United States District Court, D. Connecticut
GEORGE WINTER, HOWARD JACOBS, AMY JONES, JAMES SMOLLEN, BILL CORTEZ, FRED TORRES, CHRIS ST. JACQUES, AND TONY SANTOS, Plaintiffs,
STATE OF CONNECTICUT, CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, PHILIPPIA FLETCHER-DENOVELLIS, DAN CALLAHAN, NATALIE SHIPMAN, AND VICTOR DIAZ, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING AND DENYING, IN PART,
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND
DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Dkt. ##
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
George Winter (“Winter”), Howard Jacobs
(“Jacobs”), Amy Jones (“Jones”),
James Smollen (“Smollen”), Bill Cortez
(“Cortez”), Fred Torres (“Torres”),
Chris St. Jacques (“St. Jacques”), and Tony
Santos (“Santos”), employees of the Connecticut
Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”), bring
claims of race and age discrimination under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e et seq., the Equal Protection Clause,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Connecticut Fair
Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 46a-60(a), et seq., against Defendants
the State of Connecticut and the DMV, and individual
defendants Philippia Fletcher-DeNovellis
(“Fletcher-DeNovellis”), Dan Callahan
(“Callahan”), Natalie Shipman
(“Shipman”), and Victor Diaz (“Diaz”)
(collectively the “Employer
Defendants”).The Employer Defendants have moved for
judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment. The
Caucasian plaintiffs allege that they were victims of reverse
discrimination, claiming that the Defendants promoted a
younger African America male applicant instead of them on the
basis of his race and age, thereby denying them a promotion
on the basis of their race and age. For the reasons that
follow, the motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED
and DENIED in part, and the motion for summary judgment is
allege that during the events in question, they were each
employed by the DMV. [Dkt. #23, Second Am. Compl. at ¶
4]. In 2012, the DMV conducted a promotional exam.
[Id. at ¶ 13]. In order to be eligible for a
promotion, the DMV employee must have served as a Motor
Vehicle Inspector for at least four years. [Id. at
¶ 14]. For this round of promotions, the DMV initially
set a closing date of February 17, 2012, by which point all
employees seeking promotion would need to have satisfied the
four-year service requirement. [Id. at ¶ 15].
At the Police Union's request, the closing date for the
position was moved back four days, to February 21, 2012.
[Id. at ¶ 16].
the positions open for promotion was that of sergeant.
[Id. at ¶ 15]. The plaintiffs allege that the
DMV implemented a program called “Temporary Service in
a Higher Class, ” through which applicants were
interviewed and temporarily promoted to the sergeant position
before their written examinations were graded.
[Id.]. An African American male, Robert Tyson
(“Tyson”) and each of the Plaintiffs applied for
the sergeant position and took the sergeant examination. None
of the Plaintiffs are African-American and all are over forty
years old. [Id. at ¶ 37].
course of reviewing the personnel files of each of the
applicants for the position, Defendant Fletcher-DeNovellis, a
human resources employee, discovered that the date on which
Tyson began his employment with the DMV had been inaccurately
recorded in the agency's computer system. [Id.
at ¶ 18]. On March 20, 2012, Fletcher-DeNovellis advised
all applicants scheduled for interviews on March 21 and March
23, 2012 that the interviews had been postponed indefinitely.
[Id. at ¶ 17]. The next day, March 21, 2012,
the agency notified Tyson that he was not eligible to sit for
the sergeant exam, based on the February 21, 2012 closing
deadline. [Id. at ¶ 19].
days later, on March 23, 2012, Tyson appealed the denial of
his eligibility to take the sergeant exam, and he claimed
that in denying his application, the DMV discriminated
against him on the basis of his race and age. [Id.
at ¶ 20]. On March 27, 2012, Tyson filed a formal
complaint against the DMV and James Rio, a Division Chief at
the DMV. [Id. at ¶ 21]. The complaint alleged
that Tyson was denied the opportunity for promotion because
he was an African-American and the youngest candidate who
applied for a promotion. [Id.]. Plaintiffs contend
that Tyson's formal complaint was never investigated.
[Id. at ¶ 22].
April 27, 2012, a new sergeant exam was announced, with a
closing date of May 11, 2012. [Id. at ¶ 23].
Tyson and another police inspector, whose race and age are
not disclosed, had sufficient tenure to qualify for promotion
to sergeant based on the later closing date. [Id. at
¶ 24]. On the same day as the closing date, May 11,
Tyson withdrew his formal complaint. [Id. at ¶
25]. After the closing date, a four-person interview panel
was assembled to conduct interviews on June 28, June 29, and
July 6, 2012. [Id. at ¶¶ 26-27]. The panel
consisted of Chief Rio, whom Tyson named in his March 27,
2012 complaint, Elizabeth Kranz, a branch manager, and
Defendants Fletcher-DeNovellis and Diaz, Deputy Commissioner
of the DMV. [Id. at ¶ 27]. In light of
Tyson's allegations, Rio sought to remove himself from
the panel, but Defendant Callahan, who was aware of the
substance of Tyson's complaint, encouraged Rio to remain
on the panel. [Id. at ¶¶ 22, 28]. During
his interview with the panel, Tyson disclosed the complaint,
and the panel members discussed it afterwards. [Id.
at ¶ 29].
the interviews, the panel members prepared a flow chart in
which they ranked each of the candidates. [Id. at
¶ 30]. Defendant Shipman, the DMV's Equal Employment
Opportunity Manager, signed off on the chart, which
designated three applicants as “highly
recommended.” [Id. at ¶¶ 12, 31-32].
Tyson was one of the three applicants so designated.
[Id. at ¶ 32]. Like Callahan, Shipman was aware
of and discussed Tyson's formal complaint, though neither
she nor anyone else investigated it. [Id. at
¶¶ 22, 31]. Thereafter, Tyson and the other
applicant were approved for two of the sergeant positions.
[Id. at ¶ 33]. Neither Tyson nor the other
successful applicant had sufficient tenure to qualify to sit
for the exam the first time the promotion was posted.
[Id. at ¶ 33]. All of the Plaintiffs completed
the selection process for the sergeant position, but none
were selected. [Id. at ¶ 34]. Plaintiffs
further allege that the selection process did not comply with
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 5-220, which requires a delegation
plan by heads of agencies and a post-procedural audit.
[Id. at ¶ 35].
Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Standard for Judgment on the Pleadings
the pleadings are closed, but early enough not to delay
trial, a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A motion for judgment on the
pleadings is decided on the same standard as a motion to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Barnett v. CT
Light & Power Co., 900 F.Supp.2d 224, 235 (D. Conn.
2012) (citing Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 159
(2d Cir. 2010)).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Sarmiento
v. U.S., 678 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). While
Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations,
“[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citations omitted). “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 Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). “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. (internal citations omitted).
general, the Court's review on a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 12(c) “is limited to
the facts as asserted within the four corners of the
complaint, the documents attached to the complaint as
exhibits, and any documents incorporated by reference.”
McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d
184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007); see also Jureli, LLC v.
Schaefer, 53 F.Supp.3d 552, 554 (E.D.N.Y. 2014)
(“[E]vidence outside of the pleadings may not be
considered by the Court when deciding a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.12(c).”).
Plaintiffs' Title VII Claims Against the Individual
Defendants, Their § 1983 claims against Defendants the
State of Connecticut, the DMV, and the Individual Defendants
in their Official Capacity, and Their CFEPA Claims Are
unsustainability of Plaintiffs' Title VII claims against
the individual defendants, their § 1983 claims against
Defendants the State of Connecticut, the DMV, and the
individual defendants in their official capacity, and their
CFEPA c are well settled. “Title VII does not impose
liability on individuals . . . .” Lore v. City of
Syracuse, 670 F.3d 127, 169 (2d Cir. 2012); see also
Speigel v. Schulmann, 604 F.3d 72, 79 (2d Cir. 2010)
(“[T]he remedial provisions of Title VII . . . do not
provide for individual liability.”). Accordingly,
Plaintiffs' Title VII claims against individual
defendants Fletcher-DeNovellis, Callahan, Shipman, and Diaz
claims brought against the state, state entities, and
individual state employees in their official capacities, like
the claims Plaintiffs bring here, are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment and the State's sovereign immunity. See,
e.g., Hubert v. State of Connecticut Dep't of Corr.,
No. 14-cv-00476 (VAB), 2016 WL 706166, at *7 (D. Conn. Feb.
22, 2016) (dismissing official capacity claims under the
CFEPA); Perez v. Connecticut Dep't of Corr. Parole
Div., No. 3:13-cv-150 (JCH), 2013 WL 4760955, at **4-5
(D. Conn. Sept. ...