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Thompson v. Dallas City Attorney'S Office

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

July 27, 2017

PETRINA L. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DALLAS CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          A. JOE FISH Senior United States District Judge

         Before the court is the defendant's motion to dismiss (docket entry 12) and the plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her complaint (docket entry 14). For the reasons stated below, the defendant's motion is granted, and the plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The plaintiff, Petrina L. Thompson (“Thompson”), brings this action against the defendant, the Dallas City Attorney's Office (“the City”), for unlawful employment practices and discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, and gender.

         Plaintiff's Original Complaint (“Complaint”) at 1 (docket entry 1). Thompson began working for the City in October 2011 as an Assistant City Attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit. Id. ¶ 4. Thompson alleges that Fredrick Williams (“Williams”), the chief prosecutor who had hired her, sexually harassed her from the onset of her employment by repeatedly asking her to be his girlfriend and telling her that he “didn't want to hire [her] because he wanted to date [her] instead.” Id. ¶¶ 5-6 (alteration in original). Despite acquiescing to a relationship with Williams, Thompson attempted to end the relationship shortly afterwards. Id. ¶¶ 6-7.

         In response, Thompson alleges, Williams became angry, physically attacked her, and subsequently began a retaliation campaign against her in the workplace. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Among other acts, Williams increased his sexual advances towards her; her work mysteriously disappeared from her cubicle; she handled more work than similarly-situated attorneys; and she was mocked by staff and employees because of her age. Id. ¶ 8. Thompson claims that by 2014 this behavior had become “accepted and condoned by virtually all employees.” Id. ¶ 12.

         Around October 2014, Thompson filed a complaint with the human resources office, and at some point afterwards, Williams resigned. Id. ¶¶ 16, 18. However, Thompson asserts that the retaliation and harassment continued. Id. ¶ 18. In December 2014, Thompson was called into a meeting with three superiors who allegedly blamed Thompson for the hostile work environment and informed her that she would be transferred to the General Litigation Division. Id. ¶ 19. Once in the General Litigation Division, Thompson continued to suffer harassment and disparate treatment: she was given “busy work, ” denied a standard paralegal or secretary, and refused training. Id. ¶ 21. Thompson also claims that she was paid less than similarly-situated male attorneys. Id. ¶ 23. After one year in this division, Thompson was terminated with the explanation, “[i]t just isn't working out.” Id. ¶ 22.

         B. Procedural Background

         On December 8, 2016, Thompson filed suit in the 192nd District Court of Dallas County, Texas, alleging employment discrimination and retaliation in violation of Texas Labor Code §§ 21.051 and 21.055. Original Petition ¶ 26 (No. DC-16-15685); see also First Amended State Petition (“Amended State Petition”) ¶ 26 (No. DC-16-15685).[1]

         On February 26, 2017, Thompson filed the instant suit, asserting claims of discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Complaint at 7-9. In addition, she brings a gender-based pay disparity claim under the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”). Id. at 9. On March 21, 2017, the City filed a motion to dismiss based on arguments of improper claim-splitting between the two suits, and because the Dallas City Attorney's Office lacks the legal capacity to be sued. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Brief in Support (“Motion to Dismiss”) at 1 (docket entry 12). The same day, the City filed a motion for summary judgment in the state court action because Thompson had failed to serve process within the limitations period. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion for Summary Judgment”) at 1 (No. DC-16-15685). The state court proceeded to grant the City's motion for summary judgment on April 18, 2017. Order and Final Judgment (“State Court Order and Final Judgment”) (No. DC-16-15685). On June 16, 2017, the state court denied Thompson's ensuing motions for reinstatement and a new trial. Order -- Deny (1) (No. DC-16-15685); Order -- Deny (2) (No. DC-16-15685).

         Meanwhile, in the instant case, Thompson filed a response to the City's motion to dismiss on April 10, 2017. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Brief in Support (“Plaintiff's Response”) (docket entry 13). On April 16, 2017, Thompson also filed a motion for leave of court to amend her complaint to name the proper defendant, the City of Dallas. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave of Court to Amend Complaint (“Plaintiff's Motion to Amend”) (docket entry 14). The City replied to Thompson's response on April 24, 2017, emphasizing the applicability of res judicata to this case as a result of the summary judgment entered by the state court.[2] Defendant's Reply in Support of Its 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (“Defendant's Reply”) at 4-6 (docket entry 15). The City also filed a timely response to Thompson's motion to amend, to which Thompson filed a timely reply. Defendant's Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (“Defendant's Response”) (docket entry 16); Plaintiff's Reply to Motion for Leave of Court to Amend Complaint (“Plaintiff's Reply”) (docket entry 17). The motions are now ripe for decision.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Le ...


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