United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
case concerns claims of unlawful discrimination and
retaliation brought by Alice Belcher (“Belcher”)
against her former employer, Springfield College
(“Springfield”). Before the Court are two related
motions: Springfield's motion for partial dismissal of
the first amended complaint, (Docket #20), and Belcher's
motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, (Docket
#27). The motions are fully briefed and, for the reasons
stated below, both will be denied in large measure.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of
complaints which fail to state a viable claim for relief.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a claim, a complaint must
provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In other words, the complaint must give
“fair notice of what the. . .claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations must
“plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to
relief, raising that possibility above a speculative
level[.]” Kubiak v. City of Chicago, 810 F.3d
476, 480 (7th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). In reviewing the
complaint, the Court is required to “accept as true all
of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.”
Id. at 480-81.
following facts are drawn from the first amended complaint,
which is presently the operative complaint in this case.
an African-American female who is over forty years old, began
working for Springfield in May 2012 as an adjunct instructor
at the school's Milwaukee campus. She received
“consistent” assignments to teach classes within
her expertise (their frequency is not given) until Antonio
Guajardo (“Guajardo”) was hired as the dean of
Springfield's Milwaukee campus. (Docket #17 ¶ 11).
Once he took over, there was a “consistent
decline” in the number of classes offered to Belcher to
teach. Id. She claims that “[m]ore and more of
the contracts were being offered to individuals outside
Plaintiff's protected classes.” Id.
March 2015, Guajardo offered Belcher the Early Childhood
Education class to teach in fall of that year. In June,
Belcher applied for the position of adjunct lecturer for the
newly created Early Childhood Education program at
Springfield. In August, she was denied that promotion in
favor of a less-qualified, younger Latino male. Indeed, she
says that she was not even allowed to interview for the
position in favor of three other candidates, all of whom were
less qualified than her.
filed her first charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on
March 23, 2016, alleging workplace discrimination based on
race, sex, and age relating to the denial of the promotion.
(Docket #22-1 at 1). On July 27, allegedly in retaliation for
filing the charge, Springfield no longer allowed Belcher to
teach a class on domestic violence which she had previously
taught. Consequently, on September 6, she filed a second EEOC
charge, this time for retaliation for engaging in protected
activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Docket #22-2 at 5). The
basis for her claim was that she “was advised that
[she] no longer qualified to teach a domestic violence course
that [she] had previously taught.” Id.
on August 2, 2017 Springfield “terminated”
Belcher's employment by “informing her that they
would not be giving her any more teaching assignments.”
(Docket #17 ¶ 19). Belcher does not describe the nature
of this communication or its precise contents in the
complaint, although she states in her brief on the motion to
dismiss that this was an email. (Docket #28 at 3). On October
23, she filed a third charge of discrimination, alleging
race, sex, and age discrimination, as well as retaliation
based on the two prior EEOC charges. (Docket #22-5 at 1).
Belcher stated in the charge that “[s]ince January
2017, I have inquired about Adjunct Instructor work. However,
I have not been given any [such] work.” Id.
first amended complaint, Belcher asserts five counts for
relief. First is a claim for racial discrimination in
violation of Title VII, premised on both the denial of the
promotion to adjunct lecturer and her termination. Second,
she asserts an identical claim under Title VII but on a
theory of sex discrimination. Similarly, the third count
alleges age discrimination, in violation of the ADEA,
grounded in the same facts. Belcher's fourth count
alleges retaliation for engaging in protected activity, in
violation of Title VII, based on “subjecting her to
increased scrutiny, singling her out for selective and
unwarranted discipline,  denying Plaintiff promotional
opportunities, . . .[and] ultimately terminat[ing]
Plaintiff's employment in retaliation for Plaintiff
exercising her rights to complain about the illegal
employment practices of Defendant.” Id. ¶
39. Finally, in Count V Belcher claims that Springfield
violated the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
by subjecting her to disparate employment expectations and
discipline, denying her a promotion, and terminating her, all
because of her race.
Court noted above, two competing motions are now before it.
Because of the nature of the disposition of each, it will be
most efficient for the Court to first address
Springfield's motion for partial dismissal, then
Belcher's motion to file a second amended complaint.