United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Republic Airline
Inc.’s (“Republic”) Motion to Dismiss.
(Filing No. 8.) On December 6, 2018, Plaintiff John Coomes
(“Coomes”), pro se, filed a
Complaint in the Marion Superior Court against Republic,
alleging employment discrimination on the basis of age,
gender, sexual orientation and negligent retention. (Filing
No. 1-3.) Republic removed the action to federal court.
(Filing No. 1.) Republic seeks dismissal pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Coomes fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
(Filing No. 8.) For the following reasons, the Court
grants in part and denies in part
Republic’s Motion to Dismiss.
following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as
required when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court
accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and
draws all inferences in favor of Coomes as the non-movant.
See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633
(7th Cir. 2008).
began working for Republic as a pilot in 2013 and when he
filed his Complaint in December 2018, he was a Captain with
the airline. (Filing No. 1-3 at 2.) Beginning in 2016, Coomes
“has been singled out for harassment and discrimination
by Pat Gannon, a Vice-President due to [his] Age, Gender, and
Sexual Orientation.” Id. Pat Gannon
(“Gannon”) oversees and is the ultimate
decisionmaker as to who gets positions in the Flight
Operations department at Republic. Id.
began his harassment of Coomes “in 2016 with verbal
attacks and sexually graphic taunts.” Id. He
withheld approval of expenses or inappropriately denied
claimed expenses and then belatedly approved them, delaying
repayment. Id. Gannon initiated retroactive changes
to Coomes’ training record and refused to correct them
when they were brought to his attention. Id. at 3.
He also directed the company not to make a full bonus payment
to Coomes in 2016. Id. Gannon forced Coomes to
undergo unnecessary training that was not required of other
2016, Coomes has been passed over for positions in Flight
Operations such as AQP Manager, Chief Pilot, and Assistant
Chief Pilot despite being qualified for those positions.
Id. Starting in 2018, Coomes has not received
interviews for other positions he has been qualified and
applied for. Id. In March 2018, he was not hired as
a Simulator Instructor and “all people hired were young
men in their 20s and 30s of varying sexual
orientations.” Id. In May 2018, Coomes was not
hired as manager of Flight Operations; the man hired was
approximately 30 years old. Id. Republic was
accepting applications for the position of Program Manager,
to which Coomes applied in August 2017 and he has not been
granted a chance to interview for. Id.
has singled out Coomes and ridiculed him in staff meetings
when Coomes is absent. Id. This and other behavior
“has created a hostile work environment that generates
a level of anxiety in [Coomes] that is persistent and
ongoing.” Id. Coomes has brought this behavior
to the attention of his supervisor and Human Resources, but
Republic has done nothing to correct Gannon’s behavior.
October 2017, Republic investigated Gannon for sexual
harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work
environment. Id. at 4. Coomes was interviewed by
outside counsel as part of that investigation and he shared
some of the facts related above with the investigator.
Id. Despite that investigation, Republic took no
action to correct the adverse effects of Gannon’s
behavior. Id. Republic investigated Gannon again in
March 2018 for creating a hostile work environment, sexual
harassment, and discrimination. Id. “At the
conclusion of that investigation, the company published a
memo all but naming Pat Gannon as a serial abusive manager,
but took no action to remove him from his position of
August 28, 2018, Coomes submitted a Charge of Discrimination
to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). (Filing No. 9-1.) In his
charge, he wrote:
I have worked for Republic Airline since April 2013. My most
recent title is Captain.
Since 2016, I have been continually denied positions in which
I have applied for, such as AQP Manager, Chief Pilot, and
Assistant Chief Pilot. In 2018, I have not even been granted
interviews for positions I have applied for, despite being
qualified. In March 2018, I was not hired for the Simulator
Instructor positions and all people hired were young men in
their 20s and 30s of varying sexual orientations. In May
2018, I was not hired as the manager of Flight Operations,
and the man hired was around 30. In August 2017, I applied
for the Program Manager position, which Republic Airlines is
still seeking applications, even though I am qualified and
have never been granted an interview.
I believe I am being discriminated [against] based on my age,
50, and sex, gender, and sexual orientation, in violation of
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967, as amended.
Id. at 2.
generously, The Complaint brings three claims against
Republic: (1) discrimination based on age in violation of the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29
U.S.C. § 623(a)(1); (2) discrimination based on gender
and sexual orientation in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e; and (3) negligent retention in violation of
Indiana law. (Filing No. 1-3.) Coomes asks for
“in excess of $1, 000, 000 in damages.”
Id. Republic has moved to dismiss the Complaint
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Filing No. 8.)