United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Americans With Disabilities Act case is before the Court on
Defendants CRST Expedited, Inc. and CRST International,
Inc.'s (collectively, “CRST”) Motion to
Dismiss for Improper Venue or Alternatively to Transfer This
Case to the Northern District of Iowa. (Doc. 28). Plaintiff
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
filed a response in opposition. (Doc. 29).
Laferriere is a United States military service veteran whose
psychiatrist prescribed an emotional support dog to help him
cope with his post-traumatic stress and mood disorders. (Doc.
19 ¶ 15). In May 2015, Laferriere applied online for a
position as a long-haul truck driver with CRST, headquartered
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Doc. 21-1). As part of CRST's
driver training program, applicants without experience must
first attend driving school to earn a commercial driver's
license. (Doc. 8 ¶ 7). Once the applicant completes
driving school and orientation at a CRST facility, he is
hired and then must drive with another, more experienced lead
driver to complete on-the-road training. (Id.).
Moreland, a CRST recruiter for driver development, conducted
a phone interview from Cedar Rapids with Laferriere, who
lives in Fort Myers, Florida. (Id.). When Laferriere
applied, he was not an experienced truck driver and did not
have a commercial driver's license; therefore, after he
signed a Pre-Employment Driver Training Agreement, CRST
issued Laferriere a conditional offer of employment and sent
him to complete a driver training course at J-Tech Institute
(“J-Tech”) in Jacksonville as a step in the
hiring process. (Doc. 19 ¶ 16; Doc. 32 at 3-4; Doc.
21-7; Doc. 8 ¶ 10). After completing training at J-Tech,
Laferriere would continue to orientation at CRST's
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma facility. (Doc. 21-7).
he attended driver training, Laferriere informed Moreland
that he wanted to bring his service dog on the truck. (Doc. 8
¶ 8). Moreland explained that CRST could not force
Laferriere's lead driver to take the dog on the truck
when it came time to complete his over-the-road training.
(Id.). Conveniently, however, Laferriere's
brother is an experienced truck driver, and Moreland arranged
for him to work for CRST and train Laferriere during the
over-the-road training period. (Id. ¶ 9). After
Laferriere completed his driver training, Moreland learned
that his brother had decided not to work for CRST, and she
contacted Marcus Schneider, CRST's Director of Capacity
Development, to formulate an alternate arrangement.
(Id. ¶ 12). On June 12, 2015, Schneider
contacted Laferriere from Cedar Rapids to devise a plan;
however, when they could not immediately develop one, CRST
provided Laferriere with a bus ticket home from Jacksonville
to Fort Myers, until arrangements could be made. (Doc. 9
¶ 6). Ultimately, CRST did not hire Laferriere.
(Id. ¶ 8). However, had Laferriere successfully
completed orientation in Oklahoma City and been hired, he
would have been dispatched onto a truck for over-the-road
training from Oklahoma City and supervised by a driver
manager located in Cedar Rapids. (Id.).
August 2015, Laferriere filed a Charge of Discrimination with
the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Area Office of the EEOC, alleging
that CRST discriminated against him on the basis of
disability, denied him a reasonable accommodation, denied him
hire, and retaliated against him in violation of the ADA.
(Doc. 21-1; Doc. 22). Following the failure of informal
conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed this lawsuit, seeking
individualized relief on Laferriere's behalf and
injunctive relief that will benefit other employees. In the
Amended Complaint, filed on May 17, 2017, the EEOC alleges
that CRST has engaged in unlawful employment practices in
Jacksonville and Fort Myers in violation of Section 102(a) of
Title I of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), and Section
503 of Title V of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12203. (Doc. 19
¶ 14). Because the unlawful employment practices were
allegedly committed within this District, the EEOC argues
that venue here is proper. (Id. ¶ 2).
15, 2017, CRST filed a motion to dismiss or transfer, arguing
that the EEOC has failed to allege that: any unlawful
employment practices occurred in this District; CRST
maintains employment records here; or Laferriere would have
worked out of this District. (Doc. 28). In response, the EEOC
argues that venue here is proper, as the complaint contains
allegations stating that: CRST's unlawful employment
practices partly occurred in this District; relevant
documents are maintained here; and it is likely that
Laferriere would have worked in this District. (Doc. 32).
ADA, as amended, borrows its jurisdiction and venue
provisions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
See Bell v. United Air Lines, Inc., No.
11-61393-CIV, 2011 WL 11048116, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 30,
2011). Title VII's venue provision states, in relevant
part, that the appropriate venue for Title VII claims is:
any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful
employment practice is alleged to have been committed, in the
judicial district in which the employment records relevant to
such practice are maintained and administered, or in the
judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have
worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, but
if the respondent is not found within any such district, such
an action may be brought within the judicial district in
which the respondent has his principal office.
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). “The venue provisions of
§ 2000e-5(f)(3) were intended to be the exclusive venue
provisions for Title VII employment discrimination actions
and that the more general provisions of § 1391 are not
controlling in such cases.” Pinson v.
Rumsfeld, 192 F. App'x 811, 816-17 (11th Cir. 2006)
(citing Stebbins v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,
413 F.2d 1100, 1102-03 (D.C. Cir. 1969) (per curiam)).
the defendant challenges venue under Rule 12(b)(3), Fed. R.
Civ. P., the plaintiff has the burden of showing that venue
in the forum is proper. Id. (citation omitted).
“The court must accept all allegations of the complaint
as true, unless contradicted by the defendants'
affidavits.” Bell, 2011 WL 11048116, at *1
(citations omitted). “When an allegation of the
complaint is challenged, the court may examine facts outside
of the complaint to determine whether venue is proper.”
Id. The court must draw all reasonable inferences
and resolve all factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff.