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Date: 08-19-2022

Case Style:

Traci Webb v. GKN Aerospace North America, Inc., et al.

Case Number: 4:22-cv-0089

Judge: Stephen R. Clark

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Katrina Y. Morgan and Jillian Meek Mueller

Description: St. Louis, Missouri civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff, who sued Defendant on a job discrimination in employment theory.

GKN Aerospace North America, Inc. and GKN Aerospace of St. Louis, LLC (collectively, “GKN”) employed Webb from April 2007 to March 2020. Doc. 9 at ¶ 7. In 2013, a motorcycle accident left Webb in a coma for twenty days and required a month-long hospital stay. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 27. As a result of her injuries, which included permanent damage to her left eye, Webb's doctors restricted her from driving at night and from “pulling, pushing or lifting anything over 10 to 25 lbs.” Id. at ¶ 9. These restrictions “prevented her from being able to work the second shift from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.” Id.

Starting in 2015, as part of her job duties, Webb refused to approve “out of specification operations” in the facility; refused to approve parts that had lost “traceability”; and refused to approve the use of expired adhesive in the making of airplane wing parts because it would violate [Federal Aviation Administration] regulations. Id. at ¶ 11. In February 2019, she alleges she reported upper GKN management to an ethics authority for mismanagement, unethical behavior, and violation of applicable standards and policies-including demanding approval for out-of-specification operations; wanting [Webb] to move parts without completed work orders, losing traceability; and having employees “lay-up” expired adhesive. Id. at ¶ 12. According to Webb: “Defendants' actions were or would have been in violation of Defendants' and/or Boeing's legally-mandated quality system and would have constituted misrepresentations and/or misleading statements in violation of applicable federal regulations. These parts were ultimately to be used in Boeing's F-18 fighter aircraft.” Id. at ¶ 13.

After Webb made her ethics complaint, she claims that team leaders and other managers and supervisors repeatedly harassed her and created a hostile work environment “as a result of her workplace restrictions and ethics complaint.” Id. at ¶ 14. This harassment included supervisors and team leaders: “delivering parts to other employees but not to her, preventing her from doing her job; mocking her and laughing at her; yelling at her and verbally abusing her
without cause; and throwing a work order at her in front of other employees.” Id. at ¶ 15. She claims that this harassment intensified until early 2020, in what she characterizes as an attempt to get her to quit. Id.

Then in February 2020, GKN transferred her from the first shift to the second shift, which would require her to drive home from work at night in violation of her doctor's orders. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17. Working the second shift also would require her to move items over 25 pounds if she was the only one working at the time. Id. at ¶ 17. She provided GKN with a “Certificate of Disability” from her eye doctor, and repeatedly raised the issue of her work limitations with her supervisors. Id. at ¶¶ 18-20. Her efforts were unavailing, however, and GKN refused to allow her to continue working the first shift. Id. at ¶ 20. Her last day of work was March 6, 2020. Id. at ¶ 23. She alleges GKN “constructively discharged” her on that date. Id.

Webb filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on September 16, 2020, alleging GKN harassed and retaliated against her because of her disability. Id. at ¶ 24. She received an EEOC right-to-sue letter on September 25, 2020, and received a right-to-sue letter from the Missouri commission on January 25, 2022. Id.

She initially filed a lawsuit in state court on December 22, 2020, but asked the court to “hold service.” Doc. 1-3. She requested summons on January 27, 2022, and the court issued the summons on February 8, 2022. Id. GKN removed the case, Doc. 1, and moves to dismiss, Doc. 14. The parties have fully briefed the motion. Docs. 15, 17, 26. The Court also granted Webb's unopposed motion to dismiss with prejudice the two individual defendants, John Cunningham Jr. and Derrick Varner, leaving the two GKN entities as the remaining defendants. Doc. 30.
Webb v. GKN Aerospace N. Am., Inc. (E.D. Mo. 2022)

Outcome: The Court grants in part and denies in part GKN's [14] Motion to Dismiss Webb's Amended Complaint. The Court grants the motion to dismiss count 3, and denies the motion to dismiss counts 1, 2, and 4."

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