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Knapp v. Academy District 20

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 26, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [#10][1] (the “Motion”).[2] Plaintiff, who proceeds as a pro se litigant, [3] filed a Response [#13] in opposition to the Motion, and Defendants[4] filed a Reply [#14]. The Court has reviewed all briefing on the Motion, the entire case file, the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#10] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing the Complaint [#1] on June 7, 2017. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants individually and collectively failed to hire her based on her gender and her participation in a protected activity, which violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Compl. [#1] at 2 ¶¶ 6, 9. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Title VII claims should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to file suit within the ninety-day filing period. Motion [#10] at 2. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's Title VII claims against all individual Defendants should be dismissed because they are not “employers” as defined by Title VII. Id.

         Plaintiff contends that the Complaint [#1] is timely because she received a Notice of Right to Sue (the “Notice”) from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) on March 9, 2017, and filed her lawsuit on June 7, 2017, which was properly within the ninety-day filing period. Response [#13] at 2 ¶ 6.

         II. Legal Standard

         “Compliance with the filing requirements of Title VII is not a jurisdictional prerequisite, rather it is a condition precedent to suit that functions like a statute of limitations and is subject to waiver, estoppel, and equitable tolling.” Barrett v. Rumsfeld, 158 Fed.Appx. 89, 91 (10th Cir. 2005) (quoting Million v. Frank, 47 F.3d 385, 389 (10th Cir. 1995)). “Accordingly, motions to dismiss for failure to file a Title VII civil action within the ninety-day filing period should be considered under Rule 12(b)(6).” Id. (citing Anjelino v. New York Times Co., 200 F.3d 73, 87 (3rd Cir. 1999)).

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test “the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations as true.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337, 340 (10th Cir. 1994); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (stating that a complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted”). “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Sutton v. Utah State Sch. for the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain enough allegations of fact to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Shero v. City of Grove, Okla., 510 F.3d 1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007) (“The complaint must plead sufficient facts, taken as true, to provide ‘plausible grounds' that discovery will reveal evidence to support the plaintiff's allegations.” (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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (brackets in original; internal quotation marks omitted).

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Christy Sports, LLC v. Deer Valley Resort Co., 555 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2009). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” a factual allegation has been stated, “but it has not show[n][ ] that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (second brackets added; citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Analysis

         A. Timely Filing

         The filing of a timely administrative claim is required under Title VII, and a claim is time-barred if not filed within that period. Davidson v. Am. Online, Inc., 337 F.3d 1179, 1183 (10th Cir. 2003); see also Daniels v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 701 F.3d 620, 628 (10th Cir. 2012) (citing Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 109 (2002)); see also Daniels, 701 F.3d at 631 (stating that Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), did not overturn the general applicability of Morgan)). A plaintiff has ninety days after receiving a notice of civil action to file suit against a defendant. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). “Each discrete discriminatory act starts a new clock for filing charges alleging that act.” Daniels, 701 F.3d at 628 (quoting Morgan, 536 U.S. at 113). The limitations period begins on “the date the employee is notified of an adverse employment decision by the employer.” Id. (quoting Davidson, 337 F.3d at 1187); see also Witt v. Roadway Exp., 136 F.3d 1424, 1430 (10th Cir. 1998) (finding “[t]he ninety-day limit begins to run on the date the complainant actually receives the EEOC right-to-sue notice”).

         Plaintiff asserts that the clock began running when she received the Notice from the EEOC on March 9, 2017. Compl. [#1] at 2 ¶ 8. Defendants, however, argue that there is a rebuttable presumption that mail is delivered within three days of sending. Motion [#10] at 6. Therefore, Defendants argue that because the Notice was mailed on March 3, 2017, [5]the Court must presume that Plaintiff received the Notice on March 6, 2017, which was ninety-three days prior to filing her lawsuit. Id. at 7. Lastly, Defendants assert that ...

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