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Slack v. United Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 29, 2019

PETER SLACK, Plaintiff,
UNITED AIRLINES, INC., a Foreign Corporation, Defendant.


          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 9), filed by Defendant United Airlines, Inc. (“Defendant”). Plaintiff Peter Slack (“Plaintiff”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 12), and Defendant filed a Reply, (ECF No. 13).

         Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 14). Defendant filed a Response, (ECF No. 16), and Plaintiff filed a Reply, (ECF No. 19).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Additionally, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from Defendant's December 29, 2017 termination of Plaintiff as its employee. (First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) ¶¶ 16, 53). That termination came after Defendant conducted an internal investigation into Plaintiff for sexual harassment in the workplace. (Id. ¶¶ 27-30, 40-44, 53).

         Defendant's internal investigation began on November 1, 2017, after members of Plaintiff's working group (specifically, Leona Lee and Markisha Jordan) accused Plaintiff of sexual harassment. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27). Upon receiving those accusations, Defendant immediately placed Plaintiff on paid administrative leave. (Id. ¶ 28).

         As the investigation progressed, Plaintiff alleges that he provided his own evidence to combat the harassment allegations, alongside a statement from another employee of Defendant stating that Plaintiff was not a threat or problematic. (Id. ¶¶ 36-38). Plaintiff similarly alleges that on December 14, 2017, as part of Defendant's internal investigation, Plaintiff explained to Defendant's General Manager, George Bieloszabski, and Assistant General Manager, Sherida Derby, that Defendant's workplace had a “pervasive culture of inappropriate, sexual, and harassing comments.” (Id. ¶¶ 50-52). At that time, Plaintiff also pointed to his accusers, Lee and Jordan, as those who made inappropriate comments involving sexual issues. (Id. ¶¶ 50-51).

         Roughly two weeks after that December 14, 2017 discussion, Defendant terminated Plaintiff from his position. (Id. ¶ 53). Plaintiff subsequently tried to appeal his termination through Defendant's internal appellate procedures, but without success. (Id. ¶¶ 60-66).

         On February 20, 2018, Plaintiff received a Right to Sue Letter from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), in response to his filing of a Charge of Discrimination against Defendant. (Id. ¶ 4). Plaintiff accordingly filed this action on May 17, 2018, alleging three claims for relief: (1) discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender and age in violation of Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) 613.330 et. seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq. (“Title VII”); (2) retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 and NRS 613.340; and (3) violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Id. ¶¶ 67- 99). Plaintiff then filed a First Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 6), based on the same claims; and Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 9), soon after.


         A. Motion to Dismiss

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) mandates that a court dismiss a cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate only when the complaint does not give the defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the Court will take all material allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986).

         The Court, however, is not required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A formulaic recitation of a cause of action with conclusory allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts showing that a violation is plausible, not just possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         A court may also dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Hearns v. San Bernardino Police Dept., 530 F.3d 1124, 1129 (9th Cir. 2008). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A court should dismiss “Prolix, confusing complaints” as “they impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges.” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996).

         “Generally, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . . However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Similarly, “documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss” without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Otherwise, if the court ...

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