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Williams v. Guilford Tech. Cmty. Coll. Bd. of Trs.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

July 13, 2015

JOSEPH THOMAS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
GUILFORD TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, ANGELA DAWN TEVEPAUGH, DR. RANDY PARKER, BEVERLY NIPPER, RAE MARIE SMITH, JEAN JACKSON, ELIZABETH CLODFELTER, NATASHA POWELL, AARON SMITH, ADRIENNE FRIDDLE, MITCHELL JOHNSON, Defendants

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JOSEPH THOMAS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, Pro se, GREENSBORO, NC.

For GUILFORD TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, DR. RANDY PARKER, PRESIDENT, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, RAE MARIE SMITH, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, MITCHELL JOHNSON, VICE PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, JEAN JACKSON, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, ADRIENNE FRIDDLE, GENERALIST HUMAN RESOURCES, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, BEVERLY NIPPER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, ANGELA DAWN TEVEPAUGH, CHIEF OF CAMPUS POLICE, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AARON SMITH, SERGEANT CAMPUS POLICE, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, ELIZABETH CLODFELTER, CORPORAL CAMPUS POLICE, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, NATASHA POWELL, OFFICER CAMPUS POLICE, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, Defendants: DANIEL W. CLARK, LEAD ATTORNEY, THARRINGTON SMITH, LLP, RALEIGH, NC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Thomas D. Schroeder, United States District Judge.

Before the court is Defendants' motion to dismiss all of Plaintiff Joseph Williams' claims in this employment discrimination action. (Doc. 20.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The allegations in Williams' pro se complaint, construed in the light most favorable to him, show the following.

Williams is an African-American man in his sixties. From August 2003 to March 2014, he was employed by Guilford Technical Community College (" GTCC" ) as a security officer with the campus police department, holding the rank of sergeant since 2013. (Doc. 1 at 3-4.) His supervisor was Chief Dawn Tevepaugh, a white woman in her forties. (Id. at 4.) At some point, Chief Tevepaugh limited Williams' supervisory authority over Corporal Elizabeth Clodfelter (a white woman in her thirties), and Officer Natasha Powell (also a white woman in her thirties). (Id. at 4.) These officers were made to report directly to Chief Tevepaugh, bypassing Williams in the chain of command. (Id.) Williams does not explain why this occurred, or what reason was given for it.

Many of Williams' allegations involve these three female officers. Williams alleges that, on three occasions, he was called into Chief Tevepaugh's office to discuss " false rumors" being disseminated about him; Corporal Clodfelter was also present during these discussions. (Id.) Williams also complains that Corporal Clodfelter and Officer Powell have been sent to receive training on campus crimes but he has not, though he is required to know the rules taught at that training. (Id.) Williams does not allege that he needs such training to perform his job or that he wished to attend the training.

On August 9, 2013, Williams was called into a meeting with Chief Tevepaugh and Adrienne Friddle, a human resources employee. (Id.) At the meeting, Williams was " accused of sharing an officer[']s confidential information about a matter." (Id.) Williams denied the accusation, and, at some point, the aggrieved officer wrote a statement saying that Williams did not divulge confidential information. (Id.) Williams believes that the complaint against him was actually made by Officer Powell. (Id.) This situation apparently resulted in a reprimand for Williams, but he does not explain the stated basis for his discipline.

Williams appealed the reprimand. In his appeal, he requested an investigation

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into " the discrimination [he] was subjected to" by Chief Tevepaugh and threatened to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) complaint if GTCC did not investigate. (Id.) Friddle and another employee then conducted an investigation and interviewed all of the campus police officers. (Id.) No outcome of the investigation was reported to Williams. (Id.)

On October 5, 2013, Williams sent correspondence to the EEOC about filing a charge of discrimination against GTCC. (Id. at 5.) He believes the EEOC then notified GTCC of this communication. (Id.)

On October 15, 2013, Williams was again called into a meeting with Friddle and Chief Tevepaugh, where he received a second written reprimand and a notice of probation. (Id.) Williams was placed on probation for a year, with an evaluation to occur every ninety days, and with no possibility of a raise during the probationary period. (Id.) Williams does not explain why he was disciplined or whether he engaged in any misconduct.

At some point during October, Williams and Officer Powell got into a dispute. Williams told her to go through the " proper chain of command" to change her work schedule. (Id. at 6.) She responded by becoming " belligerent" and complaining to Chief Tevepaugh, who directed Officer Powell to take her complaint to human resources. (Id.)

On October 28, 2013, Williams filed an EEOC charge of race, age, and sex discrimination against GTCC. (Id. at 3.) He alleges that, after filing the charge, Chief Tevepaugh " continued" to harass him and scrutinize his work based on " third party hearsay or rumors" by Corporal Clodfelter, Officer Powell, or Sergeant Aaron Smith, a white male in his thirties. (Id. at 5.) Williams met with two GTCC administrators about the treatment he received from Chief Tevepaugh, but they allegedly took no action to stop her. (Id.)

In March 2014, a series of events led to Williams' forced retirement. On March 21, the Guilford County Sheriff's Department " 911 Operation" initiated " a routine legal paper call for service." (Id. at 6.) Williams responded to the call, assisted by Sergeant Raymond Reese, a black male in his fifties, and Sergeant Ron Johnson, a white male in his fifties. (Id.) At some point after the call, Chief Tevepaugh " questioned the way" the three men responded and began an investigation. (Id.) In the meantime, she and Friddle suspended Williams. (Id.) Williams does not explain why Tevepaugh began her investigation, nor does he say whether Sergeants Reese and Johnson were also suspended.

On March 31, 2014, following the investigation, Williams was called into a meeting with Chief Tevepaugh and Jackson, who gave Williams the option of termination or retirement. (Id.) He chose to retire. (Id.) On April 21, 2014, Williams filed a second EEOC charge of retaliation against GTCC. (Id. at 3.)

Williams makes several other allegations lacking chronological context. He notes that he " adequately and completely" performed his duties while employed at GTCC. (Id. at 6.) He alleges that when he began interviewing a white female student who had made a complaint against one of Williams' black officers, Chief Tevepaugh took the investigation away from Williams and gave it to Sergeant Smith (who, as noted, is white). (Id.) He further complains that Chief Tevepaugh installed a " hidden video camera" in her office, which apparently faced Williams' office, and recorded who entered and left his office; she did not monitor other officers this way. (Id.) Williams alleges that Corporal Clodfelter

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(Williams' subordinate) on several occasions asked Williams, in Chief Tevepaugh's presence, when he was going to retire because she wanted his position. (Id. at 5.) Finally, Williams alleges that, during the EEOC's investigation, " it was discovered that Chief Tevepaugh had been untruthful in many of her daily activities" and " was given the opportunity to resign on May 28, 2014." (Id. at 6.) Williams does not allege that Chief Tevepaugh has in fact resigned or been terminated. In fact, she appears to still serve as GTCC's chief of campus police, given that Williams has sued her in her official capacity as chief of campus police. (Id. at 3.)

Williams received notice of his right to sue from the EEOC on September 14, 2014. (Id.) On October 6, 2014, Williams filed his pro se complaint in this court, bringing claims of race, sex, and age discrimination, as well as retaliation, seeking compensatory and punitive damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq. and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 621 et seq. Williams brings his claims against the GTCC Board of Trustees (" GTCC Board" or " Board" ); Randy Parker, president of GTCC, in his official capacity; and nine other GTCC employees, in their official and individual capacities. (Id. at 2-3.)

Defendants move to dismiss all Williams' claims for failure to state a claim, and the GTCC Board moves to dismiss for insufficiency of process and insufficiency of service of process. (Doc. 20.) Williams filed two responses, in violation of the Local Rules, though both have been considered. (Docs. 23, 24.) Defendants replied. (Doc. 25.) Defendants also moved to stay discovery pending resolution of their motion to ...


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