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Gibson v. Indiana State Personnel Department

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 12, 2017

JESSICA A. GIBSON, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANA STATE PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT, JON DARROW, JOHN F. BAYSE, MATTHEW A. BROWN, BRUCE BAXTER, and BRUCE LEMMON, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE

         Defendants, Indiana State Personnel Department (“ISPD”), Jon “Denny” Darrow, John F. Bayse, Matthew A. Brown, Bruce Baxter, and Bruce Lemmon (“Individual Defendants”) (collectively “Defendants”), move to dismiss the Amended Complaint filed by the pro se Plaintiff herein, Jessica Gibson, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons explained below, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Background

         In February 2015, Plaintiff was hired by the ISPD as the Director of Human Resources of the Indiana Department of Correction (“DOC”). (Filing No. 18, Am. Compl. ¶ 17). Due to familial and work-related stress and depression, Plaintiff took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act from April 18, 2016, to May 23, 2016. (Id. ¶ 41- 42). On the day she returned, she was advised her employment was terminated. (Id. ¶ 45). She now brings claims against the ISPD and the Individual Defendants, in their individual and official capacities, for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 29 U.S.C. § 12101, (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 28, (“FMLA”), and the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         II. Standard of Review

         Defendants bring their Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which authorizes the dismissal of claims for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the lawsuit. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). A court may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss only if a complaint lacks “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint sufficient on its face need not give “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must provide more than “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Id. at 555. The court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007).

         III. Discussion

         Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on multiple grounds. The court will begin with Defendants' argument that Plaintiff's claims against the Individual Defendants exceed the scope of her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge of discrimination.

         A. Individual Liability

         1. Scope of the Charge

         Defendants first argue Plaintiff's claims against the Individual Defendants should be dismissed because, with the exception of John Bayse, they were not named in her EEOC charge of discrimination.

         Generally, “[a] party not named as the respondent in the charge may not ordinarily be sued in a private civil action under Title VII.” Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 666 (7th Cir. 2013). An exception to this general rule exists “where the ‘unnamed party has been provided with adequate notice of the charge, under circumstances where the party has been given the opportunity to participate in conciliation proceedings aimed at voluntary compliance[.]' ” Id. (quoting Eggleston v. Chi. Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, 657 F.2d 890, 905 (7th Cir. 1981)). To effectuate the remedial purposes of the anti-discrimination laws, courts construe EEOC charges with “utmost liberality”; thus a plaintiff may join all parties sufficiently named or alluded to in the factual statement of an EEOC charge. Id. at 906.

         Plaintiff's EEOC charge was filed against the State of Indiana. The body of her charge named the Department of Corrections and Bayse. (Filing No. 20-1, EEOC charge of discrimination). Plaintiff alleges in her EEOC charge that Bayse, who is the ISPD Deputy Director and acted as her supervisor, terminated her employment. (See EEOC charge). Bayse, who was actually named in the EEOC charge as the individual who terminated her, would have had notice of the charge. There is no mention of the other defendants in her EEOC charge. Therefore, Individual Defendants Jon Darrow, Matthew A. Brown, Bruce Baxter, and Bruce Lemmon, must be dismissed.

         2. Claims Against the Individual Defendants

         In the alternative, Defendants argue Plaintiff's individual capacity claims against the Individual Defendants under the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and Title VII[1] are barred because they do not meet the definition of an “employer” within the meaning of those statutes. Defendants are correct. Williams v. Banning, 72 F.3d 552, 555 (7th Cir. 1995) (holding that a supervisor, in his individual capacity, does not fall within Title VII's definition of employer); E.E.O.C. v. AIC Sec. Investigations, Ltd., 55 F.3d 1276, 1282 (7th Cir. 1995) (holding “that individuals who do not otherwise meet the statutory definition of ‘employer' cannot be ...


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