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Dillon v. Parish

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 29, 2018


         SECTION “N” (3)



         On 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.

         I. Backgrounds

         Plaintiff 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.].

         Dumas, 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.].

         After 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].

         In 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.].

         Dillon 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.].

         After 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 addressed. [Id.].

         On or 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.].

         Dillon 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.

         Dillon 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.

         II. ...

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