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Griffith v. Board of Education of Benton Community Consolidated School District No. 47

April 14, 2006

KELLIE GRIFFITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BENTON COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 47, NORMAN CARLILE, DAVID AUTEN, JOHN METZGER, DAVE SEVERIN, GARY MESSERSMITH, KATHLEEN KERLEY, JAMES TALLEY, RICK COOK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss (Doc. 18) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by defendants Board of Education of Benton Community Consolidated School District No. 47 ("Board"), Norman Carlile, David Auten, John Metzger, Dave Severin, Gary Messersmith, Kathleen Kerley, James Talley and Rick Cook. Plaintiff Kellie Griffith ("Griffith") has responded to the motion (Doc. 25).

I. Standard for Dismissal

When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 908 (7th Cir. 2005); Holman v. Indiana, 211 F.3d 399, 402 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court should not grant a motion to dismiss unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove his claim under any set of facts consistent with the complaint. Brown, 398 F.3d at 908-09; Holman, 211 F.3d at 405. "[I]f it is possible to hypothesize a set of facts, consistent with the complaint, that would entitle the plaintiff to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is inappropriate." Brown, 398 F.3d at 909 (internal quotations omitted); see Kolupa v. Roselle Park Dist., 438 F.3d 713, 715 (7th Cir. 2006).

Generally, courts will not grant a motion to dismiss merely because the complaint is vague or lacking in detail so long as it pleads "the bare minimum facts necessary to put the defendant on notice of the claim so that he can file an answer." Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); see Kolupa, 438 F.3d at 714-15; Brown, 398 F.3d at 908. A complaint does not fail to state a claim merely because it does not set forth a complete and convincing picture of the alleged wrongdoing. Bennett v. Schmidt, 153 F.3d 516, 518 (7th Cir. 1998); American Nurses' Ass'n v. Illinois, 783 F.2d 716, 727 (7th Cir. 1986). Nor must it allege all, or any, of the facts logically entailed by the claim. Kolupa, 438 F.3d at 714-15; Higgs, 286 F.3d at 439; Bennett, 153 F.3d at 518; American Nurses', 783 F.2d at 727. Nonetheless, the complaint must provide a short and plain statement of the claim sufficient to fairly put the defendant on notice of the claim and its basis. Leatherman v. Tarrant Co. Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993); Brown, 398 F.3d at 908; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

II. Facts

The complaint in this case alleges that Griffith, a woman, was an employee of the Board, and the individual defendants were the members of the Board. Griffith applied to be hired for the position of Athletic Director for the 2004-2005 school year. Although qualified for the position, Griffith was not interviewed. The Board then decided a man should fill the position, changed the job requirements for the position so that Griffith was rendered unqualified, and offered the position to a man. Based on the Board's hiring decision, Griffith filed a timely charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After Griffith filed her EEOC charge, the defendants changed her schedule and required her to teach three new classes. They also began treating Griffith more harshly than other employees by making her surrender her keys to the school, requiring her to stay on school grounds at all times except for her lunch hour, and punishing more leniently a person who had threatened to kill her as compared to another person who threatened to kill someone else. Although she perceived these acts to be in retaliation for filing an EEOC charge, Griffith did not amend her EEOC charge or file a new charge alleging retaliation.

Griffith received a right to sue letter based on her sex discrimination charge and filed this timely lawsuit. Griffith alleges a discrimination claim based on the failure to hire her as Athletic Director (Count I) and a retaliation claim based on the defendants' treatment of her following her EEOC charge (Count II), both under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. She does not attempt to plead a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The defendants ask the Court to dismiss the claims in this case on the grounds that (1) Griffith has failed to state a sex discrimination claim, (2) individuals cannot be held liable under Title VII, and (3) Griffith has not exhausted her administrative remedies for her retaliation claim.

III. Analysis

A. Statement of Claims

The Court has carefully reviewed the complaint and has determined that it satisfies the federal notice pleading requirement for pleading sex discrimination and retaliation claims. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex: "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII also prohibits retaliation for filing an EEOC charge: "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for employment . . . because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a).

The complaint in this case is sufficient to place the defendants on notice of the gravamen of Griffith's claims for violation of the two aforementioned sections of Title VII and the bases of those claims. ...


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