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Hajiani v. KFC/Taco Bell

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

April 17, 2018

SALIM HAJIANI, Plaintiff,
v.
KFC/TACO BELL, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On an unknown date, Plaintiff, who is from India, applied for a job with KFC/Taco Bell in Jackson, Georgia. During the subsequent interview for the position, Defendant's agents allegedly “questioned [Plaintiff] about his race and national origin and emphasis was placed on the fact that he was educated in a foreign country.” [Doc. 8 at 2]. At some point thereafter, Plaintiff contends that Defendant instructed its managers at the KFC/Taco Bell where Plaintiff applied to reject Plaintiff's application because of his national origin. The KFC/Taco Bell then allegedly hired someone outside of Plaintiff's protected class.

         A. Plaintiff's Claims and Complaints

         Plaintiff filed this action on February 14, 2017, alleging that Defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) (“Title VII”), by discriminating against him during the hiring process. [Doc. 1]. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that “Defendant has maintained, acquiesced in the maintaining of, or failed to take appropriate recquired [sic] action to eliminate a general and consistent pattern of race and national origin discrimination” and that “Defendants have discriminated against Plaintiff in the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's employment because of Plaintiff's race and national origin.” [Doc. 1 at 2, 3]. Plaintiff further alleged that “Defendant's outrageous conduct caused [him] extreme emotional distress.” [Id. at 3]. Plaintiff also alleged that he filed this suit within 90 days of receiving a notice of right to sue from the EEOC, [Id. at 2], and he attached the right-to-sue letter dated November 17, 2016, to the original Complaint. [Doc. 1-1].

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint [Doc. 4] on April 18, 2017, before Defendant received service of the original complaint. In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that “Defendants refused to hire Plaintiff because of his race and national origin. A manger [sic] at the location informed Plaintiff that would not be hired because of his race and national origin.” [Doc. 4 at 2-3]. Plaintiff also alleged that at the time he applied for the job at KFC/Taco Bell “he was a member of a class protected under title VII against race and national origin discrimination.” [Id. at 3]. Moreover, Plaintiff alleged that “[e]veryone who applied for a job was considered for employment besides Plaintiff.” [Id.].

         Plaintiff also asserted state-law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) and defamation. [Id. at 4]. Plaintiff based his IIED claim solely on his contention that Defendant engaged in “extreme and outrageous conduct.” [Id.] Plaintiff's defamation claim rested on his assertion that Defendant falsely “told other employers not to hire Plaintiff because he is a bad employee.” [Id.]. Plaintiff did not attach any exhibits to his First Amended Complaint.

         The United States Magistrate Judge reviewed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and-after laying out the elements required for valid Title VII, IIED, and defamation claims- ultimately found that “Plaintiff's threadbare allegations are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” [Doc. 7 at 5]. As to Plaintiff's Title VII claim, the Magistrate Judge took issue with Plaintiff's failure to identify his race and national origin and his failure to “allege any facts describing when the alleged refusal-to-hire occurred, who made that decision, and how that decision was discriminatorily based on Plaintiff's race and national origin.” [Id.]. The Magistrate Judge found Plaintiff's IIED and defamation claims deficient for failing to include “any factual basis whatsoever for the ‘pattern of discrimination and misconduct' that caused [Plaintiff] extreme emotional distress, or what conduct resulted in defamation to [Plaintiff's] character.” [Id.]. Finally, the Magistrate Judge noted that Plaintiff was required to attach a copy of his EEOC charge to his First Amended Complaint but failed to do so. [Id. at 5-6].

         Rather than dismissing Plaintiff's claims, the Magistrate Judge allowed Plaintiff to amend his complaint to rectify the deficiencies outlined in the Magistrate Judge's Order [Doc. 7]. The Order explicitly advised Plaintiff that the amended complaint would supersede his First Amended Complaint. [Id. at 2].

         Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint [Doc. 8] on September 6, 2017, and reasserted his Title VII and IIED claims; Plaintiff did not reassert his defamation claim.

         As factual support for his Title VII claim, Plaintiff alleges as follows:

Defendants refused to hire Plaintiff because of his national origin. The managers at the location informed Plaintiff that defendants have instructed them not to hire Plaintiff because of his national origin. [. . .] Plaintiff belongs to a protected class. His national origin is India. Plaintiff was qualified for the job position. Finally he was replaced by a person outside his protected class. Defendants replaced Plaintiff with an individual who belonged to defendants [sic] own national origin.

[Doc. 8 at 3].

         As factual support for his IIED claim, Plaintiff states only that Defendant's conduct “was intentional and reckless. This extreme and outrageous conduct of the defendants caused ...


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