Ganheart v. Brown et al
ORDER AND REASONS: ORDERED that the City's 7 motion to dismiss is GRANTED. The 2014 retaliation claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The remainder of Ganheart's claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court grants Ganheart leave to ame nd her complaint by 8/3/2017. Should Ganheart do so, any renewed motion to dismiss is due by 8/10/2017. FURTHER ORDERED that Ganheart's 15 motion in opposition to the motion to dismiss is DENIED AS UNNECESSARY. A party need not petition for leave to file a brief ordered by the Court. Signed by Judge Lance M Africk on 7/24/2017. (blg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CHARLES BROWN ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is the City of New Orleans’ (“City”) motion to dismiss Brenda
Ganheart’s lawsuit. R. Doc. No. 7. Ganheart works for the City in the library. She
complains about a series of actions taken by the library that she alleges violates her
rights under Title VII and/or the Constitution.
Ganheart’s lawsuit is not a model of clarity but, as far as the Court can tell, it
appears to assert five claims: (1) a retaliation claim relating to a 2014 reprimand and
demotion, R. Doc. No. 1, at 1; (2) a retaliation claim relating to a 2016 demotion, R.
Doc. No. 1, at 2; (3) a retaliation claim relating to a 2015 performance evaluation, R.
Doc. No. 1-1, at 3; (4) a hostile workplace claim, R. Doc. No. 1, at 2; and (5) a
constitutional due process claim, R. Doc. No. 2, at 1. None of Ganheart’s claims
survive the City’s motion to dismiss. 1
The Court notes that the City relied on Kenyatta-Bean v. Housing Authority of New
Orleans, No. 04-2592, 2005 WL 3543793 (E.D. La. 2005), and Edmonds v. New
Orleans, No. 16-298, 2017 WL 2671690 (E.D. La. 2017), to argue that this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction to order reinstatement because the Louisiana
Constitution allocates that authority to the Civil Service Commission.
That is, in many ways, a remarkable argument in a Title VII case. Congress
vested this Court with jurisdiction over Title VII actions. This Court has the
authority in a Title VII action to order reinstatement when a violation of Title VII
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit a defendant to seek a dismissal of
a complaint based on its “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Court accepts as true the well-pled factual allegations
in the complaint, and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. For
the complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the facts taken as true must state a
claim that is plausible on its face.
Brand Coupon Network, L.L.C. v. Catalina
Marketing Corp., 748 F.3d 631, 634 (5th Cir. 2014).
A claim is facially plausible “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). “The plausibility
standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Culbertson v. Lykos, 790 F.3d 608,
616 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint is insufficient if
has been found. See Abner v. K.C. So. R. Co., 513 F.3d 154, 162 n.40 (5th Cir. 2008)
(“Title VII has always provided . . . make-whole relief such as lost wages and benefits
or reinstatement to the job.”). So, at its heart, the City’s argument was that the
Louisiana Constitution strips this Court of jurisdiction conferred by Congress
pursuant to its authority under Section V of the Fourteenth Amendment. See
Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445, 456 (1976) (“We think that Congress may, in
determining what is ‘appropriate legislation’ for the purpose of enforcing the
provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, provide for private suits against States or
state officials which are constitutionally impermissible in other contexts.”); see also
U.S. Const. Art. VI, cl. 2.
Because the City withdrew its argument after questioning by the Court, R.
Doc. No. 19, at 2, the Court does not address the merits of the City’s jurisdictional
challenge. The Court suggests, however, that the City should consider the merits of
its position before raising it again in a Title VII case.
it contains “only labels and conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action.” Whitley v. Hanna, 726 F.3d 631, 638 (5th Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).
First, Ganheart’s retaliation claim relating to the 2014 reprimand and
demotion is untimely. The complaint and accompanying documents make clear that
the events giving rise to the first claim occurred before November 12, 2014. R. Doc.
No. 1-1, at 2 (noting actions by former subordinate on November 12, 2014). Ganheart
did not file her EEOC claim until November 6, 2015. R. Doc. No. 1-1, at 2. As such,
the charge was untimely because it was filed more than 300 days after the supposedly
unlawful employment practice. Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101,
109 (2002). Therefore, Ganheart’s claim regarding the 2014 reprimand and demotion
will be dismissed with prejudice because granting leave to amend would be frivolous.
Second, Ganheart’s 2016 claim suffers from the opposite problem. Ganheart
filed her EEOC charge in 2015, and that charge—for obvious reasons—did not raise
the issue of her 2016 demotion.
As such, Ganheart did not exhaust her
administrative remedies with respect to the 2016 demotion, and so the claim must be
dismissed without prejudice. See Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 37879 (5th Cir. 2002).
Third, Ganheart’s retaliation claim related to the 2015 performance evaluation
does not plead that the performance evaluation was changed by any supervisor for
retaliatory reasons. Instead, Ganheart merely speculates that it was “possible” that
it was altered by two of Ganheart’s white supervisors. R. Doc. No. 1-1, at 3. Because
Ganheart merely speculates as to the possibility of illegal conduct, the claim must be
dismissed without prejudice. See, e.g., Crosby v. Cox Communications, Inc., No. 166700, 2016 WL 6403348, at *3 (E.D. La. 2016) (noting requirement that “a plaintiff
actually allege that the defendant engaged in illegal conduct (and not just the
Fourth, Ganheart fails to plead sufficient facts to establish a hostile work
At best, Ganheart’s complaint raises non-specific allegations of
“bullying” and “close supervision.”
R. Doc. No. 1, at 2.
Without more, those
allegations do not contain sufficient factual details to plausibly allege a hostile
workplace environment claim. See Brown v. Liberty Mut. Group, Inc., 616 F. App’x
654, 657 (5th Cir. 2015); Kang v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. St. Univ., 75 F. App’x 974,
976 (5th Cir. 2003). Therefore, the hostile work environment claim will be dismissed
Finally, Ganheart raises a procedural due process claim. Her claim appears to
relate to the denial of certain discovery documents during an appeal in administrative
However, her threadbare allegations do not establish that her
constitutional rights were violated. See Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334-35
Therefore, her constitutional due process claim is dismissed without
IT IS ORDERED that the City’s motion to dismiss is GRANTED. The 2014
retaliation claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The remainder of
Ganheart’s claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court grants
Ganheart leave to amend her complaint by August 3, 2017. Should Ganheart do so,
any renewed motion to dismiss is due by August 10, 2017.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Ganheart’s motion in opposition to the
motion to dismiss, R. Doc. No. 15, is DENIED AS UNNECESSARY. A party need
not petition for leave to file a brief ordered by the Court.
New Orleans, Louisiana, July 24, 2017.
LANCE M. AFRICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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