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ASH v. Aurora Public Schools

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 10, 2019




         The matter before the Court is Defendant Aurora Public Schools' (“APS”) Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff George Christopher Ash's claim arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.[1] (Doc. # 13.) For the following reasons, the Court grants APS' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Ash filed a lawsuit against APS on May 24, 2018, asserting state and federal claims of discrimination based on, race, disability, gender, and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. (Doc. # 1.) The following facts are drawn from the Complaint and are taken as true for the purposes of the instant motion.

         Mr. Ash is a 53-year-old African American male who was hired in July 2014 as a sixth-grade social studies teacher at East Middle School, which is in the Aurora Public Schools District. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 1, 4, 6.) He alleges that, after a change in administration at East Middle School, APS began “engaging in a pattern and practice of discrimination and retaliation against older African American male employees during the 2015-2016 school year [that] worsened thereafter.” (Id. at ¶ 14.) “[S]chool district employees who were not older African-American male[s] . . . received more favorable treatment than older male African American employees with respect to assignments, contracts, promotions, working conditions, and other terms and conditions of employment.” (Id. at ¶ 15.) In short, Mr. Ash asserts a disparate treatment claim of age discrimination under the ADEA.

         Mr. Ash “was subjected to an atmosphere that condoned and encourages [sic] discrimination against him on the basis of age, ” including being asked to “either resign, or his employment would be terminated by his not being renewed.” (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 21.) He was harassed by his supervisor in retaliation for “his engaging in protected activity, and [he] was discriminated against in the way that he was treated in the workplace, including the adverse manner in which he was treated leading to his suffering an eye injury on April 26, 2017 which caused him to go out on workers compensation injury leave, all relating to his age.” (Id. at ¶ 22.)

         Mr. Ash further alleges he was “threatened” by the Assistant Principal in a classroom setting when he expressed his discomfort with participating in mediation with a student who harassed him. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Another administrator told him that “another older African American male teacher at the same school should have his black card taken away because he was unable to handle unruly students.” (Id. at ¶ 31.) Mr. Ash was assigned “more challenging students, some of whom were on probation and some of whom posed real physical danger to teachers and [APS] would not approve Mr. Ash's requests to transfer students out of his class, ” while “other [white] members of the sixth grade Social Studies Team . . . were treated more favorably than Mr. Ash.” (Id. at ¶¶ 24, 31.)

         Additionally, after being diagnosed with diabetes, Mr. Ash was reprimanded for taking excessive leave for medical treatment. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Mr. Ash also alleges he was refused disability accommodation and was refused reimbursement from APS's “Health Leave Bank.” (Id. at ¶ 19.)

         In March 2017, school administrators notified Mr. Ash that he would not be rehired for the 2018-2019 school year due to unsatisfactory work performance. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Mr. Ash then filed a charge of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 18, 2017, and he received his Right to Sue letter on February 27, 2018. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

         On August 6, 2018, APS filed the instant Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Age Discrimination Claim contending that Mr. Ash has failed to allege any facts that plausibly state an age discrimination claim. (Doc. # 13.) On August 24, 2018, Mr. Ash filed his Response (Doc. # 16) and APS filed its Reply on September 7, 2018 (Doc. # 19).

         Specifically, APS argues that Mr. Ash's conclusory statements in his Complaint fail to either establish that he performed satisfactory work or demonstrate that he suffered an adverse employment action in favor of someone younger. (Doc. # 13 at 4- 5.) By contrast, Mr. Ash argues that dismissal of his age claim is unwarranted because he has pleaded enough facts to establish a prima facia case of age discrimination. (Doc. # 16 at 4-8.) In the alternative, Mr. Ash requests that this Court allow him a reasonable period of time to amend his complaint. (Id. at 2.)


         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test “the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337, 340 (10th Cir. 1994). A complaint will survive such a motion only 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). “The question is whether, if the allegations are true, it is plausible and not merely possible that the plaintiff is entitled to relief under the relevant law.” Christy Sports, LLC v. Deer Valley Resort Co., Ltd., 555 F.3d 1188, 1192 (10th Cir. 2009).

         When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and must construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless, a complaint does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “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 ...

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