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Grimsley v. American Showa, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

August 21, 2017




         Plaintiff Edward Grimsley, a Caucasian, homosexual male in a committed relationship with an African-American male, filed suit against his former employer, American Showa, Inc. ("Defendant"), alleging: (1) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3; (2) retaliation in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(1); and (3) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. This matter is currently before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Under Civil Rule 12(b)(6). Doc. #3. For the reasons set forth below, that motion is sustained in part and overruled in part.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         Defendant is a manufacturer of shock absorber and power steering systems. Doc. #1, PagelD#2. In late 2014, Plaintiff, who self-identifies as a Caucasian, homosexual male, began working as a training associate at Defendant's Blanchester, Ohio, plant through a temporary agency. Id. Thereafter, he applied for a full-time job. On his application, he stated that he had graduated from Sinclair Community College. This was false; he had attended classes, but did not graduate. In any event, the job description that he was given did not require a college degree, or even an associate's degree. Id. On or about February 2, 2015, Plaintiff was hired as a Senior Training Specialist. In September of 2015, he received an excellent performance review. Id. at PagelD##2-3.

         Plaintiff alleges that, early in 2015, he began experiencing harassment and a hostile work environment after a coworker learned that Plaintiff was homosexual and that his partner was an African-American male. Id. at PagelD #3. This same coworker allegedly made disparaging comments about Plaintiff's sexuality and his partner to at least three management officials in the company. Id. Another coworker allegedly stopped speaking to him after learning that Plaintiff was homosexual. Id. Although Plaintiff complained to Defendant that this coworker had "outed" him, had made disparaging comments, and had created a hostile work environment, she was not disciplined. Id.

         That fall, after Plaintiff was transferred to a new department, his new female supervisor took away Plaintiff's management authority over a male subordinate employee, stating that she did not think that Plaintiff could be objective. Id. Plaintiff believed this comment was directed at his sexual orientation. Id. When he questioned her about the change in supervisory authority, she was hostile and became angry. Id. Plaintiff again complained to management and asked to be returned to his previous department. Approximately one week later, on November 25, 2015, Plaintiff was discharged. Id., at PagelD #4. Defendant maintains that Plaintiff was terminated for falsifying his job application. Id.

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and received a right-to-sue letter on November 3, 2016. On January 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant suit, alleging three causes of action. Plaintiff asserts claims of: (1) retaliation in violation of Title VII; (2) retaliation in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(1); and (3) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, money damages, attorney fees and costs.

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss under Civil Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Grimsley has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Doc. #3. That motion is now fully briefed and ripe for decision.

         II. 12(b)(6) Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The complaint must provide the defendant with "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for dismissal of a complaint on the basis that it "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." The moving party bears the burden of showing that the opposing party has failed to adequately state a claim for relief. DirecTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454-55 (6th Cir. 1991)). The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) "is to allow a defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief even if everything alleged in the complaint is true." Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993). In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, a court must "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Handy-Clay v. City of Memphis, 695 F.3d 531, 538 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Treesh, 487 F.3d at 476).

         Nevertheless, to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Unless the facts alleged show that the plaintiff's claim crosses "the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Id. Although this standard does not require "detailed factual allegations, " it does require more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 555. "Rule 8 . . . does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Legal conclusions "must be supported by factual allegations" that give rise to an inference that the defendant is, in fact, liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 679.

         III. Analysis

         As noted above, Plaintiff has asserted claims of retaliation in violation of Title VII and Ohio Revised Code § 411 2.02(1), and a claim of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The Court turns first to Plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination.

         A. Title VII Sex Discrimination Claim (Count III)

         Count III of Plaintiff's Complaint asserts a claim of sex discrimination under Title VII. Title VII prohibits an employer from discharging any individual or otherwise discriminating 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." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The plaintiff must show that race, color, religion, sex, ...

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