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Ragland v. Dallas County Community College District

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

March 31, 2017

ADERIANCE RAGLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
DALLAS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SAM A. LINDSAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 13), filed May 12, 2016. After careful consideration of the motion, pleadings, and applicable law, the court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Specifically, the court dismisses with prejudice Plaintiff Aderiance Ragland's ("Plaintiff or "Ms. Ragland") discrimination claims for failure to train in violation of the Americans with Disability Act ("ADA") and Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") that arose from her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Charge No. 451-2015-00560 ("First Charge"), as those claims are procedurally time-barred for her failure to file suit within 90 days of receiving her right-to-sue letter. Further, the court denies without prejudice Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs discrimination claims for failure to hire in violation of the ADA, ADEA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), [*] and retaliation that arose from her EEOC Charge No. 450-2015-02903 ("Second Charge"); and orders Ms. Ragland to amend Plaintiff's Complaint (“Complaint”) to address the deficiencies identified by the court. Ms. Ragland did not file a response to the motion to dismiss.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Ms. Ragland filed this action against Dallas County Community College District (“Defendant” or “DCCCD”) on March 14, 2016, contending that while she was employed by Defendant from 2012 to 2015, it discriminated against her in violation of Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant retaliated against her for bringing the allegedly discriminatory allegations against DCCCD.

         Given the paucity of the allegations set forth in the Complaint, the court is not certain of the factual bases for her suit against Defendant. From what the court can ascertain, Plaintiff worked as an Academic Advisor from 2012 to 2015 at El Centro Community College, which is a DCCCD school. Plaintiff contends that her work environment was full of overt criticisms evidenced by five discriminatory actions. With respect to her age discrimination claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her by: (1) refusing to promote her to the position of Academic Advisor II; and (2) not providing her with additional professional development to enhance her skills so that she could be promoted. With respect to her disability claim, Plaintiff contends that Defendant violated the ADA by: (1) failing to accommodate her cognitive rehabilitation that arose after her stroke; (2) failing to accommodate her other physical conditions while she was under the care of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services of Texas (“DARS”); and (3) denying her a position at another DCCCD school. Plaintiff also asserts that after she raised claims of discrimination against DCCCD, her working environment became increasingly hostile, which interfered with the accommodations suggested by DARS.

         Before filing her lawsuit, Ms. Ragland submitted two charges of discrimination to the EEOC and Texas Workforce Commission Civil Right Division (“TWC”). Defendant contends that the court lacks jurisdiction with respect to all of Plaintiff's claims, as she has either failed to file suit timely or failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Further, Defendant contends that even if the court had jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims, those claims should still be dismissed for her failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Applicable Standards

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         A federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over civil cases “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, ” or over civil cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and in which diversity of citizenship exists between the parties. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and must have statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a claim. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted); Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Absent jurisdiction conferred by statute or the Constitution, they lack the power to adjudicate claims and must dismiss an action if subject matter jurisdiction is lacking. Id.; Stockman v. Federal Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing Veldhoen v. United States Coast Guard, 35 F.3d 222, 225 (5th Cir. 1994)). A federal court must presume that an action lies outside its limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing that the court has subject matter jurisdiction to entertain an action rests with the party asserting jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377 (citations omitted). “[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction cannot be created by waiver or consent.” Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 919 (5th Cir. 2001).

         A federal court has an independent duty, at any level of the proceedings, to determine whether it properly has subject matter jurisdiction over a case. Ruhgras AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999) (“[S]ubject-matter delineations must be policed by the courts on their own initiative even at the highest level.”); McDonal v. Abbott Labs., 408 F.3d 177, 182 n.5 (5th Cir. 2005) (A “federal court may raise subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”) (citation omitted).

         In considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, “a court may evaluate (1) the complaint alone, (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As v. HeereMac Vof, 241 F.3d 420, 424 (5th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). Thus, unlike a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the district court is entitled to consider disputed facts as well as undisputed facts in the record and make findings of fact related to the jurisdictional issue. Clark v. Tarrant Cnty., 798 F.2d 736, 741 (5th Cir. 1986). All factual allegations of the complaint, however, must be accepted as true. Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As, 241 F.3d at 424.

         B. Failure to State a Claim

         To defeat a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Reliable Consultants, Inc. v. Earle, 517 F.3d 738, 742 (5th Cir. 2008); Guidry v. American Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 177, 180 (5th Cir. 2007). A claim meets the plausibility test “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must set forth “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 (citation omitted). The “[f]actual allegations of [a complaint] must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (quotation marks, citations, and footnote omitted). When the allegations of the pleading do not allow the court to infer more than the mere possibility of wrongdoing, they fall short of showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept all well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Sonnier v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co.,509 F.3d 673, 675 (5th Cir. 2007); Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996). In ruling on such a motion, the court cannot look beyond the pleadings. Id.; Spivey v. Robertson, 197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999). The pleadings include the complaint and any documents attached to it. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th Cir. 2000). Likewise, “‘[d]ocuments that a defendant attaches to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to [the plaintiff's] claims.'” Id. (quoting Venture Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993)). In this regard, a document that is part of the record but not referred to in a plaintiff's complaint and not attached to a motion to dismiss may not be considered by the court in ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion. Gines v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 699 F.3d 812, 820 & n.9 (5th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Further, it is well-established ...


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