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Allen v. Michelin North American Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

August 16, 2018

Joyce M. Allen, Plaintiff,
Michelin North American, Inc. - USA, Michelin North American Inc., - US2, and Beacon Health Options, Inc. Defendants.


          Kevin F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on the motion to dismiss of defendant Michelin North America, Inc.[1] (doc. 17). Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(A), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), all pretrial matters in employment discrimination cases are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration.


         The plaintiff filed a pro se complaint on March 22, 2018, alleging she was discriminated and retaliated against based on her race, color, sex, age, and disability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (docs. 1, 1-2). She named as defendants Michelin, her employer, and Beacon Health Options, Inc., which she identifies as a “service provider” (id.).

         Defendant Michelin filed a motion to dismiss on May 8, 2018 (doc. 17). On May 9, 2018, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the plaintiff was advised of the motion dismiss and motion for summary judgment procedures and the possible consequences if she failed to respond adequately to defendant Michelin's motion (doc. 20). On June 1, 2018, counsel filed a notice of appearance on behalf of the plaintiff and a motion for extension of time to file a response to the motion to dismiss (docs. 22, 23). The motion for extension was granted through July 11, 2018 (doc. 25). The plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss on July 10, 2018 (doc. 17). Defendant Michelin filed a reply on July 17, 2018 (doc. 29). Defendant Beacon has not appeared in this action.


         The plaintiff previously worked for Michelin at its US2 facility in Sandy Springs, South Carolina (doc. 1-2 at 8). In her complaint, the plaintiff claims that male team members sexually harassed her and other female employees (id.). She further alleges that the alleged sexual harassment was reported to her supervisors and other individuals, but nothing was done and the harassment continued (id. at 5, 8). The plaintiff alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment after she reported the sexual harassment (id. at 8-9). In January 2017, the plaintiff went out on medical leave, and she has not returned to work since then (id. at 7, 9; doc. 1-1 at 1). She alleges that another entity, defendant Beacon, deemed her unable to return to work (doc. 1-2 at 9-10).

         On January 9, 2018, approximately one year after beginning her medical leave, the plaintiff filed a charge of disability discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) (doc. 1-1 at 1). In her EEOC charge, the plaintiff alleged that she had been out on medical leave since January 2017 due to complications from an unspecified medical condition, and Michelin denied her the opportunity to return to work (id.). She also alleged that she was rendered “disabled” by the Social Security Administration based on paperwork submitted by Michelin (id.). Based upon these facts, she alleged that Michelin discriminated against her because of her disability in violation of the ADA (id.). In her charge, the plaintiff checked only the box for discrimination based on disability (id.). She stated in the charge that July 24, 2017, was the earliest date the discrimination took place (id.). On January 9, 2018, the same day she filed her EEOC charge, the plaintiff requested and received a notice of right to sue (id. at 3). She then filed the instant lawsuit on March 22, 2018 (doc. 1).


         Defendant Michelin argues in its motion that the complaint against it should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process (doc. 17-1 at 4-6). Subsequent to the filing of the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff cured the service issue by properly serving Michelin, and thus this issue is moot (doc. 27 at 1; doc. 29 at 1).

         Michelin further argues in its motion that the plaintiff cannot assert a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress because it is barred by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act (doc. 17-1 at 13-15). In her response, the plaintiff concedes that she cannot state such a claim (doc. 27 at 2).

         Michelin's third and sole remaining argument is that the plaintiff's Title VII, ADEA, and ADA failure to accommodate and sexual harassment causes of action should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (doc. 17-1 at 6-13). The undersigned agrees.

         It is well-established that prior to bringing a lawsuit under Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA, a plaintiff must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and receive a right to sue letter or other notice of termination of the administrative investigation. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e), (f) (Title VII); 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a) (ADA adopts procedures set forth in § 2000e-5(e)); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1), (e) (ADEA). “[A] failure by the plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies concerning a Title VII claim deprives the federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. The same is true of claims made under the ADEA.” Jones v. Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300-301 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). Rule 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).

         The EEOC charge “defines the scope of the plaintiff's right to institute a civil suit.” Bryant v. Bell Atl. Md., Inc., 288 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2002). As stated by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals: “In any subsequent lawsuit alleging unlawful employment practices under Title VII, a federal court may only consider those allegations included in the EEOC charge.” Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 407 (4th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). If the plaintiff's claims “‘exceed the scope of the EEOC charge and any charges that would naturally have arisen from an investigation ...

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