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Williams v. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

March 26, 2019




         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure filed by Defendants Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Inc. and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc. (Doc. 11). Plaintiff Karnisha Williams opposes the motion. (Doc. 15). The defendants have filed a reply brief in support of their motion. (Doc. 18). Oral argument is not necessary. After careful consideration of the parties' arguments, the factual allegations, and the applicable law, and for the following reasons, the defendants' motion (Doc. 11) is granted.


         Plaintiff Karnisha Williams, an African American female, filed suit on March 21, 2018, against Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady of Health System, Inc. (“FMOLH”) alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race and sex during the course of her employment at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Doc. 1). On April 11, 2018, she filed an amended complaint, adding Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc. (“OLOL”) as a defendant. (Doc. 4).

         In April 2015, Williams interviewed with OLOL's Kathleen Husain[1] for a Heart Vascular Cardiovascular Unit (“HVCU”) position. (Doc. 4 at 2). Williams told Husain that she was interested in a position in the Intensive Care Unit (“ICU”). (Id.). Husain informed Williams that newly hired nurses typically work in the Telemetry division for about one year and then transition to the ICU. (Id.). In June 2015, Williams completed her last semester of “school” with an ICU nurse in the HVCU and subsequently began her orientation as a registered nurse in August 2015. (Id.)

         In or around September 2015, Williams informed Husain that she did not feel comfortable working with Ashley Hayes, who she “believed was behaving in a condescending manner towards her.” (Doc. 4 at 2). Williams heard from several individuals that Hayes would speak about how she hated working with Williams. (Id.). In November 2015, Williams completed her orientation and began working in the Heart Vascular Ambulatory Unit two months later. (Id. at 2-3). In April 2016, she became a member of the Telemetry Council. (Id. at 3). Subsequently, in May 2016, she completed Advanced Cardiac Life Support (“ACLS”) training and “received a positive annual evaluation.” (Id.). In June 2016, she became a Telemetry Council Chair. (Id.).

         In July 2016, Williams reported being “bullied” by a white coworker to her supervisor, John Wilson. (Doc. 4 at 3). Williams informed Husain and Wilson that the coworker, Rebecca Musika, the charge nurse, “stated that the family of [Williams'] patient had requested a new nurse.” (Id.). Williams later learned, however, that the family did not actually make the request. (Id.). In fact, after Williams was replaced, the family requested Williams back. (Id.). This request was denied by Musika. (Id.). Wilson confirmed that the family wanted Williams to care for their relative. (Id.).

         In August 2016, near the end of her first year in the Telemetry division, Williams asked Husain about the possibility of training for, and eventually transferring to, a position in the ICU. (Doc. 4 at 3). Husain then met with David Salbador, the night supervisor, who informed her that Williams was not ready to transfer to the ICU. (Id. at 3-4). Williams believes that Salbador informed Husain that Williams was not ready to be transferred because she isolated herself from the other ICU nurses by not sitting in the nurse's station or engaging with them during her shifts. (Id. at 4). Thus, according to Williams, “there was no reason to deny the transfer based on skill or training, ” and the decision was based on race. (Id.). Williams later found out that certain white coworkers without an ACLS certification were permitted to train for the ICU. (Id.). As a result, she requested to be transferred to another unit. (Id.). The coworkers are not identified.

         Williams alleges that she “had begun to be bullied by the other white nurses on the unit and made complaint [sic], ” but does not specify which unit or to whom she made a complaint. (Doc. 4 at 4). Williams met with the Chief Nursing Officer, Nicole Telhard, “to discuss her concerns regarding her career advancement.” (Id.). She also met with Chief Operating Officer Terrie Sterling and complained “that she was unable to advance in her nursing career like white co-employees who had advanced to the ICU training.” (Id.). Nevertheless, “[n]o action was taken to allow Mrs. Williams to advance in the same manner as other white co-employees in that unit.” (Id. at 4-5). As a result, Williams left OLOL in December 2017. (Id. at 5).

         On July 11, 2017, Williams filed a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against “Our Lady of the Lake Reg. Med. Ctr.” alleging discrimination on the basis of race and sex. (Doc. 4-1). She amended the charge on August 1, 2017, to add a claim for retaliation, but did not attach the amended charge to her complaint. (Doc. 4 at 5). On December 21, 2017, the EEOC issued its Dismissal and Notice of Rights, permitting Williams to file a lawsuit within 90 days. (Doc. 4-1 at 3).

         Williams asserts claims for race and sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq., and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. 4 at 1.) Williams also asserts state-law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress pursuant to La. C.C. Art. 2315 and employment discrimination under La. R.S. 23:332. (Id. at 5-6.)


         In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009). To defeat a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is “plausible on its face” if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations need not be detailed, but “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id., and “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” are not sufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.


         A. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System

         FMOLH alleges that it, alone, should be dismissed on two separate but related bases: (1) Williams has not adequately alleged that it was her employer and was responsible for any of the employment decisions at issue; and (2) Williams did not exhaust her administrative remedies by failing to name FMOLH in her EEOC charge. (Doc. 11-1 at 6-8). Because the Court agrees with FMOLH that Williams has not adequately alleged that it was her employer and was ...

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