United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint filed by Defendant Alabama Law Enforcement
Agency (“ALEA”). Doc. 18. Plaintiff Mary Church
filed suit against ALEA on May 25, 2018. Doc. 1. On July 12,
2018, Church filed an amended complaint asserting claims for
gender discrimination, race discrimination, and retaliation
under Title VII. Doc. 16. ALEA moved to dismiss the claims,
arguing that Church lacks standing, that her claims are time
barred and fall outside the scope of her EEOC charge, and
that her retaliation and failure to promote allegations fail
to state a plausible claim for relief. Doc. 18. After careful
consideration of the parties' filings and the relevant
law, and for the reasons stated below, the court concludes
that the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 18) is due to be DENIED.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims in this
lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The parties do not
contest personal jurisdiction or that venue is proper in the
Middle District of Alabama. The court finds adequate
allegations to support both.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
following is a recitation of the facts as alleged in the
Amended Complaint. In October 2017, ALEA hired Church, a
white woman, as a State Patrol Officer. Doc. 16 at 3.
Beginning in 2008, Church applied for several promotions for
which she was qualified. Doc. 16 at 3. She did not receive
any of the promotions and the positions often were filled by
less qualified black men. Doc. 16 at 3. One of the positions,
for Instructor at Selma Academy, was filled by Lucy Edwards,
a less qualified black woman. Doc. 16 at 4. This prompted
Church to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC in
August 2016 complaining about ALEA's pattern of
discriminatory promotions. Doc. 16 at 4. After receiving
notice of her Charge of Discrimination, ALEA Chief Charles
Ward met with Church and told her that he wanted to help her
to get a promotion. Doc. 16 at 4.
22, 2017, ALEA posted an opening for the position of
Corporal, and Church told Ward that she was interested in the
job. Doc. 16 at 5. Church was qualified for the position, and
she applied for and interviewed for it, but ALEA selected
David Jones, a black man with lesser qualifications, to fill
the position. Doc. 16 at 5. Church requested a meeting with
Corporal Scott Duncan and Captain Devinner to discuss why she
did not receive the position. Doc. 16 at 5-6. Devinner
refused to answer her questions.
11, 2017, Church applied for a Motor Carrier Weight Corporal
position. Doc. 16 at 6. She interviewed for the job with a
four-person panel. Doc. 16 at 6. The panel asked whether she
considered herself to be “high maintenance” and
also asked when she would be eligible for retirement. Doc. 16
at 7. Three other applicants, all of whom were men, told
Church they were not asked these questions. Doc. 16 at 7.
Church then filed an internal complaint with ALEA explaining
that she believed the interview questions were inappropriate,
retaliatory, and discriminatory. Doc. 16 at 8. ALEA attorney
Casey Bates and Personnel Director Stan Goolsby met with
Church to discuss the interview. Doc. 16 at 8. Goolsby told
Church that the Motor Carrier Weight Corporal position had
not been filled because he wanted to investigate her internal
complaint. Doc. 16 at 8. Goolsby could not provide Church
with more information because he first wanted to find out the
status of her EEOC complaint. Doc. 16 at 9. Goolsby and Bates
asked whether she had retained an attorney. Church told them
she had not retained an attorney and that she simply wanted
to make ALEA aware of its existing problems. Doc. 16 at 9.
August 15, 2017, Church received a letter in the mail from
Susanna Capps, the new Chief of ALEA, informing her that she
had not been selected for the Motor Carrier Weight Corporal
position. Doc. 16 at 9. Around August 24, 2017, Capps called
Church's sergeant and complained that Church was not
downloading her body camera footage often enough and that her
enforcement statistics were low in comparison to her peers.
Doc. 16 at 9. Church's supervisor, Scott Duncan, looked
into the complaint and found the accusations to be unfounded.
Doc. 16 at 9-10. Church's camera uploads were on track
despite the fact that Church performed collateral job duties
that frequently pulled her away from road enforcement and
that other ALEA troopers did not have to perform. Doc. 16 at
10. And Church's enforcement statistics were equal to or
above those of her peers. Doc. 16 at 10.
has no major disciplinary reports in her employee file, and
has had no discipline problems whatsoever in the past six or
seven years. Doc. 16 at 3. She has met or exceeded the
performance expectations for her job during each performance
review period. Doc. 16 at 3. Nevertheless, ALEA selected less
qualified male employees to fill each position for which
Church applied. Doc. 16 at 15.
reading of the pleadings reveals that only the Corporal and
Motor Carrier Weight Corporal positions serve as the basis
for Church's gender discrimination, race discrimination,
and retaliation claims. See Doc. 20 at 5-7. Though
Church references other promotions in her complaint, her
response to the motion to dismiss confirms that she seeks
relief only in regards to the Corporal and Motor Weight
Corporal positions, and that the references to other
promotions serve merely to demonstrate ALEA's history of
discrimination. Doc. 20 at 5-7.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
challenges the district court's subject matter
jurisdiction and takes one of two forms: a facial attack or a
factual attack. A facial attack challenges subject matter
jurisdiction without disputing the facts alleged in the
complaint. Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529
(11th Cir. 1990). When evaluating a facial attack, the court
considers the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as
true. Id. “Such protections do not attach when
the district court's jurisdiction is based upon the
court's resolution of disputed facts.” Eaton v.
Dorchester Dev. Inc., 692 F.2d 727, 731-32 (11th Cir.
1982). A factual attack challenges the factual allegations
underlying the assertion of subject matter jurisdiction.
Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1529. When evaluating
a factual attack, there is no presumption in favor of the
plaintiff and the court may weigh the evidence and consider
“matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and
affidavits.” Id. “Under a factual
attack, the court may hear conflicting evidence and decide
the factual issues that determine jurisdiction.”
Kuhlman v. United States, 822 F.Supp.2d 1255, 1257
(M.D. Fla. 2011) (citing Colonial Pipeline Co. v.
Collins, 921 F.2d 1237, 1243 (11th Cir. 1991)).
the parties here do not contest the factual allegations
underlying jurisdiction, ALEA asserts a facial attack.
Standing is jurisdictional, so “a dismissal for lack of
standing has the same effect as a dismissal for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1).” Stalley ex rel. U.S. v. Orlando
Reg'l Healthcare Sys., Inc., 524 F.3d 1229, 1232
(11th Cir. 2008). “A dismissal for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction is not a judgment on the merits and is
entered without prejudice.” Id.
considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must
“take the factual allegations in the complaint as true
and construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d
1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008). To survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint “requires 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. Factual allegations need
not be detailed, but “must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, ”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and “unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully- harmed-me accusation[s]” will
not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Article III of the Constitution, the jurisdiction of the
federal courts is limited to “Cases” and
“Controversies.” Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559 (1992). “[S]tanding is
an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy
requirement.” Id. To establish standing, a
plaintiff must show (1) that she suffered an injury in fact,
(2) that there is a causal connection between the injury and
the challenged action of the defendant, and (3) that the
injury will likely be redressed by a favorable decision.
Id. “At the pleading stage, general factual
allegations of injury resulting from the defendant's
conduct may suffice, for on a motion to dismiss we
‘presum[e] that general allegations embrace those
specific facts that are necessary to support the
claim.'” Id. at 561 (citing Lujan v.
Nat. Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 889 (1990)). Simply
proving standing does not mean that the plaintiff
“must, or should, prevail on the cause of
action.” Jenkins v. BellSouth Corp., 2006 WL
8436903, at *2 (N.D. Ala. Sept. 19, 2006) ...