Eliminating Title VII Claims Against a Leading Product Distributor

December 18, 2019

Epstein Becker Green led a client (a leading distributor of maintenance, repair, and operations products) to victory in a federal case that highlighted the importance of compliance with the procedural prerequisites to commencing an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”).

In April 2018, the plaintiff, a former employee of our client, filed a pro se complaint in a New Jersey Superior Court, asserting claims against our client involving sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliatory discharge, and slander. Epstein Becker Green, on behalf of our client, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In July 2018, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s purported claims for hostile work environment, retaliatory discharge, and slander but allowed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging that he was subjected to workplace sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of Title VII. He also claimed that our client violated Title VII by denying him a promotion and pay increase and subsequently terminating his employment.

In September 2018, shortly after removing the matter to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (“District Court”), Epstein Becker Green, on behalf of our client, filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint, because the plaintiff failed to plead exhaustion of administrative remedies to satisfy the procedural prerequisite to a Title VII claim.

On March 7, 2019, the District Court dismissed any Title VII claim in the plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Having dismissed the only federal claim, the District Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any attempted state law claim, including any attempted claim for defamation or slander. The plaintiff has not refiled a complaint in New Jersey state court.

The Epstein Becker Green team was led by Patrick G. Brady and included John M. O’Connor.