United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
DELLA J. DUMBAUGH, Ph.D, Plaintiff,
UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Defendant.
A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge.
Delia Dumbaugh, a former Associate Dean of the School of Arts
and Sciences at the University of Richmond, brings this
action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She
alleges that the Dean, Dr. Patrice Rankine, criticized and
humiliated her, stripped her of responsibilities, and barred
her from working with other personnel, causing her to resign
her post as Associate Dean. The University has moved to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. Because Dumbaugh fails
to plead facts showing an adverse employment action or that
Rankine's conduct qualifies as severe or pervasive, the
Court will grant the motion to dismiss. The Court will
dismiss Count One with prejudice. The Court, however, will
dismiss Count Two without prejudice and will grant Dumbaugh
leave to amend her complaint as to Count Two.
FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT
joined the faculty of the University's Department of
Mathematics and Computer Science in 1994. In 2016, Rankine
became Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and chose
Dumbaugh to serve as Associate Dean. The parties anticipated
that Dumbaugh would serve a three-year term with the
potential that Rankine would reappoint ber for an additional
three years. Dumbaugh's relationship with Rankine began
to deteriorate in April, 2017.
a staff meeting in April, 2017, Rankine asked Dumbaugh to
share the reactions of faculty members to his remarks at a
recent University event. After Dumbaugh conveyed several
negative reactions from faculty members, Rankine cut her off,
and said that the reactions came "from a position of low
self-esteem." (Dk. No. 1, at ¶ 11.)
several staff meetings during April and May, Rankine told
Dumbaugh not to "panic." (Id. at ¶
13.) During one meeting, Dumbaugh asked Rankine to stop
ridiculing her in front of other faculty members. Rankine
responded, "[y]ou are not in charge of this
meeting!" (Id. at ¶14.)
2017, Rankine directed Dumbaugh to organize the new faculty
orientation. When Dumbaugh presented her preliminary
arrangements, Rankine criticized her for making plans without
June, 2017, Rankine told Dumbaugh to coordinate first-year
undergraduate classes. To accomplish that task, Dumbaugh
needed first-year registration data. Rankine, however,
prohibited Dumbaugh from communicating with the Provost, who
had the necessary data. Dumbaugh says that Rankine also
barred other women from contacting University officials to
complete their tasks. Dumbaugh proceeded to schedule classes
by contacting individual department chairs. Even though her
predecessor had also contacted department chairs for
scheduling purposes, Rankine "threw his head back in
disgust and criticized her for 'singling out chairs this
way.'" (Id. at ¶ 17.) Rankine also
reassigned Dumbaugh's tasks without telling her.
Rankine asked Dumbaugh about a project during a budget
meeting in July, she prefaced her answer with, "I know
this might make you frustrated or angry." (Id.
at ¶ 20.) Rankine responded, "[w]hen have I been
frustrated or angry? This comment is not constructive. It is
not helpful." (Id.) In contrast, when a male
counterpart began bad news with "[t]his is going to piss
you off," Rankine simply replied, "[t]ry me."
(Id. at ¶ 21.)
August 2, 2017, Rankine reappointed Dumbaugh as Associate
Dean for another year. (Id. at ¶ 24.) During a
retreat later that month, staff members discussed their
results from a "love language" survey. When a staff
member shared that his love language was "words of
affirmation," Rankine said, "[y]ou are a 'words
of affirmation' person: [y]ou are doing a good job."
(Id. at ¶ 25.) Dumbaugh responded, "these
words only count if they are not spoken disingenuously."
(Id.) Rankine replied, "[t]hat is so low."
days after the staff retreat, Dumbaugh called Rankine to
resign as Associate Dean. Rankine simply responded,
"[o]key, dokey." (Id. at ¶ 26.)
Dumbaugh says that Rankine humiliated her in front of her
colleagues, stripped her of responsibilities, raised his
voice when speaking with her, or barred her from working with
others in at least nine out of sixteen meetings from April to
August of 2017. She says that other women quit after Rankine
treated them the same way. She further alleges that
Rankine's behavior diminished her professional reputation
and opportunity for advancement in the University, and caused
lost earnings, emotional distress, humiliation, and
exhausting her administrative remedies, Dumbaugh filed this
action. Her complaint alleges two counts: gender
discrimination in violation of Title VII (Count One), and
hostile work environment in violation of Title VII (Count
Two). The University has moved to dismiss both counts for
failure to state a claim.
Count Two: ...