United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
DAMIAN D. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, et al., Defendant.
Ellis, III, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants Loudoun County
Public Schools' and Loudoun County Public School
Board's (the "School Defendants") motion to
dismiss the pro se amended complaint.
amended complaint, Plaintiff Damian Phillips appears to
allege the following causes of action against the School
• race discrimination based on a failure to hire for
positions in 2017 pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
of 1964 ("Title VII")
• disability discrimination based on a failure to hire
for positions in 2017 pursuant to the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA")
• retaliation pursuant to Title VII and the ADA; and
plaintiff did not file a response to the motion to dismiss,
plaintiff appeared at the hearing held on October 11, 2019
and argued in opposition to the motion to dismiss.
reasons that follow, plaintiff has stated a Title VII race
discrimination claim based on the School Defendants failure
to hire him for positions he applied for in 2017. The School
Defendants correctly argue that any claim for discrimination
based on a failure to promote in 2015 is 2015. Additionally,
the School Defendants correctly argue that plaintiff has
failed to state a claim: (i) for disability discrimination
because plaintiff has failed to identify a qualifying
disability; (ii) for retaliation because plaintiff has failed
to show a causal connection between his protected activity
and any adverse employment action; and (iii) for defamation
because the statement on which he relies is an opinion and
not capable of being proved false. Accordingly, the motion to
dismiss must be granted in part and denied in part. As
explained infra, Plaintiff will have an opportunity
to file a second amended complaint to state a claim for
disability discrimination and retaliation and must file his
amended complaint within fourteen (14) days of the entry of
this Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order. Plaintiffs
defamation claim, however, must be dismissed with prejudice
because it is barred by the statute-of-limitations and
because it is based on a statement that is not defamatory
under controlling Virginia law.
following facts are derived from the allegations in the
amended complaint,  which are taken as true solely for the
purpose of resolving the motion to dismiss. See Papasan
v. Attain, 478 U.S. 265, 283 (1986).
• Plaintiff is an African American male with a permanent
disability. See Am. Compl. At 4.
• He has a master's degree in general education and
a master's degree in special education. See id.
• Plaintiff is also eligible for a provisional
license in Virginia. See
• In August 2014, plaintiff was working for the School
Defendants as a teaching assistant and as the head freshman
football coach at Freedom High School. See Id. at 4.
• In 2015, plaintiff applied and interviewed for the
varsity football coaching position at Freedom High School.
See Id. at 5.
• When plaintiff appeared for the 2015 varsity football
coach interview, he overheard the principal, Doug Fulton,
say: "This nigga will not be my next Head Varsity
Football coach." Id. Plaintiff also overheard
laughter from an unidentified community participant and from
Athletic Director Brett Miller. See
• During the interview, Fulton also commented that he
did not need another "disability" in his school.
• In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that his
disability does not impact his ability to perform the
essential functions of his job as a teacher and a coach.
• On September 9, 2015, an unnamed student emailed
plaintiff to let him know that Fulton had called plaintiff
"something racist." Id. at 6.
• In a separate incident, assistant principal Chaudhry
Neelum and Fulton requested that a student ask plaintiff to
escort the student to the bathroom to "baptize"
him. Am. Compl. at 6.
• When the student made the request of plaintiff,
plaintiff immediately denied the request and reported the
request to a special education teacher. See id.
• The next day, the student informed plaintiff that
Neelum and Fulton had asked the student to make the request.
• Later, Fulton and two assistant principals came to
plaintiffs class and requested that plaintiff come to the
office. See id.
• In response, plaintiffs students began chanting
"Coach Phillips is in trouble." Id.
• In a meeting with the principal and assistant
principals, plaintiff was provided with a performance
evaluation that stated: "Mr. Phillips needs to make sure
that when he first receives information that could severely
effect [sic] the health and/or safety of a student, he needs
to inform the program teachers and the administration right
away. Even if the student is telling Mr. Phillips out of a
close relationship, it is Mr. Phillips' professional duty
to pass on sensitive information." Id. at 6-7.
• Plaintiff felt humiliated and singled out by this
language. See Id. at 7.
• Prior to this 2015 performance evaluation, plaintiff
had not received any feedback concerning his performance for