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Santiago v. Meyer Tool, Inc.

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

July 24, 2019

MEYER TOOL, INC., Defendant.

          Dlott, J.


          Karen L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Rebeca Santiago brings this action against defendant Meyer Tool Inc., alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ('Title VII"), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"), the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) ("EPA"), and the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. ("FMLA"), as well as various state law statutes. This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings on plaintiffs Title VII gender discrimination claim (Count 1) and wrongful termination in violation of Ohio public policy claim (Count 6) (Doc. 14), plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc. 15), defendant's reply memorandum (Doc. 17), and plaintiffs sur-reply (Doc. 23).

         I. Background Facts

         Plaintiff began working as a machine operator for Meyer Tool in or about 1997. (Complaint, Doc. 1 at ¶ 7). Plaintiff alleges that as a result of her gender, she was assigned less-desirable shifts and assignments than her male counterparts, worked through lunch, was blamed for other workers' errors, and received lower pay not reflective of her seniority. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-11). Plaintiff also alleges that her male supervisor, Edwin Finn, made her the subject of sexual jokes and made unwanted sexual advances towards her for years, (Id. at ¶¶ 12, 17). In 2016, plaintiff alleges that she was denied a raise by Finn, yet other workers who completed the same or substantially similar work received a raise. (Id. at ¶ 13).

         Plaintiff also alleges that she has HIV/AIDS. (Id. at ¶ 14). During her tenure with Meyer, she was approved to take intermittent disability leave under the FMLA. (Id. at ¶ 15). In July 2014, plaintiffs doctor completed a medical certification form documenting plaintiffs severe headaches/migraines. (Id. at ¶ 16). On July 20, 2017, Finn informed plaintiff that she was fired for producing non-conforming parts. (Id. at¶19). Plaintiff alleges that other employees who produced non-conforming parts were not terminated and that the majority of machine operators at Meyer are white males. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-21).

         Plaintiff subsequently filed two charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On October 31, 2017, plaintiff filed a charge alleging discrimination based on disability. (Id. at ¶ 22, Doc. 13-2[1]). On July 13, 2018, plaintiff filed a second charge alleging gender discrimination in violation of Title VII and the EPA. (Id. at ¶ 23, Doc. 13-3).

         On October 23, 2017, one week and one day before filing the first charge, plaintiff submitted an EEOC inquiry questionnaire. (Doc. 15-1 at 1-4). On this form, in response to the question, "Why do you think you were discriminated against?," plaintiff checked the box for "Disability," (Id. at 2). In response to the question, "Who was treated better than you?," plaintiff wrote that "Ruth Clark and many more" were treated better than her because they "deviated dozens of parts and still work there after many years." (Id. at 3). When asked to indicate how these people were different from her, plaintiff checked boxes for "age," "color," "disability," "national origin," "race," and "sex." (Id.). Plaintiff also indicated on the questionnaire that Finn was responsible for the discriminatory action. (Id.).

         II. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A. Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings made pursuant to Rule 12(c) is governed by the same standards applicable to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Lindsay v. Yates, 498 F.3d 434, 437 n.5 (6th Cir. 2007) ("[T]he legal standards for adjudicating Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c) are the same."). "For purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted)).

         To withstand a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, "a complaint must contain direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements under some viable legal theory." Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007). "The factual allegations in the complaint need to be sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead 'sufficient factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible, i.e., more than merely possible." Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009)). A "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation" need not be accepted as true, nor are recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient. Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         B. Defendant's partial motion for judgment on the pleadings should be granted

         a. Plaintiffs Count 1 Gender Discrimination claim under Title VII should be dismissed for failure to ...

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