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Gretzula v. Camden County Tech. Sch. Bd. of Education

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 14, 2013

MARY JANE GRETZULA, J.D., Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY TECHNICAL SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants

Page 479

Mark G. Toscano, Esq., Jeffrey R. Caccese, Esq., Comegno Law Group, Moorestown, NJ, Attorney for Plaintiff Mary Jane Gretzula.

Gregory J. Giordano, Esq., Patrick F. Carrigg, Esq., Lenox, Socey, Wilgus, Formidoni, Brown, Giordano & Casey, LLC, Trenton, NJ, Attorneys for Defendants Camden County Technical Schools Board of Education and Albert Monillas.

OPINION

Page 480

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Mary Jane Gretzula brings claims for, inter alia, violation of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" ) against Defendants Albert Monillas, her former supervisor, and the Camden County Technical Schools Board of Education (" the Board" ), her former employer. This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' partial motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and motion for more definite statement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e).

Page 481

[Docket Item 6.] [1] The Court heard oral argument on August 13, 2013.

Defendants' partial motion to dismiss will be granted. Plaintiff's Title VII and ADA claims against Defendant Monillas will be dismissed with prejudice because, after considering conflicting precedent, the Court concludes that those statutes do not provide for individual liability, even when the individual is sued in his official capacity. Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against the Board will be dismissed without prejudice because the Board is not vicariously liable for Monillas' actions under § 1983 and Plaintiff has not identified any Board policy or custom that caused her injuries. Plaintiff's IIED claim will be dismissed with prejudice because the New Jersey Tort Claims Act bars damages for pain and suffering unless the Plaintiff suffered a permanent injury and over $3,600 in medical expenses.

Defendants' motion for more definite statement will be denied because Plaintiff's Complaint is intelligible. Moreover, Defendants' request for a more definite statement regarding Plaintiff's IIED claim is moot, as that claim will be dismissed with prejudice.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Mary Jane Gretzula, J.D., brings this action against her former employer, the Camden County Technical Schools Board of Education (" the Board" ), and her former supervisor, Albert Monillas. [Docket Item 1, Compl.] From July 1, 2008 to October 31, 2011, Plaintiff served as the Board's Director of Special Education. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Monillas was the Superintendent of the Board and Plaintiff's immediate supervisor. (Compl. ¶ 9.)

A. Sexual Harassment Allegations

Plaintiff alleges that, throughout her employment, Monillas repeatedly made offensive oral and written sexual statements. (Compl. ¶ 26.) These offensive statements with sexual overtones were directed toward Plaintiff in the workplace and were " unwelcome, pervasive, inappropriate, and offensive" to Plaintiff, (Compl. ¶ 75), and they are stated with explicit detail in the Complaint. Their sufficiency is not at issue in this motion.

Gretzula allegedly " has also personally witnessed, and is aware of other acts of sexual harassment committed bye Monillas, and perpetuated by the Board . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 74.)

B. Allegations Regarding Grievance Procedures

In June 2011, Gretzula filed a complaint about Monillas' behavior. (Compl. ¶ 50.) At that time, " the Board's previous Affirmative Action Officer had . . . been summarily and conveniently dismissed by Mollinas and replaced with an employee who, at that time, did not have the requisite training to serve as Affirmative Action Officer . . . and appeared to be closely aligned with Monillas . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 53.) As a result, Gretzula asked counsel from the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association to file an Affirmative Action Complaint directly with the Board on her behalf. (Compl. ¶ 53.)

Plaintiff contends that she never received a copy of the Board's investigation report and that the Board's failure to give her the report violated the Board's grievance procedures and prevented her from assessing whether the report contained the required analysis. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 54-56.)

Page 482

Without the report, Gretzula alleges that she was unable to appeal the decision and unable to have a hearing. (Compl. ¶ 57.) She also alleges that the Board failed to complete its investigation within ten days, as the Board's regulations require. (Compl. ¶ 58.)

Gretzula alleges that the Board permitted the creation and perpetuation of an abusive or hostile work environment because of her gender and disability and that the Board failed to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and regulations. (Compl. ¶ 80.)

C. Allegations Regarding Accommodation of Disability

In October 2010, Plaintiff was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. (Compl. ¶ 35.) Her treatment involved chemotherapy and a hysterectomy. (Compl. ¶ 36.) Before Plaintiff began her employment with the Board, she asked " to bring fifty (50) accumulated but unused sick leave days from her previous board employer." (Compl. ¶ 38.) Monillas told Plaintiff that such carryover would be " illegal" and that the Board had a sick leave bank, which she could use if necessary. (Compl. ¶ 38.) After Plaintiff began working for the Board, she asked Monillas how to use the sick leave bank and " was told, for the very first time, that the Board did not have a sick leave back [sic] available for administrators . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 40.) Without access to either a sick leave bank or her previously accumulated sick leave days, " Gretzula had no choice, following her chemotherapy and hysterectomy, but to report to work following exhaustion of her paid time off." (Compl. ¶ 40.)

On June 7, 2011, Gretzula asked Monillas' permission to purchase a new refrigerator because of her medical condition and because the Special Education Department only had two small refrigerators, one of which was broken, for 19 staff members. (Compl. ¶ 62.) " Although there was adequate money in the budget, Monillas ceremoniously denied Gretzula's request, and instead suggested that she use a refrigerator that had been donated . . . and was scheduled to be sold at a flea market for Ten Dollars ($10.00)." (Compl. ¶ 64.) The donated refrigerator " was covered in mold, and completely unusable." (Compl. ¶ 65.)

D. Allegations Regarding Gretzula's Retirement

On April 4, 2011, Monillas sent an e-mail to Gretzula stating, " Without any intent to harass, I'm simply asking if you would put in writing for me your intent to retire . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 59.) On May 6, 2011, before Gretzula had formally submitted her retirement letter to the Board, Monillas wrote, " Because we have to certify your payroll, you are being listed to retire on 11/1/11 . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 60.)

" As a result of the harassment, discrimination, and abusive or hostile work environment created by Monillas and aided and abetted and/or perpetuated by the Board, Gretzula retired from the District effective October 31, 2011." (Compl. ¶ 67.) Gretzula would have continued her employment " [b]ut for the harassment, discrimination, and abusive or hostile work environment . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 68.)

E. Allegations Regarding the Ban on Gretzula's Presence

After her retirement in 2011, Gretzula had lunch with her former colleagues on January 20, 2012 on the Gloucester Township campus. (Compl. ¶ 70.) She alleges that she was not disruptive and only went to locations to which she was invited. (Compl. ¶ 70.) On January 24, 2012, the Board Secretary emailed staff members stating, " Please notify all staff that Dr. Gretzula is not permitted on either campus.

Page 483

If she does come on campus unannounced and we know it, she should be escorted off campus . . . . This is a directive of the board of education." (Compl. ¶ 71.) Gretzula was never notified that her presence was not permitted. (Compl. ¶ 72.) It is unclear whether Plaintiff alleges that the Board's post-employment ban on Gretzula visiting her former workplace violates any of the employment statutes at issue in her Complaint.

F. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff alleges claims for violation of (I) Title VII, (II) the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ), (III) § 1983, (IV) the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (" NJLAD" ) (hostile work environment), (V) the NJLAD (aiding and abetting), and for (VI) intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" ). [2] Gretzula seeks damages for financial, emotional, and physical harm and punitive damages. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 83-85.)

The Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 for the claims arising under federal law and supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § ...


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