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Bazile v. UPS Ground Freight, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 17, 2019

JEAN NEL BAZILE, Plaintiff,
v.
UPS GROUND FREIGHT, INC., & ALBERT ABBOTT, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS (DOCKET NO. 15)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE

         UPS Ground Freight, Inc. (“UPS”) and Albert Abbott (“Mr. Abbott”) (collectively, “Defendants”) move to dismiss the assault and battery, interference with civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims asserted by Jean Nel Bazile (“Plaintiff”). (Docket No. 15). Because Massachusetts state law preempts Plaintiff's claims, Defendants' motion is granted as to Counts XI, XIII, and XIV.

         Background

          The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's complaint and assumed true for the purposes of this motion. UPS employed Plaintiff, a black Haitian male, as a mechanic in its Southborough, Massachusetts, facility. (Docket No. 1 at 2). Mr. Abbott was Plaintiff's immediate supervisor. (Docket No. 1 at 2). Plaintiff initially worked a 2:00pm through 10:00pm shift Monday through Thursday and a 6:00am to 2:00pm shift Friday.[1] (Docket No. 1 at 2). In July 2015, the only other mechanic working in the Southborough facility left the company. (Docket No. 1 at 3). UPS changed Plaintiff's schedule to 6:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Friday. (Docket No. 1 at 3).

         Around this time, Mr. Abbott began subjecting Plaintiff to an increasingly hostile work environment. (Docket No. 1 at 3). He changed Plaintiff's start time on Fridays to 2:30pm despite the previously-granted religious accommodation. (Docket No. 1 at 3). When Plaintiff objected, Mr. Abbott denied that UPS had ever given him an accommodation. (Docket No. 1 at 3). Mr. Abbott made Plaintiff fill out a new formal request for accommodation and forced Plaintiff to report at 2:30pm on Fridays while he considered the request. (Docket No. 1 at 3).

         On another occasion, Mr. Abbott grabbed the bible Plaintiff kept in his toolbox and asked, “Why is this here? Take this book and put it in your locker. I want this book gone tomorrow. I don't ever want to come in again and see your shit all over my stuff. Do you want to see the picture that I took, you fucking pain in the ass? Take this fucking bible and get it out of here.” (Docket No. 1 at 3). Mr. Abbott accused Plaintiff of reading the bible during company time and threw it across the room. (Docket No. 1 at 4).

         Mr. Abbott changed Plaintiff's hours two more times, eventually requiring Plaintiff to report at 4:00am. (Docket No. 1 at 4). On November 2, 2015, Plaintiff clocked in 15 minutes late because the main door was locked. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Mr. Abbott harassed Plaintiff for being late. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Later that day as his shift ended, Plaintiff caught Mr. Abbott smoking inside the building. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff took a picture with his cell phone. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Mr. Abbott yelled at Plaintiff to delete the picture. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff ignored the demand and headed for his car. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Mr. Abbott followed and stood in front of Plaintiff's car door. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Mr. Abbott then yelled that Plaintiff could not go home until he gave Mr. Abbott the picture. (Docket No. 1 at 5). When Plaintiff managed to open his car door, Mr. Abbott pushed him and slammed the car door shut. (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         Plaintiff began to experience symptoms of fatigue and stress. (Docket No. 1 at 6). He consulted a doctor who provided a note restricting Plaintiff from beginning work before 6:00am. (Docket No. 1 at 6). When Plaintiff submitted this note to UPS, Mr. Abbott refused to let Plaintiff work until a UPS doctor examined and cleared him. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff scheduled an appointment with the UPS doctor for December 3, 2015. (Docket No. 1 at 6). When he showed up for the appointment, however, the doctor informed him that an unknown individual had cancelled it on November 24, 2015. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Mr. Abbott then told Plaintiff to get his own doctor to clear him for work without restriction. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff received a note from his doctor clearing him to work without restrictions on January 7, 2016. (Docket No. 1 at 7).

         When Plaintiff returned to work on February 21, 2016, the harassment resumed. (Docket No. 1 at 7-8). Mr. Abbott again scheduled Plaintiff's shifts to begin at 4:00am. (Docket No. 1 at 7). And on March 13, 2016, Mr. Abbott blocked Plaintiff from leaving the spare parts room while he asked Plaintiff a series of questions. (Docket No. 1 at 8). A UPS driver witnessed this incident and threatened to report Mr. Abbott. (Docket No. 1 at 9). Plaintiff was terminated three days later. (Docket No. 1 at 9).

         After exhausting his remedies with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff filed this action. (Docket No. 1 at 10). He asserts sixteen claims against the Defendants. Relevant to this motion, he alleges assault and battery (Count XI), interference with civil rights (Count XIII), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count XIV).

         Legal Standard

         In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) 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, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). To survive the motion, the complaint must allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559 (2007). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. “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). “[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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         A defendant may raise an affirmative defense in a motion to dismiss “provided that ‘the facts establishing the defense [are] clear “on the face of the plaintiff's pleadings.”'” Trans-Spec Truck Serv., Inc. v. Caterpillar Inc., 524 F.3d 315, 320 (1st ...


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