United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tekler brought this action against her employer, the
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
(“MDVA”), alleging violations of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. MDVA
moved to dismiss all four counts in the Complaint. For the
reasons discussed below, that motion is granted and this
action is dismissed.
works for MDVA as a housecleaner. Compl. ¶ 7. She
alleges that she was “subject to a hostile work
environment due to her national origin.” Compl. ¶
8. She also alleges that she was “treated less
favorably than her coworkers of different national
origins.” Compl. ¶ 9. Tekler further claims that
she “has been disciplined by Defendant, when other
coworkers of different national origins, who committed same
or similar actions were not disciplined or disciplined to
lower level.” Compl. ¶ 10. Tekler's complaint
does not identify her national origin.
filed discrimination and retaliation charges with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
Compl. ¶ 11. On October 3, 2016, the EEOC issued Tekler
a right to sue letter. Compl. ¶ 13. Tekler alleges that
she never received the letter. Compl. ¶ 13. On April 27,
2017, Tekler contacted the EEOC to inquire about her case.
Compl. ¶ 14. The EEOC indicated that Tekler's first
right to sue letter was returned as undeliverable, and a
second right to sue letter was issued on April 27, 2017.
Compl. ¶¶ 14-15. Tekler brought suit against MDVA
on July 26, 2017.
survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A complaint “does not need detailed factual
allegations, ” but it must contain “more than
labels and conclusions.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555 (citation omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. In short, “[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
alleges two violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act -
one for national origin discrimination and the other for
creating a hostile work environment. She also alleges two
violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act
(“MHRA”) on the same grounds. For the reasons
outlined below, all four counts are dismissed.
Title VII Claims
Title VII claims do not survive the motion to dismiss for two
reasons. First, they are time barred. Under 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f)(1), a Title VII plaintiff has ninety days to file
a complaint after a right to sue letter is issued.
Tekler's initial right to sue letter was issued on
October 3, 2016. Tekler did not bring suit until July 26,
2017 - well beyond the ninety-day window. Tekler argues that
the ninety-day requirement should not apply to her because
she changed addresses and did not receive the right to sue
letter. Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n at 2. But Tekler had
“the responsibility to provide the Commission with
notice of any change in address and with notice of any
prolonged absence from that current address.” 29 C.F.R.
§ 1601.7. Furthermore, the doctrine of equitable tolling
cannot rescue Tekler's late filing. Equitable tolling
does not apply in cases where a claimant could have - but did
not - inform the EEOC of his or her new address. Hill v.
John Chezik Imports, 869 F.2d 1122, 1124 (8th Cir.
1989); see also Pecoraro v. Diocese of Rapid City,
435 F.3d 870, 875 (8th Cir. 2006) (equitable tolling is
reserved for situations “where a party acts diligently,
only to find himself caught up in an arcane procedural
snare.” (internal citations omitted)).
even if Tekler's Title VII claims were not time barred,
they would still be dismissed for failure to state a claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). While it is true that Tekler
need not make a prima facie case of discrimination or
retaliation in order to survive a motion to dismiss,
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 515
(2002), she must still do more than make
accusation[s].” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. As
Twombly makes clear, a complaint will not suffice if
it makes “naked assertion[s]” that are devoid of
“further factual enhancement.” 550 U.S. at 557.
Here, Tekler alleges that she was “treated less
favorably” and disciplined differently than others who
did not share her national origin. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10.
She provides no additional information - only
“threadbare recitals” of the elements.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. As such, she has not stated
a plausible claim for relief as required by Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), and her Title VII claims cannot survive
Defendant's motion to dismiss.
MHRA claims are dismissed because the Eleventh Amendment bars
federal court jurisdiction over state law claims against
nonconsenting state agencies. Cooper v. St. Cloud State
Univ., 226 F.3d 964, 968 (8th Cir. 2000). This immunity
from suit “applies with equal force to pendent state
law claims, ” such as those made by Tekler.
Id. MDVA would only relinquish that immunity if the
State had unequivocally waived it. Id. at 969. Here
there is no suggestion that the State either expressly or