United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. HILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed
by Defendant Fairfax County School Board ("School
Board") and Defendants Debra Reeder, Kevin North, Dr.
Jack Dale, and Dr. Phyllis Pajardo (collectively,
"Individual Defendants"). This case concerns
Plaintiff Kathleen Munive's Complaint alleging that
Defendants retaliated against her in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 ("Section 1983") by refusing to remove
a letter of reprimand in retaliation for prior allegations of
discrimination lodged by Plaintiff. For the reasons that
follow, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (1) the Title VII retaliation claim against the
School Board, (2) the Section 1983 retaliation claim against
the Individual Defendants, and (3) the Section 1983
retaliation claim against the School Board.
2005, the School Board hired Plaintiff as an Employment
Specialist in the Human Resources Division of the Office of
Employment. From September 2005 to May 2006, Plaintiff
received three commendation letters and a sixth-month
evaluation with grades of either "exceeds
expectations" or "meets expectations" in every
criteria. During this time, Plaintiff's supervisors
included Mr. North, Ms. Reeder, and Mr. Fisher. On July 14,
2006, Mr. Fisher informed Plaintiff that she may receive a
letter of reprimand, purportedly because Plaintiff
overstaffed teachers and lost paperwork. On July 19,
Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Fisher threatened Plaintiff with
termination and a letter of reprimand if she did not
voluntarily transfer out the human resources department and
return to the classroom. On July 20, 2006, Mr. Fisher
delivered to Plaintiff a letter of reprimand ("Reprimand
Letter"). In August 2006, Mr. Reeder placed Plaintiff on
21, 2007, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging
gender and race discrimination (the "2007 EEOC
Charge"). Subsequently, in August 2007, Plaintiff was
reassigned as the department chair and teacher for
"English for Speakers of Other Languages"
("ESOL") at Eagle View Elementary School. Plaintiff
alleges that this new position is a significant downgrade in
terms of pay and responsibility. Plaintiff further alleges
that upon taking the position, she was told the Reprimand
Letter would be removed from the record upon her request if
she received a satisfactory one-year evaluation.
on October 22, 2008, after receiving a satisfactory one-year
evaluation, Plaintiff wrote to Dr. Dale, the acting
Superintendent, requesting his assistance to remove the
Reprimand Letter. Dr. Dale denied Plaintiff's October
2008 request to remove the Reprimand Letter. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants were obligated to remove the
Reprimand letter, pursuant to school policy, because the
letter contained false information. Based on the 2007 EEOC
Charge, in February 2010 Plaintiff received a Right to Sue
Letter from the EEOC. Plaintiff alleges that she was unable
to file a lawsuit for financial reasons.
years later, on February 12, 2012, Plaintiff met with Dr.
Parjardo, then-Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources,
and complained that Plaintiff's annual requests to have
the Reprimand Letter removed from her file had been
repeatedly denied without explanation. Dr. Parjardo allegedly
promised Plaintiff an investigation, but Plaintiff never
received any more information concerning an investigation. In
February 2013, Plaintiff again complained to Dr. Pajardo
about the denial of her requests to remove the Reprimand
Letter. "Pajardo informed [Plaintiff] that HR knew that
the Reprimand Letter contained false allegations, but that
the Legal Department at [Fairfax County Public School]
regarded her case as a 'Litmus Test' and that they
were refusing to remove her Reprimand Letter because she had
filed an EEOC complaint." Further, Plaintiff quotes Dr.
Parjardo as stating, "If you would have never gone the
route of filing the complaint I would have put myself on high
alert and been looking and asking more questions about
[Plaintiff's] case and seriously would have considered
taking the letter out." Plaintiff also alleges that she
asked Dr. Parjardo to keep the Reprimand Letter in the legal
department's file instead of her personnel file, but that
the file was being kept in Plaintiff's personnel file
"to inflict maximum damage" on her career.
Plaintiff states that she has been repeatedly injured by
Defendants' failure to remove the Reprimand Letter,
including by being denied two Assistant Principal positions
when she was "neck-in-neck" with other candidates
but the Letter served as the tiebreaker.
9, 2013, Plaintiff met with Dr. Pajardo and the Assistant
Superintendent for Region Leadership Support to repeat her
request to have the Reprimand Letter removed. On June 21,
2013, Plaintiff filed a second EEOC complaint (the "2013
EEOC Charge"), alleging that Defendants' decision to
keep the Reprimand Letter in her file constituted retaliation
for Plaintiff's 2007 EEOC Charge. Plaintiff alleges that
on August 20, 2015, she received a Letter of Determination
stating that Defendants had violated Title VII by retaliating
against Plaintiff for filing the 2007 EEOC Charge.
January 2, 2016, Plaintiff emailed the Letter of
Determination to the School Board, in addition to emailing it
to Fairfax County Public School system's superintendent,
deputy superintendent, and assistant superintendent.
Plaintiff alleges that in March 2016 each member of the
School Board received the Letter of Determination and was
informed of Plaintiff s attempts to reach an agreement.
Plaintiff stated that her attempt to reach an agreement was
25, 2016, Plaintiff received a Right to Sue Letter from the
EEOC. When Plaintiff met Dr. Parjardo and others on June 21,
2016, Dr. Pajardo allegedly explained that if Plaintiff
"had not filed an EEOC complaint outcomes would have
ninety days of receiving the May 25, 2016 Right to Sue
Letter, on August 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint.
The Complaint alleges retaliation under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e,
et seq. The Complaint also alleges that Defendants
retaliated against Plaintiff for exercising her First
Amendment right to file an EEOC charge in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
December 8, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and
supporting memorandum. On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed
her Response Brief. On January 4, 2017, Defendants submitted
a reply brief. On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
Sur-reply, purportedly, to rebut additional case law that
Defendants cited in their Reply Brief. Upon consideration of
the Motion, the associated briefs, and the case file, the
Court finds that oral argument is unnecessary because the
facts and legal contentions are adequately presented and oral
argument would not aid in the decisional process.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7 (J).
Therefore, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is now ripe for