United States District Court, D. Columbia.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Re Document No.: 10.
For Jahaira Bratton, Plaintiff: Jennifer L. Bezdicek, Sofia Yazykova, LEAD ATTORNEYS, THE BEZDICEK LAW FIRM, PLLC, Washington , DC.
For Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Defendant: Charles Frederick Walters, Eric J. Janson, SEYFARTH SHAW, LLP, Washington , DC.
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.
Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Jahaira Bratton brings this employment discrimination action against Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (" Starwood" ). Specifically, Ms. Bratton alleges that her former employer, the W Hotel in Washington D.C. (" Hotel" ), discriminated against her on the basis of race in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977 (" DCHRA" ), D.C. Code § § 2-1401.01-2.1411.06. Ms. Bratton also alleges that her employer retaliated against her in violation of the DCHRA following a series of complaints, including a formal complaint to the W Hotel Ethics Hotline. She alleges both of these prohibited actions formed the basis for her unlawful termination. The Defendant moved to dismiss the claims on the grounds that both were preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (" LMRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 185. For the reasons stated herein, the Court will deny the Defendant's motion.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, an African-American female, began her employment with the Defendant in April 2010 as a server in the POV Lounge of the W Hotel. Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 3, Jan. 20, 2014, ECF No. 8 (" Am. Compl." ). Plaintiff alleges that in 2010, the Hotel began requiring the female servers to don new uniforms which " left almost nothing to the imagination," " objectified her sexually," and " created serious back and neck issues." Id. at ¶ 4. Ms. Bratton complained on numerous occasions to management and human resources, protesting that the uniforms were " sexually discriminatory toward women," and created a hostile work environment which included her being " groped by guests regularly." Id. at ¶ 5. After a promise regarding new uniforms did not come to fruition, Plaintiff submitted a formal complaint to the W Hotel Ethics Hotline about the " sexually degrading uniforms." Id. at ¶ 5-6.
Plaintiff alleges that Hotel management began to treat her differently following her complaints. Id. at ¶ 7. Another employee notified Plaintiff that her manager had reviewed security footage of her movements in and out of the building. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff claims it was common practice for the manager to pull footage only of African-American employees' comings and goings from the building. Id. Plaintiff asserts that bringing these inappropriate practices to her manager's attention further upset him. Id. at ¶ 9.
In early April 2013, Plaintiff was told that she was being suspended pending an investigation for undisclosed reasons, and was ordered to go home. Id. at ¶ 10. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was officially terminated from her position as a result of being " late five times over the last 30 days." Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff claims that a majority of these late arrivals were within a " seven minute grace period" that employees are given to " clock in without repercussions." Id. No other employees were allegedly punished or terminated for being late. Id.
Plaintiff was a member of a bargaining unit whose terms and conditions of employment were governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (" CBA" ). See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl., 2,
Feb. 6, 2014, ECF No. 10 (" Def.'s Mot." ). If a complaint arises out of the terms of the CBA, the parties are required to utilize a specific grievance and arbitration procedure. See id.
Ms. Bratton filed the instant action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Pl.'s Compl. 1, ECF No.1-1. Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1331, 1332, and 1441. Notice of Removal 1, Dec. 30, 2013, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff now alleges the Defendant retaliated against her in violation of the DCHRA by terminating her for " regularly complaining and then filing a formal complaint." See Am. Compl. Count I. She also alleges the Defendant discriminated against her in violation of the DCHRA when it terminated her after only " review[ing] security footage of African-American employees." See Am. Compl. Count II. Defendant moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil ...