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Lamptey v. Corrections Corporation of America

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 12, 2014

Maisha Lamptey, et al., Plaintiffs,
Corrections Corporation of America, Defendant.


NEIL V. WAKE, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (Doc. 15), Plaintiffs' Response (Doc. 18), Defendant's Reply (Doc. 19), and Plaintiffs' Supplemental Allegations (Doc. 22). Defendant seeks dismissal of Counts I, II, and IV. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion will be denied.


On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are assumed to be true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) "can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To avoid dismissal, a complaint need contain only "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). But the principle that a court accepts as true all the allegations in a complaint does not apply to legal conclusions or conclusory factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "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." Id.


The Court thus assumes the truth of the following allegations. Plaintiffs Maisha Lamptey and Belinda Rodriguez worked for Defendant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) at its Eloy facility. Doc. 11 ¶ 7. Lamptey served as a correctional officer; Rodriguez served as a correctional counselor. Both were required to supervise inmates. Doc. 18 at 2.

Rodriguez alleges that CCA supervisors Lopez and Trejo sexually harassed her beginning November 2011. She reported the conduct in March 2012. Doc. 11 ¶¶ 8, 12. This conduct forms the basis of Plaintiffs' Count III, sexual harassment against Rodriguez in violation of Title VII, which CCA does not seek to dismiss.

In early 2012, Plaintiffs allege CCA employees posted a magazine cutout of a gorilla in Trejo's office, made racial jokes about the picture, and compared the picture to Lamptey, who identifies as African American. Rodriguez told Lamptey only that the picture was in the office, and Lamptey saw the picture herself. Id. ¶ 9.

Rodriguez subsequently apprised a unit manager of the picture and told Lamptey about the racial jokes and comparisons. At some point between April 9 and April 16, 2012, Lamptey also discussed the picture and comments with the unit manager. Doc. 18 at 3 & n.2. Rodriguez also reported the picture to human resources, and both Rodriguez and Lamptey participated in an internal investigation in mid-April, at which point CCA put Lopez and Trejo on administrative leave. Doc. 11 ¶ 10; Doc. 22 at 2. After a one-month investigation, CCA fired them. Doc. 11 ¶ 12; Doc. 22 at 2. This allegedly angered many of Plaintiffs' coworkers who were friendly with Lopez and Trejo. Doc. 11 ¶ 12.

During the month-long investigation, and for two months after CCA fired Lopez and Trejo, coworkers Susan Murray, Vanessa Romero, Angela Rodriguez, and Rebecca Rodriguez twice each week made racially charged comments in Lamptey's presence, including "it smells like bananas" and "my face is so hairy today." Doc. 11 ¶ 13; Doc. 22 at 2. Despite Lamptey's repeated reports to human resources, CCA neither disciplined her coworkers nor provided any relevant training. Doc. 22 at 2-3. Because of these comments, Lamptey attempted to avoid her coworkers and experienced humiliation and stress. Consequently, she called in sick three times in May and June. Doc. 11 ¶ 12; Doc. 22 at 2. Similarly, in August 2012 Lamptey's physician recommended she avoid work for nine days because she experienced stress and increased blood pressure there. Doc. 11 ¶ 13. This conduct forms the basis of Plaintiffs' Counts I and II, racial discrimination against Lamptey in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

Finally, Plaintiffs allege CCA violated Title VII by retaliating against both of them for protesting the harassment. This forms the basis of Count IV. Rodriguez alleges that the terms of her employment changed. Before she complained, Rodriguez had obtained a favorable schedule to attend school and had only been "posted up" to cover absentee coworkers' shifts once or twice each week. Doc. 22 at 3-4. After she complained, CCA scheduled her less favorably, which prevented her from attending school, posted her up four or five days each week, twice posted her up in unsafe and previously unassigned positions, and withdrew her ability to move certain prisoners to ensure safety. Doc. 22 at 4-5; Doc. 11 ¶ 16. CCA investigated Rodriguez's retaliation charges and found them unproven. Doc. 11 ¶ 16. In August 2012, Rodriguez sought medical and psychological attention "due to the sexual harassment and resulting hostile work environment." Id. ¶ 17. In September 2012, CCA's warden told Rodriguez, "People who retaliated will not be fired. I'm sure those things happened but how do you prove that?" Doc. 22 at 5. Rodriguez accepted long-term disability and left work in December 2013. Doc. 11 ¶ 19.

Lamptey alleges that after complaining and then participating in CCA's investigation, CCA stopped assigning her to lucrative overtime duties in May 2012-and declined to provide her the required certification to obtain those duties-despite assigning them to similarly situated employees who did not complain and despite informing her before the investigation that she could become certified. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Additionally, in May and June 2012 Lamptey's supervisors began criticizing her work. Lamptey complained to human resources about perceived retaliation three times in May 2012. Doc. 22 at 3. Finally, Lamptey asserts she received three disciplinary notices, two in December 2012 and one in May 2013. The third resulted in a suspension, at which time CCA's warden told her she just could not let go of the gorilla picture. CCA then reassigned Lamptey to another facility. Doc. 11 ¶ 18.


A. Race discrimination ...

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