United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is defendant Mayes Emergency Services Trust
Authority's (MESTA) motion to partially dismiss plaintiff
Darla Langkamp's third amended complaint (Dkt. # 74).
third amended complaint (Dkt. # 71), plaintiff alleges the
following: since March 2005, MESTA has employed her as an
administrative assistant. Id. at 3. During a March
8, 2016 MESTA board meeting, Trent Peper was reelected as
chairman. Id. During his previous tenure, Peper
frequently harassed plaintiff and other female MESTA
employees, including referring to plaintiff as
“sweetie, ” “honey” (and other
“affectionate nicknames”) and touching
plaintiff's shoulders. Id. Plaintiff reported
this behavior to MESTA supervisors and MESTA legal counsel,
but Peper did not desist. Id. at 3-4. Accordingly,
during the March 8, 2016 meeting, plaintiff stated to the
board that she will “not be putting up with that type
of pet name calling that went on the last time [Peper] was in
this position.” Id. at 4. She further stated
that she twice spoke with MESTA legal counsel “about
Peper's conduct and that nothing has happened;” and
she concluded her comments to the board by announcing to all
persons present, “[y]ou are my witnesses and I will not
be putting up with it again.” Id.
following this meeting, MESTA counsel and two MESTA board
members convened in the hallway, and one of the board members
was overheard stating, “[i]f plaintiff thinks I'm
mean now, wait until I get on the other side of the board,
” and, “ [w]hat is [plaintiff] going to do? Hand
out more Bibles?” Id. Tate Caudle, a MESTA
supervisor, overheard this meeting and transcribed it.
Id. After plaintiff “made her intention”
in March 2016 to pursue relief with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Mr. Langkamp (plaintiff's
husband) and Caudle were “systematically and repeatedly
retaliated against by MESTA's board.” Id.
On June 14, 2016, MESTA terminated Mr. Langkamp's
employment. Id. at 6.
Mr. Langkamp's termination, MESTA appointed Steve Van
Horn as executive director, and he,
. . . . began to systematically strip [plaintiff] of her job
duties she had for years, including, without limitation:
preparing new hire packets; assisting in scheduling employee
drug testing; organizing MESTA employee files; coordinating
employee uniform allowances; obtaining MESTA office supplies;
performing MESTA Chaplain functions; acting as MESTA liason
with billing companies; and working with insurance companies
and attorneys to obtain reports and information for billing.
Id. Additionally, Van Horn: in 2016, denied
plaintiff a scheduled pay raise; changed plaintiff's job
title from “administrative assistant” to
“secretary;” questioned whether plaintiff was
actually doing the work and going to the medical appointments
that she said she was; and, with Alva Martin (former Mayes
Board of County Commissioner), was witnessed rifling through
plaintiff's desk (and afterwards, numerous items were
missing and information was deleted from her computer).
Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff also alleges that MESTA
changed the locks of the facility and neither told her nor
gave her a key; she was excluded from MESTA social events
(including arranged catered luncheons and a work anniversary
party for Van Horn); and, in January 2017, Peper-deliberately
in plaintiff's presence-engaged in inappropriate contact
with another MESTA female employee (and plaintiff reported
this behavior to the MESTA board). On July 11, 2017,
plaintiff resigned her employment with MESTA. Id. at
September 20, 2017, plaintiff filed her third amended
complaint (Dkt. # 71). It alleges free speech violation and
retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count one), and
retaliation and unlawful termination in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq. (count two). Id. at 8-12. Regarding
her claim for unlawful termination, although plaintiff
resigned her position with MESTA, she alleges that she was
constructively discharged. Id. at 10.
Plaintiff's third amended complaint seeks both
compensatory and punitive damages. Id.
moves to dismiss plaintiff's claim for constructive
discharge. Dkt. # 74, at 7. In addition, defendant moves to
dismiss plaintiff's request for punitive damages.
Id. In her response brief, plaintiff has voluntarily
withdrawn this request, and defendant's motion to dismiss
(Dkt. # 74) is therefore granted as to it.
Dkt. # 76, at 5.
considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the
claimant has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted.
A motion to dismiss is properly granted when a complaint
provides no “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). A complaint must contain 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. (citations omitted). “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 562. Although decided
within an antitrust context, Twombly
“expounded the pleading standard for all civil
actions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 683
(2009). For the purpose of making the dismissal
determination, a court must accept all the well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in
fact, and must construe the allegations in the light most
favorable to a claimant. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 1210, 1215
(10th Cir. 2007); Moffett v. Halliburton Energy Servs.,
Inc., 291 F.3d 1227, 1231 (10th Cir. 2002). However, a
court need not accept as true those allegations that are
conclusory in nature. Erikson v. Pawnee Cnty. Bd. of
Cnty. Comm'rs, 263 F.3d 1151, 1154-55 (10th Cir.
2001). “[C]onclusory allegations without supporting
factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon
which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon,
935 F.2d 1106, 1109-10 (10th Cir. 1991). Finally, “the
12(b)(6) standard does not require that [p]laintiff establish
a prima facie case in her complaint, [but] the elements of
each alleged cause of action help to determine whether
[p]laintiff has set forth a plausible claim.”
Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1192
(10th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted).
argues that plaintiff fails to state a claim for constructive
discharge because many of her allegations are “vague,
general and conclusory, ” and her specific allegations
are either too remote in time from her resignation to infer a
retaliatory motive, or simply do not make plausible that her
working conditions at MESTA were so intolerable that a
reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign. Dkt. #
74, at 17, 20, 23. Plaintiff responds that she has
sufficiently pled a claim for constructive discharge because
she has pled facts showing that-after her complaint of sexual
harassment at the March 8, ...