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Gibson v. Indiana State Personnel Department

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

March 8, 2019

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

          DAVID C. DICKMEYER INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          ELIZABETH MARIE LITTLEJOHN INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          REBECCA L. LOEFFLER INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          JAMES PATRICK HANLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jessica Gibson brought this lawsuit alleging interference with her FMLA rights and wrongful termination of her employment. Defendants have filed a motion for partial dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. [53]. For the reasons that follow, that motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

          Because Defendants have moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “accept[s] the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiff began working as a human resources director for the Indiana State Personnel Department (“ISPD”) in February 2015. Dkt. 47 at 3 ¶ 18. Later that year, she became a foster parent to three children and her parents moved into her home because of her stepfather's serious health condition. Dkt. 47 at 3 ¶¶ 19-21. Those family developments became a source of frustration and affected Plaintiff's mental and physical health. Dkt. 47 at 3-4 ¶¶ 23-24.

         Plaintiff began to talk to her supervisors and coworkers about these frustrations and their effects on her health-and she told her supervisor, Defendant John Bayse, that she needed time off. Dkt. 47 at 3-5, 7 ¶¶ 23, 28- 29, 34-35. Finally, in April 2016, she informed Defendant Bayse that she would be taking FMLA leave. Dkt. 47 at 9 ¶ 42.

         That FMLA leave began on April 18, 2016 and ran through May 23, 2016. Dkt. 47 at 9 ¶ 43. When Plaintiff returned to work on May 23, her employment was terminated. Dkt. 47 at 10 ¶ 46. Initially, Plaintiff was told only that the termination was due to broken trust. Dkt. 47 at 10 ¶ 46. Later, as she worked through an unemployment claim, ISPD told her that she had “been racist toward one of her subordinate employees” and had violated policy. Dkt. 47 at 11-12 ¶ 50.

         Believing that she had been discriminated against, Plaintiff obtained a right to sue letter from the EEOC in February 2017. Dkt. 47 at 2 ¶ 10. She then filed her first complaint pro se in this Court in April 2017, alleging that Defendants discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), The Rehabilitation Act, The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Dkt. 1. Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, dkt. 10, and Plaintiff responded with an amended complaint, dkt. 18. Defendants again moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 19. The Court granted that motion in part and denied it in part. Dkt. 31.

         Following that partial dismissal, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, dkt. 47, alleging: (1) FMLA interference and retaliation claims, dkt. 47 at 15-16; (2) an ADA claim, dkt. 47 at 16-17; (3) a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claim, dkt. 47 at 24-25; (4) a Title VII claim, dkt. 47 at 24-25; and (5) an Indiana Code Title 22 claim, dkt. 47 at 25-26. That complaint names six defendants-ISPD and five individuals-and seeks multiple forms of relief. Dkt. 47 at 26.

         Defendants have filed a motion for partial dismissal of the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim, dkt. 53, which the Court now grants in part and denies in part.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendants may move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss claims for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) 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.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A facially plausible claim is one that allows “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the court will “accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, ” but will not defer to “legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011).

         III. Discussion

         Defendants' motion to dismiss raises four arguments: (1) Plaintiff's FMLA interference and retaliation claims should be dismissed as to all defendants; (2) Plaintiff's Title VII and ADA claims should be dismissed as to the individual defendants; (3) Plaintiff's Indiana-law claim under Indiana Code Title 22 should be dismissed in its entirety; and (4) certain claims for ...


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