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Craig v. Baker

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 2, 2018

LOIS CRAIG, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBBY BAKER, Defendant.

          RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOC. NO. 78)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Lois Craig (“Craig”) brings this action against Debby Baker in her individual capacity under section 1983 of the United States Code for allegedly discriminating against her in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Craig's Third Amended Complaint includes a single count against the “defendants”[1] under both section 1981 and 1983 of the United States Code. See 3d Am. Compl.[2] Baker moves to dismiss the Third Amended Complaint. Mot. to Dismiss (Doc. No. 78). For the reasons that follow, Baker's Motion to Dismiss is granted.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Craig is an African-American female who has been employed by DMHAS as a Mental Health Assistant II (“MHA II”) for over sixteen years. See 3d Am. Compl. at ¶ 3.[3]As a union delegate, Craig frequently represents her coworkers and herself in disputes between the union and management. See id. at ¶ 5. In 2012, the defendants[4] hired Melanie Lagana as an MHA I and promoted her after a year. See id. at ¶ 11. The defendants promoted Lagana even though the MHA union contract requires an employee to be in the MHA I position for three years before he or she is eligible for promotion to the MHA II position. See id. at ¶ 12. In November 2013, the defendants hired Heidi Bishop, a white female, to the position of Recovery Support Specialist. See id. at ¶ 13. The Recover Support Specialist position was changed to MHA II in 2014. See id. at ¶ 14.

         In August 2015, Craig applied for a vacant, full-time MHA II position, but she was not granted an interview, while “non-basis”[5] persons with less work experience and less seniority were interviewed. See id. at ¶ 15. In October 2015, defendants hired someone who was less qualified and younger than Craig for the MHA II position. See id. at ¶ 16. Craig was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) in October 2015, which prevented her from applying for other MHA II positions. See id. at ¶ 16. In February 2016, Craig applied for a third shift position, which the defendants gave to a less qualified, more junior, “non basis” person. See id. at ¶ 9.

         In 2014, the defendants said that Craig's hair style “harbored head lice, ” but neither one was disciplined by DMHAS. See id. at ¶¶ 45, 52.[6] In 2015, Craig was cited repeatedly for “neglect/refusal to perform her delegated duties, that she has been threatening, as disruptive to the work environment.” See id. at ¶ 49. In 2016, defendants referred to Craig as “an angry black woman, who often wore dread locks.” Id. at ¶¶ 44, 50. In August 2016, the defendants described Craig as “cocky, lacking respect, intimidating, exhibiting poor communication skills, being illogical, and rude. See id. at ¶ 51. At unspecified times, defendants said that Craig was “too cocky and needed to be cut down to size” and that she was “working too slowly on the job.” See id. at ¶¶ 56, 59.

         Following defendants' conduct described above, Craig developed serious mental and emotional conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Id. at ¶ 60.

         III. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Craig filed her original Complaint on December 21, 2016. (Doc. No. 1). On January 27, 2017, Craig filed her First Amended Complaint, which included 272 pages of exhibits. (Doc. No. 16). On February 23, 2017, the defendants filed a Motion for More Definite Statement. (Doc. No. 23). Craig objected to defendants' Motion on March 17, 2013, and represented that she would withdraw Count Two (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress) and Count Five (Monell) as to all defendants. (Doc. No. 26). On April 27, 2017, the court denied the defendants' Motion, but ordered Craig to file a second amended complaint that removed Counts Two and Five and supplied additional information about Baker. (Doc. No. 36).

         Craig's Second Amended Complaint, which she filed on July 10, 2017, included five counts against DMHAS and seven DMHAS employees in their individual and official capacities. (Doc. No. 45). On November 28, 2017, the court granted the defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint in its entirety. (Doc. No. 72). The court dismissed the Second Amended Complaint with prejudice with the limited exception that Craig was permitted to file an amended complaint against Baker or any individual defendant who allegedly discriminated against her. See id. at 25.[7]

         IV. LEGAL STANDARD

         When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must determine whether a plaintiff has stated a legally cognizable claim by making allegations that, if true, would show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007) (interpreting Rule 12(b)(6), in accordance with Rule 8(a)(2), to require allegations with “enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief” (alteration in original)). The court takes all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Crawford v. Cuomo, 796 F.3d 252, 256 (2d Cir. 2015). However, the principle that a court must accept a complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         To survive a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ...


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