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Hall v. Louisiana Workforce Commission

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 8, 2018

LAKEISHA HALL
v.
LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION, ET AL.

RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 67) filed by Defendants Louisiana Workforce Commission, Wes Hataway, Bryce Tomlin, Corey Gaines, and Nakesla Blount. Plaintiff Lakeisha Hall filed an opposition (Doc. 80), and Defendants filed a reply. (Doc. 81). For the following reasons the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 67) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is an employment discrimination lawsuit arising from Plaintiffs termination from the Louisiana Workforce Commission ("LWC") on July 14, 2014. (Doc. 60). Plaintiff alleges that she began working as a full-time employee for LWC in January 2012, where she worked in the Office of Workers Compensation Administration. Id. at ¶¶ 12-14. Plaintiff alleges that Bryce Tomlin was her direct supervisor, and that Corey Gaines, Larry White, and Wes Hataway also supervised her. Id. at 15. She also alleges that Nakelsa Blount was the Human Resources manager and Blount was charged with managing and enforcing LWC's leave policy. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that she informed Tomlin that she was pregnant around June 23, 2014. Id. at ¶ 26. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff alleges that she suffered morning sickness, and therefore she missed work or arrived late to work. Id. at ¶¶ 29-30A. Plaintiff alleges that Tomlin informed her that her absences would be considered unexcused, and failed to advise her that she may be eligible for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Id. at 30-30A. According to Plaintiff, on July 10, 2014, Tomlin provided her a letter titled 'Supervisory Plan, " which stated that Plaintiff would not receive approval for annual and compensatory leave requests until she significantly improved her attendance, but she was permitted to use annual leave for medical appointments if it was qualified leave under the FMLA. Id. at ¶ 31-32.

         Plaintiff alleges that later that day Tomlin sent an email to Blount, White and Gaines about this meeting with Plaintiff. Id. at 33B. White asked whether Plaintiff was on probation and Blount responded to the group email that Petitioner was on probation and that she "recommend[ed] separating her from probation." Id. at 33C. White replied "I concur." Id. at 33D. Gaines then replied to the group that he agreed and Tomlin had his "backing." Id. at 33E. Blount replied to the group stating that Plaintiffs "reaction to being giving [sic] a written warning is evidence that she is not a fit for the agency. Her immediate respon[se] was discrimination and she was being mistreated. Additionally, she is pregnant and will have a reason to also claim this as a disability/discrimination if she is dissatisfied." White then instructed Tomlin and Gaines, to prepare a letter of termination to fire Petitioner. Id. at 33G.

         The next day, Friday, July 11, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that she used previously approved leave to attend her first prenatal appointment. Id. at ¶ 35. When she returned to work on Monday, July 14, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that Tomlin gave her a notice of separation. Id. at ¶ 36. Plaintiff sued LWC, Blount, Hataway, Gaines, and Tomlin and brought claims under Title VII, the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law, La. R.S. 23:301, the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute, La. R.S. 23:967, the FMLA, the Louisiana Fair Employment Practices Act, La. R.S. 23:341, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 60 at p. 19-33).

         Plaintiff filed suit on August 12, 2015. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on September 23, 2015. (Doc. 4). Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs claims, and on April 29, 2016, the Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. (Doc. 29). The Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs claims except for her:

• Title VII Discrimination Claim against LWC (First Cause of Action)
• Title VII Retaliation Claim Against LWC (Third Cause of Action)[1]
• FMLA Claim Against Hataway and Tomlin (Seventh Cause of Action)
• Section 1983 Employment Discrimination Claim Against Tomlin (Tenth Cause of Action)

(See Doc. 29).

         On October 2, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 59). Defendants then filed the pending Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 67). On November 9, 2017, the Court ordered supplemental briefing on whether Plaintiffs § 1983 claims are time-barred. (Doc. 82). Plaintiff and Defendants timely filed supplemental briefs. (Docs. 83-84).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 8(a)(2). "To survive a 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 Ail. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a ...


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