United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jones, Curtis Coleman, and Norman Adams, employees of the
City of Birmingham Police Department (BPD), bring this action
against the City, Mayor Randall Woodfin, Police Chief Patrick
Smith, and the City's Director of Human Resources
Department Jill Madajczyk in their official capacities.
See doc. 10. Plaintiffs allege claims for race
discrimination and disparate treatment pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981 and 1983, as well as claims for Fourteenth
Amendment due process violations. Id. The Defendants
have moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See docs. 11, 12.
The motion is fully briefed, docs. 14, 15, and 16, and ripe
for review. In light of Plaintiffs' failure to adequately
plead valid claims, the motion is due to be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Mere “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (citing
Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 557).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when a
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). A complaint states a facially
plausible claim for relief “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (citation omitted). The
complaint must establish “more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.;
see also Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555
(“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level”). Ultimately,
this inquiry is a “context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL
Edwin Jones, Sergeant Curtis Coleman, and Sergeant Norman
Adams, who are all African American, doc. 10 at 4, were
denied promotions to the next level in the BPD ranks despite
meeting eligibility requirements. Doc. 1-1 at 29, 40-41. They
claim the denial violated various laws.
BPD Promotion Policies and Procedures
allege Defendants are subject to the Enabling Act and the
Personnel Board of Jefferson County (PBJC) Rules and
Regulations, see doc. 10, which detail in relevant
part the promotional procedures for the BPD. Under these
rules, when attempting to fill a vacancy, the Appointing
Authority-identified by Plaintiffs as BPD, id. at
5-submits a Requisition for Certification to the Director,
then selects eligible candidates for certification.
Id. at 7. The Director prioritizes the candidates by
their rank, which is determined by final scores in
promotional examinations and interviews as well as attributes
such as seniority and veteran status. Doc. 1-1 at 16-17. The
Director uses the “Rule of Ten Ranks” to
construct the list: for the first vacancy, the PBJC certifies
ten candidates, adding an additional candidate for each
additional vacancy. Id. at 16. The Appointing
Authority “shall appoint one of those whose names are
certified” within ten days of the certification.
Id. at 19. If the Appointing Authority fails to
appoint candidates within thirty days and the Director does
not give an extension, the certificate of eligibles expires.
2019 Promotion Cycles
allege the following discrepancies between the promotional
policies and the 2019 promotional processes that stem from
the 2019 City of Birmingham Structured Interview Guides
provided to candidates for Lieutenant and Sergeant positions.
Id. at 8, 11. The Guides were designed to
“help explain what to expect on the . . . [relevant]
test.” Id. at 12. The Plaintiffs maintain the
Guides contained internal contradictions, using the words
“test” and “interview”
interchangeably, id. at 13, and counseling on one
page to “dress comfortably, ” doc. 1-2 at 12,
29, while warning two pages later that “[c]andidates
must wear business attire for the Test . . . [and that]
[c]andidates who are not dressed in the required attire
will not be admitted to the final test site, ”
id. at 14, 31 (emphasis in original). In addition to
the purported contradictions, on the day of the promotion
test, candidates did not receive the preparation period or
the test preparation guide that the Structured Interview
Guides had promised. Doc. 10 at 13. And, despite the
Guides' language barring inappropriately dressed
candidates from entering the testing site, a Caucasian
Lieutenant candidate wearing improper dress was admitted to
the test site, albeit he was later disqualified for his
inappropriate attire. Id. The BPD also allowed
another Caucasian candidate for the Lieutenant position to
interview via video conferencing, and subsequently promoted
her. Id. at 15. Finally, none of the promotions
occurred within the thirty-day timeframe. Id. at 11.
Lieutenant Promotion Cycle
to the Plaintiffs, in March 2019, Plaintiffs Adams and
Coleman received notice that the PBJC had included their
names on its certification list for promotion to Lieutenant,
the next level after Sergeant. Id. at 8. Two weeks
later, the BPD released an alphabetical interview list
consisting of twenty-five candidates, sixteen of whom were
African American, deemed eligible for promotion. Doc. 1-1 at
25, 27. In May 2019, Chief Smith emailed BPD personnel with a
“rough guesstimate” that the Department would
promote eight candidates to Lieutenant. Id. at 31.
Ultimately, the City promoted eleven candidates to
Lieutenant, four African Americans and seven Caucasians.
Id. at 27, 29.
Sergeant Promotion Cycle
April 2019, the BPD released an alphabetical Sergeant
promotions interview list. Id. at 34-35. Among the
list of forty-nine candidates, thirty-one were African
American, including Plaintiff Jones. Id. at 37-38.
Of the thirty-two candidates ultimately promoted to Sergeant,
id. at 40-41, nineteen were African American and
thirteen were Caucasian, id. at 37-38.