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Byas v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.

April 3, 2007

CYNTHIA BYAS, KAREN YAPP AND RODNEY C. GRADY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

On June 19, 2006, Cynthia Byas, Karen Yapp and Rodney C. Grady filed a putative class action suit in this Court against Union Pacific Railroad Company ("UPRR") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, s amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1981(A).

Plaintiffs allege that UPRR has engaged in a nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination in employment opportunities. They seek declaratory, injunctive and other equitable relief necessary to eliminate the effects of UPRR's alleged past and present racial discrimination.

Plaintiff Yapp is an African-American female, who formerly resided in Illinois and currently resides in Nebraska. She has been employed at UPRR's facilities in Missouri and Nebraska. Yapp filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on April 11, 2005, alleging retaliation and discrimination in promotions, training and job assignments. Yapp received a Notice of Right to Sue regarding her charge on March 22, 2006. Plaintiff Byas, an African American female who resides in Missouri, has worked at UPRR's facilities in Missouri and in Dupo, Illinois, which is in the Southern District of Illinois. Doc. 17, Ex. 1. Plaintiff Grady, an African-American male who resides in Missouri and was employed at UPRR's facility in Missouri, applied for a non-agreement position at UPRR's Dupo, Illinois facility. Doc. 17, Ex. 2. Neither Byas nor Grady filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC; however, both Byas and Grady executed declarations, in which they stated that they relied upon Yapp's charge for pursuit of their claims against UPRR. Doc. 17, Exs. 1, 2

The putative class consists of African-American employees of UPRR who allegedly

(1) were prevented from learning about or competing for jobs traditionally held by white employees;

(2) were precluded or delayed from selection for these jobs; and (3) were channeled and segregated into jobs traditionally held by African-Americans. Plaintiffs allege that the class consists of at least hundreds of former, current and future employees of UPRR.

UPRR moves the Court to dismiss this action without prejudice or, in the alternative, to transfer it to the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. UPRR asserts that there is no venue in Illinois for this action because Yapp, the only named Plaintiff who has filed a Title VII charge of discrimination, has neither worked nor applied to work at any UPRR facility in Illinois. Having carefully reviewed the parties' submissions, the Court will deny UPRR's motion.

II. Analysis

Venue in a Title VII action is circumscribed by that statute's specific venue provision, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). "Section 5(f)(3) is not simply a supplement to 28 U.S.C. § 1391; it is the exclusive venue provision for all Title VII discrimination actions." Gwin, et al. v. Reynolds & Reynolds Co., 2001 W.L. 775969 (N.D. Ill. July 10, 2001).

Under Section 5(f)(3), venue is proper:

[1] in any judicial district in the state in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, [2] in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or [3] in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, [4] but if the respondent is not found within any such district, such an action may be brought within the judicial district in which the respondent has its principal office.

A plaintiff need satisfy only one of the Title VII venue provisions for the court to exercise jurisdiction. McDonald v. American Fed'n of Musicians, 308 F.Supp. 664, 669-70 (N.D.Ill. 1970). Yapp cannot personally satisfy any venue provision for this court to exercise jurisdiction over her claims because she neither worked nor sought to work at any of UPRR's Illinois facilities and UPRR's principal office is in Nebraska. However, co-plaintiff Byas worked at, ...


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