United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
S. MARIE VERNON, Plaintiff,
CENTRAL ALABAMA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the court on Defendants Central Alabama
Community College (“CACC”) and Dr. Susan
Burrow's partial motion to dismiss Plaintiff S. Marie
Vernon's complaint. (Doc. 5). The parties have fully
briefed the motion. (Docs. 5, 9, 10). For the reasons
explained below, the court GRANTS the motion
but gives Ms. Vernon an opportunity to replead her hostile
work environment claim against CACC.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
extent that the Defendants argue that Eleventh Amendment
sovereign immunity bars Ms. Vernon's claims, the court
construes the Defendants' motion as one for dismissal
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See
McClendon v. Ga. Dep't. of Community Health, 261
F.3d 1252, 1256 (11th Cir. 2001) (“Because the Eleventh
Amendment represents a constitutional limitation on the
federal judicial power established in Article III, . . .,
federal courts lack jurisdiction to entertain suits that are
barred by the Eleventh Amendment.”) (internal citation
12(b)(1) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). A defendant may present either a facial or a
factual challenge to subject matter jurisdiction.
Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 (11th
Cir. 2003). If it is apparent from the face of the complaint
that the plaintiff has pled facts that confer subject matter
jurisdiction under a statute, then a court must deny a
defendant's 12(b)(1) motion. Houston v. Marod
Supermarkets, Inc., 733 F.3d 1323, 1335 (11th Cir.
2013). In conducting a facial analysis, a court must take the
allegations of the complaint as true. Houston, 733
F.3d at 1335. In contrast, when a defendant mounts a factual
challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, a district court
may consider extrinsic evidence and weigh the facts to
determine whether it may exercise jurisdiction.
Houston, 733 F.3d at 1336.
Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
extent that the Defendants argue that Ms. Vernon's
factual allegations fail to state a claim for relief, the
court construes the motion as one for dismissal pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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). 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. A complaint need not contain detailed factual
allegations, but a complaint must contain “more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
resolving a motion to dismiss, the court must “accept
the allegations in the complaint as true and constru[e] them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Miljkovic v. Shafritz & Dinkin, P.A., 791 F.3d 1291,
1297 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hill v. White, 321
F.3d 1334, 1335 (11th Cir. 2003) (per curiam)). Although the
court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, the court is
“not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched
as a factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND BACKGROUND
Vernon is over the age of forty. (Doc. 1, ¶ 8). CACC
hired Ms. Vernon on January 2, 2014 as the school's
Director of Accounting. (Doc. 1, ¶ 12). CACC originally
assigned Ms. Vernon to the Alexander City campus. CACC later
assigned Ms. Vernon to the Childersburg campus. (Doc. 1,
Vernon “performed all duties of Director of Accounting
fully and completely.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 13). Ms. Vernon
alleges that she “supervised a staff which had been
employed by Defendant CACC for which the Plaintiff received
no support or assistance as male employees and younger
employees who were in positions similarly situated to
Plaintiff were given.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 14). According
to Ms. Vernon, CACC permitted her staff “to engage in
hostile and antagonistic practices for which the Plaintiff
received no support in disciplining her staff by Defendant
CACC and [CACC's Interim President] Defendant
Burrow.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 15). CACC evaluated Ms.
Vernon's job performance on three occasions within a
period of less than two years, but CACC did not evaluate
younger male employees on a yearly basis. (Doc. 1, ¶
17). By letter dated July 6, 2016, Dr. Burrow terminated Ms.
Vernon's employment, and CACC replaced her with a younger
male employee. (Doc. 1, ¶ 18).
on these facts, Ms. Vernon asserts the following claims
against the Defendants: (1) Title VII gender discrimination;
(2) ADEA age discrimination; (3) Title VII and ADEA hostile
work environment; (4) Title ...