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Purcell v. Indiana University-South Bend

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

September 17, 2014



JAMES T. MOODY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on defendants Indiana University (improperly sued as "Indiana University South Bend"), the Indiana University Board of Trustees, the President of Indiana University, Michael A. McRobbie, the Chancellor of Indiana University South Bend, Una Mae Reck, and the Dean of the Raclin School of the Arts, Marvin Curtis's (collectively "defendants") motion for partial dismissal of plaintiff Alicia Purcell's amended complaint. (DE # 29.) For the following reasons, that motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Facts and Background

From 2004 to 2006, plaintiff was employed at Indiana University - South Bend's ("Indiana University") Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts ("the Raclin School") as a visiting lecturer.[1] (DE # 27 at ¶ 8.) In 2006, plaintiff was hired as a full-time voice lecturer at the Raclin School, and held that position until her termination in 2012. ( Id. at ¶ 9.) With both of these positions, plaintiff was responsible for teaching voice studio and related courses to undergraduate and graduate students at Indiana University. ( Id. at ¶ 10.) One hundred percent of plaintiff's time was devoted to teaching. ( Id. at ¶ 11.)

In April 2011 ( see DE # 27-1 at 1), plaintiff was notified that her contract to teach was not being renewed for the 2012-2013 academic year.[2] (DE # 27 at ¶ 15.) This decision was based, in part, on negative reviews by Marvin Curtis, Dean of the Raclin School.[3] ( Id. ) Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the non-renewal of her contract on January 31, 2012 with the Indiana University Faculty Board of Review. ( Id. at ¶ 17.) The Faculty Board of Review concluded that Curtis's criticisms of plaintiff were inappropriate and unprofessional.[4] ( Id. at ¶ 25.) Despite the Faculty Board of Review's conclusion, the Chancellor of Indiana University upheld the decision to not renew plaintiff's contract.[5] ( Id. at ¶ 27.)

Plaintiff, who was over the age of 40 at the time of her termination, was paid $38, 260.00 in salary for 2011. ( Id. at ¶¶ 28, 30.) While plaintiff was employed by Indiana University, a female colleague under the age of 40 was hired as a lecturer at the Raclin School and paid $36, 000 annually. ( Id. at ¶ 31.) Additionally, four men, all under the age of 40, were hired as lecturers at the Raclin School and paid a salary of $40, 000 annually. ( Id. at ¶ 32.) Plaintiff's vacated position was filled by someone under the age of 40 at the time she was hired. ( Id. at ¶ 35.)

On June 11, 2012, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (DE # 37-1); see also Moses v. U.S. Steel Corp., Cause No. 2:11-CV-385, 2012 WL 1066769, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 28, 2012) (taking judicial notice of charge of discrimination without converting motion to dismiss to motion for summary judgment). Plaintiff eventually filed this suit, alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, and Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution. (DE # 27.) Defendants have now moved to dismiss plaintiff's ADEA, Title VII, and Indiana constitutional claims. (DE # 29.)

II. Legal Standard

Defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims under RULE 12(b)(6) of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. A judge reviewing a complaint under a RULE 12(b)(6) standard must construe it in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, accept well-pleaded facts as true, and draw all inferences in the non-movant's favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007); Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 595 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). Under the liberal notice-pleading requirements of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, the complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy RULE 8(a), "the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

"While the federal pleading standard is quite forgiving, ... the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662-63 (7th Cir. 2011); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. A plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To meet this standard, a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond providing "labels and conclusions" and "be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994) among other authorities). As the Seventh Circuit recently explained, a complaint must give "enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together." Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010).

However, the plaintiff does not need to plead facts that establish each element of a cause of action and, "[a]t this stage the plaintiff receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint." Sanjuan, 40 F.3d at 251. Even if the truth of the facts alleged appears doubtful, and recovery remote or unlikely, the court cannot dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim if, when the facts pleaded are taken as true, a plaintiff has "nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

III. Analysis

A. Plaintiff's ADEA Claim - Immunity

Defendants first argue that plaintiff's ADEA claims must be dismissed against all defendants, because, under the Eleventh Amendment, "the states and their entities are immune from private damage actions or suits for injunctive relief brought in federal court." (DE # 30 at 4.) In her response brief, plaintiff concedes that an ADEA claim cannot be "brought in federal court against Indiana ...

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