inc. (“Coca Cola”) [Id. at 2, PageID #10, ¶ 11].

         While Myers drove trucks alone, she regularly interacted with other employees of Red Classic and Coca Cola, whom she understood to be her coworkers. [Id. at 2, PageID #10, ¶ 8]. Myers alleges that on numerous occasions, her male colleagues made offensive, uninvited, and unwanted verbal comments about her breasts, buttocks, and physical appearance. [Id. at 2-3, PageID #10-11, ¶¶ 12-13].

         In September 2018, Myers alleged she was embarrassed by such an incident, and reported it the same day to her supervisor, Defendant William Stinson (“Stinson”) over the phone. [Id. at 3, PageID #11, ¶ 15]. Stinson allegedly laughed at Myers's report, failed to investigate the report, failed to report her allegations to anyone up the chain of command, and ultimately failed to take any steps to further address this behavior or to prevent similar, future behavior. [DE 1-1 at 3, PageID #11, ¶16].

         The Lexington facility, where Myers regularly worked, had a single occupant, unisex restroom, which was equipped with both a toilet and a urinal. [Id. at 3, PageID #11, ¶ 17]. The restroom had a door lock as well. [Id.]. However, in December 2018, while Myers was using the restroom, a male employee kicked open the door and proceeded to urinate in the urinal in front Myers. [Id.]. She protested, but the male employee rebuffed her protests. [Id.].

         Myers, once again, reported this embarrassing event to her supervisor, Stinson. [Id. at 3, PageID #11, ¶ 18]. However, Stinson allegedly, once again, failed to investigate, report, or otherwise address the December 2018 restroom incident. [Id. at 3-4, PageID #11-12, ¶¶ 19].

         In addition to the September and December incidents, Myers further alleges that a Coca Cola dock worker verbally berated her on three (3) separate occasions. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 20]. Myers believes she was singled out for this verbal hostility due to her sex. [Id.]. In any event, Myers reported all three of these upsetting and embarrassing incidents to Stinson. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 21]. She also reported the third event to her regional manager, Emily Goodman. [DE 1-1 at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 21]. Again, Myers alleges that Stinson and Goodman failed to investigate, report, or correct the behavior underlying these three incidents. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 22].

         Later, Stinson allegedly told Myers that the Defendants “were not happy” about the “HR situation, ” referencing the Myers's reports of sexual harassment and hostile work environment. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 23]. Then, during the final two (2) weeks of Myers's employment, she was assigned fewer hours than normal. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 24]. Myers alleges that this was retaliation for her reports of sexual harassment and hostile work environment. [Id.].

         On January 17, 2019, Myers was called in to speak with Stinson and an HR employee of Coca Cola. [Id. at 4, PageID #12, ¶ 25; Id. at 5, PageID #13, ¶ 30]. There, Myers allegedly received a document notifying her that her employer was terminating her for falsification of time in violation of Defendants' code of conduct. [Id.]. In particular, she claims Defendants accused her of logging two (2) hours of delay time between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on July 14, 2019 due to ice, sleet, snow, fog, and traffic issues occurring on July 14, 2019.[1] [Id. at 4-5, PageID #12-13, ¶ 26]. Myers contends that she discontinued her use of the truck for those (2) two hours in the best interests of the Defendants, after having observed dangerous road conditions. [DE 1-1, PageID #5, ¶ 27]. Regardless, she was terminated from her employment.

         B. Procedural History

         On July 2, 2019, Myers filed this action in Fayette Circuit Court, naming Red Classic, Coca-Cola, and William Stinson as defendants. [DE 1-1 at 1-2, PageID #9-10]. In Count I, Myers alleges that Red Classic and Coca Cola failed to address her reports of sexual harassment and created a hostile work in violation KRS 344.040. [DE 1-1 at 5-6, PageID #13-14, ¶¶ 33-37]. In Count II, Myers alleges that she made Red Classic, Coca Cola, and Stinson aware that she suffered sexual harassment and a hostile work environment by reporting such incidents to her supervisors. [Id. at 6, PageID #14, ¶¶ 38-39]. As a result of her reports, Myers alleges that Red Classic, Coca Cola, and Stinson each retaliated against her by, among other things, terminating her employment on January 17, 2019, in violation of KRS 344.280. [Id. at 6-7, PageID #14-15, ¶¶ 40-41].

         Myers contends that she suffered a derogation of her personal dignity, humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress as well as lost wages and benefits. [Id. at 6-7, PageID #14-15, ΒΆΒΆ 36-37, 42-43]. For these reasons, Myers requests compensatory and ...


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