United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO
STATE A CLAIM
E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Toyia Vinson and Trisha Jan Brown are both African-American
employees of the Macon-Bibb County Tax Commissioner's
Office. In their Complaint, they assert employment
discrimination claims based on race and retaliation against
the Macon-Bibb County Tax Commissioner's Office, current
Tax Commissioner and former Assistant Tax Commissioner S.
Wade McCord, and former Tax Commissioner Thomas Tedders under
42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII. After filing their Answer
and Amended Answer [Docs. 9, 11], Defendants filed a Partial
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Doc. 10].
facts of this case are simple, and unless otherwise noted,
are taken from Plaintiffs' Complaint and assumed to be
true for the purposes for ruling on Defendants'
motion. Plaintiff Vinson began her employment with
the Macon-Bibb County Tax Commissioner's Office as a Tax
Office Clerk Trainee on January 16, 1993, while Plaintiff
Brown, however, began her employment as a Tax Clerk Trainee
on October 16, 2000. [Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 11-12]. Both
Plaintiff Vinson and Plaintiff Brown currently hold the
position titles of “Accounting Clerk III.”
[Id. at ¶ 13]. In 2014, Tedders posted a hiring
notice for the Staff Accountant position. [Id. at
¶ 14]. However, Tedders hired Thelma Bass, a white
woman, for the position. [Id. at ¶ 16]. Because
Tedders hired Bass, Plaintiffs claim that the tax
commissioners, throughout their respective tenures,
discriminated against them “by passing over them for a
promotion, paying them less than their white [counterparts]
for the same work, and discriminately denying them equal pay
raises” and also “retaliat[ing] against [them] by
changing their job duties” after they “complained
to [McCord] about the discrimination.” [Id. at
Court's succinct factual background encompasses the
global issues concerning the partial dismissal motion
currently before it. Undoubtedly, there are several
additional facts that may be relevant to Plaintiffs'
claims in any forthcoming motion for summary judgment.
However, given the nature of the issues presented in the
current motion, issues involving the specific facts related
to the job posting from the Tax Commissioner's Office,
the job duties themselves, and Bass's
qualifications-which seem to be the crux of Plaintiffs'
claims-are, at this time, irrelevant. For purposes of this
motion, Plaintiffs have undoubtedly alleged race-centered
employment discrimination claims based on failure to promote,
unequal pay, discriminatory pay raises, and retaliation.
However, the narrow question before the Court on this motion
is who can be held liable for those claims and in what
Standard of Review
seek to dismiss certain claims against them for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When ruling
on a 12(b)(6) motion, district courts must accept the facts
set forth in the complaint as true. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572 (2007). A complaint survives
a motion to dismiss only if it alleges sufficient factual
matter (accepted as true) that states a claim for relief that
is plausible on its face. McCullough v. Finley, 907
F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). In fact, a
well-pled complaint “may proceed even if it strikes a
savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable,
and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (citations omitted).
issue to be decided when considering a motion to dismiss is
not whether the claimant will ultimately prevail, but
“whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to
support the claims.” Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416
U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis
v. Scheuer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984). Stated differently, the
complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” supporting a claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556. “Accordingly, the court may dismiss a
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) when, on the basis of a dispositive issue of law, no
construction of the factual allegations will support the
cause of action.” Marshall Cnty. Bd. of Educ. v.
Marshall Cnty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir.
1993). With the foregoing standard in mind, and taking the
facts asserted in Plaintiffs' Complaint regarding claims
of employment discrimination based on race and retaliation as
true, the Court rules on Defendants' Partial Motion to
Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss [Doc.
most general sense, the motion before the Court seeks
dismissal of all claims asserted against Macon-Bibb County
and Tedders. [Doc. 10-1 at p. 1]. McCord, however, only seeks
dismissal of claims asserted against him in his individual
capacity. [Id.]; see also n.7,
Plaintiffs' Claims Against Macon-Bibb County
preliminary matter, the Court dismisses all claims asserted
against Macon-Bibb County. Under Georgia law, it is
well-established that employees of constitutionally elected
officers of a county are considered employees of the elected
officer, not employees of the county. Boswell v.
Bramlett, 549 S.E.2d 100, 102 (Ga. 2001). To explain its
reasoning in Boswell, the Georgia Supreme Court
cited a case from 1979, holding that “a person employed
by the Tax Commissioner of Polk County (a constitutionally
elected officer of the county) was an employee of the tax
commissioner and was therefore not subject to work
regulations established by the county governing authority for
all employees paid from county funds.” Id.
(citing Mobley v. Polk Cnty., 251 S.E.2d 538, 541
the Georgia Constitution “distinguishes between county
employees and employees of elected officials.”
Id. For example, “Article IX, Sec. I, Par. IV,
which preserves the distinction between county employees and
the employees of elected officials, provides that the General
Assembly may authorize the establishment of civil service
systems by county governments ‘covering county
employees or county employees and employees of elected
county officials.'” Id. (emphasis
added) (quoting Gwinnett Cnty. v. Yates, 458 S.E.2d
791 (Ga. 1995)). Furthermore, the Georgia Constitution also
“limits the power of the county governing authority
such that it cannot take action ‘affecting any elective
county office . . . .'” Channell v.
Houston, 699 S.E.2d 308, 311-12 (Ga. 2010) (quoting Ga.
Const. of 1983 art. IX, § II, ¶ I(c)(1)). Because a
county does not control elective officers and their offices,
Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to identify any factual or
legal basis for any relief whatsoever against Macon-Bibb
County. Thus, the Court DISMISSES all of
Plaintiffs' claims asserted against it. Further, the
Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to
TERMINATE Macon-Bibb County (or as named in
Plaintiffs' Complaint: Macon-Bibb County Tax
Commissioner's Office) as a party to this lawsuit.
See [Doc. 1 at ¶ 1].
Plaintiffs' Title VII Claims Against Defendants
McCord and Tedders
dismissed Macon-Bibb County as a party to this lawsuit, the
Court next addresses Plaintiffs' conceded claims.
Plaintiffs withdrew their Title VII claims brought against
Defendants McCord and Tedders in their individual capacities.
See Busby v. City of Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 772
(11th Cir. 1991) (“Individual capacity suits under
Title VII are . . . inappropriate. The relief granted under
Title VII is against the employer, not individual employees
whose actions would constitute a violation of the
Act.”); see also [Doc. 15 at p. 6, n.2].
Additionally, Plaintiffs, in their Response to
Defendants' motion, admit that their failure-to-promote
claims brought under Title VII are time-barred for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies through the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ...