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Reid v. UBER Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 26, 2018

JOSEPH REID
v.
UBER Inc.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. STEARNS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Joseph Reid brings this action against UBER Inc. (Uber) in which he alleges that: (1) he was fired as a driver for Uber without just cause; and (2) Uber denied him payment for services performed. For the reasons stated below, the court orders that this action be dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 14, 2018, Reid filed a pro se civil complaint (Dkt. #1) against Uber, claiming that the company had wrongfully fired him, withheld money due to him, and retaliated against him. In a memorandum and order dated August 22, 2018 (Dkt. #5), the court granted Reid's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and conducted a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The court concluded that Reid had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because his complaint did not meet the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court directed him to file an amended complaint.

         On September 20, 2018, Reid timely filed his amended complaint. Dkt. #6. While the pleading is not a model of clarity, the court can discern therefrom some key factual allegations. On or about March 15, 2014, Uber terminated Reid's employment without warning or just cause. At that time, Reid had been earning approximately $150/day or $700/week driving for Uber. Uber also owed Reid $420.00 for work that he had already performed, a debt that Uber has never satisfied. Soon after the termination, Reid contacted Uber in writing and by phone concerning the situation, but he never received a written response and he was not permitted to speak to a “boss” at Uber by telephone. Reid also refers vaguely to “retaliation, ” but he does not flesh out the conclusory allegation.

         II. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

         Federal district courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions arising under federal laws, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“§ 1331”), and over certain actions in which the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (“§ 1332”). Where a district court has original jurisdiction under § 1331 or § 1332, it may have supplemental jurisdiction over claims that “form part of the same case or controversy” as the claims on which the court's original jurisdiction is predicated. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)-(c). A court has an obligation to inquire sua sponte into its own subject matter jurisdiction, see McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004), and “[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Upon review of the amended complaint, the court concludes that Reid has failed to state a claim over which the court has original subject matter jurisdiction.

         A. Federal Question Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Reid does not identify, nor can the court discern, a federal law giving rise to his claims.

         Assuming, but not concluding, that Reid was an employee of Uber (rather than an independent contractor), [1] he has not stated a claim under federal law for wrongful termination of employment. Federal law prohibits an employer from firing an employee based on the employee's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). In some circumstances, federal law also prohibits an employer from firing an employee based on the employee's age or disability. See 29 U.S.C. § 623(a); 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). It is also unlawful under federal law for an employer to fire an employee because the employee has opposed illegal discrimination by the employer. See 29 U.S.C. § 623(d); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a); 42 U.S.C. § 12203.

         Although Reid alleges that Uber treated him unfairly, he has not alleged any facts from which the Court may reasonably infer that the termination of his employment violated federal law. He does not suggest that Uber terminated his employment based on his race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability, or because he opposed discriminatory practices by his employer.

         B. Diversity Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Subject matter jurisdiction exists under § 1332 when the plaintiff and the defendant are “citizens” of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. “For purposes of diversity, a person is a citizen of the state in which he is domiciled, ” or, in other words, where he has his “true, fixed home and principal establishment.” Padilla-Mangual v. Pavia Hosp., 516 F.3d 29, 31 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting in part Rodríguez-Díaz v. Sierra-Martínez, 853 F.2d 1027, 1029 (1st Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted)). A corporation is a citizen “of any State by which it has been incorporated and of the State where it has its principal place of business.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).

         Here, it appears that the parties are of diverse citizenship. Reid provides an address for himself in Randolph, Massachusetts, and the court presumes that he is a citizen of Massachusetts. Reid represents that Uber has a place of business in Boston, Massachusetts, but it appears that, for purposes of § 1332, Uber is a citizen of Delaware and California. See, e.g., Boston Cab Dispatch, Inc. v. Uber Techs., Inc., C.A. No. 13-10769-NMG, Dkt. #1 (D. Mass. Apr. 3, 2013 D. Mass.) (notice of ...


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