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Mason v. Central Mass Transit Management

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 2, 2019

RAYMOND R. MASON, Sr. Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL MASS TRANSIT MANAGEMENT/WORCESTER REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY; DAVID TRABUCCO, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JONATHAN CHURCH, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 22; KENNETH KEPHART, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOCKET NO. 16)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE

         Raymond R. Mason, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) brings this action against several parties. For the purposes of this order, the relevant parties are Plaintiff's union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 (“the Union”), and Business Agent for the Union, Kenneth Kephart (“Mr. Kephart”) (collectively “Defendants”). In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges claims for breach of the duty of fair representation, violations of Title VII, the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment, 18 U.S.C. § 241, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12 § 11I. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss all counts against them. (Docket No. 16). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted.

         Background

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Docket No. 14) and are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion.

         On May 5, 2003, Plaintiff began working for Worcester Regional Transit Authority (“WRTA”)/Central Mass. Transit Management, Inc (“CMTM”) as a part-time van driver. On December 23, 2015, CMTM and the Union entered into a Supplemental Agreement that stated, “if [an] employee is found to be using a personal electronic device and the employee is in front of the yellow line in a fixed route bus or in front of the curb side door well stanchion in a lift equipped van, the consequence will be immediate termination of employment by the Company.” (Docket No. 14-1, at 6). This agreement also stated that, “an employee cannot challenge the discipline imposed for an employee's use of a personal electronic device while on duty.” Id. Neither the Union nor CMTM circulated this agreement to their employees.

         On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff returned to work after a medical emergency at his home. At 2:23 p.m., as he was leaving the parking lot of WRTA in his van, he received a call on his cell phone from Ms. Jandrow, Transportation Coordinator for CMTM. Unsure if the call was related to the previous emergency, Plaintiff answered the call and Ms. Jandrow offered him a night-time position at the WRTA Van Division.

         The next day, David Trabucco (“Mr. Trabucco”), Assistant General Manager for CMTM, notified Plaintiff that CMTM was investigating Plaintiff's improper cell phone use while on duty.[1] Mr. Trabucco spoke with Business Agent Kephart and scheduled a disciplinary hearing for that day. Mr. Kephart told Mr. Trabucco that Plaintiff refused to be present at the hearing. As a result, Mr. Kephart attended the hearing on Plaintiff's behalf. See Docket No. 14, at 10. However, Plaintiff claims that, “there is absolutely no truth to Mr. Trabuco's account that ‘Plaintiff refused to attend or be present at a hearing.'” (Docket No. 14, at 11). After the hearing, Mr. Kephart called Plaintiff and asked him to report to the company building, where they met in the lobby. At this meeting, Mr. Kephart told Plaintiff, “you have two choices, either to resign or be fired and lose everything.” Id. at 12. Mr. Kephart alluded to a video that would show Plaintiff using his phone while on duty, but would not allow Plaintiff to view this video.[2]

         After the meeting, Plaintiff and Mr. Trabucco went to the office of Jo-Ann Clougherty, from Human Resources, where Plaintiff was instructed by Mr. Trabucco to sign the Notice of Termination. Plaintiff signed the notice and was terminated from his position.[3] Plaintiff believes the word “resignation” was added to the notice after he signed it.

         After he was terminated, and before filing this claim, Plaintiff filed claims with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). Plaintiff provided the Court with a response letter from the NLRB dated July 26, 2018. This letter references a March 9th, 2018 letter from Plaintiff to the NLRB, “requesting, for a second time, reconsideration of [the NLRB's] decision denying [Plaintiff's] appeal in the captioned cases.” (Docket No. 14-1, at 18). The heading of the July 26, 2018 letter references two cases against CMTM/WRTA and one against the Union.[4]

         Plaintiff also claims that Mr. Kephart represented two other employees who were caught using their cell phones while driving. Unlike Plaintiff, those employees did not lose their job.

         Legal Standard

         A defendant may move to dismiss, based solely on the complaint, for the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Although detailed factual allegations are not necessary to survive a motion to dismiss, the standard “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. “The relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from the facts alleged in the complaint.” Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011).

         In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 68 (1st Cir. 2000). It is a “context-specific task” to determine “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, ” one that “requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (internal citations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). On the other hand, a court may not disregard properly pled factual allegations, “even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955.

         Because Plaintiff appears pro se, we construe his pleadings more favorably than we would those drafted by an attorney. See Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007). Nevertheless, Plaintiff's pro-se status does not excuse him from complying with procedural and ...


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