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Robinson v. Bridgeport Education Association

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

December 5, 2016

PATRICK ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIDGEPORT EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, and NEBRASKA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court will allow this action to proceed to service of process.

         I. APPLICABLE STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

         The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge[] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged”).

         “The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         II. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Liberally construed, Plaintiff maintains that Defendants are labor unions, and that at all times relevant to this action, Plaintiff was a dues-paying member. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that while he was employed by Bridgeport Public Schools, he informed Defendants that he was suffering from a hostile work environment. Plaintiff claims that Defendants did not act to remedy the situation, and ultimately declined to represent him in a hostile work environment claim against Bridgeport Public Schools.

         Plaintiff alleges that he filed a charge of discrimination against Defendants with the EEOC and NEOC on August 11, 2014. Thereafter, on August 28, 2014, Defendants held a members meeting, of which Plaintiff was not notified. At the meeting, union members purportedly discussed Plaintiff's discrimination claim and made disparaging comments about him.

         Plaintiff alleges he was suspended from his employment with Bridgeport Public Schools on September 4, 2014, and that his employment contract was terminated shortly thereafter. Following his termination, Plaintiff filed another charge of discrimination with the EEOC and NEOC against Defendants, asserting he was retaliated against for filing a charge of discrimination. He received a right-to-sue notice on May 31, 2016. Plaintiff filed this action on August 19, 2016, within 90 days of receiving the right-to-sue notice.

         III. DISCUSSION

         1. Retaliation

         Liberally construed, Plaintiff claims he was retaliated against for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and NEOC. Under Title VII, it is unlawful for “a labor organization to discriminate against any member thereof . . . because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. In order to establish a prima facie case of retaliation, Plaintiff must show that (1) he filed a charge of unlawful discrimination, (2) Defendants took adverse action against him, and (3) that the adverse action was linked to the filing of the charge of discrimination. Martin v. Local 1513, 859 F.2d 581, 585 (8thCir. 1988).

         Plaintiff alleges that shortly after he filed a charge of discrimination, Defendants conspired with Bridgeport Public Schools and held a members-only meeting from which he was purposefully excluded. At that meeting, Defendants' members discussed Plaintiff's discrimination claim and made disparaging comments about him. Shortly following the ...


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