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Turner v. City of Memphis

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

May 15, 2019



          Samuel H. Mays, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant City of Memphis's (the “City”) January 18, 2019 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (the “Motion”). (ECF No. 103.) Plaintiff Theyer Ann Turner responded on February 19, 2019. (ECF No. 117.)

         For the following reasons, the City's Motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         In October 2000, the City hired Turner to work as an executive secretary for the Memphis City Council. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 8.) In January 2013, Turner suffered a “nervous breakdown” and took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et. seq. (the “FMLA”). (Id. ¶ 18-19.) Turner returned to work in April 2013. (Id.) She again took FMLA leave in July 2014. (Id. ¶ 20.) When she returned to work in October 2014, Turner's doctor recommended that she work only four to five hours a day. (Id.) The City initially allowed Turner to work part-time. (Id.) In early December 2014, Turner asked to continue working part-time through January 3, 2015, and submitted another note from her doctor supporting her request. (Id.) The City did not act on Turner's request. (Id.) On December 30, 2014, Turner received a letter informing her that her employment with the City had been terminated. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         On October 15, 2015, Turner filed a Charge of Discrimination (the “Charge”) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”). (EEOC Charge, ECF No. 1-2.) The Charge alleged that the City had engaged in discrimination based on race, disability, and FMLA rights. (Id.) It also alleged that the City had retaliated by discharging Turner. (Id.) The EEOC sent Turner a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter, dated March 30, 2017. (ECF No. 1-3.)

         On June 28, 2017, Turner brought this action against the City raising claims of discrimination based on race, disability, FMLA rights, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553 (2008).

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has federal-question jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, United States district courts have original jurisdiction “of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Turner alleges that the City violated Title VII, the FMLA, the ADA, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b). (See ECF No. 1.) Those claims arise under the laws of the United States.

         III. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed __ but early enough not to delay trial __ a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” The standard of review for a judgment on the pleadings is the same as the standard for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010).

         Rule 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint that “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” A Rule 12(b)(6) motion permits the defendant “to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief even if everything alleged in the complaint is true.” Campbell v. Na-tionstar Mortg., 611 Fed.Appx. 288, 291 (6th Cir. 2015) (quotation omitted). A motion to dismiss tests only whether the plaintiff has pled a cognizable claim and allows the court to dismiss meritless cases that would waste judicial resources and result in unnecessary discovery. See Kolley v. Adult Protective Servs., 725 F.3d 581, 587 (6th Cir. 2013).

         When evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges “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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). If a court decides in light of its judicial experience and common sense, that the claim is not plausible, the case may be dismissed at the pleading stage. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above [a] speculative level.” Ass'n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         A claim is plausible on its face if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations. However, a plaintiff's “[t]hreadbare recitals of ...

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