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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. A&E Tire, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 5, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
A&E TIRE, INC., Defendant. and EGAN J. WOODWARD, Intervenor Plaintiff,

          ORDER ON A&E MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          R. Brooke Jackson Judge

         This matter is before the Court on defendant A&E Tire, Inc.'s, motions to dismiss Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) and Egan J. Woodward's complaints. ECF Nos. 18, 19 (Motions to Dismiss); ECF Nos. 1, 11 (Complaints). After reviewing the briefing, ECF Nos. 18, 19, 27, 34, this Court denies A&E's motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         For present purposes the Court construes the well-pleaded allegations of fact in plaintiffs' complaints as true. Plaintiffs allege that on May 15, 2014 A&E posted an ad for a managerial position online. ECF No. 1 at ¶16. Mr. Woodward, a transgender man, completed an application and provided A&E with a copy of his resume on May 16, 2014. Id. at ¶17-18. On the same day, an A&E manager interviewed Mr. Woodward for roughly 45 minutes. Id. at ¶21-23, 25. During said interview, Mr. Woodward wore traditional male attire and a goatee, and the manager did not recognize that Mr. Woodward was transgender. Id. at ¶24, 25. Mr. Woodward and the manager apparently got along well during the interview and connected over their Midwestern roots. Id. at ¶26-27, 29.

         The two discussed salary expectations, and the manager stated at least twice that Mr. Woodward had the job if he could pass pre-employment testing such as a drug test and criminal background check. Id. at ¶30-33, 40. The manager then gave Mr. Woodward a tour of the company's premises, taking Mr. Woodward to various locations around the property and introducing him as the new manager to any employees they met along the way. Id. at ¶36. The manager also asked Mr. Woodward for design input on the new offices, asking him to draw up some plans. Id.

         Mr. Woodward completed a screening consent form which authorized the background check. Id. at ¶42. In response to questions on that form, Mr. Woodward provided the name he was assigned at birth, which is typically associated with the female sex, and also checked a box indicating that his sex was female. Id. at ¶42-44. After Mr. Woodward left A&E Tire, he received a phone call from the manager who said something to the effect of “I see on your drug test that you checked female.” Id. at ¶46. Mr. Woodward confirmed that this was correct, and the manager stated “Oh, that's all I need” and abruptly hung up. Id. at ¶47-48.

         In the following weeks, Mr. Woodward contacted A&E several times in order to discuss completing the background screenings and starting work. Id. at ¶49. On June 10, 2014-a little less than a month since he was loosely promised the job-Mr. Woodward finally spoke with the manager. Id. at ¶51. Mr. Woodward was informed that the position was given to another applicant, who had applied on May 21, interviewed on June 6, and began work on June 10, 2014. Id. at ¶52-54.

         B. Procedural Background

         Mr. Woodward filed a charge with the EEOC alleging violations of Title VII by A&E Tire. ECF No. 1 at ¶6. Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. See Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (providing, in relevant part, “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge . . . or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his [or her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”). The EEOC is a governmental agency charged with the administration, interpretation and enforcement of Title VII and is expressly authorized to bring federal actions for violations of such. See Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) and (3).

         Here, after Mr. Woodward filed a charge with the EEOC, the EEOC provided A&E Tire with notice of the charge against it. ECF No. 1 at ¶7-8. After conducting its own investigation, the Commission issued a determination on June 30, 2016, informing A&E that the EEOC had reasonable cause to believe that A&E Tire had violated Title VII when it failed to hire Mr. Woodward “because of his sex, male, and/or transgender status.” Id. at ¶ 9-10. The EEOC invited A&E Tire to join it in informal methods of conciliation in an effort to eliminate the unlawful employment practices and provide appropriate relief. Id. at ¶11. A&E Tire participated in conciliation, but ultimately the EEOC and A&E Tire were unable to reach an agreement acceptable to the EEOC. Id. at ¶12-13. As such, on June 27, 2017, the Commission issued A&E Tire a Notice of Failure of Conciliation. Id. at ¶14.

         On September 29, 2017, the EEOC filed this suit against A&E Tire. ECF No. 1. On November 10, 2017 Mr. Woodward filed an unopposed motion to intervene, ECF No. 9, which was granted. ECF No. 10. On November 13, 2017 Mr. Woodward filed his complaint. ECF No. 11. On December 15, 2017 A&E Tire filed motions to dismiss both complaints. ECF Nos. 18, 19. The EEOC and Mr. Woodward filed a joint response, ECF No. 27, and A&E Tire filed a reply. ECF No. 34.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaints must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plausible claim is a claim that “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While the Court must accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Robbins v. Wilkie, 300 F.3d 1208, 1210 (10th Cir. 2002), purely conclusory allegations are not entitled to be presumed true, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. However, so long as the plaintiff offers sufficient ...


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