United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 16), and the Magistrate
Judge's Memorandum and Recommendation
(“M&R”), (Doc. No. 21).
Kimberly Tigner (“Plaintiff”) is a Career
Development Liaison in the Career and Technical Education
Department (“CTE Department”) at Defendant
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (“Defendant”).
Plaintiff, an African American, alleges that since 2016, she
has been subjected to discriminatory conduct, retaliation,
and a hostile work environment because of her race.
Specifically, in January 2016, Debra Dunn
(“Dunn”), Plaintiff's immediate supervisor,
circulated a petition among Plaintiff's coworkers,
gathering signatures of white colleagues who considered
Plaintiff's natural hairstyle to be unprofessional and
inappropriate for the workplace. As a result of the petition,
Jimmy Chancey (“Chancey”), the director of the
CTE Department, spoke with Plaintiff about her hair, and the
negative attention humiliated Plaintiff and caused her to
change her hairstyle.
around July 2016, Plaintiff's seventeen-year-old son came
to Plaintiff's office, and Dunn complained to multiple
coworkers that she felt threatened by the presence of
Plaintiff's son because he was an African American male.
Dunn directed several employees to look up information about
Plaintiff's son to confirm their suspicions that he had a
criminal record. Upon learning of this, Plaintiff sent an
email to Akeshia Craven-Howell (“Craven-Howell”),
the Assistant Superintendent, on July 8, 2016. Craven-Howell
sent Plaintiff a calendar invitation to discuss the matter,
but the meeting never occurred. Plaintiff then reached out to
Human Resources (“HR”), and in mid-July, Chancey
told Plaintiff that HR directed him to handle the conflict
between Dunn and Plaintiff. Chancey accused Plaintiff's
son of having a criminal record and banned him from
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' property. Plaintiff
alleges that her son could not return to school for two weeks
until she was able to obtain evidence to prove the
allegations regarding his criminal record were false.
began a daily ritual of walking out of her way to pass by
Plaintiff's desk multiple times a day and standing there
until Plaintiff acknowledged her presence and spoke to her.
In addition, with Dunn's encouragement, other white
employees made jokes at Plaintiff's expense, spoke to
Plaintiff in a derogatory way, or outright ignored and
refused to speak to Plaintiff.
March 2, 2016 through February 13, 2017, Plaintiff complained
about the discriminatory conduct to Chancey, Craven-Howell,
and HR. HR advised Plaintiff that Dunn's and
Chancey's conduct was not violating any employment policy
and suggested Plaintiff resolve the issues internally. After
HR deputized Chancey to handle the conflict within the CTE
Department, Chancey advised Plaintiff to be more polite to
Dunn. On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff spoke to Employee
Relations Manager Sandra Gero about the discrimination, but
Gero stated that she supported Chancey's decisions.
March 3, 2017, Defendant issued Plaintiff an unfounded letter
of reprimand and intentionally locked Plaintiff out of work
programs and software that were necessary for Plaintiff to
perform her job. Defendant disciplined Plaintiff again on
March 3, 2017 because Plaintiff did not perform another
coworker's job functions. Plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on March 20, 2017. (Doc. No.
the summer of 2017, Plaintiff applied for five internal
positions with Defendant for which she met or exceeded the
requirements. Defendant did not consider Plaintiff for any of
the positions, stating that although Plaintiff met the
written qualifications, she did not meet the unwritten
end of 2017, Craven-Howell gave Plaintiff a negative
performance evaluation for 2016-2017, stating that Plaintiff
was not a team player because she filed a discrimination
asserts claims for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based
on protections set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 1981, race-based
discrimination in violation of Title VII, and retaliation in
violation of Title VII. Defendant moved to dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. In the M&R, the
Magistrate Judge recommended that Defendant's motion be
granted in part and denied in part. The Magistrate Judge
first concluded that claims based on events occurring in
January and July 2016 are time barred because the events
occurred more than 180 days prior to Plaintiff filing her
discrimination charge. The Magistrate Judge then concluded
that Plaintiff fails to state claims for violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983, failure to promote, and hostile work
environment and recommended that these claims be dismissed.
As to Plaintiff's retaliation claim, the Magistrate Judge
concluded that the allegations are sufficient to state such a
claim and recommended that Defendant's motion be denied
as to this claim. Plaintiff timely filed her objections to
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may assign dispositive pretrial matters to a
magistrate judge for “proposed findings of fact and
recommendations.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The
Federal Magistrate Act provides that a district court
“shall make a de novo determination of those portions
of the report or specific proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.”
Id. § 636(b)(1); Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
standard of review for a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is well known.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “A motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) ‘challenges the legal sufficiency of a
complaint,' including whether it meets the pleading
standard of Rule 8(a)(2).” Fannie Mae v.
Quicksilver LLC, 155 F.Supp.3d 535, 542 (M.D. N.C. 2015)
(quoting Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192
(4th Cir. 2009)). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss will survive if it contains enough facts
“to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). Facial plausibility means allegations that
allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for ...