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Oldham v. Brennan

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 20, 2016

RONALD OLDHAM, THOMAS ANDERSON, EDWARD FISHER, JR., RICARDO PEÑA, JON RAMIREZ STEPHEN GENT, and BRIAN ROLING, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, U.S. Postal Service, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          William J. Martinez United States District Judge.

         In this putative class action, Plaintiff Ronald Oldham (“Oldham”) and other named Plaintiffs (together, “Plaintiffs”), employees of the U.S. Postal Service, bring claims of workplace age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., (“ADEA”), along with a related state law claim for breach of contract. (See generally, Plaintiff's First Amended Class Action Complaint (“Complaint”) (ECF No. 33).)

         Now before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) & (b)(6), filed by Defendant (the Postmaster General). (ECF No. 34.) For the reasons set forth below, this motion is granted.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Rule 12(b)(1) - Lack of Jurisdiction

         Rule 12(b)(1) motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction generally take one of two forms. A facial attack questions the sufficiency of the complaint as to its subject matter jurisdiction allegations. Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002 (10th Cir. 1995). In reviewing a facial attack, courts accept all well-pled allegations as true. Id.

         A factual attack, on the other hand, goes beyond the allegations in the complaint and challenges the facts on which subject matter jurisdiction is based. Id. at 1003. A factual attack does not permit the court to presume the complaint's factual allegations are true, although the court does have “wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).” Id. In such circumstances, the court's reference to evidence beyond the pleadings will not convert the motion to one under Rules 56 or 12(b)(6), unless the jurisdictional question is intertwined with the merits of the case. Id. “The jurisdictional question is intertwined with the merits of the case if subject matter jurisdiction is dependent on the same statute which provides the substantive claim in the case.” Id.

         As analyzed below, the Court understands Defendant's challenge to jurisdiction in this case-particularly as to administrative exhaustion of Plaintiffs' proposed class claims-to be in the nature of a factual attack.

         B. Rule 12(b)(6) - Failure to State a Claim

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim in a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The Rule 12(b)(6) standard requires the Court to “assume the truth of the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007).

         In ruling on such a motion, the dispositive inquiry is “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Thus, ‘a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following factual allegations are gathered from Plaintiff's Complaint' (ECF No. 33), and, as cited, from additional background documents filed by the parties, which either establish the facts relevant to the Court's determination of jurisdiction, and/or are documents that are referenced in Plaintiffs' Complaint and central to their claims.[1]

         A. General Factual Background

         Plaintiffs are past and present employees of the U.S. Postal Service. (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant, the Postmaster General, is the head of the U.S. Postal Service and Plaintiffs' employer within the meaning of the ADEA. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs are all over 40 years old (id.), and have been employees of the Postal Service since at least March 2012 (id. ¶ 20). More specifically, Plaintiffs are drivers for the Postal Vehicle Service (“PVS”). (Id. ¶¶ 3, 5; ECF No. 34 at 2, ¶ 1.)

         Plaintiffs and other PVS drivers are subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “CBA”) between the Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (“APWU”). (See ECF No. 33 ¶¶ 23, 35; ECF No. 34 at 2, ¶ 2; ECF No. 34-1.)[2]The CBA recognizes Postal Support Employees (“PSEs”), a classification of non-career employees. (ECF No. 33 ¶ 16; ECF No. 34 at 2, ¶ 2; ECF No. 34-1 at 7.)[3]

         B. Plaintiffs' Allegations

         Plaintiffs' age discrimination allegations relate to their own treatment relative to that of PSEs under the age of 40. (ECF No. 33 ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs and similarly-situated employees were hired before these younger PSEs. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiffs allege that these PSEs have the same job duties or descriptions as the Plaintiffs, but receive a higher rate of pay than the Plaintiffs and others over age 40. (Id. ¶ 16.) Put another way, Plaintiffs allege they have the same qualifications, job duties, and job titles as the younger and more recently hired PSEs, but historically have been and/or continue to be paid less than the younger PSEs. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 31.)

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendants “have a policy or practice of giving higher starting salaries to younger PSEs or temporary laborers which causes older employees to be discriminated against.” (Id. ¶ 22.) They further allege that Defendant has “failed to pay Plaintiffs the same wages as younger, newly, or recently hired postal employees, ” despite requests by Plaintiffs and the APWU (id. ΒΆ 23); and, that Defendant has paid back wages due to employees under 40 when requested ...


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