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CHAUDHURI v. TENNESSEE

July 24, 1991

DR. DILIP K. CHAUDHURI, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE; TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY; DR. ANNIE NEAL; DR. GEORGE COX; DR. DECATUR ROGERS; and DR. CHINYERE ONWUBIKO, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WISEMAN, JR.

 THOMAS A. WISEMAN, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This is an action brought by the plaintiff for employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and for violation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has named as defendants the State of Tennessee, Tennessee State University ("T.S.U."), Dr. Annie Neal, Vice President for Academic Affairs at T.S.U., Dr. George Cox, Interim President at T.S.U., Dr. Decatur Rogers, Dean of the Engineering School at T.S.U., and Dr. Chinyere Onwubiko, Acting Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at T.S.U.

 The defendants, through the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee, have moved to dismiss, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and/or 12(b)(6), the plaintiff's § 1983 complaint as amended on May 8, 1991. The Court dismisses plaintiff's § 1983 claim in its entirety against defendants State of Tennessee and T.S.U. because it is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court refuses to dismiss plaintiff's § 1983 claims for compensatory damages and prospective relief against defendants Neal, Cox, Rogers, and Onwubiko. The Court does, however, dismiss all claims for money damages relating to incidents occurring before January 31, 1990, because these claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

 I.

 Count One of the plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that the plaintiff was denied promotion to Dean of the Engineering School and promotion to Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department based upon his race (Asian American) and religion (Hindu), in violation of Title VII. This allegation is not at issue in defendants' current motion.

 Count Two alleges that the defendants violated the free exercise clause and the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, the amended complaint alleges that, beginning in February of 1988, the plaintiff began to complain to T.S.U. officials about the apparent increase in Christian evangelism among faculty and administrators at T.S.U., including the practice by defendant Dr. Onwubiko of holding Bible classes at the Engineering School. Paragraph 34 complains that Christian prayers were offered at the following functions: May 7, 1988 graduation; August 22, 1988 faculty meeting; February 18, 1990 Engineers' Week; May 5, 1990 graduation; and September 12, 1990 Fall Convocation. Paragraph 35 alleges that all T.S.U. faculty members are required to attend these functions; that attendance is monitored by the T.S.U. administration; and that sanctions have been threatened against faculty members who have not attended these functions. Paragraph 36 alleges that defendants Neal, Cox, Rogers, and Onwubiko have at various times either initiated or encouraged such religious activities and/or approved or ratified such religious activities as a recognized part of T.S.U.'s official program.

 Paragraph 37 alleges that the promotion of Christian religious beliefs through public prayer by a state institution violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Paragraph 38 alleges that requiring non-Christian faculty and students to attend these official functions violates the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

 The plaintiff seeks the following relief in his § 1983 cause of action:

 
(1) a declaratory judgment against the defendants State of Tennessee, T.S.U., Dr. Neal, Dr. Cox, Dr. Rogers, and Dr. Onwubiko that Christian-related services promoted at T.S.U. violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment;
 
(2) a declaratory judgment against defendants State of Tennessee, T.S.U., Dr. Neal, Dr. Cox, Dr. Rogers, and Dr. Onwubiko in their official capacities that Christian religious services promoted at T.S.U. deprive Plaintiff of his civil rights under color of law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by violating the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment;
 
(3) a preliminary and permanent injunction against the State of Tennessee, T.S.U., and the individual defendants (in their individual and official capacities) to enjoin further religious services on T.S.U. campus as a part of any official T.S.U. functions that must be attended by faculty and students;
 
(4) an award of compensatory damages against defendants Neal, Cox, Rogers, and Onwubiko in their individual capacities for violating plaintiff's civil rights to practice his religious beliefs without governmental interference; and
 
(5) an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs against all named defendants as provided by 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

 As will be explained below, the plaintiff is entitled to pursue relief only against the four ...


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