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Humble v. Cirrus Education Group, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

December 4, 2017

DIANA R. HUMBLE, Plaintiff,
v.
CIRRUS EDUCATION GROUP, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE

         Defendant Cirrus Education Group, Inc. (“Cirrus Academy”) has moved to dismiss Plaintiff Diana R. Humble's claims and strike factual allegations regarding Ginger Snow and Susan Campbell.[1] Doc. 7. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The motion to strike is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Humble is a Caucasian female who began working as a special education teacher at Cirrus Academy on or around July 29, 2016. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 4, 6. The majority of Cirrus Academy's employees are African-American. Id. ¶ 9. Humble claims that, “[f]rom the beginning of her employment, ” she was treated differently from her African-American co-workers. Id. ¶ 11. She alleges that she and two white co-workers, Snow and Campbell, “received the brunt of the disparate treatment, harassment, and retaliation” based primarily on their race. Id. ¶ 10. Humble alleges that, “[u]nlike other teachers, ”

(1) “[she and Snow] were provided with little-to-no start up furniture or supplies for their classrooms;”
(2) she was “not initially provided with a planning period;”
(3) she was “assigned many additional assignments other than the duties assigned to her position;”
(4) she was not provided “with supplies and materials necessary for certain programs or instruction;”
(5) “[she along with Campbell and Snow] were ‘written up' for actions that were considered acceptable when taken by their black coworkers;” and
(6) she was “largely ignored” in November by Dr. Ashanti Johnson, the African-American Superintendent of Cirrus Academy.

Id. ¶ 11. Humble also alleges that her annual salary was approximately $5, 000-$10, 000 less than that of her African-American coworkers in similar positions. Id. ¶ 12.

         In August 2016, Humble “began raising concerns in email messages and meetings with her supervisors regarding Cirrus Academy's compliance with state and federal requirements for special education.” Id. ¶ 16. “At a certain point, [Humble] felt compelled to report her concerns to the Georgia Department of Education, ” but allegedly received threats from her supervisors not to contact the department or report any violations. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. After eventually contacting the Georgia Department of Education, Humble alleges that the hostility and retaliation from her supervisors increased. Id. ¶ 17. On January 27, 2017, Humble filed a third-party complaint with the Georgia Department of Education under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act to report her concerns about the implementation of Cirrus Academy's individualized education program. Id. ¶ 18. The Georgia Department of Education subsequently found that Cirrus Academy did not comply with the requirements for implementing an individualized education program. Id.

         Around November 2016, Humble states she received “frequent anonymous text messages that were littered with profanity, racial epithets, and even threatens [sic] of physical violence.” Id. ¶ 13. Snow and Campbell also allegedly received these messages. Id. While Humble could not identify the sender of the messages, she claims the content and pictures contained therein show the messages were sent by another Cirrus Academy employee. Id. Humble states that Cirrus Academy contacted the Bibb County Sheriff's Office to investigate these text messages but took no further action “to avert or curtail the continued harassment.” Id. ¶ 15. Humble also alleges that in December 2016, she received an email, “which appeared to be from Dr. Jackson [sic], ” suggesting that Humble should resign and not “underestimate” Johnson's “power and abilities.” Id. ¶ 14.

         Around January 2017, Humble went on unpaid leave due to the alleged harassment and anonymous threats of physical violence. Id. ¶ 19. On January 26, 2017, Humble timely filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Id. ¶ 20. Specifically, in the EEOC charge, Humble alleged that:

I began my employment with the above employer on July 25, 2016, as a Special Education Teacher. On October 27, 2016, and continuing, I have been subjected to racially hostile emails. I have also been harassed and bullied by other teachers. I complained to Dr. Ashanti Johnson, Superintendent, and to date, no action has been taken to alleviate my concerns. I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my race (White), in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

Doc. 7-2 at 2.[2] Humble received her right-to-sue letter on February 20, 2017. Doc. 1 ¶ 20.

         In Count I of her complaint, Humble asserts a claim for “Racial Discrimination and Harassment in Violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.” Id. ΒΆ 22. The parties assume, and the Court assumes as well for the purposes of Cirrus Academy's motion, that Humble asserts three specific Title VII claims: (1) a hostile work environment claim; (2) a disparate treatment claim; and (3) a pay discrimination claim. Docs. 7-1 at 4; 9 at 3. In Count II, ...


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