HICKS v. BOARD OF REGENTS et al
ORDER granting 9 Motion to Dismiss as to Plaintiff's slander claim. The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint as to Plaintiff's Title VII claims on or before January 9, 2012. Ordered by Judge Clay D. Land on 12/16/2011. (ajp)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
JEFFREY L. HICKS,
CASE NO. 3:11-CV-94 (CDL)
UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA
and UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA,
O R D E R
Plaintiff Jeffrey Hicks (“Hicks”), who is proceeding pro
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
against the Board of Regents of the University
System of Georgia and the University of Georgia (collectively
Presently pending before the Court is the Board’s
Motion to Dismiss
in Lieu of Answer
(ECF No. 9).
following reasons, the Court grants the Board’s motion as to
Hicks’s slander claim.
The Court finds that Hicks’s Complaint
fails to state a claim for relief as to his Title VII claims,
but the Court grants Hicks leave to file an amended complaint as
to his Title VII claims.
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
When considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
exhibits attached thereto.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 556 (2007); Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949,
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937,
1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
must include sufficient factual allegations “to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
factual allegations that “raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence of” the plaintiff=s claims, id. at
556, “Rule 12(b)(6) does not permit dismissal of a well-pleaded
complaint simply because ‘it strikes a savvy judge that actual
proof of those facts is improbable,’” Watts v. Fla. Int’l Univ.,
495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
Hicks’s employment, subjected him to harassment, and slandered
and defamed his character.
Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.
that the Board discriminated against him because of his race.
Id. ¶ 6.
Hicks names Ralph Johnson, Tim Burgess and Michael
discrimination occurred on August 18, 2008.
Id. ¶ 8.
asserts that Johnson, Burgess, and Adams did not give him the
Id. ¶ 9.
Hicks filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission in October 2008 and received
his Notice of Right to Sue letter on April 22, 2011.
Id. ¶ 11.
Hicks’s Title VII Claims
Failure to State a Claim
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer “to discharge
individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions,
or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race.”
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).
To establish a violation of Title
discriminated against him
reasonably conclude that he has a plausible claim for relief.
E.g., Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
The Court finds that Hicks has failed to state a claim
assertions that the Board wrongfully terminated him, harassed
plaintiff, however, must present “more than an unadorned, thedefendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” to state a plausible
claim for relief.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
Beyond those legal
conclusions, Hicks alleges that the individuals named in his
Complaint did not give him the same treatment as other employees
attempts to recite an aspect of Hicks’s prima facie case for
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Moreover, assuming the
allegation does not allow the Court to reasonably conclude that
Hicks has a plausible claim for race discrimination because he
does not allege that the other employees were outside of his
allegations to support his harassment claim.
Thus, the Court
concludes Hicks’s Complaint fails to state a claim for wrongful
termination and harassment under Title VII.1
Leave to Amend
Although the Court concludes that Hicks’s Complaint fails
leave [to amend the complaint] when justice so requires.”
R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).
“When it appears that a pro se plaintiff’s
complaint, if more carefully drafted, might state a claim, the
district court should give the pro se plaintiff an opportunity
Steub, 378 F. App’x 868, 872 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam).
Accordingly, the Court grants Hicks leave to amend his wrongful
termination and harassment claims to cure the deficiencies in
Hicks’s amended complaint should comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which provides that a
pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed. R. Civ.
sufficient factual allegations describing the manner in which
Any potential claim by Hicks under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“§
be insufficient for the same reasons.
See Rice-Lamar v.
Lauderdale, Fla., 232 F.3d 836, 843 n.11 (11th Cir. 2000)
the elements of a § 1981 claim are the same as a Title VII
City of Ft.
Hicks contends the Board discriminated against him.
fails to file an amended complaint on or before January 9, 2012,
this action will be dismissed in its entirety.
Hicks’s Slander Claim
Compl. ¶ 4.
Hicks’s Complaint provides
no facts to support this legal conclusion, and the Court finds
Further, Hicks’s slander claim is subject to dismissal
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
for this claim.
See Williams v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ.
Sys. of Ga., 477 F.3d 1282, 1301 (11th Cir. 2007) (considering
the Board of Regents and the University of Georgia to be state
circumstances, the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states
and state entities by their citizens.”
Though a party may
sue the state if the state has waived its immunity, id., Georgia
has not waived its immunity for tort suits brought in federal
court, see O.C.G.A. § 50-21-23(b) (“The state does not waive any
immunity with respect to actions brought in the courts of the
immunity for slander claims.
O.C.G.A. § 50-21-24(7) (“The state
shall have no liability for losses resulting from . . . libel
Thus, the Court grants the Board’s Motion to
Dismiss Hicks’s “slander/defamation” claim.
amendment would be futile.
The Court declines
See Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161,
1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (“A district court need not,
Hicks’s slander claim against the Board is barred by the
Eleventh Amendment, and the Court grants the Board’s Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 9) that claim.
The Court finds that Hicks’s
Complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Title VII, but
the Court grants Hicks leave to amend the Complaint as to his
Title VII wrongful termination and harassment claims.
shall file an amended complaint on or before January 9, 2012.
Failure to file an amended complaint on or before January 9,
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 16th day of December, 2011.
S/Clay D. Land
CLAY D. LAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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