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Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

August 18, 2017

HARRY R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,



         Before the court is the Motion for Partial Dismissal [Doc. No. 8] of defendant Wal-Mart Stores East, LP. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         This is an employment discrimination lawsuit arising from plaintiff Harry R. Johnson's employment with and termination from Wal-Mart. Specifically Mr. Johnson alleges Wal-Mart failed to accommodate his mental disability, terminated him, and retaliated against him for requesting medical leave. He filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) to that effect on November 10, 2014. The EEOC issued a determination in Mr. Johnson's favor on August 24, 2016, and when conciliation efforts failed, issued a right to sue letter on March 23, 2017. Mr. Johnson filed suit in this court on June 16, 2017, bringing claims under the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act (“OADA”), 25 O.S. § 1101, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Wal-Mart now moves to dismiss Mr. Johnson's OADA claims and ADA claims for retaliation and failure-to-accommodate.

         II. Legal Standard

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” See Celli v. Shoell, 24');">40 F.3d 324, 327 (10th Cir. 1994). To that end, Fed.R.Civ.p. 12(b)(1) authorizes courts to dismiss cases for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Challenges to subject-matter jurisdiction “take one of two forms: (1) facial attacks; and (2) factual attacks.” Paper, Allied-Indus., Chem. & Energy Workers Int'l Union v. Continental Carbon Co., 28 F.3d 1285');">428 F.3d 1285, 1292 (10th Cir. 2005). Facial attacks “merely challenge the sufficiency of the complaint, requiring the . . . court to accept the allegations in the complaint as true.” Id. Factual attacks “go[ ] beyond the allegations in the complaint and challenge[ ] the facts upon which subject[-]matter jurisdiction depends.” See Id. In such situations, the court has “wide discretion” to consider documentary and testimonial evidence. See Id. And the court need not convert a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) to a motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 unless the “resolution of the jurisdictional question is intertwined with the merits of the case.'” See Id. (quoting Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1003 (10th Cir. 1995)).

         III. Analysis

         Wal-Mart moves to dismiss Mr. Johnson's OADA claims as time-barred; it moves to dismiss his accommodation- and retaliation-based ADA claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. OADA

         The OADA prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of disability. 25 O.S. §§ 1302(A)(1), 1301(4). As a precondition to suit, “the OADA requires a plaintiff to file a charge of discrimination” either with the EEOC or the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office “within 180 days from the last date of the alleged discrimination.” Tolbert v. Ean Servs., LLC, No. 15-CV-735-GKF-TLW, 2016 WL 796096, at *3 (N.D. Okla. Feb. 26, 2016) (citing 25 O.S. §1350(B)). That requirement is jurisdictional. See Id. (citing Stuart v. Colo. Interstate Gas Co., 271 F.3d 1221');">271 F.3d 1221, 1225 (10th Cir. 2004)). “[T]he timely filing of a charge is required ‘[i]n order to have standing in a court of law to allege discrimination arising from an employment-related matter.'” Id. (quoting 25 O.S. § 1350(B)).

         Here, Mr. Johnson filed his charge well after the 180 days provided by the OADA. Whether the date of alleged discrimination is February 4, 2014-when Mr. Johnson requested medical leave-or March 3, 2014-when he was terminated-Mr. Johnson did not file his EEOC charge within 180 days. And he does not argue to the contrary. Rather, Mr. Johnson contends that, because the EEOC and Oklahoma's Office of Civil Rights Enforcement have a worksharing agreement, in which each is designated as the other's agent for purposes of receiving charges, the deadline for filing a charge was extended to 300 days.

         That contention lacks merit. It is true that for a federal ADA claim, a worksharing agreement extends the limitations period to 300 days. Smith v. Oral Roberts Evangelistic Ass'n, Inc., 84');">731 F.3d 684, 697 (10th Cir. 1984). That is because a state filing need not be timely in order to qualify for a federal extension-“state procedural defaults cannot foreclose federal relief and [a] state limitations period cannot govern the efficacy of [a] federal remedy.” Id. at 690 (quotation marks and citation omitted). But a timely federal filing cannot remedially extend a state-law statute of limitations. Forcum v. Via Christi Health System, Inc., 137 P.3d 1250, 1253 (Okla.Civ.App. 2006). To that end, Mr. Johnson's OADA claims are “barred by the 180-day filing period, and is not affected by the extended federal” deadline. Id.; see also Lottinger v. Shell Oil Co., 2d 743');">143 F.Supp.2d 743, 753 (S.D. Tex. 2001); Zysk v. FFE Minerals USA, Inc., 225 F.Supp.2d 482, 494 (E.D. Pa. 2001).

         B. ADA

         A plaintiff must exhaust administrative remedies as a precondition to suit under the ADA. See Owens v. City of Barnsdall, 13-CV-749-TCK-PJC, 2014 WL 2197798, at *2 (N.D. Okla. May 27, 2014). And “remedies generally must be exhausted as to each discrete instance of discrimination or retaliation.” See Apsley v. Boeing Co., 691 F.3d 1184, 1210 (10th Cir. 2012). That requirement is jurisdictional. See id.; Jones v. U.P.S., Inc., 2 F.3d 1176');">502 F.3d 1176, 1183 (10th Cir. 2007). “A plaintiff's claim in federal court is generally limited by the scope of the administrative investigation that can reasonably be expected to follow the charge of ...

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