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Gosnell v. Reid

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

July 24, 2015

ANN BOWMAN AMY GOSNELL, Plaintiffs,
v.
COY REID CATAWBA COUNTY DAVID LAIL CATAWBA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Richard L. Voorhees United States District Judge

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 14).

I. PROCEDURAL AND BACKGROUND FACTS

A. THE FACTS

Ann Bowman and Amy Gosnell (“Plaintiffs”) are adult female citizens of North Carolina over the age of forty.[1] (Compl., ¶ 6). Plaintiffs bring this action against multiple Defendants alleging gender and age discrimination, tortious interference with contract, and defamation. (Compl., ¶ 1). Defendant Catawba County (“County”) is a North Carolina county government. (Compl., ¶ 7). Defendant Catawba County Sheriff’s Office (“Office”) is a North Carolina law enforcement agency within Catawba County. (Compl., ¶ 8). Defendant Coy Reid (“Sheriff”) is a citizen and resident of Catawba County and is the duly elected Sheriff of Catawba County. (Compl., ¶ 9). Defendant David Lail (“Lail”) is a citizen and resident of Catawba County and is a sworn officer and employee of the Office. (Compl., ¶ 10). Accepting the Plaintiffs’ factual allegations as true, Defendant Liberty Mutual Insurance (“Liberty”) acted as the surety for Defendants Office, Sheriff, and Lail in their official capacities. (Compl., ¶ 11).

Plaintiffs filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging violation of their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). (Compl., ¶ 12). Plaintiffs have received a right to sue letter from the EEOC and thereafter timely brought this action. Id.

Plaintiffs allege that they worked for Defendants County and Sheriff for a number of years in several positions and that they performed their duties and responsibilities satisfactorily. (Compl., ¶ 15). On or about August 31, 2013, Defendant Lail reported to the local news media that the Plaintiffs were charged with a criminal offense. (Compl., ¶ 16). Plaintiffs had reported this fact to their managers pursuant to the procedures of Defendant Sheriff. Id. Plaintiffs allege that from that day forward Defendants and various agents of the Defendants “charged and accused Plaintiffs of dishonesty, public drunkenness and improper execution of their duties” to diverse persons in a public manner. (Compl., ¶ 58). According to the Plaintiffs, all of these statements were untrue and were calculated to damage Plaintiffs’ reputation. (Compl., ¶¶ 59, 61). On or about September 5, 2013, the Plaintiffs’ employment was terminated. Plaintiffs’ allege that beginning on that date and continuing to the present, Defendant Sheriff contacted various sheriffs in North Carolina “regarding the charges against the Plaintiffs, details allegedly associated with the event, and the termination of the Plaintiffs’ employment” and that many of Defendant Sheriff’s factual statements were “false and known by him to be false at the time the statements were made.” (Compl., ¶ 47).

B. THE CLAIMS FOR RELIEF

Plaintiffs contend that they were discriminated against on account of their gender (First Claim for Relief) and age (Third Claim) in the following ways:

(a) Plaintiffs were disciplined more harshly than younger, male coworkers;
(b) Plaintiffs’ personnel issues were released to the news media;
(c) Plaintiffs’ employment was terminated;
(d) The filling of their positions with someone outside of the ...

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