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Carr v. State

June 17, 2010

RE: CARR
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini Judge

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. FEDERAL BLDG. & U.S. COURTHOUSE 50 WALNUT STREET, P.O. BOX 419 NEWARK, NJ 07101-0419 (973) 645-6340

LETTER OPINION

Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court on the motion for partial dismissal filed by Defendants the State of New Jersey, the Superior Court of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Judiciary (the "Entity Defendants"), and Peter Conerly and Collins E. Ijoma (the "Individual Defendants") (all together, "Defendants"). There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED and the claims discussed below are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an African-American male employed by the Probation Division of the New Jersey Judiciary who was born in the United States. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("Am. Cmplt.") ¶¶ 3, 12-23). He holds multiple degrees and certifications from various institutes of higher education and professional organizations. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14). He was first hired by the New Jersey Judiciary in 1973 and to date has received several promotions and commendations. (Id. at ¶¶ 12, 15-19). His current title is Vicinage Assistant Chief Probation Officer. (Id. at ¶ 18). Plaintiff previously filed a discrimination suit against the Probation Division in approximately 2000 when he was denied a promotion to his current position, but he was ultimately given the promotion and withdrew the lawsuit. (Id. at ¶¶ 43-44).

In June 2006, the Chief Probation Officer took a leave of absence and Plaintiff was temporarily assigned to fulfill the duties associated with the position. (Id. at ¶ 23). Plaintiff subsequently received a commendation for his successful performance in the role. (Id.). In December 2006, the Chief Probation Officer position became open, and the Probation Division began to interview candidates. (Id. at ¶ 23). Plaintiff was one of eight individuals considered for the position. (Id. at ¶ 24). He interviewed before an "all white interview panel" and was not called back for a second round. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-27). He received official notice on June 14, 2007 that he had not been chosen for the position. (Id. at ¶ 27). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Collins Ijoma ("Ijoma") was a "key decision maker in the decision not to promote" him but does not state the basis for this belief or provide any factual details about what, if any, role Mr. Ijoma played in the process. (Id. at ¶ 37). The Chief Probation Officer position was ultimately given to a Caucasian male, Chris Stanecki ("Stanecki"), whom Plaintiff alleges had fewer qualifications and less experience. (Id. at ¶ 28).

On November 13, 2007, Plaintiff filed an Intake Questionnaire (the "Intake Questionnaire") with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Plaintiff's EEOC Intake Questionnaire, attached as Exhibit C to Plaintiff's Cross Motion to Amend the Complaint ("Exh. C to Pl. Mt. to Am.")). On the Intake Questionnaire, Plaintiff checked off the boxes alleging employment discrimination claims related to race, sex, national origin, and retaliation. (Id.). On January 24, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination (the "Charge") with the EEOC. (Plaintiff's Charge, attached as Exhibit C to the Certification of Matthew Sapienza ("Exh. C to Sapienza Certif."). The Charge complained of race discrimination and retaliation. (Id.). It did not mention sex or national origin discrimination. Plaintiff subsequently met with the EEOC, and on December 8, 2008, he received a Notice of Right to Sue. (Am. Cmplt. ¶ 10).

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the district court in March 2009. (CM/ECF Docket Entry No. 1). He then moved to amend the complaint in September 2009 and was granted leave to do so. (Id. at No. 9). The gravamen of the Amended Complaint is that Plaintiff was denied a promotion on account of his race and national original and in retaliation for his previous filing of a discrimination lawsuit. Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleges (1) racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-1, et seq., (2) national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII, § 1983, and NJLAD, and (3) retaliation for the filing of a previous discrimination suit, in violation of Title VII, § 1983, and NJLAD.

At present, Defendants move to dismiss (1) the Title VII claims against the Individual Defendants, (2) the § 1983 claims against the Entity Defendants and the Individual Defendants in their official capacities, (3) the NJLAD claims against the Entity Defendants and the Individual Defendants in their official capacities, and (4) the remainder of the national origin claims. Plaintiff consents to the dismissal of the first three categories of claims. (Plaintiff's Opposition Brief ("Pl. Opp. Br.") at 7-8). Therefore, the only issue for the Court to decide is whether Defendants are entitled to a dismissal of the remaining national origin claims, namely those brought against the Entity Defendants and the Individual Defendants in their official capacities pursuant to Title VII, against the Individual Defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to § 1983, and against the Individual Defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to the NJLAD.

Defendants argue that the national origin claims should be dismissed in their entirety pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and failure to assert a prima facie case. (Defendants' Brief ("Def. Br.") at 7).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

In evaluating a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), all allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc., v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff=s claims are based upon those documents. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If, after viewing the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, it appears that no relief ...


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