Smith v. Vestavia Hills Board of Education
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART and DENYING IN PART 5 MOTION for Partial Dismissal as set out herein. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 11/1/2016. (JLC)
2016 Nov-01 PM 04:00
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
VESTAVIA HILLS BOARD OF
CIVIL ACTION NO.:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This employment discrimination action was filed on May 23, 2016, by the
Plaintiff, Anita Smith, against the Defendant, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education.
The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant discriminated against her on account of her
race, African American, and her age, over 50. The Plaintiff also alleges that the
Defendant retaliated against her after she complained of illegal discrimination, and
after she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The Complaint alleges:
race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”) (Count
One); age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (the “ADEA”) (Count Two); and retaliation in
violation of Title VII, the ADEA, and Section 1981 (Count Three). The Complaint
also pleads the Alabama state law claims of invasion of privacy (Count Four) and
intentional infliction of emotion distress (Count Five).
This case comes before the Court on the Defendant’s Motion for Partial
Dismissal, made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(Doc. 5). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part.
Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint
provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a). However, to survive a motion to dismiss brought under
Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (“Twombly”).
A claim has facial plausibility “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556) (“Iqbal”). That is, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation and
footnote omitted). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings
suffice that are based merely upon “labels or conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]”
without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557 (citation omitted).
Once a claim has been stated adequately, however, “it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 563
(citation omitted). Further, when ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must “take the
factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir.
2008) (citing Glover v. Liggett Group, Inc., 459 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006)).
Invasion of Privacy (Count Four) and Intentional Infliction of
Emotion Distress (Count Five) Claims
Article I, Section 14 of the Alabama Constitution provides that “the State of
Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity.” Ala. Const.
Art. I, § 14. The Alabama Supreme Court has stated:
The wall of immunity erected by § 14 is nearly impregnable. Indeed, as
regards the State of Alabama and its agencies, the wall is absolutely
impregnable. “Absolute immunity” means just that—the State and its
agencies are not subject to suit under any theory.
Alabama Dep't of Corr. v. Montgomery Cty. Comm'n, 11 So. 3d 189, 191 (Ala. 2008)
(internal quotations and citations omitted, italics in original). The Defendant argues
that this absolute immunity bars the state law claims in Counts Four and Five.
The Plaintiff argues, correctly, that this immunity does not extent to a
municipality or its agents. See Ex parte City of Tuskegee, 932 So. 2d 895, 901 (Ala.
2005) (“Absolute immunity does not extend to municipalities or its agents.”).
However, the Defendant, a municipal school board, is an agent of the state, not the
city. In Ex parte Phenix City Bd. of Educ., 67 So. 3d 56, 59 (Ala. 2011) the Alabama
Supreme Court wrote:
The Board contends that it is not subject to tort actions against it
alleging negligent entrustment and asserting claims of loss of services
because, it says, it is entitled to absolute immunity and it cites Art. I, §
14, Ala. Const. 1901. In Enterprise City Board of Education v. Miller,
348 So.2d 782 (Ala.1977), this Court held that city boards of education
were immune from civil actions. We stated:
“City boards of education are authorized by the
legislature. Title 52, Section 148, et seq. [now § 16–11–1
et seq., Ala Code 1975].
“Like county school boards, they are agencies of the
state, empowered to administer public education within the
cities. As such, a city school board is not a subdivision or
agency of the municipal government. Opinion of the
Justices, 276 Ala. 239, 160 So.2d 648 (1964). A city
school board's relation to the city is analogous to a county
school board's relation to the county. State v. Brandon, 244
Ala. 62, 12 So.2d 319 (1943).
“There is no mention in the statutes under which city
school boards are created of the ability to be sued. Title 52,
section 168 [now § 16–11–13], allows a city school board
to institute condemnation proceedings. The only other
statute which refers to litigation at all is Title 52, section
161 [now § 16–11–12], which provides:
“ ‘The city board of education shall
have the full and exclusive rights within the
revenue appropriated for such purposes, or
accruing to the use of the public schools, to
purchase real estate, furniture, appropriate
libraries, fuel and supplies for the use of the
schools, and to sell the same, and to make
expenditures for the maintenance and repairs
of the school grounds, buildings and other
property, to establish and build new schools,
to superintend the erection thereof, to
purchase sites therefor, to make additions,
alterations and repairs to the building and
other property erected for school uses, and to
make necessary and proper notes, contracts
and agreements in relation to such matters.
All such contracts shall inure to the benefit of
the public schools, and any suit in law or
equity brought upon them and for the
recovery and protection of money and
property belonging to and used by the public
schools, or for damages, shall be brought by
and in the name of the city.’
“It is clear, therefore, that there is no express
language in the legislation which would allow a tort action
against a city school board. Neither is there language from
which legislative intent to allow such actions may be
inferred. To the contrary, the legislation seems clearly to
deny such suits.”348 So.2d at 783–84.
City boards of education are local agencies of the State; therefore,
they enjoy constitutional immunity from tort actions alleging negligent
entrustment and asserting claims of loss of services. Enterprise City Bd.
of Educ., supra; Bessemer Bd. of Educ. v. Tucker, 999 So.2d 957, 962
(Ala.Civ.App.2008) (noting that, because city boards of education are
agencies of the State, they enjoy immunity from suit to the extent
authorized by the legislature and further noting, as an example, that,
because city boards of education are authorized to contract, they may
sue and be sued on those contracts). Accordingly, the claims against the
Board of negligent entrustment and asserting loss of services on behalf
of the parents are barred by Art. I, § 14, Ala. Const. 1901.
Ex parte Phenix City Bd. of Educ., 67 So. 3d 56, 59–60 (Ala. 2011).
For the reasons discussed in Ex Parte Phenix City, the state law claims in the
instant case are due to be dismissed.
Section 1981 Claims
Neither party addresses the issue of whether a state actor can be sued under
Section 1981. It cannot. As the Eleventh Circuit has noted, “Section 1981 does not
provide a cause of action against state actors; instead, claims against state actors or
allegations of § 1981 violations must be brought pursuant to [42 U.S.C.] § 1983.”
Baker v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., 531 F.3d 1336, 1337 (11th Cir. 2008); see also,
Betts v. Conecuh Cty. Bd. of Educ., No. CIV.A. 13-0356-CG-N, 2014 WL 7411670,
at *5 (S.D. Ala. Dec. 30, 2014) (Granade, J.). Typically, the Plaintiffs’ Section 1981
claims would merge into any already pleaded Section 1983 claims. See, Jones v.
Fulton Cty., Ga., 446 F. App'x 187, 191 n. 1 (11th Cir. 2011); Moore v. Alabama
Dep't of Corr., 137 F. App'x 235, 237 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing Butts v. County of
Volusia, 222 F.3d 891, 893-94 (11th Cir.2000)). In this case, however, there are no
Section 1983 claims pled.
The Section 1981 claims in Counts One and Three will be dismissed. The
Plaintiff will be given leave to amend to plead those claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
if she so chooses.
Damages for Physical Injury
The Plaintiff seeks “damages for her physical, mental and emotional distress,
embarrassment, humiliation and trauma.” (Doc. 1 at 29, ¶E). The Defendant argues
nowhere in the Complaint does the plaintiff claim any physical injury
from any alleged action or inaction by the Defendant Board or any of its
employees. Thus, plaintiff cannot demand monetary damages for any
(Doc. 6 at 4). In response, the Plaintiff argues:
Defendant asserts that Plaintiff did not plead any facts alleging physical
injury caused by Defendant’s actions. On the contrary, Plaintiff’s
Complaint alleged the following: “Plaintiff was also subjected to undue
emotional and physical pain, which affected Plaintiff’s health. Plaintiff
was caused to lose wages and benefits, loss of reputation,
embarrassment, humiliation, financial duress and trauma”. (Doc. 1, ¶
(Doc. 13 at 6). The section of the Complaint cited by the Plaintiff discusses only
“physical pain,” not physical injury. Further, the cited language is merely a “naked
assertion devoid of further factual enhancement” which the Supreme Court has said
will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. There are no facts in the Complaint
supporting the Plaintiff’s claim that she was physically injured by the Defendant’s
conduct. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss all compensatory damage claims for
Damages for Emotional Harm
The Defendant also argues that, absent physical injury, the Plaintiff cannot
recover for so called “emotional harm”–i.e. mental and emotional distress,
embarrassment, loss of reputation, humiliation, and trauma. However, under Title
VII, such damages are recoverable without physical injury.
See, 42 U.S.C.
§1981a(b)(3) (discussing “the amount of compensatory damages awarded under this
section for . . . emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of
enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses”). Accordingly, the motion to
dismiss is due to be denied as to the Title VII claims for emotional distress damages.
By contrast, “the ADEA does not permit a separate recovery of compensatory
damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress.” C.I.R. v. Schleier, 515 U.S.
323, 326, 115 S. Ct. 2159, 2162, 132 L. Ed. 2d 294 (1995); Goldstein v. Manhattan
Indus., Inc., 758 F.2d 1435, 1446 (11th Cir. 1985); Maples v. UHS of Georgia, Inc.,
716 F. Supp. 2d 1266, 1273 (N.D. Ga. 2010) (Johnson, J.); Burkhart v. Chertoff, No.
206CV690FTM99DNF, 2009 WL 32888, at *3 n. 3 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 6, 2009) (Steele,
J.); Morris v. Arizona Beverage Co., No. 03-60907 CIV, 2005 WL 5544961, at *7,
n. 5 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 9, 2005) (Garber, M.J.). The Court will dismiss all claims for
compensatory damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress brought
pursuant to the ADEA.
The Defendant claims that all of the Plaintiff’s punitive damages claims, no
matter the basis for relief, are due to be dismissed. The Plaintiff has not addressed
this argument, and has not argued that she is entitled to punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not available under the ADEA. Goldstein v. Manhattan
Indus., Inc., 758 F.2d 1435, 1446 (11th Cir. 1985) (“[N]either punitive damages nor
compensatory damages for pain and suffering are recoverable under the ADEA.”).
Dean v. Am. Sec. Ins. Co., 559 F.2d 1036, 1040 (5th Cir. 1977);1 see also, Snapp v.
Unlimited Concepts, Inc., 208 F.3d 928, 938 (11th Cir. 2000) (discussing Dean).
Further, under Title VII, punitive damages are not available against government
entities like the Defendant. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981a(b)(1) (“A complaining party may
recover punitive damages under this section against a respondent (other than a
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir.1981) (en banc), the
Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit
handed down on or before September 30, 1981.
government, government agency or political subdivision).”). Young v. City of Mobile,
No. CIV.A. 13-0586-KD-B, 2014 WL 2739422, at *2 (S.D. Ala. June 17, 2014)
(Dubose, J.) (“42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(1) precludes an award of punitive damages
against a ‘government, government agency or political subdivision.’”). All claims for
punitive damages will be dismissed.
Title VII Liquidated Damages
The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff is “unable to recover liquidated
damages because they are unavailable under Title VII.” (Doc. 6 at 5). The Plaintiff
states that she “did not demand liquidated damages under Title VII.” (Doc. 13 at 6).
Accordingly, in the interest of clarity, the Court will dismiss any liquidated damages
claims made under Title VII.
ADEA Compensatory Damages
The Defendant seeks dismissal of claims for “compensatory . . . damages under
(Doc. 6 at 5).
The Plaintiff states that she “did not demand
compensatory damages under the ADEA.” (Doc. 13 at 6).
Accordingly, in the
interest of clarity, the Court will dismiss any compensatory damages claims made
under the ADEA.
Post-Termination Retaliation Claims
“In order to litigate a claim for discrimination under Title VII . . . or the ADEA
a plaintiff must first exhaust his administrative remedies, beginning with the filing of
a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.” Rizo v. Alabama Dep't of Human Res.,
228 F. App'x 832, 835 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Wilkerson v. Grinnell Corp., 270 F.3d
1314, 1317 (11th Cir. 2001)). Thereafter, a plaintiff must file a Complaint within
ninety days of her receipt of the EEOC’s right-to-sue letter. See 42 U.S.C. §
2000e–5(f)(1); Green v. Union Foundry Co., 281 F.3d 1229, 1234 (11th Cir. 2002).
“[R]eceipt of a right-to-sue letter is a condition precedent to a . . . claim rather than
a jurisdictional prerequisite.” Pinkard v. Pullman-Standard, a Div. of Pullman, Inc.,
678 F.2d 1211, 1215 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982)2; Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F. App'x
49, 51 (11th Cir.2010) (per curiam) (citing Forehand v. Fla. State Hosp. at
Chattahoochee, 89 F.3d 1562, 1569–70 (11th Cir.1996); Zipes v. Trans World
Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 398, 102 S.Ct. 1127, 1135, 71 L.Ed.2d 234 (1982));
Forehand, 89 F.3d at 1567; Fouche v. Jekyll Island-State Park Auth., 713 F.2d 1518,
1524 (11th Cir. 1983). The precondition is subject to equitable modification.
Wilkerson, 366 F. App'x at 51; Forehand, 89 F.3d at 1569–70. “That is, under
appropriate circumstances, the plaintiff will be excused from the exhaustion
The Eleventh Circuit has adopted as binding precedent all decisions issued by a Unit B
panel of the former Fifth Circuit. Federated Bank v. F.D.I.C., 645 F. App'x 853, 858 (11th Cir.
2016) (citing Stein v. Reynolds Sec., Inc., 667 F.2d 33, 34 (11th Cir.1982)).
requirement if the court’s consideration of the equities so warrants it.” Braden v.
Piggly Wiggly, 4 F. Supp. 2d 1357, 1363 (M.D. Ala. 1998) (Thompson, J.). “The
burden of proof with respect to equitable modification remains on plaintiffs.”
Forehand, 89 F.3d at 1571;
Ramsay v. Broward Cty. Sheriff's Office, No.
05-61959-CIV, 2007 WL 6861073, at *6 (S.D. Fla. May 24, 2007), aff'd, 303 F.
App'x 761 (11th Cir. 2008); Braden, 4 F. Supp. 2d at 1363. “[I]f a claimant attempts
to frustrate investigation or conciliation by the EEOC, equitable modification of the
exhaustion rule may be inappropriate.” Forehand, 89 F.3d at 1570. Further, “there
is no per se rule that receipt of a right-to-sue letter during pendency of the suit always
satisfies the exhaustion requirement.” Id.
There is no doubt in this case that the Plaintiff has not yet received a right to
sue letter from the EEOC with regards to her post termination retaliation claims. In
her Complaint, the Plaintiff alleges:
On August 26, 2015, within 180 days of learning of the acts of
discrimination of which she complains, Plaintiff filed a Charge of
Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(hereinafter “EEOC”). (Attached herein as Exhibit A). On February 26,
2016, [Plaintiff] received her Notice of “Right to Sue” regarding her
charge. (Attached herein as Exhibit B). On April 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed
a second charge with the EEOC due to retaliation after her termination
of employment. (Attached herein as Exhibit C). On May 17, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a revised narrative to her second charge with the EEOC to
correct a clerical error. (Attached herein as Exhibit D). Plaintiff has not
received her right to bring suit from the EEOC on her second charge, but
has included allegations pertaining to this charge in this Complaint to
promote judicial economy by not splitting her claims in separate
pleadings before this Court. Should her final charge be resolved by the
EEOC, Plaintiff will withdraw her cause of action based upon that
(Doc. 1 at 3-4) (emphasis added). Additionally, in her brief in response to the motion
to dismiss, the Plaintiff argues:
For the sake of judicial economy, it makes little sense to separate
these related charges into separate causes of action. It also inefficient to
require Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint upon receipt of the right
to sue on her second charge, when that charge contains the same
allegations already known to the parties and this Court through her
Moreover, to dismiss Count III - Plaintiff’s retaliation charge,
would prevent Plaintiff from pursuing discovery related to this charge
for the first five months of this litigation. Any witness deposed during
that time, would have to be re-deposed on the retaliation allegations
following the filing of an Amended Complaint. It is also likely that any
Scheduling Order in this action would include a deadline for Plaintiff to
amend her Complaint prior to October 2016. Such litigation realities
would prejudice, and potentially bar, Plaintiff from pursuing her
retaliation claim other than in a wholly separate lawsuit.
(Doc. 13 at 2). The Plaintiff makes no “express” argument for the application of
judicial estoppel here. If the Court treats the above passages as such an argument, the
Plaintiff cites no authority, and this Court has found none, for the proposition that
“judicial economy” is a valid reason to ignore the condition precedent of a right to
sue from the EEOC.
“The purpose of th[e] exhaustion requirement is that the [EEOC] should have
the first opportunity to investigate the alleged discriminatory practices to permit it to
perform its role in obtaining voluntary compliance and promoting conciliation efforts.
Gregory v. Georgia Dep't of Human Res., 355 F.3d 1277, 1279 (11th Cir. 2004)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). The Plaintiff does not argue that the
EEOC has had an opportunity to investigate the post-termination retaliation claims.
Instead, she argues:
Because the parties are already litigating the allegations in the first
EEOC charge, there is no chance Plaintiff will chose to mediate her
retaliation charge through the EEOC. Further investigation by the EEOC
and issuance of a Notice of Right to Sue should not, therefore, be a
prerequisite to litigating Plaintiff’s retaliation claim.
(Doc. 13 at 3-4). In making this argument, the Plaintiff ignores that, in addition to
“promoting conciliation efforts” such as mediation, another function of the
exhaustion requirement is to give the EEOC an opportunity to investigate the alleged
discriminatory practices to permit it to perform its role in obtaining voluntary
The Plaintiff also argues that she does not have to exhaust her administrative
remedies prior to filing suit on her post-retaliation claims because they “grow out of”
her previously filed charge of discrimination. The Eleventh Circuit explained this
theory in Duble v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 572 F. App'x 889, 892–93 (11th
Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135 S. Ct. 2379, 192 L. Ed. 2d 165 (2015), writing:
It is unnecessary for a plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies
prior to filing a judicial claim of retaliation if that claim grew “out of an
earlier charge,” because the “the district court has ancillary jurisdiction
to hear such a claim when it grows out of an administrative charge that
is properly before the court.” Baker v. Buckeye Cellulose Corp., 856
F.2d 167, 169 (11th Cir.1988) (quoting Gupta v. E. Tex. State Univ., 654
F.2d 411, 414 (5th Cir. Unit A Aug.1981)). This exception, however,
does not apply, when no other properly raised judicial claim exists to
which the retaliation claim may attach.
In Gupta, the plaintiff filed two EEOC charges and then
commenced his lawsuit arising out of those charges. 654 F.2d at 413.
While the case was pending, the plaintiff was notified his employment
contract would not be renewed for the following year. Id. He argued the
termination was a retaliatory action against him, but he never filed a
charge with the EEOC alleging the retaliation. Under those
circumstances, we concluded it was unnecessary for the plaintiff to file
a charge with the EEOC before amending his complaint to include
retaliation, because the claim grew out of the administrative charge that
properly was before the district judge. Id. at 414.We applied the Gupta
rule in Baker, where the plaintiff had filed a lawsuit in district court
pursuant to a right-to-sue letter. 856 F.2d at 168. While the complaint
was pending, she filed a motion for preliminary injunction and sought
to enjoin allegedly retaliatory actions taken by her employer as a result
of the suit. Id. She did not file a separate charge with the EEOC
regarding these actions, and her employer argued the district judge had
no jurisdiction to entertain the motion, because she had not exhausted
her administrative remedies for those actions. Id. We held she did not
have to exhaust her administrative remedies for the district judge to have
jurisdiction over the motion. Id. at 169.
Duble, 572 F. App'x at 892–93.
In Duble the plaintiff was terminated due to a violation of his company’s email
policy when an examination of the plaintiff’s emails revealed inappropriate content
and language. Id. at 891. The plaintiff had previously filed a complaint of
discrimination with the EEOC and the Florida Commission on Human Relations
alleging unrelated disability discrimination and retaliation based on the failure to
accommodate. After the EEOC issued a finding of “no probable cause” on that
complaint, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in federal court based on both the allegations
in his EEOC charge, and his termination. The Eleventh Circuit held
[The plaintiff’s] termination claims relate to a discrete act of
alleged discrimination that occurred after he filed his initial charge
pertaining to [his employer’s] purported failure to accommodate. See
Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 114, 122 S.Ct.
2061, 2073, 153 L.Ed.2d 106 (2002) (“Each incident of discrimination
and each retaliatory adverse employment decision constitutes a separate
actionable ‘unlawful employment practice.’ ”). . . . Because this case is
factually distinguishable from Gupta and Baker, we conclude the Gupta
rule does not apply. [The plaintiff’s] EEOC claim was still pending,
when he was terminated, ostensibly for violating [his employer’s] email
policy, and he had the opportunity to amend his EEOC charge or file a
new charge relating to his termination. [The plaintiff], however, chose
not to amend or file a new charge. Therefore, [the plaintiff] failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies regarding his termination claims.
Id. at 893.
Here, like the plaintiffs in Gupta and Baker, and unlike the plaintiff in Duble,
the Plaintiff’s second charge of retaliation related to Defendant’s refusal to rehire her
was filed with the EEOC. Plaintiff was terminated on August 5, 2015. Her first charge
of discrimination alleged race discrimination, age discrimination, and retaliation “for
[pre-termination] ... complaints of racial harassment and discrimination.” (Doc. 1-1
at 7; filed August 26, 2015). Her right to sue letter on that charge was issued by the
EEOC on February 26, 2016. (Doc. 1-2). She filed this lawsuit on May 23, 2016.
While Plaintiff unhelpfully failed to refer to any portion of her Complaint in
making this argument - and such referral would seem necessary for this court to
determine whether her post-termination retaliation claims in the Complaint “grew out
of” her first EEOC charge, the undersigned has carefully reviewed the Complaint and
finds that they do. Specifically, at page 25 of her Complaint as part of her retaliation
claims (Count Three), she states, in relevant part: “[Defendant] has ignored Plaintiff
in hiring decisions and refuses to interview Plaintiff.” (Doc. 1 at 25 ¶ 88). Further, she
“[s]ubsequent to the filing of [Plaintiff’s] [first] EEOC charge,
[Defendant] further retaliated against [Plaintiff] by refusing to consider
her for multiple secretarial/bookkeeping jobs.... [Plaintiff] applied for
the positions, was qualified, and passed over. White employees were
hired that were less qualified. Several of the Caucasian employees were
also under age forty (40). [Plaintiff] was also denied interviews for the
positions she applied for. [Plaintiff] filed a second EEOC charge on
April 20, 2016, (Charge #420-2016-1671) to address the continuing
(Id. at 17 ¶ 52). She also alleges the following in the “Statement of Facts” portion of
55. [After she was terminated, Plaintiff] then applied with [Defendant]
for several clerical and bookkeeping positions for which she was
well-qualified, but was never considered or interviewed for these
positions. No one contacted [Plaintiff] from [Defendant] regarding any
of her applications. [Defendant] completely ignored [Plaintiff’s] attempt
to be rehired. [Defendant’s] actions were discriminatory and in
retaliation for [Plaintiff] complaining internally and externally to the
EEOC. At the time [Plaintiff] applied for these positions, she had
twenty-seven (27) years experience as both a school secretary and
56. On January 8, 2016, [Plaintiff] applied for the 10 month
bookkeeping position which Grier had vacated. [Defendant] did not
respond to [Plaintiff’s] application, nor interview her. In keeping with
their all-white hiring policy, [Defendant] hired another Caucasian
female under age forty (40) for this position.
57. In February 2016, [Plaintiff] applied for the registrar’s position at
Vestavia East Elementary School. [Defendant] again ignored
[Plaintiff’s] application, did not interview her, and hired another
Caucasian female to replace the prior registrar who had also been a
Caucasian female. [Plaintiff] was more qualified than the Caucasian
applicant who was successful in receiving this position.
58. On each occasion when [Plaintiff] applied to be rehired, she vastly
exceeded the minimum qualifications for each of these positions and
was significantly more qualified that each of the Caucasian females
whom [Defendant] hired for each of these positions, including the two
females under age forty (40).
(Id. at 18-19 ¶¶ 55 - 58).
In the instant case, the Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint several acts of refusal
to hire which occurred after she was terminated and after she filed her first EEOC
charge. (Doc. 1, at 17-19, ¶¶52-59). She points out comparators for both her race and
age. This post-termination refusal to hire retaliation clearly could be found to “grow
out of” Plaintiff’s initial race discrimination, age discrimination, and retaliation
EEOC charge. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s posttermination retaliation claims is due to be denied under Gupta and Baker.
As part of the relief requested in the Complaint, the Plaintiff asks the Court to
[o]rder [Pat] Strange and the [Vestavia Hills High School] staff to
engage in a comprehensive mental examination and counseling to
prevent further racial harassment in any workplace where Strange may
work with African-Americans in the future.
(Doc. 1 at 29). Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure only allows Courts
to order mental examinations of “a party,” and even then only in very limited
circumstances. FED. R. CIV. P. 35(a)(1). In her brief in response to the motion to
dismiss, the Plaintiff argues no other basis for this relief.
First, Strange and the members of the high school staff are not parties to this
case, and the Plaintiff provides no authority for ordering such an examination of
employees of a party.3 Second, Rule 35 does not contemplate that such examinations
The rule does provide that the Court “has the same authority to order a party to produce
for examination a person who is in its custody or under its legal control.” (FED. R. CIV. P.
35(a)(1). However, that language was added to the rule in 1970 to “settle beyond doubt that a
parent or guardian suing to recover for injuries to a minor may be ordered to produce the minor
for examination.” (Fed. R. Civ. P. 35, comment to subdivision (a), 1970 amendment). It does
would be a form of ultimate relief in a case. On the contrary, they are a form of
discovery to be used when a party’s mental condition “is in controversy.” FED. R.
CIV. P. 35(a)(1). This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that relief under Rule 35
can only be granted “on motion for good cause.” Fed. R. Evid. 35(a)(2)(A) (emphasis
added). The Plaintiff makes no allegation or argument that the mental condition of
a party, or even an employee of a party, is “in controversy.” Accordingly, the Court
cannot order the requested mental examinations. That request for relief will be
Based on the foregoing it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and
DECREED as follows:
The motion to dismiss is hereby GRANTED as follows:
The Invasion of Privacy claim in Count Four, and the Intentional
Infliction of Emotion Distress claim in Count Five, are
DISMISSED with prejudice.
not apply to employees of a party. Indeed, the same comment notes that “[t]he amendment
makes no reference to employees of a party.”
The motion only appears to attack the claim for a “comprehensive mental
examination.” (See doc. 6 at 2 (“[P]laintiff’s demand that this Court order a ‘comprehensive
mental examination’ of Board employees is due to be dismissed.”); doc. 6 at 8 (“[T]he Board, the
only named defendant, should not be required to order its employees to undergo mental
examinations and such a request for relief is due to be dismissed.”)).
All Section 1981 claims are DISMISSED.
All compensatory damage claims for physical injury are
All claims for compensatory damages for pain and suffering and
emotional distress, brought pursuant to the ADEA, are
DISMISSED with prejudice.
All claims for punitive damages are DISMISSED with
All liquidated damages claims made under Title VII are
DISMISSED with prejudice.
All compensatory damages claims made under the ADEA are
DISMISSED with prejudice.
The Plaintiff’s request for relief in the form of a comprehensive
mental examination of Pat Strange and the Vestavia Hills High
School staff is DISMISSED with prejudice.
In all other respects, the motion is DENIED.
DONE and ORDERED this 1st day of November, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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