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Huff v. Regis Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

June 20, 2016




         Currently before the Court are Defendant Regis Corporation d/b/a Regis Salon's ("Regis") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 6) and Brief in support (Doc. 7). On May 31, 2016, Plaintiff Robert Deon Huff filed a Response (Doc. 13) in opposition to the Motion. In reviewing the Motion to Dismiss, the Court has also considered the pleadings; Mr. Huffs Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Charge of Discrimination, which was attached to the Motion;[1] and the Exhibits attached to the Complaint. For the reasons stated herein, the Court now GRANTS the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Robert Deon Huff is a former employee of Regis #321 at the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Mr. Huff worked at Regis as a stylist from some time in 1992 until January 13, 2015, when Regis terminated him. On April 9, 2015, 86 days after Regis terminated Mr. Huff, he filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC against Regis. The Charge alleged age discrimination, discrimination based on a "[h]ostile work environment, " and "harassment based on age and sexual orientation." (Doc. 6-1). Mr. Huff filed his Charge in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

         Mr. Huff contends that he was fired due to his age and his status as a gay man. Mr. Huff further maintains in his EEOC Charge:

Beginning in approximately March of 2013, and continuing thereafter, certain supervisors and employees of Regis who were superior to me began to tease me about my age and sexual orientation. At times I was referred to as the salon "Matriarch" or the "Residential Fairy of Regis." This occurred in approximately November, 2014. Over the course of time from approximately March, 2013, continually until and including January 13, I was subjected to ridicule by my co-workers and superiors at work, such as being required to deliver a public apology (standing in the middle of the salon in front of everyone present) for something I was accused of doing which I did not do. It was a humiliating and inappropriate way to handle that situation even if I had done what my superiors claimed that I did. I was suspended without cause in November 2014. There were multiple instances in which I was teased about my age and sexual orientation on a regular basis from March 2013 up to the date I was terminated on January 13, 2015.


         Mr. Huffs Complaint also appears to allege that customers were torn away from him "[d]ue to [his] religion and sexual orientation." (Doc. 3). Though he does not identify the specific facts surrounding this incident or incidents, Mr. Huff claims that "[t]his situation has caused defamation of character." Id.

         Regis responds that Mr. Huff was not fired for discriminatory reasons. Instead, Regis terminated Mr. Huff for failing to return to work on time after taking time off for personal leave, and for his prior suspension due to "unprofessionalism and his actions in front of a walk-in guest." (Doc. 7, p. 1).

         On September 23, 2015, the EEOC dismissed Mr. Huffs discrimination charge and sent him a "Right-to-Sue" letter. See Doc. 3-2. On March 23, 2016, 182 days after the EEOC issued Mr. Huff his Right-to-Sue letter, Mr. Huff filed the current Complaint before the Court. On April 21, 2016, Regis filed its Motion to Dismiss arguing first that Mr. Huffs age, sexual orientation, and possible religious discrimination claims should be dismissed because the claims are time-barred, and because Mr. Huff failed to state a claim for each charge; and second, that Mr. Huffs defamation claim also should be dismissed due to a time-bar and for failure to state a claim.

         In his Response, Mr. Huff concedes that his discrimination claims are time-barred: "I understand about the time limits clearly. It was a misjudgment to turn the EEOC Right to Sue letter in late." (Doc. 13). However, he argues that his claims should not be dismissed because he feels he has evidence to prove his case on the merits, and "[e]veryone in the United States has a right to be heard in front of a judge and even a right to a fair trial." Id.


         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must present "a short and plain statement of the claim that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The intention of this is to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Even so, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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." Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertions]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. In short, "the pleading standard that Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III. ...

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