United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ANDREA J. HALL, Plaintiff,
OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION SERVICES, Defendant.
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation
Services' (ODRS) Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 4].
Plaintiff Andrea Hall (Hall) has filed her response in
opposition [Doc. No. 9] and ODRS has replied [Doc. No. 10].
The matter is fully briefed and at issue.
a forty-six year old African American woman who was employed
at ODRS from 1996 to 2016, when she was terminated while
holding the position of Director of Innovation, an executive
level position. She alleges that soon after Noel Tyler was
appointed as Interim Executive Director of ODRS, she was
subjected to “unequal terms and conditions.”
Petition, ¶ 21. Among these unequal conditions were the
allegations that Tyler went out of her way to avoid Hall,
ignored Hall's emails, spoke negatively about Hall, and
did not allow Hall to participate in meetings or favorable
assignments. Id. ¶¶ 22-27, 32-33. Hall
alleges that Commissioner Linda Collins expressed her belief
that Hall was lazy because of her race. Id. ¶
36. Hall further contends that younger, non-African American
employees were not subjected to the same treatment as her.
Id. ¶¶ 30, 34. Lastly, Hall alleges she
was terminated for reporting the alleged discrimination and
mistreatment. Id. ¶ 46. Hall's claims arise
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e et seq., the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et
seq., and the Oklahoma Antidiscrimination Act (OADA), 25
Okla. Stat. §§ 1101 et seq.
moves to dismiss Hall's Complaint for failure to state a
claim and lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the
Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution and
Rules 12(b)(1) and (6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
ODRS contends Hall's Complaint should be dismissed
because: (1) ODRS has sovereign immunity from her ADEA
claims; (2) Hall failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies under Title VII and the OADA; (3) Hall does not
plausibly allege a violation of either Title VII or the OADA;
and (4) Hall has not complied with the notice provisions of
the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act (OGTCA), 51 Okla.
Stat. §§ 151 et seq.
to the seminal decisions of Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), to survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain enough allegations of fact,
taken as true, “to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Khalik v. United Air
Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Under this standard,
“the mere metaphysical possibility that some
plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support
of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must
give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff
has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for
these claims.” Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Ridge at
Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th
Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original)).
“plausibility” standard announced in
Twombly and Iqbal is not considered a
“heightened” standard of pleading, but rather a
“refined standard, ” which the court of appeals
has defined as “refer[ring] to the scope of the
allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they
encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, then
the plaintiffs have not nudged their claims across the line
from conceivable to plausible.” Khalik, 671
F.3d at 1191 (citing Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v.
Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011)). The
Tenth Circuit has noted that the nature and specificity of
the allegations required to state a plausible claim will vary
based on context. Robbins, 519 F.3d at 1248.
“Thus, [it has] concluded the Twombly/Iqbal
standard is ‘a middle ground between heightened fact
pleading, which is expressly rejected, and allowing
complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
which the Court stated will not do.' ” See
id. at 1247.
in deciding Twombly and Iqbal, there
remains no indication the Supreme Court “intended a
return to the more stringent pre-Rule 8 pleading
requirements.” Khalik, 671 F.3d at 1191
(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). It remains true
that “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement
need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the
... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'
” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); Khalik,
671 F.3d at 1192 (“Twombly and Iqbal
do not require that the complaint include all facts necessary
to carry the plaintiff's burden.”) (quoting
al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 977 (9th Cir.
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction takes one of two forms: a facial attack or a
factual attack. Pueblo of Jemez v. United States,
790 F.3d 1143, 1148 n. 4 (10th Cir. 2015). A facial attack
questions the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations.
Id. In reviewing a facial attack, a district court
must accept the allegations in the complaint as true.
Id. In a factual attack, the moving party may go
beyond allegations contained in the complaint and challenge
the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends.
Id. When reviewing a factual attack on subject
matter jurisdiction, a district court may not presume the
truthfulness of the complaint's factual allegations.
Id. Instead, the court has wide discretion to allow
affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary
hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts.
Id. Here, ODRS's allegations constitute a
factual attack because they challenge the facts upon which
Hall bases subject matter jurisdiction over certain claims.
Sovereign Immunity and the ADEA
state sovereign immunity is a threshold jurisdictional issue,
the Court addresses it first. Brockman v. Wyoming
Dep't of Family Services, 342 F.3d 1159, 1163 (10th
Cir. 2003) (“Because state sovereign immunity is a
threshold jurisdictional issue, we must address it first when
it is asserted by a defendant.”) (citing Steel Co.
v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94
Eleventh Amendment bars a suit for money damages in federal
court against a state by its own citizens. Bd. of
Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356,
363 (2001) (“The ultimate guarantee of the Eleventh
Amendment is that nonconsenting States may not be sued by
private individuals in federal court.”); Edelman v.
Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663-664 (1974). Agencies of the
State of Oklahoma, such as ODRS, are treated as “arms
of the state” for the purpose of sovereign immunity
under the Eleventh Amendment. See Colby v. Herrick,
849 F.3d 1273, 1276 (10th Cir. 2017); Lee v.