United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
N. Parrish United States District Court Judge
Steven Hampton brought this action against the Utah Transit
Authority (“UTA”) after he was laid off in
September 2015. He alleges that UTA's decision to
terminate his employment constitutes age discrimination under
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”)
and that UTA breached a contract between the parties.
January 27, 2017, UTA filed a motion to dismiss under Rules
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of jurisdiction and failure to
state a claim (ECF No. 5). The court denied that motion in
part and granted it in part on September 7, 2017 (ECF No.
16). Specifically, the court dismissed with prejudice Mr.
Hampton's age discrimination claim under 49 U.S.C. §
5332(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and it dismissed without
prejudice his breach-of-contract claim. As part of that
order, the court also required Mr. Hampton to file either an
amended complaint or a response to UTA's argument (first
raised in its reply brief) that Mr. Hampton's complaint
was untimely filed.
October 16, 2017, Mr. Hampton filed a supplemental response
to UTA's argument and sought leave to amend his complaint
(ECF Nos. 19, 20). The court granted the motion to amend and
took the response under consideration. On October 30, 2017,
UTA filed a consolidated motion to dismiss Mr. Hampton's
amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 24). That
motion is now before the court.
Hampton is 65 years old. He worked for UTA from 2007 to 2015
as an Auditor. But on September 16, 2015, UTA informed Mr.
Hampton that it intended to terminate his position as part of
a reduction in force. At about the same time, UTA sought
applicants for the position of Senior Internal Auditor, which
Mr. Hampton posits involves substantially the same duties and
responsibilities that he performed as an Auditor.
to his termination, Mr. Hampton met with Chief Internal
Auditor Isaac Clark and HR representative Kenya Fail. Mr.
Clark and Ms. Fail promised that UTA would provide Mr.
Hampton with a permanent UTA ride pass as part of a severance
package. They also promised him that his unused sick leave
would be converted to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement
(“HRA”). Mr. Hampton alleges that this meeting
was not the first time he was informed that he would receive
the meeting, UTA presented Mr. Hampton with a severance
agreement, but he ultimately refused that offer. After Mr.
Hampton declined the agreement, UTA terminated his employment
and refused him the permanent ride pass and HRA conversion.
March 11, 2016, Mr. Hampton filled out a “Civil Rights
Complaint Form” and submitted it to the Utah
Antidiscrimination and Labor Division (“UALD”),
which has a work-sharing agreement with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Mr. Hampton
admits that he received a phone call from the UALD indicating
that his charge was untimely filed. However, Mr. Hampton
never received a Notice of Right to Sue or other
documentation terminating proceedings from the EEOC. To his
knowledge, the EEOC never terminated the proceedings before
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must
“state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To do so, a plaintiff must plead both
a viable legal theory and “enough factual matter, taken
as true, to make [the] ‘claim to relief . . . plausible
on its face.” Bryson v. Gonzales, 534 F.3d
1282, 1286 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A plaintiff is not
required to include detailed factual allegations, but the
complaint must contain “more than labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, ” and ultimately must
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
argues that Mr. Hampton's age discrimination claim under
the ADEA should be dismissed for three reasons: (1) Mr.
Hampton failed to meet the applicable 90-day statute of
limitations for an ADEA claim; (2) Mr. Hampton has not pled a
claim for age discrimination; and (3) Mr. Hampton asserts
claims for damages that are not available under the ADEA. UTA
also argues that Mr. Hampton's breach-of-contract claim
should be dismissed for two reasons: (1) the court lacks
jurisdiction to hear that claim; and (2) Mr. Hampton has not
stated a claim for breach of contract. Because the ADEA claim
provides the basis for this court's jurisdiction, the
court begins with that claim.
The ADEA's 90-day Limitation Period
ADEA provides that “[a]ny person aggrieved may bring a
civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction for such
legal or equitable relief as will effectuate the purposes of
this chapter.” 29 U.S.C. § 626(c)(1). However, the
right to bring such an action is limited. For example, an
employee loses the right to prosecute an action on his or her
own behalf if the EEOC commences an action to enforce the
employee's rights. See Id. If the EEOC
determines not to commence an action, then “the
Commission shall notify the person aggrieved.” 29
U.S.C. § ...