United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
KATORIA S. WILLIAMS and DEMETRI M. FAULKNER, Plaintiffs,
SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM, MARJORIE N. DOUGLAS, and SHELBY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT MARJORIE N. DOUGLAS'S
MOTION TO DISMISS
L. PARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
sued alleging mainly that their supervisor at Shelby County
School System, Defendant Marjorie N. Douglas (“Ms.
Douglas”), discriminated against them at work. Ms.
Douglas filed a Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”) all
of Plaintiffs' claims against her in her individual
capacity. (ECF No 42.) Plaintiffs Katoria S. Williams
(“Ms. Williams”) and Demetri M. Faulkner
(“Ms. Faulkner, ” and collectively
“Plaintiffs”) filed a Response (ECF No. 44-1), to
which Ms. Douglas filed a Reply. (ECF No. 49.) For the
following reasons, Ms. Douglas' Motion is well-taken and
standard of review for ruling on the Motion to Dismiss filed
under Rule 12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept all factual
allegations in the Third Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 37), as
are African American females who were employees of Defendant
Shelby County School System (“SCS”) and its
legacy system, Memphis City School System
(“MCS”), before it merged with SCS. (Id.
at PageID 382.) Ms. Williams was employed by SCS from
September 2008 through December 2013, during which time she
worked as a teacher and later as a Federal Program Advisor
(“FPA”), allegedly on a yearly contract. Ms.
Faulkner worked for MCS and then SCS beginning in 2002.
(Id. at PageID 393.) Ms. Faulkner became an FPA in
July 2013 after the SCS/MCS merger. (Id. at PageID
394.) Ms. Williams was terminated from her FPA contract
position in December 2013, (id. at PageID 391), but
she claims in her Response to the Motion that she taught for
SCS during the 2014-2015 school year. (ECF No. 44-1 at PageID
481.) Although less clear on the face of the Third Amended
Complaint, Ms. Faulkner asserts that she was terminated from
her FPA contract position in June 2014, but she did not leave
SCS until 2017. (Id. at PageID 481-82.)
Douglas was Plaintiffs' supervisor, and Plaintiffs paint
a grim picture of her alleged conduct during that time.
allege Ms. Douglas improperly kept a “shit list”
or a “black list” (the “List”) of
only black employees. Co-workers warned Ms. Williams that her
name was on the List. (Id. at PageID 385.) Plus, Ms.
Williams alleges that Ms. Douglas took her desk away from her
and gave it to a white co-worker, gave business cards to
white employees but not to her or other black employees on
the List, ensured that white employees in the same position
were paid more, unjustifiably withheld Ms. Williams'
mileage reimbursements, and ultimately terminated or
“excessed” Ms. Williams from her FPA position in
December 2013. (Id. at Page ID 387-91.) Ms. Williams
claims that when she tried to meet with Ms. Douglas about her
termination, Ms. Douglas slammed her office door in Ms.
Williams' face. (Id. at PageID 391.) Despite
telling Ms. Williams that her FPA position was being
excessed, or eliminated due to budget constraints, Ms.
Douglas hired a white female for an FPA position at a high
salary shortly before Ms. Williams' termination.
(Id. at PageID 391.) When Ms. Williams complained
about Ms. Douglas's conduct to her superiors, allegedly,
her complaints were repeatedly ignored. (Id. at
PageID 389-91.) Ms. Douglas was terminated or excessed from
SCS in December 2013. (Id. at PageID 391.) She filed
discrimination charges with the Tennessee Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in January 2014,
and the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter, she
received on March 1, 2017. (Id. at PageID 383-84.)
Faulkner also alleges that Ms. Douglas mistreated her at work
because of her race. She claims that Ms. Douglas gave a white
co-worker hired at the same time as Ms. Faulkner a higher
salary and that Ms. Douglas gave another less-qualified
co-worker a raise after learning that Ms. Faulkner was
earning more than the co-worker. (Id. at ECF No.
395-96.) Ms. Faulkner claims that she too did not receive
business cards because she was on Ms. Douglas's List, and
that Ms. Douglas threatened her with negative performance
reviews. (Id.) When SCS did nothing in response to
Ms. Faulkner's complaints about Ms. Douglas, she filed
two EEOC charges, one in May 2014 and another in July 2014.
(Id. at PageID 397-98.) When budget talks threatened
to eliminate Ms. Faulkner's FPA position, Ms. Faulkner
argues that Ms. Douglas could have released Ms. Faulkner from
her contract and allowed her to seek another position, but
Ms. Douglas allegedly refused to release her. (Id.)
While the Third Amended Complaint is silent about when
exactly Ms. Faulkner was terminated from her FPA position,
there are no allegations of misconduct by Ms. Douglas
occurring after 2014. Plus, Ms. Faulkner's Response
suggests that she was reassigned to a teaching position for
the 2014- 2015 school year. (ECF No. 44-1 at PageID 489.) Ms.
Faulkner received the EEOC's Notice of Right to Sue
letter on January 27, 2017. (ECF No. 37 at PageID 393.)
addition to the discrimination claims against the SCS
Defendants, Plaintiffs assert claims against Ms. Douglas
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating due process, equal
protection, and freedom of speech under the U.S.
Constitution, and state law claims for “emotional
distress, ” inducement to breach contract (brought by
Williams), and wrongful termination of a tenured teacher
(brought by Faulkner).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleasure is entitled to relief.”
Although this standard does not require “detailed
factual allegations, ” it requires more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009);
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint's allegations by arguing the
allegations establish no claim for which relief can be
granted. A court considering a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) must “construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true,
and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” DIRECTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d
471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). A court need not accept as true
legal conclusions or unwarranted factual ...