United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
CHERYL L. CHERRY, Plaintiff,
STATE OF OKLAHOMA, ex rel. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
employment discrimination action, plaintiff asserts several
claims against the State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Department of
Human Services (DHS), its Director, Edward Lake, and Jina
Vietta, who was a supervisor of plaintiff at DHS. DHS and
Lake move to dismiss (Doc. 8, 9).The facts set forth herein
are alleged in the plaintiffs Petition and are taken as true
for purposes of this order.
who is an African American woman, began her employment with
DHS in 1990 as a Clerk II. She was subsequently promoted to
Adult Protective Services Specialist, and later gained
supervisory duties over subordinate employees. Her decisions
and actions were micromanaged by her supervisor, defendant
Jina Vietta. In October 2012, based on allegations that
plaintiff had violated policies regarding guardianships,
Vietta demoted plaintiff from her supervisory position, and
plaintiff was escorted to her desk. Plaintiff alleges that
other supervisors, who were Caucasian, committed the same
policy violations as plaintiff, but they were not demoted or
escorted to their desks. Plaintiff also observed Vietta make
untruthful allegations against other African American
employees, who were held to a higher standard than Caucasian
employees. At some point after the demotion, plaintiff was
terminated. "Plaintiff believes that the hostile
environment, disparate treatment, demotion and the
termination of her employment was based upon her race."
(Doc. 2-2 at 3).
on the foregoing factual allegations, plaintiff asserts
several claims against the defendants: (1) race
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964; (2) racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §
1981; (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII; (4) hostile
work environment under Title VII; (5) intentional infliction
of emotional distress (IIED); and (6) violation of plaintiff
s equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Defendants DHS and Lake move to dismiss.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must
determine whether plaintiff has stated a claim upon which
relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint
must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The standard requires "enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face, " and the factual allegations "must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level."
Id. at 555-56, 570 (citations omitted).
Twombly articulated the pleading standard for all
civil actions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
684 (2009). The Court must accept all the well-pleaded
factual allegations of the complaint as true, even if
doubtful, and must construe the allegations in the light most
favorable to claimant. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
dismissal standard does "not require heightened fact
pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face, " and the
factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level." Id. at
555-56, 570 (citations omitted). "Asking for plausible
grounds . . . does not impose a probability requirement at
the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence [supporting the claim]. And, of course, a
well-pleaded [pleading] may proceed even if it strikes a
savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable,
and 'that a recovery is very remote and
unlikely.'" Id. at 556. "Once a claim
has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing
any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint." Id. at 563.
Lake is sued in his individual capacity. All six of plaintiff
s claims are asserted against him and will be addressed
First, Third, and Fourth Claims: Title VII
moves to dismiss plaintiffs First, Third, and Fourth Claims
against him in his individual capacity under Title VII,
because individual capacity suits under Title VII are
inappropriate. (Doc. 9 at 6). In response, plaintiff
"agrees to dismiss her First, Third, and Fourth Claims
for Relief under Title VII against Defendant Lake."
(Doc. 13 at 1). Accordingly, Lake's motion to dismiss
these claims is granted, and those claims are dismissed.
Fifth Claim: IIED
Oklahoma law, IIED claims are governed by the narrow
standards set forth in the Restatement Second of Torts,
§ 46. Gaylord Entm't Co. v. Thompson, 958
P.2d 128, 149 (Okla. 1998). In Breeden v. League Servs.