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Kiper v. Ascension Parish School Board

United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana

May 21, 2015

RHEA KIPER
v.
ASCENSION PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

RULING

JUDGE JOHN W. deGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment[1]. Plaintiff, Rhea Kiper, proceeding pro se, claims that her employer, the Ascension Parish School Board (“APSB”), and various named APSB supervisors and administrators, subjected the Plaintiff to a hostile work environment, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.[2]

The Defendants, Ascension Parish School Board, Superintendent, Patrice Pujol, Human Resources Director, Randy Watts, Principal, Dina Davis, and Assistant Principal, Marguerite Ruiz, move for summary judgment on the Plaintiff’s official capacity and individual capacity claims against the individual defendants. APSB moves for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no adverse employment action taken against the Plaintiff and that its employment actions were motivated solely by legitimate non-discriminatory business reasons.[3] Pro Se Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on liability and damages for violations of Title VII against the APSB and the individual Defendants.[4]

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

In her Complaint[5], the Plaintiff makes purely conclusory allegations that she was subjected to harassment, retaliation, and a hostile work environment by the APSB and the individual Defendants. Plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint and was issued a Right to Sue Letter on February 25, 2014, following which she instituted the captioned proceedings on 5/20/2014[6].

The Statement of Undisputed Material Facts[7] offered in support of summary judgment by the Defendants establishes the following. The Plaintiff, Rhea Kiper, was a teacher employed by the APSB at Prairieville Middle School for the 2012-2013 school year. At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Prairieville Middle School Principal, Dina Davis, recommended that Ms. Kiper’s employment be terminated due to failure to obtain highly qualified status and due to Kiper’s excessive tardiness.[8] Thereafter, APSB Superintendent, Patrice Pujol, informed Kiper by certified mail that the APSB was considering terminating her employment due to habitual tardiness.[9] On July 9, 2013, the Plaintiff resigned from her employment with APSB stating that she was “resigning for personal reasons.”[10]

At different times prior to her resignation, the Plaintiff requested documents and information pertaining to her classroom observations. Plaintiff appears to contend that she was constructively discharged because she attempted to obtain information regarding her observations and because of her attempts to lodge employment grievances.[11] The Defendants deny that any adverse employment action was taken against the Plaintiff and additionally contend that their employment actions were warranted owing to the Plaintiff’s excessive tardiness.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the movant demonstrates an absence of genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant.[12] In opposing a properly advanced motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. The court is under no obligation to search the record for material factual issues. “Rather, the party opposing the summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate precisely how this evidence supports [his/her] claim”.[13] “Conclusory allegations unsupported by specific facts, however, will not prevent an award of summary judgment.”[14] A liberal reading of plaintiff's pleadings is the only special treatment afforded pro se plaintiffs by the courts.[15] The court is not required to search for or try to create causes of actions or find material issues of fact for pro se plaintiffs.

II. Title VII Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by employers “against any individual with respect to [his/her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”[16]

A. Claims Against the Individual Defendants

Defendants argue that the Plaintiff has no legal right of action against any of the individual Defendants in either their official or individual capacities. Defendants erroneously rely on 42 U.S.C. ยง1983 case law to support their proposition. Notwithstanding that the jurisprudence cited by the Defendants is largely inapposite to the Title VII claims plead herein, the result is the same, and for the following ...


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