United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before court on motions of defendant to consolidate
these cases (5:18-CV-210-FL (DE 29); 7:19-CV-33-FL (DE 23)).
Also pending before the court are defendant's motions to
stay the cases pending ruling on the motions to consolidate
(5:18-CV-210-FL (DE 31); 7:19-CV-33-FL (DE 25)). No.
responses have been made to any motion. For reasons that
follow, the court grants defendant's motions to
consolidate and denies as moot defendant's motions to
proceeding pro se, commenced the first captioned
action against defendant May 14, 2018, alleging race and
national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and disability
discrimination in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 12111 et seq.. Plaintiff seeks back pay and
commenced the second captioned action four days later, on May
18, 2018, in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Alabama. Plaintiff alleges interference
with and retaliation against exercise of his rights under the
Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 2601, et seq.; discrimination on the basis of
disability in violation of the ADA; and retaliation on the
basis of race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
Plaintiff seeks reinstatement, damages including back pay,
costs and attorney's fees.
facts alleged in the first action may be summarized as
follows. Plaintiff began working for defendant on February 9,
2015. On May 12, 2017, plaintiff took off work due to a rash
on his face and neck causing pain and swelling. On May 15,
2017, plaintiff took off work again because his condition
became worse. That same day, James Kidd (“Kidd”),
an information technology (“IT”) manager, called
plaintiff while he was at the doctor's office and asked
him to resign. Another IT team member, Roger Whitman
(“Whitman”) called plaintiff and told him he
should sign a severance agreement offered by Kidd. On May 16,
2017, plaintiff informed defendant's ethics department
that he wanted to file a discrimination complaint because he
was being discriminated against and harassed by a team member
and manager. Plaintiff also informed the department that he
was being treated for shingles on his face and was in pain.
On May 17, 2017, plaintiff received an email from
defendant's employer's benefits department about
applying for family medical leave. Plaintiff filed a charge
of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
23, 2017. Defendant terminated plaintiff's employment on
August 7, 2017. On February 15, 2018, the EEOC issued
plaintiff a right to sue letter.
facts alleged in the second action largely parallel the
allegations in the first one, with additional references to
employer-employee contacts of or relating to plaintiff's
attempts to invoke rights under the FMLA. Days after transfer
of the second captioned action into this district from the
Northern District of Alabama on February 8, 2019, defendant
filed the instant motions to consolidate and to stay in each
actions before the court involve a common question of law or
fact, the court may . . . join for hearing or trial any or
all matters at issue in the actions; . . . consolidate the
actions; or . . . issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary
cost or delay.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). In ruling on a
motion to consolidate the “critical question” is
whether the case presents “specific risks of prejudice
and possible confusion” and, if so, the magnitude of
those risks relative to the “risk of inconsistent
adjudications on common factual and legal issues, the burden
on parties, witnesses and available judicial resources posed
by multiple lawsuits, the length of time required to conclude
multiple suits as against a single one, and the relative
expense to all concerned of the single-trial, multiple-trial
alternatives.” Arnold v. E. Air Lines, Inc.,
681 F.2d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 1982), reh'g granted and
rev'd on other grounds, 712 F.2d 899 (4th Cir. 1983)
pleadings disclose that the cases arise from the same conduct
and seek the same relief against the same defendant. See
Volvo Const. Equipment North America, Inc. v. CLM Equipment
Co., Inc. 386 F.3d 581, 600 (4th Cir. 2004) (discussing
mirror image claims consolidated in a single forum).
Plaintiff raises causes of action all arising out of the
circumstances of his termination on August 7, 2017. Plaintiff
alleges race and disability discrimination by defendant in
both actions based on his supervisor's alleged conduct on
May 15, 2017, and subsequent filing of an EEOC charge on May
23, 2017. Plaintiff also alleges facts concerning his FMLA
leave in the first case, while expressly bringing FMLA claims
in his second case.
appears no risk of prejudice or possible confusion resulting
from consolidation, and there exists a significant risk that
adjudicating the cases separately could result in
inconsistent adjudication on identical issues; unnecessary
burden on the parties, witnesses, and the court; waste of
time; and unjustified additional expense. See
Arnold, 681 F.2d at 193. Thus, consolidation is
warranted on the terms set forth below.
on the foregoing, defendant's motions to consolidate are
GRANTED. The scope of consolidation embraces all case
aspects. Defendant's motions to stay are DENIED AS MOOT.
Where consolidation ...