United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
an employment dispute arising out of an alleged wrongful
termination. Plaintiff Charles Von Schoppe was an employee of
Atkinson-Whitworth Corporation, d/b/a Jet-A-Way; he was also
a drug addict. He was terminated by Jet-A-Way after he took
time off to seek inpatient treatment at a drug and alcohol
treatment center. He alleges that Jet-A-Way discriminated
against him on the basis of disability in violation of Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 151B, and that his union, Teamsters Local 25,
and its business agent, Mark Lessard, violated their duties
of fair representation by failing to pursue a grievance, seek
arbitration, or seek a hearing concerning his termination.
Teamsters Local 25 and Lessard have moved to dismiss the fair
representation claim on the grounds that the claim is
time-barred and that the claim cannot be brought against
Lessard as an individual union business agent. For the
following reasons, the motion will be granted.
Von Schoppe was employed by Atkinson-Whitworth Corporation,
d/b/a Jet-AWay, as a solid-waste disposal driver from April
2004 until his termination on August 1, 2013. (Compl. ¶
6). Throughout his employment, Von Schoppe was a drug addict.
(Compl. ¶ 9).
employees of Jet-A-Way were represented by the Teamsters
union, Local 25. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-4). Mark Lessard was
the union business agent. (Compl. ¶ 4).
10, 2013, Von Schoppe worked with a representative of the
Teamsters Local 25 Employee Assistance Plan to begin
inpatient care at a drug and alcohol treatment center in
Worcester, Massachusetts. (Compl. ¶ 11). That same day,
he informed Lessard that he was ill and needed to seek
medical treatment. (Compl. ¶ 12). According to the
complaint, Lessard told Von Schoppe that he would inform the
owner and president of Jet-A-Way, Rolando Jeter, that Von
Schoppe was ill and receiving medical treatment, but never
did. (Id.). Approximately ten days later, Von
Schoppe was terminated for gross insubordination. (Compl.
to the complaint, Lessard refused to pursue a grievance
against Jet-A-Way, or seek arbitration or a hearing of any
kind regarding the termination. (Compl. ¶ 15). Instead,
according to the complaint, Lessard entered into an agreement
with Jet-A-Way to bypass the protections available to Von
Schoppe under the collective bargaining agreement. (Compl.
20, 2016, Von Schoppe filed the complaint in this action in
the Massachusetts Superior Court. The complaint alleged that
(1) defendant Jet-A-Way discriminated against him on the
basis of his disability in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch.
151B (Count 1) and (2) defendants Teamsters Local 25 and Mark
Lessard violated their duties of fair representation by
failing to file a grievance or arbitrate or seek a hearing
regarding plaintiff's termination by Jet-AWay (Count 2).
On September 8, 2016, defendants removed the action to this
Teamsters Local 25 and Lessard have now moved to dismiss
Count 2 on the grounds that the fair representation claim is
time-barred and that Lessard is immune for liability for such
a claim. For the following reasons, defendants' motion to
dismiss will be granted.
motion to dismiss, the court “must assume the truth of
all well-plead[ed] facts and give plaintiff the benefit of
all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally
Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir.
2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st
Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint
must state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). That
is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555
(citations omitted). “The plausibility standard is not
akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).