United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
No. 8). Plaintiff has responded in opposition (Doc. No. 10),
and Defendant has replied (Doc. No. 11). Having reviewed the
parties' submissions and the relevant record, the Court
makes its determination.
analyzing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
“accept[s] as true all well-pleaded factual allegations
in the complaint and view[s] them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff.” Burnett v. Mortg. Elec.
Registration Sys., Inc., 706 F.3d 1231, 1235 (10th Cir.
2013). A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may
be granted when it lacks factual allegations sufficient
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative level
on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint
are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and
citations omitted); see also Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (“[T]o withstand a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain enough
allegations of fact to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” (internal quotation marks
omitted)). Bare legal conclusions in a complaint are not
entitled to the assumption of truth; “they must be
supported by factual allegations” to state a claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Motion, Defendant seeks dismissal of all claims raised in the
Second Amended Petition, including age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), pay discrimination in violation of the
Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), race discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), and retaliation in violation of
Title VII. See Second Am. Pet. (Doc. No. 1-13) at
In her Response, Plaintiff
“withdraws” all of these claims except for her race
discrimination claim brought under Title VII. See
Pl.'s Resp. at 1. Defendant raises two grounds for
dismissal of the remaining claim: (1) the claim is untimely,
and (2) the factual allegations fail to plausibly show
Whether Plaintiff's Race Discrimination Claim Is
plaintiff claiming employment discrimination under Title VII
must file a complaint within 90 days of receipt of a
right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(f)(1). Though Plaintiff's original
state-court petition was filed within the 90-day period,
Defendant argues that the race discrimination claim contained
in her Second Amended Petition was not alleged in the
original petition and does not relate back to the original
petition under Rule 15(c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Def.'s Mot. at 19-21. Plaintiff
does not dispute that the race discrimination claim was filed
beyond the 90-day deadline but argues that Rule 15(c)
prevents the statute of limitations from barring her claim.
See Pl.'s Resp. at 4.
15(c) provides that “[a]n amendment to a pleading
relates back to the date of the original pleading when . . .
the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of
the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or attempted
to be set out-in the original pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(c)(1)(B). Rule 15(c) functions in “limited
circumstances” to “save an otherwise untimely
amendment by deeming it to ‘relate back' to the
conduct alleged in the timely original complaint.”
Hernandez v. Valley View Hosp. Ass'n, 684 F.3d
950, 961 (10th Cir. 2012). The Supreme Court has stated that
the purpose of the relation-back doctrine is “to
balance the interests of the defendant protected by the
statute of limitations with the preference expressed in the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in general, and Rule 15 in
particular, for resolving disputes on their merits.”
Krupski v. Costa Crociere S. p. A., 560 U.S. 538,
550 (2010). “The rationale of Rule 15(c) is that a
party who has been notified of litigation concerning a
particular occurrence has been given all the notice that
statutes of limitations were intended to provide.”
Baldwin Cty. Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147,
149 n.3 (1984). Thus, “relation back is improper when
the amended claim ‘asserts a new ground for relief
supported by facts that differ in both time and type from
those the original pleading set forth.'”
Hernandez, 684 F.3d at 962 (quoting Mayle v.
Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 650 (2005)).
review, the Court finds that the facts alleged in the
original petition and the Second Amended Petition are nearly
identical. Plaintiff predicates her race discrimination claim
on Defendant's alleged “refusal to accommodate
and/or issue qualifying benefits or pay, ” Second Am.
Pet. at 5, and allegations of Defendant's refusal to
accommodate or issue qualifying benefits are present in both
pleadings. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's race
discrimination claim should not relate back because
“[r]ace . . . discrimination (if pled properly) would
include conduct by [Defendant] separate and distinct from
conduct amounting to disability discrimination for failure to
provide reasonable accommodations.” Def.'s Mot. at
21. This argument, however, improperly inserts considerations
relevant to Rule 12(b)(6) into the Rule 15(c) analysis, and
the Court addresses those considerations below.
the Court finds that Plaintiff's race discrimination
claim relates back to the original petition as the claim is
based on factual allegations that are neither new nor
discrete from the facts she originally pled. See
Hernandez, 684 F.3d at 962.
Whether Plaintiff's Factual Allegations Plausibly Show
alternative basis for dismissal, Defendant argues that
dismissal is required because Plaintiff's factual
allegations “fail to establish the necessary causation
required for her to show [that Defendant] discriminated
against her based upon her race.” Def.'s Mot. at
14-16 (arguing that Plaintiff's factual allegations do
not “raise a plausible inference that the alleged
disparate treatment was a product of discriminatory intent
based on her race”).
VII makes it unlawful ‘to discharge any individual, or
otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect
to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment, because of such individual's race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin.'” Khalik v.
United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1192 (10th Cir. 2012)
(quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1)). A plaintiff may
prove a Title VII violation “either by direct evidence
of discrimination or by following the burden-shifting
framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, [411
U.S. 792 (1973)].” Id. Under the McDonnell
Douglas framework, the Plaintiff first bears the burden
of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination; the
burden then “shifts to the defendant to produce a
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse
employment action.” Id. “If ...