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Leclair v. Donovan Spring Co., Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

December 11, 2018

Sonya Leclair
Donovan Spring Co., Inc.

          Iryna N. Dore, Esq., Michael J. Iacopino, Esq., H. Jonathan Meyer, Esq.


          Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr., United States District Judge

         Sonya Leclair brought suit against her former employer, Donovan Spring Co., alleging state and federal claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Donovan Spring moves to dismiss the claims as untimely and on the ground that Leclair fails to allege retaliation. Leclair objects.

         Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiff's allegations to support of her claims. A plaintiff will survive a motion to dismiss if her factual allegations are sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its fact.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In considering the motion, the court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in her favor. Lemelson v. Bloomberg L.P., 903 F.3d 19, 23 (1st Cir. 2018).


         Leclair alleges that she was hired by Donovan Spring in 2007 to run the parts counter. Her supervisor was Frank Mangan. Soon after she started the job, an employee, named Ken Goodwin, grabbed her breast. Leclair complained to Rod Hudoba, the manager, and gave a written statement about the incident. Goodwin was given a “write-up, ” but no other action was taken.

         Another employee, Jack Gilles, repeatedly called Leclair a “whore”. Leclair complained about Gilles to Mangan and said that she would press charges if the harassment did not stop. Gilles then complained about Leclair because she had reprimanded Gilles's son who was supervised by Leclair. Donovan Spring's vice president, John Chakmakas, met with Leclair, Gilles, and Gilles's son about their complaints. He told them that if Leclair filed a sexual harassment complaint she would be fired and if Gilles complained to the Labor Board he would be fired. Chakmakas's threat of firing kept Leclair from making any further complaint about Gilles.

         Bruce Goodwin, who apparently is not related to Ken Goodwin, was the first floor supervisor. Leclair alleges that he made sexually harassing comments to her. As an example, Leclair alleges that he asked her to go to his camp with him when his wife was away and made remarks about his sexual prowess. In late October of 2014, Goodwin came up behind Leclair in the warehouse and grabbed her bra strap through her shirt, twisting it until it came undone. Leclair was upset and crying and immediately complained to Mangan. An hour later, Goodwin approached Leclair and tapped her buttocks.

         Chakmakas stopped Leclair in the hallway and asked about the bra strap incident. Their conversation was not conducted privately. Other people walked by, and Hudoba joined the conversation in the hallway. Chakmakas said that he would investigate, which he predicted could take months.

         Thereafter, Leclair was excluded from meetings about work matters. Donovan Spring took no action to protect Leclair, and she was required to have contact with Goodwin multiple times during each work day. Leclair left her job with Donovan Spring on January 9, 2015, because she was afraid of Goodwin and Donovan Spring had done nothing to protect her. When she called Chakmakas on April 15 to ask about the investigation, he said she would receive a letter. She then received a letter that said Donovan Spring had not found sufficient evidence to support her complaints and that no action would be taken.

         Leclair filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission (“Commission”) and the EEOC on April 16, 2015. The Commission issued its investigative report on June 23, 2017, in which it found probable cause to support her charges of sexual harassment and retaliation. She received a right to sue letter on May 7, 2018.

         As provided under RSA chapter 354-A, Donovan Spring removed the case from the Commission to Rockingham County Superior Court. Leclair filed an amended complaint in state court, alleging violations of RSA chapter 354-A, and filed this action in federal court, alleging violations of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) and § 2000e-3(a), along with the same claims under RSA chapter 354-A. As a result, two parallel cases are being litigated on the state law claims, one in state court and one in federal court.

         When this court realized that the parties were litigating a parallel case on the same state claims in state court, it declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims in this case. The claims under RSA chapter 354-A, Counts III and IV, therefore, have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The remaining claims in this case are the claims under Title VII for discrimination due to harassment and retaliation, Counts ...

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