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Robinson v. Regional Transportation District

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 29, 2018

LENWOOD ROBINSON, individually, Plaintiff,
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT, a political subdivision of the State of Colorado, Defendant.


          William J. Martínez United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Lenwood Robinson (“Robinson”) brings this lawsuit against his former employer Defendant Regional Transportation District, a political subdivision of the State of Colorado (“RTD”). Robinson alleges that RTD discriminated against him on the basis of race by disciplining him and not promoting him, and retaliated against him for engaging in protected activities. Robinson brings his claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), the Colorado AntiDiscrimination Act, Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 24-34-401 et. seq. (“CADA”), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (ECF No. 5.)

         Currently pending before the Court is RTD's Partial Motion to Dismiss State Law Claim Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) (“Partial Motion to Dismiss”). (ECF No. 69.) RTD argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction over CADA state claims arising out of Robinson's charge of employment discrimination filed August 3, 2015 with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (“CCRD”) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). For the reasons explained below, this Court agrees and grants the Partial Motion to Dismiss. Robinson's other claims under state and federal law remain pending before this Court.


         To adjudicate a dispute, the Court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter; absent subject matter jurisdiction, a court must dismiss the action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”). Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) generally take one of two forms: a facial or factual attack. 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, the court accepts 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 that 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 12(b)(6) or 56, 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.


         On August 3, 2015, Robinson filed a charge of employment discrimination against his then-employer RTD with CCRD and EEOC, which was docketed as CCRD Charge No. D20160009 and EEOC Charge No. 541-2015-01743, respectively (“First Charge”).[1] (ECF No. 5 ¶ 5.) On May 10, 2016, CCRD issued its findings of “no probable cause” on the First Charge. Id. ¶ 7.

         Although not alleged in the Complaint, Robinson appealed CCRD's finding of no probable cause to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (“the Commission”). (ECF Nos. 69 ¶ 5; 69-1 at 2.) On June 27, 2016, CCRD issued a letter to Robinson inf orming him that the Commission affirmed CCRD's finding of no probable cause. (ECF No. 69-1 at 2.) The letter notified Robinson that, if his matter was also filed with EEOC, he could request a substantial weight review. Id. In addition, the letter advised Robinson that, if he wanted to file a civil action based on the charges reviewed by the Commission, he would need to file the action within ninety days or his action would be barred. Id.[2] Ninety days from the date of CCRD's letter was Sunday, September 25, 2016, and the next business day on which Robinson could file his lawsuit was Monday, September 26, 2016.

         Separately, after the initial May 2016 CCRD finding on the First Charge, Robinson filed a timely request with EEOC for a substantial weight review. (ECF No. 5 ¶ 8.) In August 2016, EEOC completed its substantial weight review and, on August 17, 2016, sent Robinson a letter and official notice explaining that EEOC adopted the findings of the state agency. (ECF No. 5 ¶ 9 & Ex. 1.)[3] The notice informed Robinson of his right to file a civil action on his federal claims within ninety days of receipt of the notice. (ECF No. 5 at Ex. 1.) Specifically, the enclosed “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” stated that Robinson could “file a lawsuit against [RTD] under federal law . . . within 90 days.” (ECF No. 5 at Ex. 1 (emphasis added).) The accompanying letter stated that there was no evidence to “substantiate a violation of the statutes enforced by the EEOC” and no indication that further investigation would “disclose a violation of the statutes enforced by the EEOC.” (ECF No. 73-2 at 2 (emphasis added).) Also enclosed with the notice and letter was a document titled “Information Related to Filing Suit Under the Laws Enforced by the EEOC.” (ECF No. 73-3 at 2.) That document contained the following statement about federal and state law:

This information relates to filing a suit in Federal or State court under Federal law. If you also plan to sue claiming violations of State law, please be aware that time limits and other provisions of State law may be shorter or more limited than those described below.

(ECF No. 73-3 at 2 (emphasis in original).) Ninety days from the date of the EEOC letter was November 15, 2016.

         Robinson filed his Complaint alleging violations of state and federal law in state court on November 10, 2016, and RTD removed the action to this Court on November 23, 2016. (ECF Nos. 1 & 5.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ...

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