United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division
JOYCE A. PETTIFORD, Plaintiff,
DIVERSIFIED ENTERPRISES OF SOUTH GEORGIA, INC., Defendants.
LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE.
Joyce Pettiford, a former employee of Defendant Diversified
Enterprises of South Georgia, Inc., filed this lawsuit
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII), alleging
that Defendant discriminated against her based on her race.
Plaintiff further claims that Defendant discriminated against
her based on her age in violation of the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 (ADEA). Now
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings (Doc. 7). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.
an African-American female, was employed by Defendant from
2012 until she was terminated on April 7, 2016. (Doc. 1,
¶ 4). Plaintiff was sixty (60) years old at the time of
her termination. (Id. at ¶ 5). After Plaintiff
was terminated, Defendant replaced her with a Caucasian woman
who was at least twenty years younger than Plaintiff.
(Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff alleges that she was
illegitimately terminated and that Defendant's actions
were “designed to cause her emotional injury and
damages.” (Id. at ¶). Plaintiff maintains
that Defendant's actions are violations of Title VII and
the ADEA. (Id. at ¶ 9).
first reported the alleged discrimination by filling out an
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Intake Questionnaire
that she submitted to the Georgia Commission on Equal
Opportunity on May 26, 2016. (Doc. 9-2, p. 4). On the
questionnaire form, Plaintiff checked the boxes for sex and
age discrimination for her response to question four, which
asked “[w]hat is the reason (basis) for your claim of
employment discrimination?” (Doc. 9-2, p. 5). The
Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity then transmitted
Plaintiff's claim to the EEOC on June 1, 2016. (Doc. 9-2,
p. 8). Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination that was
received by the EEOC on October 5, 2016. (Doc. 7-2, p. 2). In
the charge, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated
against her based on her age and sex when Defendant
terminated her for alleged sexual harassment after a
co-worker discussed a homosexual encounter with Plaintiff
(Id.). The EEOC issued a Notice of Suit Rights to
Plaintiff on April 10, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff filed
this lawsuit on July 6, 2018. On August 15, 2018, Defendant
filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. (Doc. 7).
motion for judgment on the pleadings is properly filed
“[a]fter the pleadings are closed[, ] but early enough
not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c).
“Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there
are no material facts in dispute, and judgment may be
rendered by considering the substance of the pleadings and
any judicially noticed facts.” Hawthorne v. Mac
Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998)
(internal citations omitted); Cunningham v. Dist.
Att'y's Office for Escambia Cty., 592 F.3d 1237,
1255 (11th Cir. 2010). In deciding a motion for judgment on
the pleadings, the facts in the complaint are accepted as
true and viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Id. The court may consider documents attached
to the pleadings. Horsely v. Feldt, 304 F.3d 1125,
1134 (11th Cir. 2002).
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is governed by the
same standards as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
Strategic Income Fund, LLC v. Spear, Leeds & Kellog
Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 n.8 (11th Cir. 2002)
(explaining that the standard for either a Rule 12(b)(6) or
Rule 12(c) motion is “whether the count state[s] a
claim for relief”). The complaint must contain
sufficient factual information to state a claim for relief
that is “plausible on its face.” Wooten v.
Quicken Loans, Inc., 626 F.3d 1187, 1196 (11th Cir.
2010). When the plaintiff provides enough “factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged, ” the complaint is “plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “Labels and conclusions” and a
“formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient to raise a right to belief
above the “speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
Consideration of Documents Outside the Pleadings
addressing the merits of Defendant's motion, the Court
must first determine whether consideration of documents
outside the pleadings, namely Plaintiff's intake
questionnaire and self-serving affidavit, requires conversion
of the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.
The Court finds that it does not.
matters outside the pleadings are not typically considered on
a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court may
consider an extrinsic document if (1) it is central to the
plaintiff's claim, and (2) its authenticity is not
challenged. See Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health &
Human Servs. Ctrs. for Disease Control & Prevention,
623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010). Courts routinely
consider a plaintiff's EEOC charge and intake
questionnaire to resolve the question of whether a plaintiff
has exhausted administrative remedies without converting a
motion to dismiss or motion for judgment on the pleadings to
a motion for summary judgment. See Chesnut v. Ethan Allen
Retail, Inc., 971 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1228 (N.D.Ga. Sept.
20, 2013); Adaway v. Atwater, 2014 WL 1882333 (M.D.
Ga. May 12, 2014); Nixon v. United Parcel Serv.,
Inc., 2013 WL 6815719 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 24, 2013).
there seems to be no dispute between the parties that
Plaintiff's charge of discrimination may be considered by
the Court without converting the present motion to a motion
for summary judgment. However, Defendant opposes the
consideration of Plaintiff's intake questionnaire and
self-serving affidavit attached to Plaintiff's brief in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings. (Doc. 12, p. 4). Because the intake questionnaire
is central to the Plaintiff's claim that she timely filed
a charge of discrimination, and because neither party
disputes the authenticity of the questionnaire or the date on
which it was filed, the Court will consider the document in
ruling on Defendant's Motion without converting it to a
motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's affidavit,
however, is not central to the Plaintiff's claims. The
Court will not consider Plaintiff's affidavit in ruling
on Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
See Quach v. Paragon Sys., Inc., 2015 WL 13719674
(N.D.Ga. Oct. 28, 2015) (declining to consider
plaintiff's self-serving affidavit attached to
plaintiff's response in ruling on defendant's motion