Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rhodes v. Hancock County

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

December 10, 2018

ROBIN RHODES, Plaintiff,
v.
HANCOCK COUNTY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE

         Defendant Hancock County[1] has moved to dismiss three of Plaintiff Robin Rhodes' claims against it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2] Doc. 21. For the following reasons, that motion (Doc. 26) is GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS[3]

         Rhodes, an African American with lupus, [4] 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.

         In 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.[5]Id. ¶ 16. Around that time, Nancy Stephens, [6] 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, [7] who 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.

         Rhodes 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.

         The 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. 20.

         In 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.

         Rhodes 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.

         Rhodes 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.

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

         The 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).

         However, “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).

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.