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Awadh v. Tourneau, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 14, 2018

LOUAY AWADH, Plaintiff,
TOURNEAU, INC., Defendant.


          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Louay M. Awadh (“Awadh”) has filed this lawsuit pro se against Defendant Tourneau, Inc. (“Tourneau”) alleging violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. (“ADEA”), the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601 et seq. (“FMLA”), Mass. Gen. L. c. 151B (“Chapter 151B”) and Mass. Gen. L. c. 149, § 100 (“Chapter 149”).[1] D. 1 ¶¶ 3, 6; D. 1 at 14. Tourneau has filed a partial motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) seeking dismissal of Awadh's Section 1981, FMLA, Chapter 151B and Chapter 149 claims. D. 42. For the reasons stated below, the Court ALLOWS Tourneau's motion, id., and dismisses these claims.

         II. Standard of Review

         On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must determine if the facts alleged “plausibly narrate a claim for relief.” Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012) (internal citation omitted). Reading the complaint “as a whole, ” the Court must conduct a two-step, context-specific inquiry. García-Catalán v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013). First, the Court “distinguish[es] the complaint's factual allegations (which must be accepted as true) from its conclusory legal allegations (which need not be credited).” Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Cardigan Mt. Sch. v. N.H. Ins. Co., 787 F.3d 82, 84 (1st Cir. 2015)). Second, taking the well-pled facts as true and “drawing all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, ” the Court determines if the facts “plausibly narrate a claim for relief.” Id. In sum, the complaint must provide sufficient factual allegations for the Court to find the claim “plausible on its face.” García-Catalán, 734 F.3d at 103.

         “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Nevertheless, a pro se complaint survives the motion to dismiss stage only if it “set[s] forth factual allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some actionable legal theory.” Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 515 (1st Cir. 1988).

         III. Factual Allegations

         The following allegations, unless otherwise noted, are from Awadh's complaint and are accepted as true for the purposes of considering the motion to dismiss. Awadh identifies himself as a “52-year-old Middleastern Muslim immigrant.” D. 1 ¶ 17. In January 2009, Awadh applied for a job at Tourneau. D. 1 ¶ 21. Awadh was informed that there was no sales associate position vacant at the time, but that the “Vintage Manager” and “Cash Office Associate” positions were available. Id. The general manager at Tourneau's Boston location, Vineet Tiwary, interviewed Awadh. D. 1 ¶ 23. Awadh and Tiwary had previously worked together at Alpha Omega, another watch retailer where Awadh had worked for eight years. D. 1 ¶ 19. Awadh was hired as a cash office associate on February 1, 2009. D. 1 ¶ 25.

         While employed at Tourneau, Awadh alleges that he faced a series of issues regarding his religious beliefs and practices. Awadh was scheduled to work Fridays on “more than six occasions” between February and September 2009. D. 1 ¶¶ 26-38, 55. At Awadh's pre-employment interview, Awadh had informed Tiwary that he would need Fridays off for his religious practices, and “Tiwary agreed to accommodate the Plaintiff's religious practice by giving him Fridays off.” D. 1 ¶ 23. Instead, however, he alleges he was “forced to violate his own religious practices for fear of termination or negative consequences from his employer.” D. 1 ¶ 26. In October 2009, Tiwary continued to schedule him for work on Friday and made “disrespectful” and “derogatory” statements about Awadh's Muslim beliefs and practices. D. 1 ¶¶ 54, 56-57.

         Awadh also alleges that he suffered discrimination and harassment at Tourneau that extended beyond his religious beliefs. First, Awadh's immediate supervisor occasionally made comments that Awadh “was too old when she explained something about the cash office and he would not understand her.” D. 1 ¶ 40. Second, coworkers also “made discriminatory remarks” about Awadh's “Middle Eastern origin” and culture in March and September 2009. D. 1 ¶¶ 85-89. Third, Awadh repeatedly inquired about vacant sales associate positions between February and September 2009 but was “not promoted.” D. 1 ¶¶ 47-53. He alleges that in September 2009, Tiwary “started to interview young Caucasian female applicants” for the position. D. 1 ¶ 50. Fourth, Tourneau hired one of Awadh's former Alpha Omega coworkers in June 2009, despite Awadh reminding Tiwary that the coworker had previously engaged in “unwelcomed [sic], explicitly verbal and physical conducts of [a] sexual [] nature.” D. 1 ¶¶ 77-80. Later that month, the new hire “made a sexual comment” towards Awadh, and in September 2009, he “attempted to kiss” Awadh. D. 1 ¶¶ 81-82. Awadh informed Tiwary of the incident, but Tiwary “ignored the Plaintiff's concerns.” D. 1 ¶¶ 83-84.

         Awadh also alleges that on three occasions between March and May 2009, Awadh worked double shifts and did not take a meal break, but that Tourneau nevertheless deducted one hour from his pay for each day. D. 1 ¶¶ 74-76.

         On October 4, 2009, Awadh was involved in a car accident that caused “severe pain in his neck, shoulder, back, lower back, left arm and left foot.” D. 1 ¶ 59. The following morning, Awadh called Tiwary from the hospital, informed Tiwary he could not work until October 7 and provided him with “the hospital's out of work letter.” D. 1 ¶ 60. But the next day, Awadh met with his doctor, who informed him that he would be unable to work until October 28. D. 1 ¶ 61. Awadh's doctor called Tiwary to inform him. D. 1 ¶ 62. Awadh's return date was then delayed several more times “because he was still suffering from pain.” D. 1 ¶¶ 63-65. On December 16, 2009, Awadh told Tiwary he would return on January 17, 2010 and provided Tiwary with a letter from his doctor. D. 1 ¶ 65. On December 18, 2009, Awadh received a letter form Tourneau “stating that they had previously advised him that they could not hold his position open for him” and that “he could apply for a position” when he was medically able. D. 1 ¶ 66. Awadh contacted Tourneau about the letter, and on January 8, 2010, he received a letter from Tourneau stating that they had “informed him that they could not keep his position open for him on October 7, 2009.” D. 1 ¶¶ 67-68. On January 16, 2010, Awadh alleges that he submitted documents demonstrating his ability to work as of the next day, January 17, 2010, but “was not re-hired.” D. 1 ¶ 69.

         On January 7, 2011, Awadh requested his personnel records from Tourneau, which they declined. D. 1 ¶ 103. After Awadh reported this response to the Attorney General's office, Tourneau twice “submitted incomplete personnel records” in February and March 2011. D. 1 ¶¶ 104-07. Awadh alleges that the records inaccurately state that Awadh was a part-time employee. D. 1 ¶¶ 109-12.

         IV. ...

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