United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
KAREN G. MULLET
TOURO INFIRMARY, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc.
7) filed by the Defendant Frances Riley pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”)
12(b)(6). The Plaintiff Karen Mullet opposes the
motion, (Rec. Doc. 10), and Riley replied. (Rec. Doc 17). The
motion, set for submission on October 30, 2019, is before the
Court on the briefs without oral argument.
began working for Touro Infirmary on May 25, 2015 as a
cardiac echo-tech. (Rec. Doc. 14, p. 3, Mullet's Amended
Complaint). In 2017, Riley, one of Mullet's co-workers
and a co-Defendant in this suit, received a promotion and
became one of Mullet's supervisors. Id. After
this promotion, Mullet says she witnessed Riley systemically
terminating or forcing the resignation of numerous employees
who were mainly Caucasian. Id. Mullet also claims
that Riley used her authority as a supervisor to establish a
system of preferential treatment in favor of African-American
employees to the detriment of the Caucasian employees.
Riley initially did not target Mullet, this changed when
Mullet caught her altering Mullet's time and payroll
records. Id. at 4. Mullet even reported this conduct
to management, but no action was ever taken. Id.
Things further escalated between them in May 2018 when Riley
saw Mullet having an epileptic seizure and said “[w]e
can't be having this happen at work.” Id.
4-5. Riley then refused to implement an emergency call system
for Mullet, even though she installed one in an
African-American's office who had a similar condition.
Id. at 5.
things came to a head on September 21, 2018 when she was
terminated by Touro Infirmary's Human Resource Manager
for falsifying her time entry from the prior day.
Id. at 6. More particularly, Riley said she had
surveillance video showing Mullet leaving work five minutes
before the time Mullet reported on her
“punch-out” card. Id. As a result,
“[Mullet's] termination was  deemed a ‘Do
Not Rehire' which preclude[d] her employment at any of
the other Touro facilities in the Southeast Louisiana
area.” Id. “[Mullet] further contends
that Touro[, ] through members of its management staff[, ]
have purposely ‘black balled' [Mullet] and in
violation of law given defamatory employment references which
have deprived her of employment positions for which she is
qualified.” Id. 6-7.
in her complaint, Mullet makes the followings claims against
Riley: (1) race and disability discrimination under Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Louisiana
Employment Discrimination Law, and the Louisiana
Whistleblower Law, (2) defamation, (3) intentional infliction
of emotional distress (“IIED”), and (4) punitive
damages. Riley opposes all four of these claims in her
12(b)(6) motion. The Court will address each of Mullet's
four claims in order.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a complaint when a
plaintiff has failed to state a claim for which relief can be
granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “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.'”
Iqbal v. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). The factual matter contained in the complaint must
allege actual facts, not mere legal conclusions portrayed as
facts. Id. at 667 (“Although for the purposes
of a motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, we 'are not bound
to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.'”) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555). Additionally, the factual allegations of a complaint
must state a plausible claim for relief. Id. A
complaint states a “plausible claim for relief”
when the factual allegations contained therein, taken as
true, necessarily demonstrate actual misconduct on the part
of the defendant, not a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id.; see also Jacquez v.
Procunier, 801 F.2d 789, 791-92 (5th Cir.1986). Lastly,
the Court “will not look beyond the face of the
pleadings to determine whether relief should be granted based
on the alleged facts[.]” Spivey v. Robertson,
197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999).
Claim One - Race and Disability Discrimination
Fifth Circuit has consistently held that there is no
individual liability for employees under Title VII. See
Smith v. Amedisys Inc., 298 F.3d 434, 448 (5th Cir.2002)
(citing Indest v. Freeman Decorating, Inc., 164 F.3d
258, 262 (5th Cir.1999)). “While Title VII's
definition of the term employer includes ‘any
agent' of an employer, Congress's purpose was merely
to import respondeat superior liability into Title
VII.” Id. (citing Indest, 164 F.3d at
262). Thus, an employee or supervisor faces liability solely
in his official capacity. See Dixon v. Primary Health
Servs. Ctr., No.10-1490, 2011 WL 1326841, at *2 (W.D.La.
Mar. 3, 2011) (citing Harvey v. Blake,913 F.2d 226,
227 (5th Cir.1990)). Because an official-capacity suit
against a supervisor or other individual is actually a suit
against the employing corporation, Indest, 164 F.3d
at 262, a plaintiff may not maintain a Title VII action
against both an employer and its agent in an ...