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Andreana v. Virginia Beach City Public Schools

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

May 9, 2018

JOSEPH H. ANDREANA, On behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
VIRGINIA BEACH CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS and SCHOOL BOARD OF THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RAYMOND A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Both parties have filed memoranda supporting their respective positions and these matters are now ripe for judicial determination. Having reviewed the parties' filings, the Court finds that a hearing is not necessary. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) is DENIED in part and GRANTED in part; the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs disparate impact claim (Count II), but not the pattern and practice discrimination claim (Count III). Finally, Defendant's motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case alleges that the Virginia Beach Public City Schools and the School Board of the City of Virginia Beach discriminated against Plaintiff and others similarly situated on the basis of age. ECF No. l.[1] For background, Plaintiff has been an employee of Defendant for over twenty-eight years where he has primarily worked as a computer resources specialist (CRS). Id. at 2. In March of 2015, Defendant reorganized these positions and informed staff that the CRS positions would be reduced from 104 to 84, and would become information technology specialist (ITS) positions. Id. All CRS employees were required to reapply and the positions were also publicly posted. Id. at 3.

         According to Plaintiff, ninety-nine CRS employees applied for the ITS positions. Id. Of the 99 CRS employees who applied, 74 were initially selected for the ITS positions, but 22 were not selected.[2] Id. Moreover, of the twenty-two not selected, three retired, and four were offered ITS positions. Id. Plaintiff contends that Defendant offered the four ITS positions after these individuals confronted Defendant about its discriminatory practices on the basis of age, but that Defendant failed to provide any remedy for the discrimination against Plaintiff and others similarly situated. Id. As a result, Plaintiff argues that he and other older CRS employees were forced to retire or accept lower paying positions. Id. at 5.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant's screening and evaluation process for the ITS positions discriminated against candidates based on age and did not evaluate applicants fairly. Id. at 3. As such, older CRS employees that met all of the required qualifications for the positions and had more experience in the relevant position and field were systematically rejected in favor of younger and less qualified applicants. Id. at 3.

         On August 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for age discrimination against Defendant. ECF No. 12. Subsequently, on November 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed this action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (West 2018), and seeks relief from disparate treatment, disparate impact, and pattern and practice discrimination on the basis of age. ECF No. 1 at 2.

         On November 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Conditional Class Certification. ECF No. 4. Defendant filed a response in opposition and Plaintiff filed a reply. ECF Nos. 20, 24. Additionally, Defendant filed Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). ECF Nos. 10, 16. Plaintiff filed responses in opposition and Defendant filed replies. ECF Nos. 19, 21, 22, 25. The motions to dismiss are now ripe for judicial determination and the Court will address each motion.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion To Dismiss For Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Defendant first moves to dismiss Plaintiffs ADEA claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In support, Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies because he did not file an EEOC charge against the School Board of the City of Virginia Beach, but instead named the Virginia Beach City Public Schools ("VBCPS"). ECF No. 10 at 4. Defendant also contends that Plaintiff only asserted a disparate treatment claim and failed to assert a disparate impact or pattern and practice claim. Id. at 2. In opposition, Plaintiff contends that although he named the VBCPS as a party in the EEOC charge, Defendant had notice of the EEOC charge and therefore Defendant's argument is without merit. ECF No. 19 at 9. Moreover, Plaintiff contends that his EEOC charge encompassed both disparate impact and pattern and practice discrimination. Id. at 10-14. Having reviewed the parties' arguments and evidence presented, the Court finds that it has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs disparate impact claim (Count II). But, the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the pattern and practice discrimination claim (Count III), because even liberally constructed, the Court cannot find that Plaintiff asserted the claim in the EEOC charge.

         1. Rule 12 (b)(1) Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(1), a party may move to dismiss an action for lack of subject jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(1). When a defendant asserts that the complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to support subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, "the district court is to regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Id. (quoting Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991)). The court must however "view[ ] the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, similar to an evaluation pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)." Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is proper "only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law." Evans, 166 F.3d at 647 (quoting Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R., 945 F.2d at 768).

         2. Administrative Exhaustion

         The ADEA prohibits discrimination on the basis of age and was enacted as part of a congressional effort to eradicate discrimination in the workplace and protect employees. McKennon v. Nashville Banner Pub. Co.,513 U.S. 352, 357 (1995) Indeed, "the substantive, antidiscrimination provisions of the ADEA are modeled upon prohibitions of Title VII." Id. (citing Trans World Airlines, Inc., v. Thurston,469 U.S. 111, 121 (1985)). Before a civil action may be brought, the ADEA requires a plaintiff to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. 29 U.S.C.A. § 626(d) (West 2017). As such, a "failure to exhaust administrative remedies concerning an [ADEA] claim deprives the federal court of subject matter jurisdiction over the claim." Jones v. Culvert Grp. Ltd.,551 F.3d 297, 300-01 ...


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