United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
GLEN I. DARDEN, Plaintiff,
WAYNE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on defendant's motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has responded and a hearing on the
matter was held before the undersigned on April 10, 2018, at
Elizabeth City, North Carolina. For the reasons that follow,
the motion to dismiss is denied.
initiated this action on April 23, 2017, by filing a
complaint for wrongful termination of plaintiff s employment
under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. After service had
been properly effected on defendant and defendant failed to
answer, plaintiff moved for entry of default. Two days
thereafter, counsel appeared for defendant and requested
leave to file an answer out of time. Finding that cause to
set aside default existed in light of the appearance of
counsel, the court denied the motion for entry of default and
allowed defendant an opportunity to answer. Defendant timely
filed its answer and motion to dismiss on October 5, 2017.
case arises out of plaintiff s employment with defendant
which began in 2002 and continued until his termination on
September 30, 2014. Plaintiff, and African-American male, was
employed by defendant at Eastern Wayne High School as an
instructional assistant and varsity basketball coach.
Plaintiff alleges that he never received a negative work
evaluation by defendant during his employment.
March 2013, a minor female student accused plaintiff of
grabbing her and attempting to kiss her. Plaintiff turned
himself in to law enforcement after a warrant was issued for
his arrest but he maintained his innocence. On December 13,
2013, defendant's Assistant Superintendent for Human
Resources, Dr. Marvin McCoy, sent a letter to plaintiff
indicating that in light of the charges plaintiff had been
placed on suspension with pay. The letter stated that
plaintiff could return to work should all matters be cleared.
On January 14, 2014, Dr. McCoy sent another letter to
plaintiff stating that plaintiff had been placed on
suspension without pay and that he would be contacted about
the next step within thirty days. On September 30, 2014, in
the first communication with plaintiff since the January 2014
letter, defendant terminated plaintiffs employment. The State
of North Carolina dismissed all charges against plaintiff on
February 9, 2015. On February 10, 2015, Dr. McCoy called
plaintiff and informed him that he was not welcome on campus
and would not be permitted to return to work.
further alleges that two white male teachers were accused of
making inappropriate sexual comments about female students.
Both of these teachers admitted to making the inappropriate
remarks and were allowed to retain their teaching positions
with defendant and to retire.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires only a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief and which provides "the
defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal quotations, alterations, and
citations omitted). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal
sufficiency of the complaint. Papasan v. Allain, 478
U.S. 265, 283 (1986). When acting on a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6), "the court should accept as true
all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in
a light most favorable to the plaintiff." Mylan
Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th
Cir.1993). A complaint must allege enough facts to state a
claim for relief that is facially plausible. Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Facial plausibility means that the facts pled "allow
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged, " and mere
recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by
conclusory statements do not suffice. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Court has reviewed the complaint in light of the applicable
standards and finds dismissal to be inappropriate at this
time. A plaintiff seeking to establish a prima facie case of
discrimination in the termination of employment under §
1981 must demonstrate that '"(1) he is a member of a
protected class; (2) he was qualified for his job and his job
performance was satisfactory; (3) he was fired; and (4) other
employees who are not members of the protected class were
retained under apparently similar circumstances.'"
Honor v. Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., 383 F.3d
180, 188 (4th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted) (noting same
standard used in claims proceeding under Title VII).
has alleged that he is a member of a protected class, that he
was qualified for his position, and that prior to the events
which led to his termination he was performing his job
satisfactorily. Plaintiff has alleged that he was fired, and
that other employees not members of the protected class,
namely two white male teachers, were allowed to remain in
their positions under apparently similar circumstances.
Although, as defendant points out, plaintiffs alleged
comparators were accused of making sexually inappropriate
comments to students as opposed to being accused of making
attempted inappropriate contact with a student, both of the
comparators are alleged to have admitted to committing the
offensive conduct. The Court finds that at this stage of the
proceeding plaintiff has alleged sufficiently similar
comparators to nudge his claim across the line from
conceivable to plausible. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss [DE 13]
is DENIED. Plaintiffs oral motion to amend his complaint to
add additional factual support, made at the hearing before
the undersigned, is GRANTED. ...