United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JOHN W. HAGGERTY JR., Plaintiff,
ATLAS DRILLING, LLC, Defendant. TAYLOR MILLS, Plaintiff, v ATLAS DRILLING, LLC, Defendant.
HEATON CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
in these consolidated cases sued their former employer, Atlas
Drilling, LLC (“Atlas”), asserting federal and
state claims arising out of their termination by defendant.
Atlas has filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings with
respect to the claims asserted by plaintiffs Larry Beavers,
James Cox, Bryan Cox, Timothy Sparks, Gary Ledbetter, Donald
Todd Sanders, Joshua Cunningham, John Robinett, and Alfred
William Ward. These plaintiffs have asserted reverse
discrimination and retaliation claims based on national
origin against defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act
(“OADA”) and intentional infliction of emotional
distress claims under Oklahoma law.
court reviews whether a plaintiff has stated a claim under
Fed.R.Civ.P.12(c) using the same standard that applies to
Rule 12(b)(6) dismissals. Sanchez v. United States
Dep't of Energy, 870 F.3d 1185, 1199 (10th Cir.
2017). In other words, “to survive judgment on the
pleadings, [plaintiffs] must allege ‘a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Id.
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). The court examines the elements of the particular
claim and reviews whether a plaintiff has pleaded
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged” to determine whether the claim is
“plausible on its face.” Ashcroft, 556
U.S. at 678. All well-pleaded factual allegations in the
complaint are accepted as true and viewed in the light most
favorable to plaintiffs. Sanchez, 870 F.3d at 1199.
The court does not “accept mere labels and legal
conclusions as true, ” even though it
“construe[s] factual allegations as true.”
their response brief, plaintiffs state that they do not
object to the dismissal of their retaliation and intentional
infliction of emotional distress claims. Those claims will
be dismissed. That leaves for consideration the sufficiency
of plaintiffs' reverse discrimination national origin
claims under Title VII and OADA.
allege in the complaint they are “all of non-Hispanic
national origin” and were hired by defendant to work on Rig
#3 with other employees who were of Hispanic and non-Hispanic
origin. They allege that they were ahead of schedule in
meeting a deadline and had not been disciplined or notified
of any problems with their job performance when, around
mid-July 2013, defendant's vice-president, Jesse Vap,
gave them a warning. He allegedly told them that if they did
not stop taking breaks and make improvements he would replace
them with “Mexicans.” Plaintiffs assert that
later that month, on July 29, 2013, Vap terminated all white,
non-Hispanic employees who were working on Rig #3. Plaintiffs
claim that two Hispanic employees who had worked with them
were not discharged. Plaintiffs also allege that defendant
segregated its employees based on national origin by staffing
certain rigs with only Hispanic employees and Rig#2 with
mostly non-Hispanic employees.
stated, a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge under
Title VII requires plaintiff to demonstrate that [he] (1)
belongs to a protected class; (2) was qualified for [his]
position; (3) was discharged; and (4) [his] position was not
eliminated after [his] discharge.” Adamson v.
Multi Cmty. Diversified Servs., Inc., 514 F.3d 1136,
1150 (10th Cir. 2008). Instead of showing that he is a member
of a protected class, a reverse discrimination
plaintiff who seeks to obtain the benefit of the
McDonnell Douglas presumption must demonstrate
“background circumstances that support an inference
that the defendant is one of those unusual employers who
discriminates against the majority.” Notari v.
Denver Water Dep't, 971 F.2d 585, 589 (10th Cir.
contends plaintiffs' reverse discrimination claims are
deficient because plaintiffs allege Atlas discriminated
against them based on their “non-Hispanic”
national origin, yet fail to provide “any factual
detail regarding the distinct national origin of all
Plaintiffs.” Doc. #28, p. 9. Defendant does not otherwise
challenge plaintiffs' allegations. Plaintiffs respond
that in the charges of discrimination they filed with the
EEOC, they referred to their race as white, so
“Defendant was clearly on notice that Plaintiffs were
in fact identifying as being discriminated against because
they were ‘White.'” Doc. #40, p. 6. They then
request leave to amend their complaint “to more clearly
articulate their claims based on race as well as national
origin, conforming with the Plaintiffs' Charges of
Discrimination.” Id. at p. 9.
the complaint could and should have been more clearly
drafted, the court concludes it sufficiently states claims
for reverse discrimination based on national origin, despite
plaintiffs' failure to identify their country of origin.
It is enough, under the circumstances, for plaintiff to
assert that they are “non-Hispanic.” The clear
implication is that they are from the United States.
Regardless, because the court is granting plaintiffs leave to
amend, as will be explained subsequently, plaintiffs are
directed to supplement their allegations pertaining to their
national origin claims and specifically state their national
court also concludes plaintiffs' request in their
response brief for leave to amend their complaint to allege
discrimination claims based on race should be granted. Their
complaint includes allegations of race discrimination but
does not assert a separate race discrimination claim.
Defendant acknowledges that “Plaintiffs each checked
the ‘race' box in their respective EEOC Charges,
” Doc. #41, p. 6, so it has been on notice of the
possibility of a race-based discrimination claim since the
charges were filed with the EEOC. As defendant notes, the
court did not extend the time for amending pleadings when it
recently revised the parties' scheduling order. However,
the addition of race discrimination claims is not a major
change in these plaintiffs' complaint. It should not
necessitate much additional discovery, unduly prejudice
defendant or otherwise significantly affect the case,
especially when the plaintiffs in the other two consolidated
cases have asserted race-based discrimination claims.
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [Doc.
#28] is granted with respect to plaintiffs' claims for
retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
It is denied with respect to their discrimination claims
based on national origin under Title VII and the OADA.
Plaintiffs' request for leave to amend their complaint to
add reverse discrimination claims based on their race is
granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Plaintiffs are
directed to file their amended complaint within three days.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Plaintiffs state that they will,
though, seek to recover for their emotional distress as an
element of damages of ...