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Vernon T. Jones v. Association of Flight Attendants

August 16, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.


Plaintiff Vernon Jones filed a pro se an amended complaint against Defendant Association of Flight Attendants ("AFA"), the labor organization that represented him during his employment with United Airlines. Before the Court is Defendant's motion [28] to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, the motion [28] is granted.

I. Background

On April 19, 2011, Jones filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. In the charge, he indicated that AFA had engaged in race discrimination and retaliation. In support of these charges, Jones alleged the following:

I began employment in the bargaining unit in May, 1995. During my employment, I was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, racial slurs, scrutiny, and discharge. I complained to Respondent to no avail.

I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my race, Black, and in retaliation for engaging in protected activity, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. [22 at 7.] The EEOC subsequently issued a right-to-sue letter. [22 at 8.]

In federal court, Jones filed an original complaint but later agreed to provide a more definite statement in the form of an amended complaint. [See 16.] In the amended complaint, Jones alleges that AFA discriminated against him beginning on or about August 19, 2010, because of his national origin (described as "American citizen working in Japan") and because of his race, in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. [22 at ¶¶ 6, 9.]

Specifically, Jones claims that AFA "conspired' with United in: 1) terminating Jones's employment for a "safety/work manual violation"; 2) failing to promote Jones to "purser" in 2009 and 2010; 3) failing to stop harassment by "den[ying] health/dental insurance" in 2007 and 2008 and by "not issu[ing] safety/work manual update/revision" in 2010; 4) retaliating against Jones for "complain[ing] about discrimination"; and 5) "trying to cover up" a passenger's "felony hate crime/air rage" against Jones on August 18, 2010 (described as "Flight 881"). [22 at ¶ 12.] Jones further alleges that AFA failed to report to the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") United's misconduct in confiscating Jones's work manual and in ordering him off an aircraft during an investigation of flight 881. [22 at ¶ 13.]

Jones asks the Court, among other things, to require AFA to fairly represent him, to lobby United to re-employ and promote him, to provide him with information about Flight 881, and to provide the FAA with information about United's failure to distribute work manual revisions. [22 at ¶ 16.] AFA moves to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

II. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," such that the defendant is given " 'fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the " 'speculative level.' " E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1965, 1973 n.14). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1969.

The Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged by the plaintiff and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them. See Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005). Moreover, in reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court employs standards less stringent than if the complaint had been drafted by counsel. Curtis v. Bembenek, 48 F.3d 281, 283 (7th Cir. 1995).

III. Analysis

Jones's amended complaint alleges national origin discrimination, race discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII and ยง 1981. The allegations revolve around the Flight 881 "felony hate crime/air rage" ...

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