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Rainey v. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 15, 2014

EDDIE L. RAINEY, Plaintiff,
v.
J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT, INC. and RACHEL CHRISTENSEN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MANISH S. SHAH, District Judge.

Proceeding pro se, Eddie L. Rainey sued his former employer, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., and one of its employees, Rachel Christensen. Rainey alleged that defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which prohibits race discrimination in employment. On May 9, 2014, defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. Rainey asked to have until August 29, 2014 to respond, and I granted that request, but he failed to respond. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

I. Legal Standards

I construe Rainey's pro se complaint liberally. Nichols v. Mich. City Plant Planning Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2014). Defendants' motion was brought under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I therefore construe the complaint in the light most favorable to Rainey, accept as true all well-pleaded facts, and draw reasonable inferences in his favor. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013). Statements of law, however, need not be accepted as true. Id. Rule 12(b)(6) limits my consideration to "allegations set forth in the complaint itself, documents that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice." Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

To survive defendants' motion, the complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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." Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

II. Facts[1]

In July 2012, Hunt hired three owner-operators of semi-tractor trucks. Complaint ¶ 16(a). Rainey, who is black, was one of the three; a white man and a black man named Ken were the other two. Complaint ¶¶ 4, 16(b)-(c).

A. Access to Parking Lot

Rainey was given a parking permit and an employee identification card, authorizing him to park in Hunt's lot. Complaint ¶ 16(e). Nonetheless, in October 2012, defendant Christensen, who was a manager, ordered Rainey to stop parking in the lot. Complaint ¶¶ 15, 16(b)-(c). Christensen also ordered Ken (the other black owner-operator) to stop parking in the lot. Complaint ¶ 16(c). Contrary to Christensen's order, Rainey parked in the lot for an additional week. Complaint ¶ 16(f). Christensen warned him that if he continued to do so, his truck would be towed. Complaint ¶ 16(f). Rainey began parking elsewhere, at an added cost of $75 per month. Complaint ¶ 16(i).

Unlike Rainey and Ken, the white owner-operator was not forbidden from parking in the lot, so he continued to do so. Complaint ¶¶ 16(g)-(h).

B. Hard Braking Incidents

Allegedly, Hunt encouraged owner-operators to drive in a particular manner. Complaint ¶ 17. Driving in the encouraged manner leads to "hard braking."[2] Complaint ¶ 17. On January 16, 2012, Hunt detected that Rainey had a hard braking incident. Complaint ¶ 25(ii); Complaint Ex. 5. Rainey met with a manager to discuss the incident, but the meeting did not go well. Complaint ¶¶ 25(iii)-(iv); Complaint Ex. 5. The manager noted that Rainey had 25 hard braking incidents in the prior three-and-a-half months, and recommended that he be fired immediately. Complaint Ex. 5. Defendant Christensen contributed to or reviewed that recommendation. Complaint Ex. 5. Rainey was fired the next day. Complaint ¶ 6.

III. Analysis

A. Rainey's Prior ...


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