Griffith v. Alcon Research, Ltd., 120617 FED5, 17-20290

Docket Nº:17-20290
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:KENNETH GRIFFITH, Plaintiff - Appellant v. ALCON RESEARCH, LIMITED, Defendant-Appellee
Judge Panel:Before DAVIS, CLEMENT, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 06, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

KENNETH GRIFFITH, Plaintiff - Appellant



No. 17-20290

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 6, 2017

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, USDC No. 4:16-CV-2832

Before DAVIS, CLEMENT, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.


Plaintiff-Appellant Kenneth Griffith ("Griffith") appeals the district court's order dismissing his workplace discrimination and retaliation action, which Griffith filed in state court and which the defendant removed to federal court. Because Griffith's state court complaint did not assert a federal cause of action, the district court erred in denying the motion to remand and had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the case. Therefore, we VACATE the district court's order and REMAND this case to the district court with instructions to remand it to the state court from which it was removed.


Griffith filed this lawsuit in Texas state court against his former employer, Alcon Research, Ltd. ("Alcon"), asserting claims of national origin and racial discrimination and retaliation. Griffith's complaint stated that jurisdiction was "proper pursuant to Tex. Lab. Code §21.051 and §21.055" and that his suit was timely filed in accordance with the "Notice of Complainant's Right to file Civil Action" issued by the Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC"). Though Griffith's complaint did not cite any provisions of federal law, it referred to a charge he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the EEOC's issuance of a notice of right-to-sue. Though Griffith did not attach the EEOC notice to his complaint, he did attach the TWC notice.

Alcon filed a timely notice of removal, contending that the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Griffith's "race and national origin discrimination claims implicitly invoke[d] Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." After removal, Griffith filed a timely motion to remand arguing that his complaint asserted claims based exclusively on state law. The district court summarily denied Griffith's motion, stating that because Griffith's complaint "refer[red] to (a) the charge that he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and (b) the right-to-sue letter he received . . ., [it] ha[d] original jurisdiction."

Thereafter, Alcon filed a motion for summary judgment. Griffith did not...

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