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Phoenix v. Department of Army

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 31, 2019

GAIL MARIE PHOENIX PLAINTIFF
v.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (DN 9). The motion is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons outlined below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff Gail Marie Phoenix (“Phoenix”) was employed by the Department of the Army during the time period relevant to this lawsuit. On August 2, 2016, she contacted an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor (“EEO counselor”) regarding alleged discriminatory actions by her employer, and on or about August 31, 2016, she filed the Formal Complaint of Discrimination (DA Form 2590) (“Formal Complaint”). (Compl. Ex. 2, at 2, DN 1-2). On July 7, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a right-to-sue letter to Phoenix. (Compl. Ex. 1, DN 1-1).

         Phoenix filed this action pro se and alleges that Defendants failed to promote her and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. 4, 5, 12). Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” and is subject to dismissal if it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6). When considering a motion to dismiss, courts must presume all factual allegations in the complaint to be true and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). “But the district court need not accept a bare assertion of legal conclusions.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Traverse Bay Area Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Mich. Dep't of Educ., 615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “A complaint will be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if no law supports the claims made, if the facts alleged are insufficient to state a claim, or if the face of the complaint presents an insurmountable bar to relief.”[1] Southfield Educ. Ass'n v. Southfield Bd. of Educ., 570 Fed.Appx. 485, 487 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 561-64).

         III.DISCUSSION

         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

          In the Complaint, Phoenix asserts claims under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII relating to her employment. Defendant contends, however, that Phoenix cannot assert both claims and the Title VII preempts her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 5).

As the Sixth Circuit has explained, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . provides the exclusive judicial remedy for claims of discrimination in federal employment. “In permitting federal employees to sue under Title VII, Congress conditioned the government's waiver of sovereign immunity upon a plaintiff's satisfaction of ‘rigorous administrative exhaustion requirements and time limitations.'”

Steiner v. Henderson, 354 F.3d 432, 434-35 (6th Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted) (citation omitted). Because Title VII provides the sole remedy for Phoenix's claims in this action, the Court will dismiss her Section 1983 claim.

         B. Title VII

         In their motion, Defendants also challenge Phoenix's Title VII claim on various grounds. They assert that Phoenix cannot assert claims against all of the named Defendants and that she has failed to state a ...


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