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Rodgers v. Harrison Board of Education

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 1, 2018

TANYA RODGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
HARRISON BOARD OF EDUCATION, JAMES P. DORAN, JOHN DOES #1-10, Defendants.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY. U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Tanya Rodgers, pro se, sues the Harrison Board of Education and the Assistant Superintendent of Harrison Schools, alleging discriminatory employment actions. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         Tanya Rodgers, a resident of New York, alleges that the Harrison Board of Education ("Harrison BOE") and James P. Doran, the Assistant Superintendent of Harrison Schools, discriminated against her on the basis of race and color. (Compl. at 1-2, 4). Here are the facts pled in the Complaint, in their entirety:

In May of 2015 I applied for a substitute teacher position with the Defendant, Harrison Board of Education. Assignments were directed via the Assistant Superintendent James Doran. On December 8, 2016 I was terminated without cause. That an investigation was taking place regarding allegations that I used my mobile phone and would be contacted. To date, I've made multiple telephone calls to Mr. Doran's office regarding his "investigation" and status of my release. I have yet to receive a written or oral reply or explanation regarding my employment. The Substitute Teacher Handbook Policy on termination cites and invokes a 3 strike you're out rule. I never well received a verbal or written notification warning or otherwise with respect to my performance etc. Mr. Doran did tell me that [sic]

[Compl. § III.E at p. 5]

         Ms. Rodgers filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC issued Ms. Rodgers a right-to-sue letter on April 28, 2017. (ECF No. 1-3). Ms. Rodgers then filed suit in this court on July 17, 2017, within 90 days of receipt of notice. (Compl; ECF No. 1-2).

         Ms. Rodgers asserts claims of discrimination on the basis of race and color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe et seq. ("Title VII"), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-12. (Compl. at 3). The discriminatory conduct alleged is termination of employment, failure to promote, unequal terms and conditions of employment, and retaliation. (Compl. at 4).

         Now before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must take all allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Worth 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); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." BellAtl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, the factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, such that it is "plausible on its face." See Id. at 570; see also Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement'... it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has explicated the Twombly/Iqbal standard on several occasions. See, e.g., Argueta v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, 643 F.3d 60, 70-73 (3d Cir. 2011); Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 129-30 (3d Cir. 2010). In doing so, it has provided a three-step process for evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion:

To determine whether a complaint meets the pleading standard, our analysis unfolds in three steps. First, we outline the elements a plaintiff must plead to a state a claim for relief. See [Iqbal, 556 U.S.] at 675; Argueta, 643 F.3d at 73. Next, we peel away those allegations that are no more than conclusions and thus not entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Argueta, 643 F.3d at 73. Finally, we look for well-pled factual allegations, assume their veracity, and then "determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Argueta, 643 F.3d at 73. This last ...

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