United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
E. OTT CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Amber Turner brings a claim for relief stemming from an
alleged violation of her rights under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 against Defendant Personnel Board of
Jefferson County (“the Personnel Board”), Cooper
Green Mercy Health Services, Barry Hudson, Armika Berkley,
Roger McCullough, and Anna Elizabeth Hill. (Doc.
Currently before the court is the motion to dismiss filed by the
Personnel Board. (Doc 7). The motion has been fully briefed,
(docs. 34, 36), and is now ripe for decision. Also before the
court is a motion to stay discovery that was filed by the
Personnel Board. (Doc. 42). For the following reasons, the
court concludes that the motion to dismiss is due to be
granted and the motion to stay is moot.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a motion to
dismiss claims in a complaint on the ground that the
allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. On such a motion, the ‘“issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims.'” Little v City of North Miami,
805 F.2d 962, 965 (11th Cir. 1986) (quoting
Scheur v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). The
court assumes the factual allegations in the complaint are
true and gives the Plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable
factual inferences. Hazewood v. Foundation Financial
Group, LLC, 551 F.3d 1223, 1224 (11th Cir.
12(b)(6) is read in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2) which requires only “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” in order to, ‘“give the
defendant fair notice of what the … claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” See Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
“While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide grounds of his
entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Id.
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level….”
Id. Thus, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, '”
i.e., its “factual content … 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 plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
is an African American female who was formerly employed as a
clinical pharmacist at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. (Doc. 3
¶¶ 7, 16). She was hired as a clinical pharmacist
in April 2016 via the civil service system administered by
the Personnel Board. (Id. ¶¶ 15-17).
Shortly after being hired in 2016, Plaintiff realized that
she was one of only two African American clinical pharmacists
employed there. (Id. ¶ 20). Approximately two
weeks after she started work, Plaintiff and the other African
American pharmacist were assigned to work in the
oncology/chemo practice, after the Caucasian pharmacists
refused. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 24, 26). Neither
Plaintiff nor the other African American pharmacist were
qualified to work with the chemotherapy drugs, unlike the
other Caucasian pharmacists. (Id. ¶ 27).
Plaintiff told her supervisor, Elizabeth Hill, that she did
not want to work around potentially hazardous chemotherapy
chemicals, that it was not safe for the patients to allow her
to work with the drugs, and asked why they could not hire an
as-needed oncology pharmacist to temporarily fill the
position. (Id. ¶ 28).
hours later, Plaintiff spoke with Barry Hudson in personnel
about the situation. (Id. ¶ 29). After this
conversation, Hill “threatened Turner telling her she
is a probationary employee and if she doesn't want to
work in chemotherapy, they will get someone that will.”
(Id.). Plaintiff reiterated that she did not want to
work in chemotherapy, she was not hired for that position,
and that it was unsafe for patients. (Id. ¶
30). Plaintiff suggested that Caucasian and African American
pharmacists rotate to “ensure trained coverage, ”
but Hill “did not follow up on this suggestion.”
Hill's suggestion, Plaintiff again met with Hudson and
raised the same issues on April 15, 2016. (Id.
¶¶ 31, 32). She questioned why the African American
pharmacists were being “segregated” to this
position. (Id. ¶ 32). Hudson threatened
Plaintiff's job and told her that “‘they'
could place individuals wherever they want.”
(Id. ¶ 33). After the meeting, Plaintiff
continued to question the work assignment, but never received
a response. (Id. ¶ 34).
April 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging race
discrimination with the hospital's affirmative action
officer. (Id. ¶ 35). There was an investigation
during which the Receiver met with Hill and Roger McCullough,
the director for Cooper Green. (Id. ¶ 36). On
May 17, 2016, Plaintiff received a letter stating that her
complaint “lacked merit and was closed.”
(Id.). That being said, neither Plaintiff nor the
other African American pharmacist were required to fill the
chemotherapy position thereafter. (Id.).
thereafter, Plaintiff “observed several items requiring
management's attention involving timeclock fraud and the
improper dispensing of scheduled narcotics.”
(Id. ¶ 37). She notified Hill, as well as a
co-employee, regarding the improper dispensing of the
scheduled narcotics in late September or early October 2016.
(Id. ¶ 38). On October 18, 2016, she told
management about the alleged time clock fraud. (Id.
time of Plaintiff's six month point of her employment,
while she was still in the probationary period, Plaintiff
contends that Hill, Hudson, and McCullough decided that her
employment should be terminated before the end of the
probationary period because of her complaints. (Id.
¶¶ 40-43). Plaintiff alleges “they discussed
how to document [her] file with evidence of poor performance,
even if untrue” with the purpose of providing
sufficient basis for her termination. (Id.
¶¶ 44, 45). “Hill reached out to the
Caucasian employees asking for incidents involving”
Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 47).
October 24, 2016, Hill met with Plaintiff “to
retroactively discipline her” for multiple issues.
(Id. ¶ 52). Plaintiff disputes the issues as
presented by Hill. (Id. ¶¶ 53-54).
“These false allegations prompted [Plaintiff] to file a
second complaint with the Office of the Affirmative Action
Officers on October 28, 2016, wherein she alleged race
discrimination and that her October 24, 2016 discipline was
retaliation based on her first complaint of race
discrimination.” (Id. ¶ 55).
the coming months, Hill continued to “solicit reasons
to discipline” Plaintiff as part of a plan to terminate
her employment before the probationary period ended. (See
id. ¶¶ 56-65). Plaintiff alleges that two
“write-ups” were drafted but were never given to
Plaintiff. (Id.). Then, on February 7, 2017,
McCullough and Hudson “pulled Turner into a closed door
meeting and verbally disciplined ...