Roberts v. State of Alabama Department of Youth Services et al
OPINION AND ORDER directing as follows: (1) defendants Department of Youth Services and George McCree's 27 MOTION TO DISMISS is granted as to plf Arthur Roberts, Jr.'s Title VII retailiation claim against defendant McCree in his officia l capacity and his 1983 religious-discrimination claim against defendant Department of Youth Services; Plaintiff Roberts complaint is dismissed to this extent; (2) defendants Department of Youth Services and George McCree's 27 MOTION TO DIS MISS is denied to plaintiff Roberts's Title VII retaliation claim against Department of Youth Services; This claim will go forward; (3) plaintiff Roberts is allowed until 8/15/2013 to amend his complaint, as further set out in order; the court reserves ruling on defendants Department of Youth Services and McCree's 17 motion to dismiss to this extent. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 8/9/13. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, )
Roberts v. State of Alabama Department of Youth Services et al
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
ARTHUR ROBERTS, JR.,
STATE OF ALABAMA DEPARTMENT )
OF YOUTH SERVICES and
GEORGE McCREE, in his
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Arthur Roberts, Jr., charges in this lawsuit
that defendants Alabama Department of Youth Services (his
former employer) and George McCree (his former supervisor)
retaliated against him in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e,
et seq., and discriminated against him because of religion
in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, as enforced
through 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*
Jurisdiction is proper under
*The amended complaint addressed in this opinion was
submitted by Roberts after the court ordered him to
28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343
This cause is now before the court on the Youth
Services Department and McCree’s motion to dismiss.
motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and a
ruling will be reserved in part.
In considering a defendant’s motion to dismiss, the
court accepts the plaintiff’s allegations as true, Hishon
v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), and construes
the complaint in the plaintiff’s favor, Duke v. Cleland,
5 F.3d 1399, 1402 (11th Cir. 1993).
“The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether
the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain
clarify his claims and denied the Youth Services
Department and McCree’s motion to dismiss the original
complaint with leave to renew.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007), “only enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 574.
Roberts worked as a security officer at the Youth
Services Department starting in November 2011. He alleges
that, because he also serves as a pastor, he was harassed
numerous ways) at the hands of his supervisor, McCree.
Roberts alleges that, when he submitted a discrimination
charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC), McCree heard about it and moved him to a night
A few weeks later, Roberts’s name was removed from
the duty roster altogether.
McCree then gave Roberts the
option to be terminated or to resign, and Roberts opted
for the latter.
During a hearing on July 26, 2013, the court heard
argument from the parties on Roberts’s two claims, each of
which names both McCree and the Youth Services Department
The court said it would dismiss Roberts’s
Title VII retaliation claim as against McCree in his
official capacity, since it was redundant with naming the
Youth Services Department as a defendant.
See Will v.
Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989)
(“[A] suit against a state official in her or her official
capacity is not a suit against the official but rather is
a suit against the official’s office.
As such, it is no
The court also said it would dismiss
§ 1983 as against the Youth Services Department, since the
Eleventh Amendment bars claims against a state agency. See
Pennhurt State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89,
100 (1984) (“[A] suit in which the State or one of its
agencies or departments is named as the defendant is
proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment.”).
The court will allow Roberts’s retaliation claim as
against the Youth Services Department to go forward.
plaintiff may establish a prima facie case of retaliation
expression; (2) he suffered an adverse employment action;
and (3) there was a causal relationship between the two
Patel v. Georgia Dept. BHDD, 485 F. App’x 982,
983 (11th Cir. 2012). Here, Roberts, alleges that he filed
a charge with the EEOC and that he was ultimately forced
to resign as a result.
Moreover, McCree’s knowledge that
Roberts had filed an EEOC charge, combined with the close
temporal proximity of the chain of actions that culminated
in Roberts’s resignation, could suggest causation.
e.g., Brungart v. BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., 231
decisionmaker’s knowledge of a protected activity and close
temporal proximity between the protected activity and the
evidence of causation).
religious-discrimination claim as against McCree in his
While, during the hearing, the court
suggested that this claim would go forward, upon further
reflection the court is still confused about the basis for
In the amended complant, Roberts avers that,
because he is an ordained minister, he volunteered to
assist the chaplain at the Youth Services Department and
that (impliedly as a result) McCree “would subject him to
derogatory and disparaing comments about his religious
Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 19) ¶ 10.
Roberts never specifies what these comments were or how
often they occurred.
Roberts also alleges that McCree
repeatedly victimized him at work, causing Roberts to
suffer numerous professional disadvantages, and ultimately
forced him to resign.
But it is unclear whether Roberts
alleges that he was actually forced to resign because of
his religion or whether he was forced to resign because of
It is also not clear whether the
laundry list of other disadvantages that Roberts says he
suffered at the hands of McCree were because of Roberts’s
religion. During the hearing, Roberts’s attorney explained
that McCree had explicitly make remarks about Roberts’s
faith and expressed his intention to “put a stop to this”;
the court could not tell whether this “put a stop to this”
statement was meant to imply that Roberts was fired because
of his religion, that McCree attempted to stop Roberts from
practicing his religion, or something else.
this information is not in the Amended Complaint, and the
court therefore cannot rely on it.
The court will therefore allow Roberts to amend his
complaint once more: (a) setting out the theory or theories
upon which he bases his religious-discrimination claim (for
environment, discriminatory termination, both, or on some
other theory) and (b), for each theory, setting forth the
specific facts that support it.
Roberts is particularly
directed to take note that generalizations, conclusory
allegations, blanket statements, and implications will not
be sufficient to allow this claim to go forward.
must truly connect the dots, alleging precisely how the
specific actions undertaken by McCree support each theory
of religious discrimination.
The court emphasizes that
this is Roberts’s last chance to amend his complaint.
* * *
Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
(1) Defendants Department of Youth Services and George
McCree’s motion to dismiss (doc. no. 27) is granted as to
plaintiff Arthur Roberts, Jr.,’s Title VII retaliation
claim against defendant McCree in his official capacity and
his § 1983 religious-discrimination claim against defendant
Department of Youth Services. Plaintiff Roberts complaint
is dismissed to this extent.
McCree’s motion to dismiss (doc. no. 27) is denied to
plaintiff Roberts’s Title VII retaliation claim against
Department of Youth Services.
This claim will go forward.
(3) Plaintiff Roberts is allowed until August 15,
2013, to amend his complaint in the following respects: (a)
setting out the theory or theories upon which he bases his
religious-discrimination claim (for instance, whether the
claim is based on hostile-work environment, discriminatory
termination, both, or on some other theory) and (b), for
each theory, setting forth the specific facts that support
it. Plaintiff Roberts is particularly directed to take note
statements, and implications will not be sufficient to
allow this claim to go forward.
Plaintiff Roberts must
truly connect the dots, alleging precisely how the specific
The court emphasizes that this
is plaintiff Roberts’s last chance to amend his complaint.
The court reserves ruling on defendants Department of Youth
Services and McCree’s motion to dismiss (doc. no. I7) to
DONE, this the 9th day of August, 2013.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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