Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McKey v. August

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 23, 2017

SUSAN DILLARD MCKEY
v.
ROBERTA ZENO AUGUST,

         SECTION "F"

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to stay proceedings pending the conclusion of state criminal proceedings. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         Background

         This civil rights lawsuit by a former employee of St. John the Baptist Parish Library concerns allegations of reverse racial discrimination and deprivation of continued family health insurance coverage without due process of law.

         In early July 1986, the Library Board hired Susan Dillard McKey to work as an Assistant Director at the Central Library. In 2008, Ms. McKey was relieved of her responsibility for supervising the library branches in Reserve, Garyville, and Edgard. In 2009, Ms. McKey was relieved of the responsibility for tracking and handling the Library's fixed assets, at the request of the Library Board's auditor. In 2013, Ms. McKey was relieved of her supervisor responsibilities over the Technical Services Department.

         As of September 23, 2013, Ms. McKey alleges that she was a member of the Louisiana Parochial Employees' Retirement System and had over 33 years of creditable services in the retirement system and that, as of that date, she effectively retired by opting to participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan pursuant to La.R.S. 11:447. She alleges that her entry into the DROP program had been approved and, “[a]t the time of her retirement, the Plaintiff had met all of the eligibility requirements for retirement pursuant to La.R.S. 11:441.” She further alleges that, as of September 23, 2013, she acquired a vested property right in and to her retirement benefits, including continued health insurance coverage.[1]

         Roberta Zeno August was hired by the Library Board as the Director in 2014. On January 29, 2015, Ms. McKey completed a form describing her job duties and the amount of time spent on each task. During the week of April 27, 2015, Ms. August met with Ms. McKey over three days to discuss her job duties and role as Assistant Director. On April 29, 2015, Ms. August held a “continuation meeting” with Ms. McKey to review the job description of Assistant Director and the position's duties and responsibilities. That same day, Ms. August demoted Ms. McKey from Assistant Director to Acquisitions/Cataloger Librarian.

         After going home early, Ms. McKey returned to the Library on April 29, 2015 and was captured on surveillance video removing items between 8:30pm and 8:50 pm. It was discovered that Ms. McKey had removed physical documents from her office and apparently also had deleted files form the hard drive of her computer and her home directory on the Library's server.

         After being demoted, Ms. McKey never returned to her position; rather, on May 4, 2015, she requested and was granted leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. That same day, Ms. August gave notice of her intent to resign as Director of the Library, effective August 21, 2015. On May 7, 2015, Ms. August wrote Ms. McKey, requesting the return of documents that she was recorded removing from the library. On May 13, 2015, Ms. McKey returned some, but not all, of the items she had taken from the library. On May 19, 2015, Ms. August called Ms. McKey several times to arrange a meeting with her and Houston and to ask questions about the files taken from her office and deleted from her computer. Ms. McKey said that she would not attend the meeting without counsel if Houston was present. The last time Ms. August called, the phone went “dead.” Ms. August called Ms. McKey again, but she did not pick up.

         On May 27, 2015, Ms. August sent Ms. McKey a letter notifying her of her termination. No one recommended to Ms. August that she terminate Ms. McKey's employment. Ms. August's reasons for terminating Ms. McKey were set forth in the May 27, 2015 letter. The letter stated that Ms. August had “discovered most of the files in [McKey's] office were empty and files on the computer [she was] assigned were deleted, ” and that “the removal of those files was a violation of policy that prohibits the removal of library property without authorization of the director.” The letter recounted Ms. August's efforts to have Ms. McKey return files and answer questions about the files she deleted. The letter concluded: “[g]iven [Ms. McKey's] actions and your failure to discuss the removal and deletion of the files, you are being terminated from the St. John the Baptist Parish Library System.” On August 5, 2015, Ms. McKey was arrested by St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office. On December 1, 2015, the District Attorney for the 40th Judicial District filed a bill of information charging Ms. McKey with one count of second degree injuring public records; the bill of information was later amended to include two counts of attempted simple criminal damage to property and 51 counts of injuring public records, each charging instances of Ms. McKey damaging computer files.

         On August 5, 2016, Ms. McKey sued Roberta Zeno August, St. John the Baptist Library Board of Control, and St. John the Baptist Sheriff's Office.[2] Ms. McKey alleges that Ms. August, an African-American, is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for creating a hostile work environment and discriminating against her based on her Caucasian race, culminating in her wrongful termination. Ms. McKey also alleges that the Library Board was liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating Article I, § 10 and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, § 23 of the Louisiana Constitution, and Article I, § 2 of the Louisiana Constitution by denying her continued family health insurance coverage allegedly promised to her. After the Court granted St. John the Baptist Library Board of Control's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's Section 1983 claim based on a Fourteenth Amendment protected property right to continuing health insurance benefits as one who retired, the Court granted the plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint, which she did. In her amended complaint, McKey made allegations against Ms. August, in addition to the Library Board, for the denial of a right to continuing health insurance benefits; she also asserted a claim against both defendants for violations of Louisiana state contracts law (a claim she had previously abandoned).

         The Library Board moved to dismiss the amended complaint against it and August joined in the motion to dismiss insofar as the plaintiff alleged claims against her based on a right to continued health insurance benefits. After initially granting the motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended claim based on her purported Fourteenth Amendment right to continued health insurance benefits, (see Order and Reasons dtd. 5/3/17), the Court reconsidered its ruling pursuant to Rule 54(b) when it determined that, accepting all of the allegations as true, Ms. McKey had stated a plausible claim for relief. See Order and Reasons dtd. 7/6/17. The defendants have since filed a motion for summary judgment on liability as well as a motion for summary judgment on damages. The pretrial conference is scheduled for August 31, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.