Robert C. Mills, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Indiana Department of Child Services, Shirley Starks, Kristen L. Sparks, Melanie Reising, and Elizabeth Herrmann, Appellees-Defendants
from the Vanderburgh Superior Court The Honorable Leslie C.
Shively, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 82D01-1411-PL-5329
Appellant Pro Se Robert C. Mills.
Attorneys for Appellees Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Andrea E. Rahman Matthew Elliott Deputy Attorneys
Vaidik, Chief Judge.
Robert Mills, pro se, brought suit against the Indiana
Department of Child Services (DCS) and several of its
employees for sex and age discrimination under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (ADEA), and the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment (via 42 U.S.C. § 1983). He also
claimed that DCS violated Title VII's anti-retaliation
provision by refusing to interview him for open positions
after he filed a discrimination charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
DCS moved for and won a judgment on the pleadings on all of
Mills's claims against its employees. That ruling left
standing only three of Mills's claims- sex and age
discrimination and retaliation by DCS. DCS was granted
summary judgment on these remaining claims. Mills now appeals
the trial court's rulings. We affirm.
and Procedural History
Mills was employed by DCS as a caseworker from approximately
1975 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1988. In 1988, he changed
positions and worked for DCS as a Child Care Center Licensing
Consultant. He held this position until he resigned in 2007.
Mills then began working as a Manager of Child Development
Services for Evansville Head Start. In 2010, at the age of
62, he retired. A few years later, Mills decided that he
needed to increase his monthly pension payments and decided
to resume working.
In October 2013, Mills applied for a Family Case Manager
position with DCS. At that time, DCS's applicant
screening process was multi-step and included a two-part
interview. Mills was selected for an interview and met with
Melanie Reising and Elizabeth Herrmann, supervisors at DCS.
During the interview, Mills was asked why he wanted to come
out of retirement, and he stated that he wanted "to work
for the State for 2-3 years to solidify my retirement
income." Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 157. After the
interview concluded, Herrmann sent feedback to Shirley
Starks, the local director for DCS, and recommended that
Mills not move on in the interview process. Herrmann noted
that Mills was hard to engage in conversation, was unable to
answer questions with specific examples of using essential
skills for the job, was rigid on his views of traditional and
non-traditional families-his body language suggested that he
was uncomfortable with non-traditional families-and provided
generalized answers to questions about child abuse or
neglect. Id. at 159. DCS ultimately hired another
Three months later, in January 2014, another Family Case
Manager position became available, and Mills interviewed for
a second time with Reising and Herrmann. Again, Mills
restated that his desire for obtaining a position with DCS
was to work for two to three years to increase his pension.
After the interview, Reising and Herrmann had the same
concerns about Mills that they had in October and recommended
that he not move on in the interview process. DCS hired a
sixty-three-year-old female to fill the position.
In April 2014, Mills filed charges against DCS with the EEOC,
alleging sex and age discrimination. After completing its
investigation, the EEOC issued Mills a Notice of Right to Sue
on August 15, and it took no further action. On August 27 and
October 30, Mills submitted additional applications for
Family Case Manager positions but was not interviewed for
either opening. On November 11, Mills, pro se, filed this
lawsuit against DCS, Starks, Herrmann, Reising, Human
Resources Generalist Kristen Sparks, DCS Director Mary Beth
Bonaventura, Doe I, Doe II, and Doe III. In his initial
complaint, Mills alleged that he was discriminated against by
DCS based on his sex and age and retaliated against for
filing a charge with the EEOC; he raised claims under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADEA, and Indiana
Code chapter 22-9-2 (Indiana Age Discrimination Act
(IADA)). Mills sought relief from DCS and each
employee in her individual and official capacity. After
filing suit, Mills submitted additional applications with DCS
in February 2015 and May 2015; DCS did not interview him for
either of these positions.
In May 2015, DCS moved for judgment on the pleadings on many
of Mills's claims. DCS argued, among other things, that
the individual defendants were not "employers" as
defined by the statutes under which Mills sought relief; DCS
was subject to the ADEA and was therefore statutorily
excluded from the definition of employer under the IADA; and
Mills's claim for monetary damages under the ADEA was
barred by the State's sovereign immunity and the only
relief that he could receive was injunctive. Id. at
26-28. Mills responded to DCS's motion by seeking leave
to file an amended complaint, which he was
granted. In his amended complaint, Mills no longer
named defendants Bonaventura, Doe I, Doe II, and Doe III, and
he dropped the IADA claim. Id. at 38-39, 45-52.
Mills's amended complaint added a claim under § 1983
for violations of his rights under the Equal Protection
Clause. Based on these changes, DCS submitted a supplement to
its motion for judgment on the pleadings and argued that DCS
is an agency, not a person, under § 1983 and only
individuals can be sued under § 1983; and that Mills did
not make any factual allegation regarding how the individual
defendants violated his constitutional rights under §
While DCS's motion was pending, Mills filed two motions
to compel discovery. The trial court denied those motions and
granted DCS's motion for judgment on the pleadings. All
individual defendants were dismissed from the suit, and Mills
was left with three claims against DCS: sex discrimination
under Title VII, age discrimination under the ADEA, and
retaliation under Title VII for filing a charge with the
DCS then moved for summary judgment on the three remaining
claims. Mills opposed the motion and filed a personal
affidavit in support of his argument. The court granted
DCS's motion, and Mills moved to correct error. The trial
court denied the motion.
Mills, still proceeding pro se, now appeals.
Discussion and Decision
Mills contends that the trial court erred by granting
DCS's motion for judgment on the pleadings on some of his
claims and by later granting its ...