Newton v. Arkansas Department of Correction
ORDER granting 4 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 7/28/2014. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
SAMUEL D. NEWTON
Newton is a long-time ADC employee who manages some of the prison
maintenance staff. He says that the ADC retaliated against him after he
disciplined a white, female subordinate. He got a warning on his record and
his authority to manage was undercut. Newton sues under Title VII, the
Arkansas Civil Rights Act, and state law for discrimination, retaliation,
outrage, and defamation. He also seeks punitive damages and to have his
employment record cleared. The ADC moves to dismiss.
Title VII. Setting the comparator issue aside, the deep question is
whether the warning on Newton's record is a sufficient adverse employment
action to carry a discrimination or retaliation claim. As a matter of law, it is
not. Hill v. City ofPine Bluff, Arkansas, 696 F.3d 709,715 (8th Cir. 2012); Baucom
v. Holiday Companies, 428 F.3d 764, 768 (8th Cir. 2005), abrogated on other
grounds by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53
(2006). Newton hasn't alleged that the warning materially affected anything
tangible- not his pay, his benefits, or his hours. While he does allege that the
warning undercut his authority, he has not pleaded with sufficient
particularity to state a plausible claim; the effect is just too marginal to move
the case forward. Cossette v. Minnesota Power & Light, 188 F.3d 964, 971-72
(8th Cir. 1999). Newton may have a case if, in the future, ADC uses this
warning as a reason for changing the terms of his employment. Spears v.
Missouri Dept. of Corrections and Human Resources, 210 F.3d 850, 854 (8th Cir.
2000). Until then, though, any Title VII claim is premature.
State Law Claims. ADC is right that Newton's ACRA and state law
claims fail because the state enjoys immunity from suit. ARK. CODE ANN.
§ 16-123-104. Newton, in response, seeks permission to amend the complaint
to add some individual ADC officers. NQ 10 at 2. The embedded motion is
denied. Having dismissed the federal claim, the Court declines to exercise its
supplemental jurisdiction over any remaining state law claims. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c). ADC's motion to dismiss, NQ 4, is granted.
D.P. Marshall Jr.f
United States District Judge
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