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Warith v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local Chapter 268

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

June 4, 2013

LAURA WARITH, Plaintiff,
v.
AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL CHAPTER 268, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff filed this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000E-5, against Amalgamated Transit Union Local Chapter 268 ("ATU Local 268"). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges ATU Local 268 failed to object to a discriminatory lay-off by her former employer Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority ("RTA"). (Doc. 1). She seeks monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Plaintiff has also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted and this case is dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an African American woman, began working for RTA on May 11, 1999. During her employment, Plaintiff was a member of ATU Local 268 and the terms of employment relationship with RTA were governed by a collective bargaining agreement between RTA and ATU Local 268.

On September 19, 2009, RTA terminated Plaintiff from her position as a Circulator Operator as part of a "purported" plan to discontinue Circulator Operations. (Doc. 1 at 3). She alleges that approximately twelve other African American Circulator Operators were laid-off as well, however, RTA retained two Caucasian employees with less seniority, placing those employees into full-time positions in other departments. Further, Plaintiff indicates that she was not permitted to transfer to another circulator classification, thus preventing her from retaining her employment. On September 21, 2009, Plaintiff attempted to file a grievance with ATU Local 268, but the union declined to accept the grievance. She alleges the union took no action to remedy her discharge or to address RTA's transfer of two Caucasian employees.

On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed a formal EEOC charge of race discrimination against RTA and ATU Local 268. She received a notice of dismissal and right-to-sue letter on June 22, 2010.

On May 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present action against ATU Local 268, alleging claims for race discrimination in violation of Title VII and Ohio Rev. Code § 4112.02 and breach of the duty of fair representation. Specifically, she contends that ATU Local 268 should have accepted her grievance and objected to Plaintiff's lay-off as discriminatory, and its failure to do so was discriminatory, in bad faith, and arbitrary.

Plaintiff acknowledges in her Complaint that this is not the first time she has asserted these claims against ATU Local 268. Plaintiff previously filed an action in this Court against RTA and ATU Local 268 on September 20, 2010. See Warith v. Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth. (RTA), No. 1:10cv2098 (N.D. Ohio) (" Warith I ").[1] On August 18, 2011, Plaintiff and ATU Local 268 filed a stipulated notice of dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1), indicating that the dismissal was in exchange for ATU Local 268 agreeing not to pursue sanctions under Rule 11 against Plaintiff or her attorney. See Warith I, Doc. 24. On August 22, 2011, the Court issued an Order dismissing without prejudice Plaintiff's claims against ATU Local 268. Id., Doc. 25. Thereafter, on May 1, 2012, the Court granted RTA's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal on May 31, 2012, and on July 2, 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion for voluntary dismissal filed by Plaintiff's counsel. Id., Doc. 32.

On August 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed a pro se motion in Warith I to reinstate her action against ATU Local 268, attaching an unsworn "statement of facts" regarding her claims against the union. Id., Doc. 33. The Court struck the motion, indicating Plaintiff was represented by counsel and had filed a motion to reinstate her appeal in the Sixth Circuit.[2]

On September 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed a revised motion to reinstate her original complaint against ATU Local 268 without former counsel. Id., Doc. 34. The Court again denied Plaintiff's motion, noting that the case was dismissed on May 1, 2012 and Plaintiff had provided no basis under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60 for reinstatement. Plaintiff has filed this action in an apparent attempt to resurrect her claims against ATU Local 268 that the Court declined to reinstate in Warith I.

II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the district court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.

A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks "plausibility in the complaint." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than "an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not ...


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