United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
BARRY D. ROSS, Plaintiff,
HASBRO, INC., Defendant.
J. McCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
D. Ross applied to Hasbro, Inc. ("Hasbro") for a
job as a technical recruiter. ECF No. 1-1 at 3. He was
selected for multiple interviews, but not selected for the
position. Id. He sues Hasbro under (1) Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000E et
seq. ("Title VII"); (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981;
(3) the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, R.I. Gen. Laws
§§ 42-112-1 et seq.; and (4) The State
Fair Employment Practices Act, R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-5-1
et seq. ("FEPA"). Mr. Ross claims that
Hasbro did not hire him because he is African American and
instead hired a less qualified candidate. Id. at
4-5. In support of his claim of racial discrimination in
hiring, Mr. Ross alleges that the Hasbro Board of Directors
has no African American members and that its Human Resources
Department recruiting team has never hired an African
American. Id. at 3.
moves to dismiss asserting that Mr. Ross' Title VII and
FEPA claims are time-barred. See' ECF No. 6 at
3-6. Hasbro also moves to dismiss claiming that Mr. Ross has
not adequately pled his claim of discrimination. Id.
of Title VII Claims
VII requires a charge of discrimination to "be filed
within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful
employment practice occurred." 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(e)(1). Hasbro notified Mr. Ross on July 5, 2018 that
he was not offered the position. ECF No. 1-1 at 3. Mr. Ross
did not file his charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunities Commission ("EEOC") until 258 days
later, on March 20, 2019. See id.
Title VII requires suit to be filed within ninety days of the
issuing of a right to sue letter by the EEOC. Taal v.
Hannaford Bros. Co., 211 Fed.Appx. 4, 4-5 (1st Cir.
2006) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1)). The EEOC
issued a right to sue letter to Mr. Ross on March 20, 2019.
ECF No. 1-1 at 3. Mr. Ross did not sue until 109 days later,
on July 9, 2019. See id.
Ross in his position seems to invoke equitable tolling as a
basis for his late filings. See ECF No. 9 at 4. For
Title VII claims, however, equitable tolling is only
appropriate when a claimant misses a deadline "because
of circumstances beyond [his] control." Taal,
211 Fed.Appx. 4 at 5 (quoting Bonilla v. Muebles J.J.
Alvarez, Inc., 194 F.3d 275, 279 (1st Cir. 1999)).
Because Mr. Ross has shown no circumstances beyond his
control that warrant equitable tolling, his Title VII claims
are time barred and must be dismissed.
of FEPA Claims
FEPA, the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights ("the
Commission") has jurisdiction to hear and resolve claims
of employment discrimination. See R.I. Gen. Laws
§ 28-5-1 et seq., 'see also Paulo v. Cooley,
Inc., 686 F.Supp. 377, 382 (D.R.I. 1988). A claimant
must file a claim of employment discrimination with the
Commission within one year of the alleged discriminatory
conduct. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-5-17(a). If
after 120 days (but not more than two years) after the filing
of a claim, the Commission has been unable to secure a
conciliation agreement and has not commenced a hearing, a
claimant may ask for a right to sue in state court. R.I. Gen.
Laws § 28-5-24.1.
accordance with the provisions of FEPA, for Mr. Ross'
allegations to be considered, he would have had to file a
charge within one year of the alleged discriminatory conduct.
Because Mr. Ross' allegations of discriminatory conduct
occurred on July 5, 2018 and he never filed a charge with the
Commission, his FEPA claims are also timed barred and must be
dismissed. Plausible Facts Supporting the Complaint
Hasbro also moves to dismiss Mr. Ross' claims under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), asserting that Mr. Ross has failed to
allege plausible facts that would support a claim of racial
discrimination under Title VII, FEPA, 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
or the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act. ECF No. 6 at 6-12.
survive this motion to dismiss, it is not necessary for Mr,
Ross to plead facts supporting each element of a claim of
employment discrimination, but he is required to plead facts
that allow the Court to plausibly infer liability. See
Solola v. Prospect Chartercare, LLC, 2016 WL 4385889, at
*2 (D.R.I. Aug. 17, 2016) (citing Williams v.
Shinseki, 2013 WL 1336360, at *3 (D. Mass. Mar. 29,
2013) and Rodriguez-Reyes v. Molina-Rodriguez, 711
F.3d 49, 54 (1st Cir. 2013)). The Court must review the facts
pled as true and in the light most favorable to Mr. Ross,
drawing all reasonable inferences. See Gargano v. Liberty
Int'l Underwriters, 572 F.3d 45, 48 (1st Cir. 2009).
But conclusory statements of the law are "not entitled
the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
aside conclusory statements of the law, the only facts in
support of causation that Mr. Ross asserts that connect his
race to his lack of hiring is that the Hasbro Board of
Directors has no African American members and that its Human
Resources Department recruiting team has never hired an
African American. ECF No. 1-1 at 3. The Court needs not
decide whether these facts would be enough to sustain Mr.
Ross' burden, because Hasbro points out that neither of
these assertions by Mr. Ross are true. ECF No. 6 at 10.
Hasbro's Board of Directors does have an African American
member and the ...