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Javier Roman v. Waste Management of New Jersey

May 12, 2011

JAVIER ROMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WASTE MANAGEMENT OF NEW JERSEY, WASTE MANAGEMENT, INC., LAWRENCE FASCHAN, SCOTT SMITH, JOHN HYNES, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, LOCAL 945, ABC, INC. 1-10, AND JOHN DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss certain claims filed by Defendants Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. ("WMNJ"), Lawrence Faschan, and John Hynes (collectively, the "Waste Management Defendants"), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Javier Roman opposes the motion. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 23, 2010, Plaintiff commenced this action against the Waste Management Defendants,*fn1 Scott Smith, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 945 ("Local 945"). Plaintiff previously had filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and subsequently, on May 27, 2010, he received his "Right to Sue" letter. In the instant Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants engaged in discriminatory conduct toward him, which included uttering racial epithets to Plaintiff, threatening Plaintiff if he made worker compensation claims, denying Plaintiff‟s applications for management positions, and ultimately terminating Plaintiff‟s employment.

Plaintiff claims that, as a Latino and member of a protected class, he received disparate treatment from the defendants (Count One) and was subject to disparate impact (Count Two). He also claims that the defendants created a hostile work environment (Count Three) and retaliated against him for opposing unlawful acts and practices (Count Four). Plaintiff states the first four counts of his Complaint pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq. ("Title VII") and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. ("LAD"). Finally, Plaintiff complains that WMNJ and Local 945 breached their duty of fair representation by failing to adhere to its collective bargaining agreement (Count Five) and breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing with regard to the collective bargaining agreement (Count Six).

The Waste Management Defendants filed its motion to dismiss on October 7, 2010. They request that the Court dismiss Plaintiff‟s LAD claims against WMNJ, his Title VII and LAD claims against Lawrence Faschan and John Hynes (the individual defendants), and his Title VII disparate impact and retaliation claims against WMNJ.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may grant a motion to dismiss if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court set forth the standard for addressing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007). The Twombly Court stated that, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff‟s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Therefore, for a complaint to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (internal citations and footnote omitted).

More recently, the Supreme Court has emphasized that, when assessing the sufficiency of a civil complaint, a court must distinguish factual contentions and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). A complaint will be dismissed unless it "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.‟" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). This "plausibility" determination will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

A district court deciding a motion to dismiss generally does not consider material beyond the pleadings. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997); Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Industries, 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1042, 114 S. Ct. 687 (1994). Typically, when a court does rely on matters outside of the pleadings, it must convert the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and provide all parties with a reasonable opportunity to present all material pertinent to the motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). This rule allows the plaintiff an opportunity to respond to any extraneous documents that the court considers. Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196. An exception to the general rule exists, however, so that a court may consider extraneous documents to which a plaintiff refers in the complaint or on which the claims in the complaint were based without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Burlington Coat Factory, 114 F.3d at 1426; Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196. The rationale behind the exception is that, when a complaint refers to or relies on a document, "the plaintiff obviously is on notice of the contents of the document, and the need for a chance to refute evidence is greatly diminished." Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d 1192 at 1196-97.

In this case, the Waste Management Defendants ask the Court to consider documents attached to the declaration of defense counsel ("Declaration"), Docket Entry no. 10-1, to the extent that Plaintiff‟s Complaint referred to or was based on those documents. They include the Charge of Discrimination filed with the EEOC and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights ("DCR") and the "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" letter issued by the EEOC on May 26, 2010. Plaintiff specifically refers to both documents in his Complaint. See Complaint, ¶ 59. Plaintiff does not appear to oppose the use of these documents and, indeed, refers to them in his opposition to the instant motion. Accordingly, the Court will consider the documents and examine the issues under the standard of a motion to dismiss.

III. DISCUSSION

In their motion to dismiss, the Waste Management Defendants request that the Court dismiss Plaintiff‟s LAD claims against WMNJ, his Title VII and LAD claims against Lawrence Faschan and John Hynes (the individual defendants), and his Title VII disparate impact and retaliation claims against WMNJ. Because the Waste Management Defendants ...


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