United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
E. KNOWLES, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
October 10, 2018, the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Retaliation and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 Claims [Doc. #34] came
on for oral hearing before the undersigned. Present were Lou
Anne Milliman on behalf of plaintiff and Christopher
James-Lomax and Thomas Anzelmo on behalf of defendant. After
the oral hearing, the Court took the motion under advisement.
Having reviewed the case law and the pleadings, the Court
rules as follows.
Zakita Dillon was an employee of the Parish of Jefferson
(“the Parish”), working as an Executive Assistant
for the Capital Projects division of the Public Works
Department. [Doc. #1 at ¶ 4]. Defendant John Dumas was
also an employee of the Parish, initially in the position of
Human Resource Assistant Director, and later promoted to the
position of Personnel Director. [Id. at ¶ 6].
As Personnel Director, Dumas had the power to promote,
reprimand, and remove administrative officers and employees
of the parish responsible to him. [Id.].
in his capacity as Human Resource Assistant Director and
Personnel Director, often had inappropriate interactions and
communications with Dillon, which began to make her
uncomfortable. [Id. at ¶ 7]. These
communications included Dumas calling Dillon and asking what
she was wearing and telling her that he saw her walk to her
car and that he loved the dress she wore. [Id.].
being promoted to Personnel Director, Dumas was given an
office on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. At that time,
his interactions became more aggressive, informing Dillon
that the promotion was bittersweet because he would not be
able to see her “pretty face” every day.
[Id.]. He also began to call her into his office
when he traveled from the West Bank to the East Bank office
locations. [Id.]. When she went into his office, he
would hug her closely, which seemed innocent at first but
progressed over time into an uncomfortable situation.
[Id.]. Also, on one occasion, when Dillon had been
called into Dumas's office, she sat down across from his
desk in a chair and they began a casual conversation.
[Id.]. Dumas then made a motion for Dillon to open
her legs, and, when Dillon asked him what he was doing, he
replied: “Do you have on underwear? I could just see me
putting you on top of this desk. I just wanted to take a
peep.” [Id.]. Dillon jumped up and told him
that she could not believe him and that she had tried to be
nice about all of this and ignore his advances, but this was
too much. [Id.]. Dillon consistently denied
Dumas' sexual advances and attempted to limit any contact
with him. [Id. at ¶ 8].
April of 2015, plaintiff had applied for a work study
program, through the Jefferson Parish Personnel Department.
[Id. at ¶ 9]. This application was filed during
the time period that she was denying the sexual advances of
Dumas. [Id.]. The complaint alleges that it took
almost fourteen months before Dillon's work study
determination was made available to her, and it was denied in
or about June of 2016. [Id.].
contacted Dumas concerning the lengthy time of evaluation for
her work study, the denial, and inquired into the appeal
process. [Id. at ¶ 10]. At that time, she was
informed that there was no appeal process. [Id.].
Dillon then contacted her Councilman, Mark D. Spears, Jr., to
inquire about an appeal process. [Id.]. Following a
meeting between Spears and Dumas, Dillon received notice that
personnel had received her appeal. [Id.].
receipt of the notice of appeal, Dillon was forced to again
contact Dumas, in his capacity as Personnel Director, to
inquire as to what documents and information would be needed
from her in order to complete the appeal. [Id. at
¶11]. She also asked Dumas if she should attend. Dumas
indicated that she should just forward any documents that she
wanted reviewed, and her attendance was not necessary.
[Id.]. She later found out that she could have and
should have attended the Board Meeting when her appeal was
about September 26, 2016, Dillon filed a grievance with
Jefferson Parish in which she outlined the misconduct of
Dumas. [Id. at ¶ 12]. Dillon avers that she has
availed herself of the policies, procedures, and mediation
process of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) without success. [Id. at ¶
19]. Dillon was issued a Right to Sue Letter by the U.S.
Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on or about
November 27, 2017. [Id.].
sued Jefferson Parish and Dumas on February 1, 2018. The
lawsuit alleges that defendants, the Parish, and Dumas, were
acting under color of state and municipal law and were
cloaked with the authority of the State of Louisiana and the
Parish for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when taking the
actions against her. [Id. at ¶ 13]. The
complaint alleges that defendants are liable for retaliation.
[Id. at ¶¶ 14-15]. The complaint also
alleges that this hostile work environment violated the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, §§ 701 et seq., 703(a)(1), as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., 2000e-2(a)(1).
[Id. ¶ 16], and applicable Louisiana law.
alleges that she was acting within the requirements of her
employment when she was retaliated against for denying the
sexual advances of her supervisor, Dumas, as well as
discriminated against because of her race and gender in
violation of Title VII. Dillon alleges that Dumas is liable
to her for compensatory damages, actual damages, emotional
distress damages, attorney's fees, loss of earnings,
punitive damages, and costs.