GM lawsuit dismissed; ruling notes 'highly suspicious' allegations
A federal judge in Texas has thrown out a bias lawsuit against General Motors brought by an African-American employee, pointing out that statements used to underscore the employee's claims might be copies of allegations made against other companies.
The lawsuit was first reported by Law360.
U.S. District Judge John McBryde of Fort Worth, Texas, ruled on Nov. 28 that Letosha Anderson's claims were not "sufficiently pleaded," adding that she had done nothing to show that filing an amended complaint would be "productive."
"The court is highly suspicious of factual allegations that are alleged to be in common in unrelated lawsuits involving unrelated defendants," the motion says.
The eight-count suit, filed by Anderson in August 2014, alleged defamation, a hostile work environment, retaliation, disparate treatment and discrimination in regards to age, race and gender.
GM argued that Anderson's allegations "often match word-for-word" the same claims that her attorney, Hiram McBeth, has made against other companies in unrelated cases, the motion says.
In response, McBeth said GM was trying to subject Anderson to a "higher pleading standard" than what was obligated at that point in the litigation process. McBeth said GM "repeatedly" complained about Anderson not including detailed allegations when she was not required to at that stage in litigation, the suit says.
The automaker alleged that the statements which underpin her age discrimination claim, for instance, were "virtually identical" to McBeth's allegations against supply-chain co-sourcing company Prosero Inc. in June 2017, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. in July 2016.
"Needless the say, it stretched the imagination to believe that the defendant had exactly the 'Underlying Age Discrimination Scheme' employed by Spinnaker and Dr Pepper," the motion says. Spinnaker owns Prosero.
Since the allegations of age discrimination were filed before Anderson turned 40 years old, they were dismissed because Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protection applies only to those over the age of 40. She is now 42.
In 2000, Anderson was hired by GM as a production worker in its Indianapolis Metal Fabrication division, court records show, where she was later laid off in July 2010. She returned to work for GM in September 2010, and filed a lawsuit against the automaker in February 2011, alleging sex discrimination. The case was settled in May 2012.
Anderson began working at an electrical apprentice program in March 2015 in Texas, where she claims she never was given the essential "training, classes and tools" compared to her colleagues who were male and not African-American.
She also alleges that GM produced a hostile environment by failing to prevent bullying and harassment, naming eight employees who she claims harassed her "consistently," called her "lazy," and placed "Hello Kitty" stickers on her toolbox.
Judge McBryde concluded that Anderson did not endure harassment that was "sufficiently severe or persuasive to alter the conditions of her employment."
GM declined to comment on the case, and a call to McBeth's office was not returned.
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