Locker v. Wake County Public Schools et al
ORDER granting 19 Motion to Dismiss. The court permits plaintiff to file an amended complaint naming Wake County Board of Education as the defendant. Plaintiff shall file the amended complaint within 20 days of the date of this order and submit to the Clerk a completed summons directed to the Wake County Board of Education. Defendants Hawkins, Estes, and Gainey are DISMISSED. Signed by Senior Judge W. Earl Britt on 4/25/2014. Copy of order to plaintiff via US Mail at address on record. (Marsh, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
TOMAR COOPER LOCKER,
WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
ALMA JEAN HAWKINS,
This matter is before the court on defendants’ motion to dismiss. (DE # 19.) Plaintiff
filed a response in opposition. (DE # 30.) Defendants did not file a reply.
According to his pro se complaint, plaintiff worked as a bus driver in the Transportation
Department of the Wake County Public School System from 2003 until his discharge in January
2013. (Compl., DE # 4, at 4.) Plaintiff complains that he was discriminated against based on his
sex and terminated in retaliation for engaging in protected activity, all in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”). (Id. at 2-5.) Plaintiff
names as defendants “Wake County Public Schools” and the three individuals who allegedly
discriminated against him: the Operations Manager, the Area Manager, and the Superintendent.
Although defendants invoke a number of grounds for dismissal under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12, the court considers defendants’ motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A motion to dismiss pursuant to this rule “tests
the sufficiency of a complaint” but “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of
a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th
Cir. 1992). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
As for “Wake County Public Schools,” defendants argue that it is not a proper defendant.
The court agrees. “Wake County Public Schools” is not the appropriate entity that plaintiff
should sue. Rather, as defendants point out, it is the Wake County Board of Education. See
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-40 (“The board of education of each county in the State shall be a body
corporate by the name and style of ‘The .......... County Board of Education,’ and . . . shall . . . be
capable . . . of prosecuting and defending suits . . . .”); Hunter v. Wake Cnty. Bd. of Educ., No.
5:08-CV-62-D, 2008 WL 2695813, at *1 (E.D.N.C. July 8, 2008) (dismissing “Wake County
Public Schools” as a defendant in Title VII suit because the plaintiff’s employer was Wake
County Board of Education). The court will permit plaintiff to amend his complaint to properly
name the Wake County Board of Education as a defendant.
As for plaintiff’s claims against the individual defendants, the court agrees with
defendants that those individuals cannot be subject to liability under Title VII. See Lissau v.
Southern Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180 (4th Cir. 1998) (“[S]upervisors are not liable in
their individual capacities for Title VII violations.”). Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims against the
individual defendants will be dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED. However, the
court permits plaintiff to file an amended complaint naming Wake County Board of Education as
the defendant. Plaintiff shall file the amended complaint within 20 days of the date of this order
and submit to the Clerk a completed summons directed to the Wake County Board of Education.
Defendants Hawkins, Estes, and Gainey are DISMISSED.
This 25 April 2014.
W. Earl Britt
Senior U.S. District Judge
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