United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MONICA B. SEBBLE
NAMI NEW ORLEANS, INC.
ORDER AND REASONS
D. ENGELHARDT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion filed by defendant NAMI
New Orleans, Inc. (“NAMI”), seeking dismissal of
Plaintiff's state law retaliation claims. (Rec. Doc. 7).
The Motion for partial dismissal is opposed by plaintiff
Monica Sebble (“Plaintiff”). (Rec. Doc. 8).
Having considered the submissions of the parties, including
NAMI's reply memorandum (Rec. Doc. 11), the record, and
applicable law, the Court GRANTS the Motion
for the reasons stated herein.
October 10, 2017, Plaintiff, Monica Sebble, filed the instant
lawsuit against NAMI New Orleans, Inc. (“NAMI”),
her former employer and a nonprofit corporation, seeking
“monetary and other relief for Defendant's unlawful
retaliation in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law
(‘LEDL').” (Rec. Doc. 1 at p. 1). Beginning
in July of 2016, Plaintiff, an African-American, was employed
by NAMI as an Assisted Daily Living counselor. (Id.
at p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that she raised several internal
complaints regarding the manner in which her supervisor,
Nathanial Bossick,  spoke to and worked with individuals NAMI
assisted, as well as his treatment of Plaintiff.
(Id. at p. 3). Plaintiff further alleges that
following NAMI's unresponsiveness to her concerns, on
September 27, 2016, she filed a formal complaint with the
Louisiana Board of Social Workers regarding Mr. Bossick's
behavior. (Id.). After filing the complaint,
Plaintiff claims that NAMI “increasingly began
isolating” her and “also failed to provide her
with adequate accommodations regarding a medical
issue…and a scheduled surgery;” while other
non-African-American employees were not similarly mistreated.
(Id.). On January 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed an EEOC
charge, pro se, asserting that “NAMI
discriminated against her because of her race and retaliated
against her because of the complaints she raised.”
alleges that on February 7, 2017, NAMI fired her in response
to her filing the EEOC Charge of Discrimination.
(Id.). Plaintiff further alleges that “[t]he
stated reasons for termination [in her written separation
notice] were patently pretextual, and…a clear instance
of unlawful retaliation in violation of both state and
federal law.” (Id. at pp. 1-2). Plaintiff
alleges that the five written reprimands involved
“extraordinarily minor alleged infractions” and
were written to justify firing Plaintiff, noting that three
of the five written reprimands were signed and dated on
February 7, 2017, the date Plaintiff was terminated.
(Id. at p. 3). Plaintiff's Complaint identifies
two causes of action: (1) Retaliation (Title VII) and (2)
Retaliation (Louisiana Law). (Id. at p. 4).
to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
NAMI now moves for the dismissal of Plaintiff's state law
retaliation claim. (Rec. Doc. 7-1 at p. 1). NAMI argues that
because it is a Louisiana nonprofit corporation, “as
concede[d] by Plaintiff in her lawsuit, ”
Louisiana's employment discrimination law, La. R.S.
23:301, et seq., is not applicable because nonprofit
corporations are specifically excluded from LEDL's
definition of employer. (Id. at p. 2). Further, NAMI
submits that “since Louisiana's retaliation
statute, La. R.S. 51:2256(1) specifically limits the
definition of employer to that set forth in [La. R.S.]
23:302, NAMI cannot be considered an employer under La. R.S.
51:2256(1).” (Id. at p. 3). Thus, NAMI
contends that Plaintiff's claim of retaliation under
state law (“Second Cause of Action”) must be
dismissed. (Id. at p. 4).
opposition-while agreeing that reliance on La. Rev. Stat.
§ 23:302 (“LEDL”) to assert a claim against
NAMI, a nonprofit corporation, “would be
fatal”-Plaintiff argues that her claim is viable under
Louisiana's anti-retaliation statutes, La. Rev. Stat.
§ 23:967 and § 51:2256, which “do not exclude
non-profit corporations from the definition of
‘employer'” because the exclusions under
§ 23:302 are limited to Chapter 3-A of Title 23. (Rec.
Doc. 8 at p. 1). Plaintiff argues that NAMI's Motion
should be denied because Plaintiff's Complaint states a
valid claim for relief under Louisiana law: Plaintiff urges
that based on a “strict reading” of the relevant
statutes, the exclusions are inapplicable and “NAMI
unquestionably qualifies as an ‘employer'”
under Louisiana's anti-retaliation statutes. (See
Id. at pp. 3-8).
reply and in support of its Motion to Dismiss, NAMI
criticizes Plaintiff's reliance on La. R.S. 23:927 and
La. R.S. 51:2256, statutes it claims are not mentioned in her
Complaint. (Rec. Doc. 11 at p. 1). NAMI questions
Plaintiff's assertion that her claims are not brought
under the LEDL, pointing to specific references to Louisiana
Employment Discrimination Law and La. R.S. 23:303(c) that
Plaintiff made in her Complaint. (Id.). Nonetheless,
NAMI argues that Plaintiff cannot pursue a claim under either
statute because the full definition of employer found in La.
R.S. 23:302 applies to both La. R.S. 23:927 and La. R.S
51:2256, and that definition excludes nonprofit corporations
like NAMI. (Id. at pp. 2-4).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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)
(internal citation omitted). Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court is bound to
“accept all well-pleaded facts as true, and . . . view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Campbell v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 781 F.2d 440,
442 (5th Cir. 1986). Further, “[a]ll questions of fact
and any ambiguities in the controlling substantive law must
be resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” Lewis v.
Fresne, 252 F.3d 352, 357 (5th Cir. 2001). Ultimately,
“[a] complaint is subject to dismissal if the
allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff is not
entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 214 (2007).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
undisputed that Louisiana's general employment
discrimination law (“LEDL”), La. Rev. Stat.
§ 23:301, specifically exempts from its coverage
“[e]mployment of an individual by…any nonprofit
corporation.” La. Rev. Stat. § 23:302(2)(b).
Parties agree that NAMI is a nonprofit corporation. (Rec.
Doc. 1; Rec. Doc. 7-1). Thus, it is undisputed that NAMI is
not an employer under LEDL's definition. The parties
dispute, however, whether the employer exclusions as set
forth in La. Rev. Stat. § 23:302 apply to La. Rev.
Stats. §§ 23:967 and 51:2256, such that nonprofit
corporations are excluded from the definition of employer.
Rev. Stat. § 51:2256, in relevant part, makes it
unlawful for “an employer as defined in R.S.
23:302 to conspire to retaliate or discriminate in any
manner….” See La. Rev. Stat. §
51:2256 (emphasis added). Hence, to establish a retaliation
claim, Plaintiff must first show that NAMI was her employer.
The statute specifically incorporates, without limitation,
the definition of employer as defined under the LEDL. Because
La. Rev. Stat. ...