United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta United States District Judge
Walter I. Banks claims that his union, Defendant
International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 99
("IUOE"), and certain of its officials and
representatives, discriminated against him based on his race,
age, and disability while representing him in grievance
proceedings against his former employer. Plaintiff also
appears to assert that Defendants breached their duty of fair
representation in those proceedings. Defendants have moved to
dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint in its entirety, contending that
(1) his statutory discrimination claims are preempted by
federal labor law; (2) his duty of fair representation claim
is barred by the statute of limitations; and (3) his
discrimination claims are not plausible.
reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is
granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff has stated
plausible claims of discrimination against IUOE based on
race, age, and disability. Those claims against the named
IUOE officials and representatives, however, must be
dismissed because there is no individual liability under the
relevant federal discrimination statutes. Further, Plaintiffs
claim for breach of the duty of fair representation is
time-barred and therefore must be dismissed.
is a 62-year old African American male, who, until October
2013, was employed as a "material handler" by
LB&B Associates, Inc., in Columbia, Maryland. Notice of
Removal, ECF No. 1, Compl., ECF No. 1-1, ¶¶ 2-3, 5,
In early October 2013, Plaintiff sustained aback injury
during a workplace accident. Id. ¶ 5. Shortly
thereafter, he filed an injury report with his employer, who
fired him roughly a week later, on October 17, 2013.
then turned to his union-IUOE-for assistance. He first spoke
with Defendant Mark Sexton, described by Plaintiff as the
"union representative, " who referred him to
IUOE's President, Defendant Michael Murphy. Id.
¶¶ 6-7. Murphy advised Plaintiff that his employer
had violated the collective bargaining agreement by
terminating him and that the union would pursue a grievance
on his behalf through arbitration proceedings. Id.
¶ 7. The union hired an outside lawyer, Defendant Jordan
Kaplan, to represent Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 8.
alleges that Kaplan's representation of him was deficient
in multiple respects. Kaplan informed Plaintiff that his
employer did not want him to return with a disability or with
accommodations. Id. ¶ 10. When Plaintiff asked
whether his employer's position would violate the
Americans with Disabilities Act, Kaplan told him that he did
not know. Id. Kaplan further advised Plaintiff that
the union had no intention of moving forward with arbitration
proceedings and suggested that Plaintiff consider retirement
as an option because of his age. Id. Kaplan also
said that Plaintiffs employer had threatened to fire him
again even if Plaintiff were to prevail at arbitration and be
reinstated to his position. Finally, Kaplan informed
Plaintiff that he had no further recourse and would have to
accept the employer's settlement offer of $12, 000-and,
even if he refused, the union nonetheless would accept the
offer and "close the case." Id.¶ 11.
further alleges that the union represented white members
eight years earlier-in 2006-in similar grievance proceedings
and helped them get their jobs back. Id. ¶ 12.
He also claims that the union failed to provide him with
various policies and other relevant documents during his
grievance process. Id. ¶ 13.
August 11, 2015, Plaintiff filed a pro se suit in
the District of Columbia Superior Court against IUOE and its
individual officials and agents. See generally
Compl. His Complaint alleges statutory claims of
discrimination based on his race under Title VII, 42 U.SC.
§ 2000e-2; his age under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621
et seq.; and his disability under the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq. Id. at 1. And, although far from crystal
clear, Plaintiff also appears to allege a breach of the
union's duty of fair representation. Id.
(alleging "In addition, breach of Fair Representation
October 1, 2015, Defendants removed the case to this court.
See Notice of Removal. Their Motion to Dismiss
followed six days later. See generally Defs.'
Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 3, Defs.' Mem. of P&A in
Supp. of their Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 3-1 [hereinafter
as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the
court must construe the complaint liberally, and hold it to
"less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers, " Erickson v. ...