United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
Hancock County has moved to dismiss three of Plaintiff
Robin Rhodes' claims against it pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Doc. 21. For the following
reasons, that motion (Doc. 26) is GRANTED.
an African American with lupus,  started working for the
Hancock County Board of Elections in 2009 as a deputy
registrar. Doc. 20 ¶ 16. Her tasks included “day
to day office details[;]” preparing voter
identification cards; handling absentee ballots; ensuring
compliance with federal, state, and local election laws and
regulations; and maintaining and updating voter databases.
Id. ¶ 17.
2011, the Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration
(“BOER”), a new entity, was created by statute to
replace the Hancock County Board of Elections.Id.
¶ 16. Around that time, Nancy Stephens,  a Caucasian
woman, entered Rhodes' office and informed her that
Stephens was going to be on the Board of the new BOER and did
not want Rhodes working there. Id. ¶¶
18-19. However, BOER Election Supervisor Aretha Cooper-Hill,
hired Rhodes, allowed Rhodes to remain in her job.
Id. ¶ 20. Stephens “continued her
harassment of” Rhodes by telling her that she did not
want Rhodes working there and was always “very
prejudic[ial] and disrespectful towards [Rhodes] and
[Cooper-Hill] who were all African Americans.”
Id. ¶¶ 20-21. There are no allegations
that Stephens used any language relating to Rhodes' race
or disability during her harassment of Rhodes. See
generally Doc. 20.
alleges that there was “an occasion” when
Stephens tried to prevent poll managers from picking up
voting machines at Rhodes' office for an upcoming
election by standing in front of the door and taking
photographs. Id. ¶ 21. Rhodes told Stephens to
stop and stood in the doorway to prevent Stephens from
interfering. Id. Stephens pushed Rhodes out of the
doorway in an attempt to stop the poll managers, and the
sheriff was called. Id. Stephens left the premises
after talking with the sheriff. Id. There are no
allegations that Stephens used any language relating to
Rhodes' race or disability during this
“occasion.” See generally Doc. 20.
other BOER Board members were “aware of [Stephens']
actions, because she public[ly] attacked Ms. Rhodes'
character[.]” Id. ¶ 20. Rhodes also
complained “to the [African-American] BOER [Board]
members for several acts of racial discrimination and
harassment that she had been subjected to since her
employment[, ]” and “the harassment and conflict
became worse[.]” Id. ¶ 18, 29. It is not
clear when Rhodes submitted her complaints, whether Stephens
and the Caucasian members of the Board had knowledge of such
complaints, or exactly when the “harassment and
conflict became worse[.]” See generally Doc.
April 2015, Rhodes received a job evaluation. Id.
¶¶ 7, 23. The three Caucasian members of the BOER
Board gave Rhodes a one out of five on all questions, with
one being the worst rating and five being the best.
Id. ¶ 23. Rhodes was then terminated, despite
her long, discipline-free tenure and BOER policies mandating
that employees receive lesser sanctions before being
terminated. Id. ¶¶ 24, 28. Rhodes alleges
that “[t]hese evaluations were racially motivated and a
means of accomplishing [Rhodes'] termination. These
ratings were also contrary to the other Board members who
were African Americans. Additionally, [Rhodes] was told that
[Cooper-Hill] would evaluate her, and the Board did not take
that evaluation into consideration when [Rhodes] was
terminated.” Id. ¶ 23.
claims that her termination was the result of discrimination
based on her race, disability, and complaints to the
African-American members of the BOER Board that Stephens
discriminated against her. Id. ¶¶ 25-26,
34. She alleges that the BOER's Caucasian majority wanted
to acquire control over election records “to purge and
remove from the voter registration list, African American
Citizens of Hancock County.” Id. ¶ 25.
Because Rhodes was also African American and “would not
purge her own race votes, ” the Caucasian Board members
were motivated to terminate her in furtherance of the
vote-purging efforts. Id. ¶¶ 26-27.
alleges Hancock County, through the BOER, racially
discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.,
and discriminated against her based on her disability in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. et seq. Id.
¶¶ 39-48. She also alleges Hancock County, through
the BOER, retaliated against her for engaging in activity
protected by Title VII and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. Id. ¶ 48. Finally, she claims she was
subjected to a hostile work environment in violation of Title
VII and Title I. Id. ¶ 50. Hancock County, as
Rhodes' official employer, now moves to partially dismiss
Rhodes' complaint, specifically her claims for
discrimination on the basis of her disability, for
retaliation, and for hostile work environment. Doc. 26.
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a pleading to
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To avoid dismissal pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter to “‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “At the motion to dismiss stage, all
well-pleaded facts are accepted as true, and the reasonable
inferences therefrom are construed in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Garfield v. NDC Health
Corp., 466 F.3d 1255, 1261 (11th Cir. 2006) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
“where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-
‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). “[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted
deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as
facts will not prevent dismissal.” Oxford Asset
Mgmt., Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir.
2002). The complaint must “give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Where there are
dispositive issues of law, a court may dismiss a claim
regardless of the alleged facts. Marshall Cty. Bd. of
Educ. v. Marshall Cty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174
(11th Cir. 1993).