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Sial v. AT&T Services, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 10, 2018

AT&T SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.


          JAMES L. ROBART, United States District Judge


         Before the court are three motions: (1) Defendant Jie McKnight's motion to dismiss (MTD (Dkt. # 11)); (2) Plaintiff Muhammad Ejaz Sial's motion to remand (MTR (Dkt. # 15)); and (3) Mr. Sial's motion to voluntarily dismiss his Title VII employment claims (MTD (Dkt. # 20)). The court has considered the motions, the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court grants Mr. Sial's motion for voluntary dismissal, grants his motion to remand, and denies as moot Ms. McKnight's motion to dismiss for the reasons set forth below.


         This case arises from Mr. Sial's contract employment with Defendant AT&T Services, Inc. (“AT&T”).[2] (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1) ¶ 1.1.) Mr. Sial worked as a contractor for Mobile Integration Workgroup (“MIW”) from February 2013, through February 2015. (Id. ¶ 4.3.) MIW placed Mr. Sial at AT&T where he was Lead Architect. (Id.) Mr. Sial performed his work at AT&T facilities under Ms. McKnight's supervision. (Id.)

         According to Mr. Sial, throughout 2013 and 2014, Ms. McKnight told him that he was a “top performer” and offered him permanent employment at AT&T. (Id. ¶ 4.4; see also Id. ¶ 4.7.) In December 2014, Mr. Sial requested leave to take care of his infant and wife in February and March of 2015. (Id. ¶ 4.5.) Ms. McKnight told Mr. Sial he could work remotely during that time period. (Id.) Mr. Sial alleges that throughout December 2014 and January 2015, he worked on “assigned tasks” while the other members of his team “were out of the office.” (Id. ¶ 4.6.)

         In early February 2015, Mr. Sial reminded Ms. McKnight that he would be working remotely, and Ms. McKnight said that he “could not work remotely and would, instead, be given the entire time off.” (Id. ¶ 4.8.) Mr. Sial then met with Ms. McKnight to “offer[] to change his scheduled plans to accommodate [Ms.] McKnight's wishes.” (Id. ¶ 4.9.) Mr. Sial alleges that Ms. McKnight “screamed and yelled at [him] during this conversation, causing [him] emotional distress.” (Id.)

         Mr. Sial alleges that despite the fact that no one ever complained about his performance, MIW terminated him at AT&T's request on February 20, 2015. (Id. ¶¶ 4.10, 4.12.) After his termination, Mr. Sial applied for and accepted several other contract jobs at AT&T's facilities, but each time, he was ultimately barred from returning to work there. (See Id. ¶¶ 4.13-4.23.)

         Mr. Sial is an Asian man of Pakistani origin. (Id. ¶ 4.2.) He alleges that Ms. McKnight made culturally insensitive remarks on at least one occasion. (Id. ¶ 4.4.) Mr. Sial alleges that he was treated differently than his co-workers because he was not allowed to work remotely as they had done. (Id. ¶ 4.11.) He further alleges that Defendants “placed a permanent block on [Mr. Sial's] ability to work for . . . AT&T or any of its partners because of [Mr. Sial's] status as a male, Asian, Pakistani who had taken medical leave while working as a contractor for AT&T.” (Id. ¶ 4.17.)

         Based on the foregoing allegations, Mr. Sial brings claims against AT&T for gender, race, and national original discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”), RCW 49.60, et seq., (id. ¶¶ 5.1-5.4); “violation of public policy” (id. ¶¶ 5.5-5.8); negligent supervision and retention (id. ¶¶ 5.15-5.18); outrage (id. ¶¶ 5.19-5.22); negligent infliction of emotional distress (id. ¶¶ 5.23-5.25); and breach of contract (id. ¶¶ 5.26-5.29). Against Ms. McKnight, Mr. Sial brings claims of intentional interference with business expectancy (id. ¶¶ 5.9-5.14); outrage (id. ¶¶ 5.19-5.22); and negligent infliction of emotional distress (id. ¶¶ 5.23-5.25).

         On March 23, 2018, AT&T removed this case from state court. (Not. of Rem. (Dkt. # 2).) Ms. McKnight then moved to dismiss the claims against her for failure to state a claim. (See MTD (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).) Three days after Ms. McKnight filed her motion, Mr. Sial attempted to voluntarily dismiss his federal Title VII claims. (See Not. (Dkt. # 14) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i)).) Based on that purported dismissal of his only federal claims, he moves to remand the case to state court. (See MTR.) Because Defendants respond that Mr. Sial could not voluntarily dismiss the Title VII claims because AT&T has already answered the complaint (see MTR Resp. (Dkt. # 18)), Mr. Sial moves to voluntarily dismiss those claims with prejudice (see MVD). The court now addresses the parties' motions.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Voluntary Dismissal

         The court first addresses voluntary dismissal of the Title VII claims. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i) states that a “plaintiff may dismiss an action without a court order by filing . . . a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i). Otherwise, “an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2). Because AT&T answered Mr. Sial's complaint on April 4, 2018-over 20 days before Mr. Sial's notice of voluntary dismissal-Mr. Sial could not dismiss his Title VII claims without a ...

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