Court dismisses East Baton Rouge Parish woman's discrimination suit against Phillips 66

By Karen Kidd | Feb 19, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently dismissed an East Baton Rouge Parish woman's discrimination suit against an industrial services firm and Texas-based Phillips 66 Company because she did not file the litigation on time.

In a court order filed Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle said Geraldine Dunn was a few weeks late in filing her suit against Houston-based Phillips 66 and Apache Industrial Services and granted Phillips 66's motion to dismiss. Apache Industrial Services operates facilities in Gonzales, Geismar and Westlake in addition to facilities in Texas and Arizona.

"The prescriptive period began to run, at the latest, on Oct. 27, 2016, allowing plaintiff to bring her claims no later Oct. 27, 2017," Lemelle wrote in his 14-page order. "Plaintiff filed her complaint on Nov. 20, 2017, after the time required by law. Therefore, both claims are prescribed and thereby should be dismissed."

Court filings said Dunn is "approximately 40-years old," and her suit claims she was a bus driver and painter for Phillips 66 subcontractor Apache Industrial Services in 2016 and was paid $19 per hour, $4 less than her male counterparts. Dunn claims that after she spoke with Apache management about the pay disparity "on more than one occasion," management agreed to increase her pay to that of her male co-workers but she never received a pay hike.

Instead, "she was subsequently subjected to harassment and discrimination," court filings said. "Specifically, she states that she was forced to perform additional duties that other male employees were not required to perform and (was) yelled at in front of other male employees."

Dunn was fired in October 2016, about two weeks after she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge alleging unfair treatment. The following month, Dunn filed another EEOC charge alleging gender discrimination, retaliation and unequal pay.

In January 2017, Dunn filed another EEOC charge alleging retaliatory wrongful termination.

In her suit, Dunn argued that the one-year prescriptive period in her case should be tolled because Phillips 66 received notice of her claim within a year. Dunn "mistakenly relies heavily" on the Louisiana Supreme Court case Maquar v. Transit Mgmt. of Southeast La., Lamelle said in his order.

"In Maquar, the issue was whether, under Article 3492, the filing of the plaintiff's worker compensation claim with the Office of Worker's Compensation Administration interrupted prescription on the delictual action for retaliatory discharge penalties," the order said. "In this case, plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts that defendant Phillips was her employer or was adequately given notice of the claims she filed with the EEOC. Therefore, the prescription period for plaintiff's Article 2315 claim and R.S. 23:967 claim should not be tolled in accordance with the Louisiana Supreme Court Maquar case."

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