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Bach v. Bouie

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 13, 2017

Karen Bach, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Tony Bouie, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Tony Bouie's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings as to the Plaintiffs' Sex Discrimination Claim, (Doc. 21). For the following reasons, the Court denies the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Karen Bach was employed by the Arizona Lottery from November 2011 until March 12, 2015.[1] Plaintiff Jessica Reimann was employed by the Arizona Lottery from January 2013 until April 7, 2015. Defendant Tony Bouie was appointed as Director of the Arizona Lottery on January 30, 2015. Bach and Reimann reported directly to Bouie.

         Each Plaintiff alleges that her employment with the Arizona Lottery became difficult, and was eventually terminated, as a result of actions taken by Bouie. The Complaint alleges that Bouie's “management style was aggressive, disruptive and hostile.” (Doc. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff Bach alleges that she was called into a meeting with Bouie and a human resources employee, to be informed with no prior notice that certain responsibilities and job titles were to be taken from her. Those responsibilities were then given to a newly-hired man. Several weeks later, at another meeting, Plaintiff Bach was informed that she was to be terminated. Her remaining job responsibilities were soon given to a newly-hired man, who received a higher salary than Bach had.

         Plaintiff Reimann alleges that Bouie made “inappropriate and derogatory comments” to Reimann directly, as well as a crude and suggestive remark in a meeting with female employees. (Doc. 1 at 5.) Reimann was notified at an impromptu meeting that her office was to be taken from her and given to a newly-hired man. After expressing her concern regarding a possible ethics violation to an Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Arizona Lottery, Reimann was called into Bouie's office, ordered to resign, and then fired when she refused to do so. Reimann's job responsibilities were given to two newly-hired men.

         Plaintiffs seek relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on two grounds. In Count One, both Plaintiffs allege that Bouie violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from sex discrimination. In Count Two, Plaintiff Reimann alleges that Bouie violated Reimann's right to be free from retaliation for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech. Bouie seeks to dismiss Count One for failure to state a claim. Specifically, he argues that Plaintiffs may not bring a suit under § 1983 for sex discrimination but must instead sue under Title VII; and because Plaintiffs did not comply with the administrative requirements of Title VII, they may not sue at all.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) “is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fajardo v. Cty. of L.A., 179 F.3d 698, 699 (9th Cir. 1999). To survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face.[2]Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While “a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations . . . it must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         The plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal citations omitted). Similarly, legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of truthfulness, and “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Pareto v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).

         “To state a claim for relief in an action brought under § 1983, [plaintiffs] must [allege] that they were deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the alleged deprivation was committed under color of state law.” Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999). “Section 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, n. 3 (1979)).

         II. Analysis

         a. Plaintiffs may bring suit for sex discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 without exhausting the administrative ...


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