United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC.
C. Hall United States District Judge
an action filed by plaintiff Jimmy Sellers
(“Sellers”) against his former employer,
defendant First Student, Inc. (“First Student”).
See Second Am. Compl. (“Complaint”)
(Doc. No. 14) ¶¶ 1-2, 7. Sellers's Complaint
alleges employment discrimination in violation of section
2000e of title 42 of the United States Code (“Count
1”), section 1981 of title 42 of the United States Code
(“Count 2”), section 46a-58 of the Connecticut
General Statutes (“Count 3”), and section 46a-60
of the Connecticut General Statutes (“Count 4”),
and further alleges several instances of defamation
(“Count 5”). See Complaint ¶¶
34-44. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), First Student has filed a Motion to
Dismiss all five of Sellers's claims now pending before
this court. See generally Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss
(“Motion”) (Doc. No. 20).
reasons set forth below, First Student's motion is
GRANTED with respect to Counts 1 and 2, and the court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Sellers's remaining state law claims, Counts 3, 4, and 5.
is a sixty-one year-old, “black and African
American” resident of Norwalk, Connecticut. Complaint
¶ 1. For thirty-three years-from 1980 until his May 29,
2013 termination-Sellers was employed by the predecessors of
First Student, a school bus company, and eventually by First
Student itself. Id. ¶ 7. Sellers maintained
“an exemplary work record, ” and was disciplined
just “3 to 4 times . . . [and never] for any type of
threatening or aggressive behavior, until the end of his
employment.” Id. ¶ 8.
beginning in approximately April 2013, several of First
Student's employees began implementing a plan to build a
record against Sellers, so as to eventually terminate his
employment because of his “color, race and age.”
Id. ¶ 9; see also id. ¶¶ 15,
17, 21, 23, 28-30. These employees also hatched and
implemented similar plans against several of Sellers's
coworkers. See id. ¶ 10.
April 4, 2013, April Williams (“Williams”), First
Student's Interim Safety manager, refused to help Sellers
renew his Commercial Driver License (“CDL”),
despite the fact that doing so was one of her duties.
Id. ¶ 11. At no point did Sellers direct any
inappropriate language at Williams. Id. ¶ 15.
Williams is “African American and [was] 53 years
old.” Id. ¶ 11.
following this “falling out, ” id.,
Sellers complained to Location Manager Elaine Reynolds
(“Reynolds”) that Williams had acted
unprofessionally in refusing to help him renew his CDL,
id. ¶ 12. Reynolds was “Caucasian and 57
years old.” Id. ¶ 12. At some point,
Sellers left Reynolds's office to retrieve a form related
to renewing his CDL. Id. Reynolds took the
opportunity, while Sellers was gone, to speak with Williams
about what had taken place. See id. ¶ 13. When
Sellers returned with the form, Reynolds told Sellers that
Williams claimed he had used foul language during their
earlier interaction. See id. Sellers insisted he had
not done so, and left the office, thinking the situation was
resolved. Id. ¶ 14.
did not hear anything more about the events of April 4, 2013,
until Reynolds wrote Sellers a letter on April 10, 2013.
Id. ¶ 16. Reynolds claimed that Sellers
“threw several papers on [her] desk & made a
comment about how [he] figured [ ] out” how to renew
his CDL himself. Id. The letter also asserted that
Sellers “[was] not very respectful toward”
that same day, Sellers's immediate supervisor Stephen
Brust (“Brust”) called a meeting to discuss
Williams's and Reynolds's claims. Id. ¶
18. Brust is “Caucasian, [and was] Age: 41.”
Id. In addition to Brust and Sellers, Reynolds and
the union steward attended the meeting. Presiding over the
meeting, Brust began by informing Sellers that Williams and
Reynolds claimed Sellers acted inappropriately on April 4.
Id. ¶ 20. Brust then brought forward a
document, containing Williams's and Reynolds's
allegations, and asked Sellers to sign it. Id.
Sellers refused, telling Brust that he disputed the
allegations contained in the letter, and therefore would not
sign it. Id. In response, “since [Sellers] was
not going to sign it, ” Brust informed Sellers that he
was suspended until further notice. Id. ¶ 21.
Although Sellers asked Brust for his suspension letter, Brust
told him to leave right away and that he would receive the
letter later. Id. Sellers never received the
suspension letter. Id.
than two weeks later, on April 29, 2014, First Student
“issued a final warning letter.” Id.
¶ 23. The letter articulated First Student's
position that Sellers would have to “complete anger
management classes, serve a three day suspension and
acknowledge the receipt of a final warning letter, ”
before he would be reinstated. Id.
after the suspension was announced, Sellers's union,
Teamsters, Local 191, began discussions with First Student in
an effort to lessen the discipline to which Sellers would be
subject. Id. ¶ 24. On May 17, 2013, Robert
Flynn (“Flynn”), the Business Agent for
Sellers's union, informed Reynolds that Sellers would not
comply with the conditions articulated in the April 29
letter. Id. ¶ 25. Four days later, Flynn
expressed the union's position-“that the
termination of the Plaintiff's employment had been
prompted by the Plaintiff's refusal to accept the
requirements set forth in the April 29, 2013 letter”-to
Vincent Cappiello (“Cappiello”), First
Student's Area General Manager. Id. ¶ 26.
29, 2013, Sellers was officially terminated, id.
¶ 27; he had been suspended from April 10 until his
termination, id. ¶ 22. The termination letter
Sellers received from Cappiello “stated . . . that
Plaintiff's refusal to accept the requirements sets [sic]
forth in the April 29, 2013 letter” was the reason his
employment was terminated. Id. ¶ 27.
also in 2013, two of Sellers's African American coworkers
were terminated. See id. ¶ 31-32. Morris
Asbury, approximately 70 years old, was employed by First
Student beginning in 1984. Id. ¶ 31. He was
terminated for “the pre-textual reason that he did not
put a steering wheel cover on one of the buses.”
Id. Similarly, Max Chervil, around 55 years old, was
employed by First Student from 2000 until 2013, when he was
terminated and “given the pre-textual reason that he
was not wearing safety glasses (on his day off).”
Id. ¶ 32. Other First Student employees were
terminated at around the same time based on their age, race,
and color. Id. ¶ 33.