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Sanders v. Dillard University

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 23, 2014

SANDERS
v.
DILLARD UNIVERSITY

ORDER & REASONS

CARL J. BARBIER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Dillard University's Motion to Dismiss Dessie Sanders' Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Rec. Doc. 23), Plaintiff Dessie Sanders' opposition thereto (Rec. Doc. 28), and Defendant's reply. (Rec. Doc. 31) Having considered the motions and memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's motion should be GRANTED IN PART for the reasons set forth more fully below.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This action arises from Defendant's decision not to renew Plaintiff's appointment as an Adjunct Professor of English. (Rec. Doc. 23-1, p. 1) On September 5, 2013, Defendant, a "fully accredited, private, historically black, non-profit University, " appointed Plaintiff as an Adjunct Professor of English for the Fall 2013 semester, which appointment expired on December 16, 2013. Id . Defendant states that its adjunct instructors do not enjoy any form of contractual security beyond the "current" semester." Id.

At some point during the Fall 2013 semester, Plaintiff alleges that the Coordinator of the English Department, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy, attempted to engage Plaintiff in a scheme to "constructively terminate" two white female professors in her department. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 1) According to Plaintiff,

[Dr. Saloy's] position was that the two professors should not be teaching English and literature (specifically African American literature) to Dillard University students, because both professors are white, and Dillard University is [a historically black university]. [Dr. Saloy's] claim was that both professors did not get along with her, in addition to being "mean and less nurturing towards the students, because they are Black, and that the university needs more professors such as [Plaintiff]: "of color, " to help teach and nurture Dillard students, because "[the two white professors] do not understand the Black experience."

Id. When Plaintiff refused to assist Dr. Saloy in her scheme, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Saloy "attacked and retaliated against [her]." Id.

Plaintiff makes numerous other allegations against Dr. Saloy. First, Plaintiff alleges that "Dr. Saloy intentionally tried to rally various female students against [Plaintiff], by claiming that [she] was neglecting their academic needs [on November 14-19, 2013]." (Rec. Doc. 9, p. 1) However, Plaintiff's doctor had excused her from work during that week. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 10) Second, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Saloy called Plaintiff's landlord during that week and stated that Plaintiff "better watch it, because several female students do not like [Plaintiff] and that [Plaintiff] did not want to mess with her." (Rec. Doc. 28, pp. 2-3) Third, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Saloy attempted to have Plaintiff removed from the schedule for the Spring semester on or before November 20, 2013. Id. at 3. And by January 8, 2014, Dr. Saloy had recommended revoking Plaintiff's contract for the Spring. Id . Lastly, Plaintiff seems to allege that because of Dr. Saloy, Plaintiff's fibroid tumors caused her extreme pain, and the English Department discovered Plaintiff's medical condition. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was aware of Dr. Saloy's behavior during the Fall 2013 semester. (Rec. Doc. 28, p. 2) Plaintiff states that she met with Corthel Clark, Chair of Arts & Humanities; Robert Collins, Dean of Arts & Humanities; Yolanda Page, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Abdel Darwish, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Randy Dukes, Attorney and Human Resources Director.[1] See id. During these meetings or conferences, she informed them that "Dr. Saloy stated that if I agreed to help[] her constructively terminate [a white professor] the exchange would be the full-time position as English faculty." Id.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant permitted her contract to expire despite promising that she could return for the Spring 2014 semester. Specifically, "[Plaintiff] was promised throughout the [Fall 2013] semester by Dr. Robert Collins, Dean of Arts & Humanities, Corthel Clark, Chair, and Dr. Abdel Darwish, Associate VP of Academic Affairs that [her] job as an Adjunct Professor would not be jeopardized by Dr. Saloy's unjust actions, and that [she] would be returning for the 2014 Spring semester." (Rec. Doc. 9, pp. 1-2) Plaintiff further alleges that, following Dr. Saloy's November 20th attempt to remove Plaintiff from the calendar, Corthel Clark "assured [her] that they would take care of Dr. Saloy and that [Plaintiff] would be returning for the spring 2014 semester." (Rec. Doc. 28, p. 3)

Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination dated February 15, 2014, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. In the complaint, Plaintiff indicated that she was retaliated against based on her color and further alleged as follows:

My employment as an Adjunct Professor, English began on September 9, 2013. My immediate supervisor was Corthel Clark, Chair of Humanities. Throughout the semester I was harassed by Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy (B), Coordinator of English. Dillard University employs more than 15 persons.
I believe I was harassed and retaliated against because of my dark skin color in violation of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

In response, she received a Notice of Right to Sue dated February 25, 2014, permitting her to file suit under "Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)" within ninety days of receipt of the letter. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 2)

Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on April 14, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 1) In her complaint, she explains that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of color and retaliated against her after she refused to assist Dr. Saloy with her scheme to terminate two white professors in the English Department. Id. at 1. She also asserts that Dr. Saloy's behavior resulted in a "den[ial of her] right to take a medical leave of absence on October 15, 2013, " equated to the "intentional intent to cause emotional distress, " caused her wrongful termination, and violated the Equal Pay Act. Id . Plaintiff amended her complaint on May 5, 2014, adding claims for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, defamation, Due Process and Equal Protection violations, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and punitive damages. (Rec. Doc. 9)

On November 4, 2014, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Rec. Doc. 23) Plaintiff opposed the motion on December 8, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 28) Defendant replied on December 10, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 29)

LEGAL STANDARD

A. 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), "the district court is free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual disputes in order to satisfy itself that it has the power to hear the case.'" Krim v. pcOrder.com, Inc., 402 F.3d 489, 494 (5th Cir. 2005). The party asserting jurisdiction must carry the burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss. Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 762 (5th Cir. 2011). The standard of review for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is the same as that ...


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