United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motions for
Judgment on the Pleadings. For the following reasons,
Defendant UPS Mail Innovations, Inc.'s Motion is granted
and Defendant Doherty Staffing Solutions, Inc.'s Motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
Abdullahi Dahir and Abdifatah Hassan were employees of
Doherty, a temporary employment agency. In May and June of
2014, Doherty assigned them to work for UPS at its facility
in Mendota Heights. For purposes of the events giving rise to
this lawsuit, Dahir began work on June 22, 2014, although he
had worked at the facility multiple times before that date.
(2d Am. Compl. (Docket No. 63) ¶ 15.) Hassan started on
May 12, 2014. (Id.) Plaintiffs are Muslim, and at
the beginning of their time with UPS they were allowed to
pray during the workday. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiffs
also allege that “Defendant UPS was Plaintiffs'
co-employer.” (Id. ¶¶ 2, 4.)
2014, UPS named a new operations manager for the Mendota
Heights facility, Scott Klein. (Id. ¶ 19.)
Plaintiffs contend that Klein was hostile to Muslims and that
he “instructed Doherty employee Mark Richsmann to do
the same.” (Id.) Plaintiffs do not explain who
Richsmann is or what role he had at the UPS facility. At an
unspecified date in June 2014, Klein and Richsmann allegedly
“eliminated the ability for workers to choose their
break times and said prayers would not be allowed outside
fixed breaks.” (Id. ¶ 20.) On June 14,
2014, after the new break policy was announced, Klein held a
meeting with all employees. (Id. ¶ 21.) A
Muslim employee raised the issue of the required Muslim
prayers; Klein then asked all Muslim employees to raise their
hands if they needed to pray. (Id.) Plaintiffs
allege that they raised their hands, but according to their
own allegations, Dahir was not working at UPS at the time of
the meeting. After the employees raised their hands, Klein
said that “he wanted to replace all of the employees
who had raised their hands.” (Id.) Plaintiffs
continued to pray after this meeting. (Id. ¶
days later, two Muslim employees who asked to pray were
fired. (Id. ¶ 23.) Other Muslim employees
started to leave, but Richsmann allowed prayer breaks that
day. (Id.) On June 25, Richsmann told Plaintiffs
that if they wanted to pray, they should go home.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiffs contend that this
constituted firing them from their jobs. (Id. ¶
26, Plaintiffs met with Doherty manager Bridget Gogolin and
asked to be able to pray and to continue working at UPS.
(Id. ¶ 26.) The Second Amended Complaint does
not describe the outcome of this meeting, or whether
Plaintiffs returned to UPS or did other work for Doherty
with the assistance of present counsel, filed a religious
discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission in April 2015, which was cross-filed with the
Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Plaintiffs amended that
charge in May 2015 to include an allegation that they
suffered retaliation. (Erickson Decl. (Docket No. 31) Exs. 2,
3.) The EEOC dismissed the charge and issued Plaintiffs
right-to-sue letters. (Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) The MDHR issued
right-to-sue letters for UPS after Plaintiffs filed this
lawsuit, but as of the filing of this Motion had not issued
any right-to-sue letters as to Doherty. (Id. ¶
30.) At the motion hearing, counsel made reference to MDHR
letters issuing as of early November. Those letters are not
in the record before the Court.
Second Amended Complaint raises six counts. Count 1 contends
that UPS and Doherty failed to accommodate Plaintiffs'
religious beliefs in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights
Act. Count 2 asserts discrimination based on religion in
violation of the MHRA. Count 3 raises a
religious-accommodation claim under Title VII, and Count 4
raises religious discrimination under Title VII. Count 5
claims retaliation in violation of the MHRA, and Count 6
claims retaliation under Title VII.
Court evaluates a motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Rule 12(c) using the same standards as a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6). Ginsburg v. InBev NV/SA, 623
F.3d 1229, 1233 n.3 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Thus,
the Court must assume the facts in the Complaint to be true
and construe all reasonable inferences from those facts in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Morton
v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986) (citation
omitted). The Court need not accept as true wholly conclusory
allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview
Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir. 1999), or legal
conclusions that the plaintiff draws from the facts pled.
Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th
complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). Although a
complaint need not contain “detailed factual
allegations, ” it must contain facts with enough
specificity “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Id. at 555.
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” will
not pass muster under Twombly. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). This standard
“calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the
claim].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
seek dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint on several
grounds. With respect to Counts 5 and 6, they note that
Plaintiffs' initial discrimination charge did not raise
retaliation as an element of the charge. Plaintiffs amended
their charge several weeks after filing it, and although
Plaintiffs' amended charge checked the
“retaliation/reprisal” box, Plaintiffs did not
add any facts regarding the alleged retaliation. Defendants
ask that Counts 5 and 6 be dismissed for failure to exhaust
alternative, Defendants argue that the retaliation claims
fail to state a claim on which relief can be granted because
requesting an accommodation is not protected activity.
Defendants also argue that the retaliation claims are
time-barred because they were not added to Plaintiffs'