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Hampton v. Utah Transit Authority

United States District Court, D. Utah

September 7, 2017

STEVEN HAMPTON, Plaintiff,
v.
UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY Defendants/Counterclaimants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART THE UTA'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          JILL N. PARRISH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Steven Hampton sued his former employer, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), for age discrimination and other claims after he was laid off. Before the court is the UTA's motion to dismiss Mr. Hampton's action. [Docket 5]. The UTA argues that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to address Mr. Hampton's first age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. It also argues that the court should dismiss his second age discrimination claim under 49 U.S.C. § 5332(b) and 42 U.S.C. 2000d because those statutes do not create a private right of action for age discrimination. Finally, the UTA argues that the court should dismiss the state-law breach of contract cause of action for failure to state a claim because Mr. Hampton did not allege the elements of a valid contract.

         The court DENIES the motion to the extent that it requests dismissal of the ADEA age discrimination claim. The court GRANTS the motion to the extent that it requests dismissal of the age discrimination claim under 49 U.S.C. § 5332(b) and 42 U.S.C. 2000d. The court further GRANTS the motion to the extent that it requests dismissal of the breach of contract claim.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         Mr. Hampton worked for the UTA as an auditor. On September 16, 2015, the UTA informed Mr. Hampton that it intended to terminate his position. In a meeting with his boss and a human resources employee, Mr. Hampton was promised that he would receive a lifetime UTA ride pass. He was also promised that his unused sick time would be converted to a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).

         The UTA forwarded a severance agreement to Mr. Hampton, but he decided not to sign it. After Mr. Hampton declined to sign the agreement, the UTA refused to give him a lifetime pass or convert his unused sick time to an HRA.

         Within 180 days of being laid off, Mr. Hampton submitted an intake form to the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division (UALD). The intake form asserted claims of age discrimination and requested that the agency take action. Notwithstanding the timely filing, the UALD did not create a charge or forward the matter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

         Mr. Hampton subsequently filed a lawsuit against the UTA in this court. The complaint alleges three causes of action: (1) age discrimination under the ADEA, (2) age discrimination under 49 U.S.C. 5332(b) and 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., and (3) breach of contract. The UTA moved to dismiss all claims under either Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or Rule 12(b)(6) for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         ANALYSIS

         I. THE ADEA CLAIM

         The UTA first argues that the court should dismiss the ADEA claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The UTA asserts that the court lacks jurisdiction because Mr. Hampton did not file a charge with the appropriate state agency within 300 days after the alleged unlawful practice occurred as required by 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(B). The UTA also contends in its reply brief that the court lacks jurisdiction because Mr. Hampton did not allege that it filed this lawsuit within 90 days after the proceedings before the EEOC were terminated. See Id. § 626(e).

         A. Jurisdictional Facts

         A motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may take one of two forms. A party may make a facial challenge to the allegations contained in the plaintiff's complaint, or a party may mount a factual challenge by asserting that the underlying facts of the case do not support the jurisdiction of the court. United Tribe of Shawnee Indians v. United States, 253 F.3d 543, 547 (10th Cir. 2001). “In addressing a factual attack, the court . . . ‘has wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).'” Id. (citation omitted).

         The UTA mounts a factual challenge to jurisdiction. Pursuant to this factual challenge, both the UTA and Mr. Hampton have submitted documents related to the administrative proceedings below. These documents establish that Mr. Hampton was laid off on September 18, 2015. He initially accepted the severance agreement the UTA had offered him, but on October 15, 2015, he signed a letter in which he rescinded this acceptance. He later retained a law firm to handle an age discrimination claim against the UTA. On March 11, 2016, an employee of that firm emailed a completed intake form to the UALD. The form outlined the allegations of Mr.

         Hampton's age discrimination claim and listed the relief that he sought. The first line of the form, which was created by the UALD, contained the following notice:

THIS FORM DOES NOT REPRESENT A CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION WITH THE DIVISION.

In order to file a Charge with the Division, you must complete and return this form. The Division will use the information in this Intake Form to draft a separate Charge which will be mailed to you. You will then need to sign the Charge and have it notarized. The Division can formally ...


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