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Roberson-King v. State of Louisiana Workforce Commission

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

October 18, 2017

ANGELA ROBERSON-KING
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION

          HAYES, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss and, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 17) filed by Defendant State of Louisiana, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Office of Workforce Development, Louisiana Rehabilitative Services (“LRS” or ““Defendant”). Defendant argues that Plaintiff Angela Roberson-King's (“Roberson-King”) complaint fails to provide sufficient factual allegations to state a claim for relief under Louisiana tort law. Defendant seeks summary judgment in its favor as to Roberson-King's Title VII racial discrimination claim, arguing Roberson-King has failed to show pretext. Roberson-King opposed the defense motion. See Record Document 19. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED and Roberson-King's Louisiana state law tort claims and her Title VII racial discrimination claim are DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         Roberson-King began her employment with the State of Louisiana in 1989. See Record Document 1 at ¶ 3. In 2013, she was promoted within the LRS to Rehabilitation Counselor Master. See Record Document 17-2 at ¶ 1; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. On September 3, 2014, a vacancy for District Supervisor was announced with a closing date of September 8, 2014. See id. at ¶ 2; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. Roberson-King applied for the position during the open application period. See id. at ¶ 3; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. Four qualified candidates, having met the minimum qualifications for the position, were interviewed on September 29, 2014: Roberson-King (African-American), Teresa Hefner (Caucasian), Cindy Hill (Caucasian), and Mara Lott Patten (“Patten”) (Caucasian). See id. at ¶ 4; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. John Vaughan (“Vaughan”), the LRS Shreveport Regional Manager along with Deborah Aymand (“Aymand”), LRS Lafayette Regional Manager, conducted the interviews. See id. at ¶ 5; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. Vaughan and Aymand asked all four interviewees the same questions. See id. at ¶ 6; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1. Of the four interviewees, Patten was the only candidate with both a Master's degree and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (“CRC”) certification. See id. at ¶ 7; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 1.

         Defendant submits that after reviewing performance records, interview notes, and certifications, Vaughan felt Patten was the most qualified candidate for the position. See id. at ¶ 10. Conversely, Roberson-King disputes Vaughn's motivations in promoting Patten, specifically that Patten was the most qualified candidate. See Record Document 19-2 at ¶ 5. Vaughan recommended Patten to his supervisor, Ken York (“York”), Acting Director of LRS for the District Supervisor position. See Record Document 17-2at ¶ 11; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 6. York then forwarded the recommendation of Patten, along with his approval, to Bryan Moore (“Moore”), Director of Office of Workforce Development and the appointing authority. See id. at ¶ 12; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 7. Moore accepted the recommendation of Patten and she was announced as District Supervisor on October 16, 2014. See id. at ¶ 13; Record Document 19-1 at ¶ 7.

         Roberson-King filed a Charge of Discrimination. See Record Document 1 at ¶ 15. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a Notice of Right to Sue dates April 19, 2016. See id., Exhibit 1. Roberson-King filed the instant lawsuit in July 2016, alleging racial discrimination under Title VII, breach of a duty under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See id. at ¶¶ 12-13. Defendant has now moved to dismiss all of Roberson-King's claims. See Record Document 17.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows for dismissal of an action “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need detailed factual allegations in order to avoid dismissal, the plaintiff's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-1965 (2007); see also Cuvillier v. Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir.2007). A plaintiff's obligation “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. The Supreme Court expounded on the Twombly standard, explaining that a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the Court must construe the complaint liberally and accept all of the plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint as true. See In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2009).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard.

         Rule 56(a) provides, in pertinent part:

Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment. A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

F.R.C.P. 56(a) (emphasis added); see also Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir.2010). “A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Quality Infusion Care, Inc., 628 F.3d at 728. “Rule 56 [(a)] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315 (5th Cir.2004).

         If the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, “the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Gen. Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir.2004). Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir.2005).

         III. ...


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