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Williams v. Hoover City Board of Education

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

August 23, 2017




         This case is before the court on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 8) filed by Defendant Appleton Plus People Corporation (“Appleton”) and the Motion to Strike also filed by Defendant Appleton (Doc. # 27). The parties have fully briefed the Motion to Dismiss. (Docs. # 8-9, 22, 25). Defendant Appleton requested a Motion to Strike (Doc. # 27) the August 4, 2017 response (Doc. # 26) submitted by Defendant Hoover City Board of Education (“Hoover”). For the reasons explained below, both motions (Docs. # 8, 27) are due to be denied.

         I. Procedural Background and Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants Appleton and Hoover, acting as joint employers, intentionally discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and her pregnancy in violation of Title VII. (Doc. # 1). Defendant Appleton, an Alabama corporation that provides teachers, teachers' aids, and substitutes to Hoover schools, placed Plaintiff in Green Valley Elementary School, a Hoover school, as a special education aid for the 2015 through 2016 school year. (See Id. at ¶¶ 4, 14-15). According to Plaintiff, Hoover had the authority to interview and reject Appleton employees before placement in its schools, to terminate any Appleton employee placed within its schools, and to require Appleton to remove or replace its employees placed within its schools. (See Id. at ¶ 17).

         Plaintiff alleges that she told Green Valley Elementary School Principal Jeff Singer (“Singer”) that she was pregnant during the last week of August 2015. (See id. at ¶ 21). At some later date, Plaintiff contends that she assured Singer that her pregnancy would not interfere with her duties and Singer responded that he was concerned about her pregnancy because of “the type of kids” with which Plaintiff worked. (See Id. at ¶ 25).

         According to the complaint, on October 19, 2015, Teresa Huntley (“Huntley”) from Appleton called Plaintiff and informed Plaintiff that she was no longer to work at Green Valley Elementary School. (See Id. at ¶ 26). Allegedly, Huntley told Plaintiff that her termination was due to her pregnancy and, because of her pregnancy, Singer requested that Plaintiff be let go. (See Id. at ¶ 26-27). Plaintiff asserts that she was replaced by a male aide following her termination. (See Id. at ¶ 29).

         On November 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC against both Appleton and Green Valley Elementary School, alleging that both parties discriminated against her in violation of Title VII. (Doc. # 1, Ex. A). Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC on February 13, 2017, allowing her to proceed against Defendant Appleton. (Doc. # 1, Ex. B). Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue from the U.S. Department of Justice on March 3, 2017, allowing her to proceed against Defendant Hoover. (Doc. # 1, Ex. C).

         Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants Appleton and Hoover on May 11, 2017. (Doc. # 1). Defendant Hoover answered Plaintiff's complaint on June 9, 2017. (Doc. # 7). Defendant Appleton motioned to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) on June 12, 2017. (Docs. # 8, 9).

         On August 4, 2017, after the parties had fully briefed Defendant Appleton's Motion to Dismiss, Defendant Hoover responded “to filings in support of and opposition to Appleton's motion to dismiss.” (Doc. # 26). Defendant Appleton responded to Defendant Hoover's response on August 14, 2017 and asked this court to strike Defendant Hoover's response as untimely and improper. (Doc. # 27 at 1). On August 16, 2017, Defendant Hoover responded to Defendant Appleton's Motion to Strike, explaining that its previous filing (Doc. # 26) was intended to preserve Hoover's legal position. (Doc. # 28). Discovery has been stayed pending the resolution of Defendant Appleton's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 8). (Doc. # 21).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility 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). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F. App'x 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task is context specific and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis of Defendant Appleton's ...

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