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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Roark-Whitten Hospitality 2, LP

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

July 30, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
ROARK-WHITTEN HOSPITALITY 2, LP d/b/a WHITTEN INN, JAI HANUMAN, LLC d/b/a WHITTEN TAOS AND/OR EL CAMINO LODGE, AND SGI, LLC d/b/a EL CAMINO LODGE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by SGI, LLC d/b/a El Camino Lodge (“SGI”). [Doc. 186]. The Court, having considered the motion, briefs, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds that the Motion is well-taken and will be granted. However, the Court will grant Plaintiff, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), leave to amend its Complaint to rectify the sole deficiency in the Complaint: the failure to allege that SGI had notice of the pendency of the EEOC charges in this case prior to its acquisition of the El Camino Lodge.

         BACKGROUND

         The EEOC filed this action on September 30, 2014, seeking relief for eight named charging parties. [Doc. 1]. The Complaint alleged that Defendant, Roark-Whitten Hospitality 2, LP d/b/a Whitten Inn (“Whitten”), “created a hostile work environment, employed discriminatory policies and practices, and retaliated against the charging parties at a hotel operated by Roark-Whitten Hospitality 2, LP (“Whitten Inn”) in Taos, New Mexico.” Id. at ¶¶ 77-97. On December 22, 2014, before Whitten answered, the EEOC filed an Amended Complaint adding as a Defendant “XYZ Company(s)/Corporation(s).” [Doc. 4]. In the Amended Complaint, the EEOC alleged that, “[u]pon information and belief, after the Commission issued reasonable cause determinations and attempted conciliation with the Whitten Inn Defendants, the Whitten Inn in Taos, New Mexico was sold in 2014 to David Patel and/or an unknown owner and/or XYZ Company(s)/Corporation(s).” Id. at ¶ 19. Subsequently, the EEOC moved to amend its Complaint again to substitute Jai Hanuman, LLC (“Jai”), as the company previously identified as the unknown “XYZ Company(s)/Corporation(s).” [Doc. 52]. The Court granted the Motion to Amend [Doc. 85], and EEOC filed its Second Amended Complaint. [Doc. 87].

         In its Second Amended Complaint, the EEOC alleged that Whitten, having sold the hotel, is unable to provide all relief to the charging parties, including reinstatement, injunctive relief and “other relief” at the hotel. Id. at ¶ 17. It sought specific relief from Jai, including, inter alia, a permanent injunction enjoining Jai and “any other successor employer” from engaging in discriminatory employment practices; an order requiring Jai to carry out and institute “policies, practices, and programs which provide equal employment opportunities” and “which eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices”; back pay; front pay; reinstatement; “compensation for past and future pecuniary losses” including relocation and job search expenses; emotional distress damages; and punitive damages. Id. pp. 16-18.

         On December 16, 2016, after Jai sold the Taos Hotel to SGI, the EEOC filed its Second Motion to Amend Complaint to Add SGI, LLC as a Defendant. [Doc. 86]. On January 19, 2017, Jai filed a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. [Doc. 96]. On September 21, 2017, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order denying Jai's Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint and granting the EEOC's Second Motion to Amend Complaint (“September 2017 Order”). [Doc. 178].

         The EEOC filed its Third Amended Complaint on September 28, 2017. [Doc. 179]. The EEOC's Third Amended Complaint alleges, in pertinent part:

27. After Plaintiff EEOC filed suit against the Whitten [Inn] Hotels on September 30, 2014, and after Plaintiff EEOC sought to [add] Jai Hanuman as a defendant to this lawsuit in August 2016, the Taos Hotel was sold in 2016 to SGI.
28. Upon information and belief, SGI's predecessors, Jai Hanuman and Whitten Inn, are unable to provide certain relief in this lawsuit, including re-instatement, injunctive relief and other relief, that would involve the hotel in Taos, New Mexico now under new ownership by SGI.
29. Upon information and belief, since at least 2016, SGI has employed more than 15 employees.
30. Upon information and belief, since at least 2016, SGI has continuously been an employer engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of Sections 701(b), (g) and (h) of title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 20003(b), (g) and (h).
31. Upon information and belief, SGI has substantially continued the business operations of the Taos Hotel in Taos, New Mexico.
32. Upon information and belief, SGI has used and continues to use the hotel building at the same physical location as Defendant Witten Inn at 615 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, New Mexico, 87571.
33. Upon information and belief, SGI has jobs with substantially the same working conditions as those jobs that Defendants had at all relevant times at 615 Paseo del ...

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