holding that ADEA prohibits individual liabilitySummary of this case from Wright v. State
Civil No. 03-685 (JBS).
March 28, 2005
Allen S. Zeller, Esq., ZELLER BRYANT, LLP, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Attorney for Plaintiff.
Angelo Joseph Genova, Esq., Thomas M. Toman, Jr., Esq., GENOVA, BURNS VERNOIA, Livingston, New Jersey, Attorneys for Defendants Camden City Board of Education and Annette D. Knox.
Plaintiff, Wilma J. Farmer, brought suit against the Camden City Board of Education ("Camden Board" or "Board") and its Superintendent, Annette D. Knox, charging them with age discrimination in violation of both federal and state law. Defendants subsequently moved for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the Complaint. For the reasons expressed below, the motion will be granted in its entirety.
Approximately 52 years ago, upon graduation from college, Plaintiff was hired by the Camden City Board of Education ("Camden Board" or "Board") as a third grade elementary school teacher. (Farmer Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. A at 7:18-25.) In 1986, Plaintiff was promoted to Director of Elementary Education. (Id. at 10:1-3.) She served in that capacity until 1999, at which time she was named Acting Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Administration by the then Interim Superintendent. (Id. at 14:3-8.) In 2000, Plaintiff secured a position as the Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Support Services. (Id. at 15:3-13.) Plaintiff was holding that position at the time Defendant Annette D. Knox became the Superintendent of the Camden City School District in January, 2001. (Id. at 18:1-8.)
As one of her first orders of business as Superintendent, Defendant Knox requested the resignation of every administrative employee with the exception of the assistant superintendents, of which Plaintiff was one. (2/26/04 Knox Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. C at 74-75; 79:16-23.) At the time, the number of administrative staff totaled more than 200 employees. (Id. at 76:8-10.) In a meeting with Plaintiff, Defendant Knox stated that by requesting the resignations she merely sought to determine "how many positions were not needed at the central office." (2/26/04 Knox Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. C at 80.)
Meanwhile, the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction became vacant. On January 31, 2001, Plaintiff sent a letter to Ms. Knox requesting that she be appointed to that position. (Pl. Ex. G.) By letter dated February 5, 2001, Defendant Knox responded to Plaintiff's written request. The letter stated:
Dear Dr. Farmer:
This letter is written in response to your request for a transfer to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
I am aware of your many years of dedicated service to the Camden City Public Schools in the area of curriculum and instruction. Please know that I have great respect for all that you have done for the district and its students during your tenure; however, I am interested in moving in a direction which requires a long term commitment to the district beyond my contractual obligations of 3.5 years.
Thank you for your interest in this position. Hopefully the district can count on you to continue the work you are currently engaged in as the Assistant Superintendent for Administrative and Support Services.
Annette D. Knox, Superintendent of Schools
(Pl. Ex. H.) Defendant Knox claims that it was her understanding at the time she sent the letter that Plaintiff was planning on retiring within a year of the date the letter was sent. (2/26/04 Knox Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. C at 135:1-6.) Meanwhile, Phillip Freeman, then President of the Board, had a discussion with Defendant Knox regarding Plaintiff. During that conversation, Defendant Knox allegedly told Mr. Freeman that Plaintiff "had been around for a long time, too long." (2/18/04 Freeman Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. B at 31:11-16.) On February 12, 2001, Defendant Knox sent a letter to Plaintiff reprimanding her for allegedly having rescheduled Parent/Teacher Report Card Conferences without her authorization. (Def. Ex. P.) The letter stated:
On January 26, 2001 a memorandum addressed to "All Principals" was sent by Mr. Horace Gibson, Supervisor of Guidance and Testing, rescheduling the Parent Conference date. (Def. Ex. O.) Plaintiff admits playing a role in the decision to circulate the memorandum.
Dear Dr. Farmer:
Today, while visiting a school I was informed that schools were being dismissed early for Parent/Teacher Report Card Conferences.
This meeting was originally scheduled for Monday, February 5, 2001. You asked me to reschedule this for February 12, 2001. I informed you at that time, standing in front of Ms. Hammond's desk that I would not change the date as I want the district to begin meeting deadlines as scheduled.
It is obvious that you in collusion with Mr. Horace Gibson, without consulting me, changed the date. This is the highest level of insubordination. Additionally, all Central Office staff were informed that memorandums to principals were required to be sent only through my office to control the flow of information to schools.
This act of insubordination which has impacted on our entire system was done without regard for the superintendent's directive and as a result I have no faith in your commitment to work for the good of this district.
Annette D. Knox Superintendent
On February 13, 2001, the Board publicly announced an opening for the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. (Def. Exs. I, J.) The notice listed the requisite qualifications: (1) a minimum of a Master's Degree; (2) a valid New Jersey School Administrator's Certificate; (3) a minimum of five years administrative experience in public/private education setting at the Principal's level or higher; (4) demonstrated expertise in managing diverse educational programs; and (5) criminal background check and proof of U.S. citizenship. (Id.) It is undisputed that Ms. Farmer possessed all of these qualifications.
On February 20, 2001, the Camden City Federation of School Administrators AFL-CIO Local #39 conducted a "Liaison Committee Meeting with Annette D. Knox, Superintendent." At that meeting, Defendant Knox apparently stated that Plaintiff would be exonerated from blame for the January 26, 2001 memorandum if she took full responsibility for that incident. (Compl. ¶ 16(a); Def. Ex. Q.)
On June 6, 2001, Defendant Knox sent to Plaintiff another letter reprimanding her for an act of "insubordination." (Def. Ex. R.) Specifically, Defendant Knox accused Plaintiff of sending a memorandum regarding changes to the final examination schedule without having first consulted her. In that letter Defendant Knox additionally re-emphasized that all communications to principals were to be sent under cover of her signature.
Later that month, on Monday, June 18, 2001, the interview committee interviewed four applicants, including Plaintiff, for the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Charles A. Highsmith received the highest score, and Plaintiff had the second highest point total. By letter dated the same day as Plaintiff's interview, Plaintiff's counsel made a
Defendant Knox was not a member of the interview committee.
The highest possible score was 200. Mr. Highsmith scored a 179; Plaintiff scored a 155; the two remaining candidates scored a 145 and 142.
formal demand that you provide, in writing, a written retraction of your letter of June 6, 2001 and that you issue a formal apology to Dr. Farmer. Please be further advised that if the written retraction and formal apology is [sic] not received on or before June 22, 2001 your failure to do so will be interpreted as a knowing disregard of Dr. Farmer's employment and contractual rights. This failure on your part will also be interpreted as further evidence of your ongoing discriminatory, threatening and harassing conduct and treatment of Dr. Farmer over the past several months.
(Def. Ex. S.)
Meanwhile, Defendant Knox had sent a letter to Plaintiff, also dated June 18, 2001, informing Plaintiff that the Board would be considering "action which will impact upon your employment status with the Camden Board of Education." (Def. Ex. T.) Meetings were scheduled for June 21, 2001 and June 25, 2001, to discuss this matter as well as other personnel decisions involving no fewer than twelve other employees. (Def. Ex. U.) On June 22, 2001, prior to the Board's determination, Plaintiff signed a Petition for Contested Transfer and filed it with the Public Employment Relations Commission ("PERC"). Following the June 25, 2001 Board meeting, Plaintiff was transferred to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Plaintiff's pay remained unchanged.
On June 30, 2003, the PREC dismissed the petition because Plaintiff's work site had not yet been changed.
On June 26, 2001, Plaintiff filed an age discrimination claim with the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Civil Rights. Plaintiff subsequently withdrew that complaint and proceeded in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Following those events, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants continued discriminating against her. Specifically, on January 23, 2002, Plaintiff claims Defendant Knox wrongly accused her of missing a deadline for a submission of an evaluation statement. (Compl. ¶ 20.) Moreover, Plaintiff maintains that on several occasions Defendant Knox either refused to meet with her or abruptly cancelled meetings with Plaintiff after keeping Plaintiff waiting for over an hour. (Id. at ¶¶ 21, 22.)
On April 12, 2002, Mr. Highsmith tendered his resignation, effective June 30, 2002.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate when the materials of record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable rule of law. Id. Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment. Id.
In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact, the court must view the evidence in favor of the non-moving party by extending any reasonable favorable inference to that party; in other words, "the nonmoving party's evidence `is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [that party's] favor.'" Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999) (quotingLiberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255). The threshold inquiry is whether there are "any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 250; Brewer v. Quaker State Oil Refining Corp., 72 F.3d 326, 329-30 (3d Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff has brought age discrimination claims against the Camden Board and Defendant Knox under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. For the reasons now explained, Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed in its entirety.
29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1) states, in pertinent part:
It shall be unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age. . . .
N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 states:
It shall be an unlawful employment practice, or, as the case may be, an unlawful discrimination:
a. For an employer, because of the . . . age . . . of any individual, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge or require to retire, unless justified by lawful considerations other than age, from employment such individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. . . .
A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Defendants initially claim that they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and, therefore, that the Complaint must be dismissed. The Eleventh Amendment grants states immunity from suits in federal court which are brought by its citizens, or by citizens of another state. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 (1890); see also Pennhurst State School Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Even if the state is not a named party to the action, "as long as the state is the real party in interest," the suit will be barred under the Eleventh Amendment. Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974). The Third Circuit has articulated the factors which courts must consider in making an immunity determination under the Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1) the source of the funding — i.e., whether payment of any judgment would come from the state's treasury; (2) the status of the agency/individual under state law; and (3) the degree of autonomy from state regulation. Carter v. City of Philadelphia, 181 F.3d 339, 347 (3d Cir. 1999).
Here, though the State has not been named as a defendant, Defendant Camden City Board of Education argues that it is an arm of the State of New Jersey for Eleventh Amendment purposes. (Def. Br. at 9.) This Court agrees. In Camden County Recovery Coalition v. Camden City Bd. of Educ., 262 F. Supp. 2d 446 (D.N.J. 2003), the court reached the same conclusion. There, the plaintiffs brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against multiple defendants including the same two defendants here, the Camden Board and Ms. Knox. The court initially noted that even though "[g]enerally school boards are not considered to be state agencies and are therefore not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity . . . [i]n this matter, there are some differences in the way in which the Camden School Board is financed and run that force this Court to determine whether it should be considered to be an arm of the state of New Jersey." Id. at 448-49 (internal citations omitted). In answering that question affirmatively, the court relied on the following facts particular to the Camden Board:
The vast majority of the funding for Camden city schools comes from the State of New Jersey. The tax base in the City of Camden is extremely low and simply cannot support the School Board's budget. Depending on the school year, 85% to 90% of the School Board's funding usually comes from state sources, with a 2003/2004 school year level of 86% state funding. Less than 3% of the School Board's budget is from city sources. There is no question that the vast majority of the School Board's budget is from state sources and that any judgment against the School Board will lead to the direct expenditure of state funds in order to comply with such a judgment.Id. at 449.
Moreover, the court recognized that although the Board is incorporated separately from the State of New Jersey and, thus, can sue or be sued (factors that imply it is not an arm of the state), it is subject to the Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27BBB-1 et seq., which gives the Commissioner of Education the right to subject any school district, already being monitored under a separate statutory provision, to additional controls. Camden County Recovery Coalition, 262 F. Supp. 2d at 449-50. Finally, the court relied on the fact that three of the nine members of the Board are directly appointed by the Governor of New Jersey and that, significantly, the Governor has an unconditional veto over any action taken by the Board. N.J.S.A. 52:27BBB-63(h). "In essence, under the terms of the statute, the School Board cannot make any decisions without the approval of the Governor." Camden County Recovery Coalition, 262 F. Supp. 2d at 450.
Relying on the above facts, the court held that the Camden Board satisfied the three-part Carter test: "[b]ecause the vast majority of the School Board's funding comes from the State of New Jersey, and its autonomy is severely limited by the Governor's right to appoint three board members and to veto board actions, this Court finds that the Camden City School Board is an arm of the state for Eleventh Amendment purposes." Id.
Though not conceding that the court's conclusion in Camden County Recovery Coalition should be extended to this case, Plaintiff here does not offer substantive argument in opposition. Instead, she argues that Defendants have waived their immunity by voluntarily removing this action to this Court. This Court agrees.
In Lapides v. Board of Regents of the Universoty System of Georgia, 535 U.S. 613, 616 (2002), the issue before the Court was "whether the State's act of removing a lawsuit from state court to federal court waives [Eleventh Amendment] immunity." Indeed, the petition for certiorari which the Court granted framed the issue as whether "a state waive[s] its Eleventh Amendment immunity by its affirmative litigation conduct when it removes a case to federal court. . . ." Id. (citing Pet. for Cert. (i)).
In Lapides, the plaintiff, a professor employed by the Georgia state university system, brought a lawsuit in a Georgia state court against the Board of regents of the University System of Georgia and university officials in their official and individual capacities alleging violations of both state and federal law. The state there conceded that a state statute had waived sovereign immunity from state-law suits in state court. Moreover, the plaintiff's only federal claim against the state arose under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and sought money damages. UnderWill v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989), though, such a claim is not valid. Thus, the Court was required to "limit [its] answer to the context of state-law claims, in respect to which the State has explicitly waived immunity from state court proceedings." Id. at 617. In other words, the Court recognized that it only "possess[ed] the legal power to answer the question as limited to the state-law context just described."Id. at 618.
The Court's analysis, and its relevance here, however, is not so limited. Indeed, in holding that a State waives Eleventh Amendment immunity when it removes a case from state to federal court, the Court focused on the "anomalous" or "inconsistent" results that could follow from allowing a state both:
(1) to invoke federal jurisdiction, thereby contending that the "Judicial power of the United States" extends to the case at hand, and (2) to claim Eleventh Amendment immunity, thereby denying that the "Judicial power of the United States" extends to the case at hand." And a Constitution that permitted States to follow their litigation interests by freely asserting both claims in the same case could generate seriously unfair results.Id. at 619. Moreover, the Court noted that it is well-settled "that a State's voluntary appearance in federal court amount[s] to a waiver of its Eleventh Amendment immunity." Id. (citingClark v. Barnard, 108 U.S. 436, 447 (1883)).
Defendants here seek to obtain the exact result which the Court in Lapides ruled to be impermissible. Indeed, in filing its notice of removal, Defendants concede that "[b]ecause this action arises under federal law, it is one over which the United States District Court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441." (Notice of Removal ¶ 4 (emphasis added).) To be sure, other Courts have construed Lapides as being limited to instances where the state has expressly waived its sovereign immunity in state court. See, e.g., Alston v. North Carolina A T State University, 304 F. Supp. 2d 774 (M.D.N.C. 2004);cf. Rhode Island Dep't of Environmental Mgmt. v. United States, 104 F.3d 31, 50 (1st Cir. 2002) (holding State did not waive Eleventh Amendment immunity by bringing suit in federal district court "for the sole and exclusive purpose of obtaining an immunity determination for the underlying whistleblower claims that remained pending before the administrative agency"). InAlston, for example, the plaintiff brought a sexual harassment suit against North Carolina A T State University ("NC AT") and three university employees under federal and state law. The plaintiff filed her complaint in state court, and the defendants removed the action to federal court. Relying on Lapides, the court there held that "because North Carolina has not expressly waived its sovereign immunity in state court against [plaintiff's] claims, the Lapides decision does not compel a finding that NC AT has waived its immunity through removal to federal court." Id. at 783.
This Court is not convinced that Lapides, though not compelling a finding of waiver here, is so limited so as to preclude that result. For if it were, this case would be fraught with the very inconsistencies Lapides tried to eliminate. Thus, this Court concludes that the holding in Lapides should be extended to the facts of this case. The Third Circuit reached a similar conclusion in Fidtler v. PA Dep't of Corrections, No. 01-3994, 55 Fed. Appx. 33, (3d Cir. Nov. 25, 2002) (unpublished opinion). There, the plaintiff brought a civil rights action in the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania alleging only federal claims. The defendants removed the case to federal district court which dismissed the plaintiff's claims as barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Rejecting that holding, the Third Circuit held that "[u]nder Lapides . . . the dismissal of the claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds cannot stand."
The court ultimately affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's action by the district court on the merits.
The rule articulated by the Supreme Court in Lapides "is a clear one." Lapides, 535 U.S. at 624. "It says that removal is a form of voluntary invocation of a federal court's jurisdiction sufficient to waive the State's otherwise valid objection to litigation of a matter . . . in a federal forum." Id. at 625. For the reasons stated above, that rule applies with full force here. This Court holds that Defendants waived their Eleventh Amendment immunity when they voluntarily removed this case to this Court and invoked this Court's original jurisdiction.
B. The ADEA is the Exclusive Federal Remedy for Age Discrimination Claims
In addition to her state law cause of action, Plaintiff claims age discrimination under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. Because the ADEA provides the exclusive federal remedy for age discrimination claims, however, Plaintiff's section 1983 claim must be dismissed.
Neither the United States Supreme Court nor the Third Circuit has addressed the issue of whether a state employee may properly bring an equal protection claim for age discrimination independent of an ADEA claim. See Barlieb v. Kutztown University of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Educ., 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25178, at *11 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 1, 2003). Several circuit courts have decided this very issue, though, and have held that age discrimination claims brought under § 1983 are preempted by the ADEA.
In Zombro v. Baltimore City Police Dep't, 868 F.2d 1364 (4th Cir. 1989), the plaintiff filed an action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 claiming that he was subject to age discrimination in connection with his transfer to a different departmental division in violation of his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The overriding question presented by [that] case [was] whether the availability and detailed procedures of the ADEA foreclose a private action brought under § 1983 to enforce substantive rights specifically addressed and protected by the ADEA. May the Plaintiff, in other words, cavalierly bypass the comprehensive process fashioned by Congress in the ADEA by merely asserting a violation of a constitutional right rather than the statutory right?Id. at 1367. In answering the first question in the affirmative, the court first outlined the specifics of the "comprehensive statutory scheme" provided by Congress in the ADEA. Id. at 1366. The court then held that
[i]f a violation of substantive rights under the ADEA could be asserted by way of a § 1983 action, the aggrieved party could avoid these specific provisions of the law. The plaintiff would have direct and immediate access to the federal courts, the comprehensive administrative process would be bypassed, and the goal of compliance through mediation would be discarded. The purposes and structure of the ADEA are inconsistent with the notion that the remedies it affords could be supplanted by alternative judicial relief. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing is that if 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is available to the ADEA litigant, the congressional scheme behind ADEA enforcement could easily be undermined, if not destroyed.Id. at 1367-68 (citing Middlesex County Sewerage Auth. v. Nat'l Sea Clammers, 453 U.S. 1, 20 (1981) ("[W]hen [the state] is alleged to have violated a federal statute which provides its own comprehensive enforcement scheme, the requirements of that enforcement procedure may not be bypassed by bringing suit directly under § 1983.")).
Contrary to Plaintiff's contention here, the holding inZombro was not limited to cases where the plaintiff brought a claim solely under § 1983. In rejecting that distinction, the court in Zombro noted that it
is not unaware that the case at bar can be distinguished from many of the cases cited above insofar as the § 1983 claim sub judice is predicated on an alleged constitutional violation only and does not rest in part or in whole on alleged violations of substantive rights under the ADEA or some other comprehensive statutory scheme. Nevertheless, the general policy of precluding § 1983 suits, where Congress has enacted a comprehensive statute specifically designed to redress grievances alleged by the plaintiff, as applicable in instances such as the case at bar as cases where a constitutional claim is attached to a statutory claim brought under § 1983.Id. at 1368-69. To resolve any doubt, in Migneault v. Peck, 158 F.3d 1131 (10th Cir. 1998), the court reached an identical conclusion where the plaintiff had, in fact, asserted claims under both § 1983 and the ADEA. Thus, Plaintiff's attempt to distinguish the instant case from Zombro is unavailing. See also Lafleur v. Texas Dep't of Health, 126 F.3d 758, 760 (5th Cir. 1997) (holding § 1983 age discrimination claim preempted by the ADEA where plaintiff did not allege facts independently supporting a § 1983 claim); Barlieb, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25178, at *13-14 (relying on Zombro, Lafleur and Migneault in holding that "at the very least, the ADEA preempts other judicial remedies for age discrimination in employment and, as such, Plaintiffs must first seek administrative remedies provided for by the ADEA and through the EEOC before filing a private action with this Court").
Finally, the Third Circuit has held that within the context of federal employment, the ADEA preempts other judicial remedies based directly on the Constitution for claims of age discrimination. Purtill v. Harris, 658 F.2d 134, 137 (3d Cir. 1981). In Purtill, a federal employee filed an action in federal district court seeking relief under the Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986, see Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), as well as the AEDA. The court held "that Congress intended section 15 of the ADEA to preempt Bivens remedies arising out of age discrimination claims by federal employees. . . ." Purtill, 658 F.2d at 137. This Court believes that the Third Circuit's reasoning in Purtill should not be limited to the context there presented and, thus, will be extended to the instant case.
The court there also held that a "plaintiff bringing an action under section 15 of the ADEA must exhaust the administrative remedies he has chosen to pursue before filing suit." Purtill, 658 F.2d at 135. Purtill was handed down, however, before the statute's implementing regulations were amended, obviating the exhaustion requirement under the ADEA.See 19 C.F.R. § 1614.408; see Aladjem v. Cuomo, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17288, at *5-7 (E.D.Pa. Oct. 29, 1997). That this revision superseded Purtill as to the exhaustion issue, though, does not affect the validity of the court's determination on the preemption question presented here.
To be sure, a number of district courts around the country have reached a different conclusion. See Mustafa v. Nebraska Dep't of Correctional Services, 196 F. Supp. 2d 945 (D. Neb. 2002) (citing cases). In Mustafa, for example, the court held that "section 1983 claims asserting an independent constitutional claim for age discrimination are not impliedly repealed by the ADEA." Id. at 955; see also Mummelthie v. City of Mason, 873 F. Supp. 1293 (N.D. Iowa 1995) (holding a plaintiff may pursue "either the ADEA or § 1983 remedy or both" as long as the facts establish a violation of an independent constitutional or federal statutory right). Additionally, the First Circuit has expressed its doubts about whether "Congress, in passing the ADEA and the amendments to it, intended the comprehensive statutory scheme to preempt Section 1983 remedies for whatever constitutional violation may be implicated by age discrimination." Izquierdo v. Rosa, 894 F.2d 467, 470 (1st Cir. 1990). Regardless, though, as Plaintiff here has not offered an independent constitutional claim for age discrimination, the outcome remains the same.
The court there, however, did not reach the preemption issue in light of the plaintiff's failure to establish any independent violation of her rights under the Constitution.
In light of the consistency between Purtill and the several other decisions discussed above, this Court deems it appropriate to defer to the "prudential policy that where Congress has provided a comprehensive remedial framework, such as the ADEA, a plaintiff is not relieved of the obligation to follow that remedial procedure by claiming that state action violative of the statutory scheme also violates the Fourteenth Amendment. . . ."Zombro, 858 F.2d at 1368. Plaintiff's § 1983 claims will be dismissed.
C. Individual Defendants Are Not Liable Under the ADEA
Plaintiff offers no opposition to this argument.
Though the Third Circuit has not expressly addressed the issue of individual liability under the ADEA, several of its sister courts as well as district courts in this Circuit have held that there is no individual liability under the ADEA. See Wathen v. General Elec. Co., 115 F.3d 400, 405 (6th Cir. 1997);Smith v. Lomax, 45 F.3d 402, 403-04 n. 4 (11th 1995);Birkbeck v. Marvel Lighting Corp., 30 F.3d 507, 510 (4th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 574 (1994); Miller v. Maxwell's Int'l Corp., 991 F.2d 583, 587-88 (9th Cir. 1993),cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 1049 (1993); Braithwaite v. Accupac, Inc., 2002 U.S. Dict. LEXIS 25044, at *12 (E.D.Pa. 2002); Kohn v. ATT Corp., 58 F. Supp. 2d 393 (D.N.J. 1999).
"Individual liability" refers to the liability of individuals who do not otherwise meet the statutory definition of "employer." The ADEA defines "employer" to be "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has twenty or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current preceding calendar year." 29 U.S.C. § 630(b).
Moreover, the Courts of Appeals, including the Third Circuit, have interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII as prohibiting individual liability. See Tomka v. Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1313 (2d Cir. 1995) (holding no individual liability under Title VII); Gary v. Long, 59 F.3d 1391, 1399 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (same); Grant v. Lone Star Co., 21 F.3d 649, 653 (5th Cir. 1994) (same). That those courts, like our Court of Appeals, routinely apply case law under the ADEA, ADA and Title VII interchangeably, see Walton v. Mental Health Ass'n of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 168 F.3d 661, 666 (3d Cir. 1999), further supports the Court's determination here.
D. ADEA and NJLAD Claims Against the Camden Board
Plaintiff's remaining claims are brought against the Board under the NJLAD and the ADEA. Because those statutes utilize the same analytical framework, they will be discussed together.Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 341 (3d Cir. 1990).
First, the plaintiff has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of discrimination. Second, if the plaintiff succeeds in proving the prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to articulate some legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection. Third, should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must then have the opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not its true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination.Turner, 901 F.2d at 341 (citing Texas Dept. Of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53 (1981)).
In the absence of direct evidence, a plaintiff may establish a prima facie case of discrimination by showing that: (1) she is a member of a protected class — that she is at least 40 years old; (2) she has performed her job satisfactorily; (3) she suffered materially adverse employment action; and (4) the employer took such action because of the plaintiff's age. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973); Narin v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 206 F.3d 323, 331 (3d Cir. 2000). If the plaintiff is able to make a showing as to each element, the employer must proffer a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the allegedly adverse employment action. The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant's proffered reasons are pretext for age discrimination. "An employee may defeat summary judgment by producing `evidence of inconsistencies and implausibilities in the employer's proffered reasons for discharge [which] reasonably could support an inference that the employer did not act for nondiscriminatory reasons. . . .'"Turner, 901 F.2d at 342 (quoting Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893, 900 (3d Cir. 1987)).
1. Plaintiff's Failure-to-Promote Claims
Plaintiff's claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination for failure to promote must be dismissed. The relevant provision of the NJLAD proscribes employers from engaging in an "unlawful employment practice" or "unlawful discrimination," "provided . . . that nothing herein contained shall be construed to bar an employer from refusing to accept for employment or to promote any person over 70 years of age. . . ." N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 (emphasis added). Defendants rely on the quoted language for their assertion that the NJLAD expressly excepts from its coverage Plaintiff's failure to promote claim. Specifically, Plaintiff "was 71 years old when the events" giving rise to this cause of action occurred. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff, on the other hand, argues that the NJLAD evinces an "overall intent" to "protect the citizens of this State from age discrimination" and, thus, that Plaintiff's NJLAD claim for failure to promote should not be dismissed. (Pl. Br. at 28.)
In Catalane v. Gilian Instrument Corp., 638 A.2d 1341 (N.J.Super. App. Div. 1994), the plaintiff was hired at age 71 and seven years later was discharged. The plaintiff filed a suit claiming age discrimination in violation of the NJLAD. The defendant there argued that N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 excepted all claims of age discrimination for plaintiffs above 70 years in age. In rejecting the defendant's position as "untenable," the appellate court relied on "[t]he overall intent of the LAD" — "to offer protection against discrimination because of age." Catalane, 638 A.2d at 1348.
Unlike Catalane, however, the issue here is not whether the NJLAD protects individuals over the age of 70 from termination but, rather, whether failure to promote an individual over the age of 70 is actionable under that statute. This difference is dispositive. Indeed, as the court in Catalane pointed out, the relevant exception in N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 "entitles an employer only to refuse to hire or promote a person over 70 years of age." Catalane, 638 A.2d at 1348. Because the plaintiff's employment there was terminated, the court properly held that the exception did not apply. This case, though, fits squarely within the exception. As stated in the Complaint, the conduct complained of involved Defendants' "rejection of Plaintiff's application for the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. . . ." (Compl. ¶ 16.) New Jersey law has not created protection for individuals over 70 years old who claim they were not promoted based on age, and this Court is constrained by the NJLAD. Accordingly, Plaintiff's NJLAD claim for failure to promote must be dismissed.
Plaintiff additionally cites examples of discriminatory conduct under the NJLAD which occurred after she was denied the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Those alleged incidents are not excepted by N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 but, for the reasons stated below, also are insufficient to support Plaintiff's age discrimination claim.
(b) Plaintiff's ADEA Claim for Failure to Promote
Plaintiff claims that she was not promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction on account of her age. This claim too must be dismissed.
As noted above, on January 31, 2001 Plaintiff wrote a letter to Defendant Knox requesting that she be promoted. By letter dated February 5, 2001, Defendant Knox declined that request. In doing so, Defendant Knox expressed her doubt as to whether Plaintiff would be able to make a commitment of greater than 3.5 years. Around the same time, Phillip Freeman, then President of the Board, had a discussion with Defendant Knox at which time Defendant Knox allegedly told Mr. Freeman that Plaintiff "had been around for a long time, too long." (2/18/04 Freeman Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. B at 31:11-16.) Based on these facts, Plaintiff is able to make out a prima facie case for age discrimination. Defendants, however, offer a nondiscriminatory reason for denying Plaintiff's promotion request. Specifically, they maintain that their decision not to promote was based not on Plaintiff's age but, rather, on the relative qualifications of the applicants. Indeed, the interview committee conducted four interviews. And, Mr. Highsmith received the highest total score of the four interviewees by a wide margin. Notably, Plaintiff received the second highest score. Moreover, Defendants contend that their original understanding was that Plaintiff intended to retire within a year and that her retirement, not her age, was what they believed would prevent her from making "a commitment of greater than 3.5 years." Indeed, at the time she wrote the letter, Defendant Knox claims that she was not aware of Plaintiff's age. (Id. at 137: 7-16.) Additionally, Defendant Knox maintains that she was informed of Plaintiff's intention to retire before the February 5, 2001 letter was sent. (Knox Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. C at 135: 14-25.) These proffered reasons are enough to satisfy Defendants' burden.
Defendants argue that the failure to promote Plaintiff was not an adverse employment action because she had not obtained tenure in the title of Assistant Superintendent. (Def. Br. at 33.) This proposition is doubtful. Indeed, it is well-settled that failure to promote is an adverse employment action sufficient to support a prima facie case for age discrimination.See Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 761 (1998). In any event, in light of the Court's holding that this claim must be dismissed on other grounds, this issue will not be discussed.
There is no dispute that Plaintiff possessed the minimum qualifications for this position. Rather, Defendants maintain that Mr. Highsmith, as evidenced by his interview score, was better qualified.
Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Highsmith did not possess the requisite New Jersey School Administrative Certificate and, thus, was improperly considered for and named to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. That fact, though, evidences a reason why Mr. Highsmith perhaps should not have been chosen for the position, not a reason why Plaintiff was not, in fact chosen. Accordingly, a consideration of that fact is not relevant to the question of whether considerations of age were determinative in the Board's hiring decisions.
Because Defendants have offered a nondiscriminatory reason for their decision to deny Plaintiff's promotion request, the burden shifts back to Plaintiff to demonstrate that Defendants' reasons are pretextual. The Third Circuit has recognized two ways in which a plaintiff can prove pretext. First, the plaintiff can present evidence that "casts sufficient doubt upon each of the legitimate reasons proffered by the defendant so that a factfinder could reasonably conclude that each reason was a fabrication." Parks v. Rumsfeld, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150, at *4-5 (3d Cir. Jan. 5, 2005) (unpublished opinion) (quotingFuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 762 (3d Cir. 1994). This prong is intentionally a "stringent standard" for plaintiffs because "federal courts are not arbitral boards ruling on the strength of [the employment decision]. The question is not whether the employer made the best, or even a sound, business decision; it is whether the real reason is [discrimination]." Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc., 130 F.3d 1101, 1108 (3d Cir. 1997) (en banc). Alternatively, a plaintiff can provide evidence that "allows the factfinder to infer that discrimination was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the adverse employment action." Id. at 1111. In other words, a plaintiff must demonstrate "weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistences, incoherencies, or contradiction in the employer's proffered legitimate reasons for its actions" such that the "employer's articulated reason was not merely wrong, but that it was `so plainly wrong that it cannot have been the employer's real reason.'" Jones v. School Dist. Of Philadelphia, 198 F.3d 403, 413 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, 130 F.3d 1101, 1108-09 (3d Cir. 1997)).
Here, Plaintiff was interviewed on June 18, 2001, almost five months after Defendant Knox had explicitly denied Plaintiff's promotion request. Moreover, on the day of Plaintiff's interview Defendant Knox sent Plaintiff a letter stating she was being considered for a transfer to a different position. If nothing else, it may be considered unusual that Plaintiff was interviewed for one position on the same day that she was recommended for a different one. For the following reasons, though, the sequence of events does not indicate that the reasons for Defendant's employment decisions were pretextual. Defendant Knox was not a member of the interview committee. That she sent a letter to Plaintiff indicating that Plaintiff was being considered for a transfer was in all likelihood not even known to the committee members at the time. At the very least, Plaintiff has not offered evidence from which it could reasonably be inferred that such was the case.
Moreover, the individual selected for promotion — Mr. Highsmith — was interviewed and found to be substantially better qualified for the position than Ms. Farmer, scoring 179 points out of a possible 200, compared with Ms. Farmer's score of 155. There has been no suggestion that the scoring was based upon irrelevant, let alone impermissible factors. Ms. Farmer has failed to rebut the proffered reason for her non-promotion, namely, that the selectee was adjudged better qualified by the interviewing committee.
In sum, Plaintiff is unable to demonstrate that Defendants' nondiscriminatory reasons for denying her promotion request were pretextual.
2. Subsequent Adverse Employment Actions
Plaintiff additionally cites five other specific instances of age discrimination: first, the February 12, 2001 staff meeting at which Defendant Knox allegedly publicly reprimanded Plaintiff; second, the February 12, 2001 letter sent by Defendant Knox to Plaintiff reprimanding her for rescheduling the parent conferences; third, the February 20, 2001 "Liaison Committee Meeting with Annette D. Knox, Superintendent" at which time Plaintiff claims she was publicly embarrassed by Defendant Knox; fourth, transfer of Plaintiff to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction; and fifth, the June 23, 2002 incident whereby Defendant Knox accused Plaintiff of missing a deadline.
The text of the letter is reproduced infra. The record does not reflect whether a similar letter was sent to Mr. Gibson.
As noted above, to make out a prima facie case for age discrimination a plaintiff bears the burden of proving that she suffered materially adverse employment action. To make such a showing, a plaintiff
must prove that the adverse employment actions he alleges are serious and tangible enough to alter the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of his employment; in short, he must prove that the alleged adverse actions are material to a claim of age discrimination. Without a materiality requirement . . . "minor and even trivial employment actions that `an irritable, chip-on-the-shoulder employee did not like would form the basis of a discrimination suit.'"Danas v. Chapman Ford Sales, Inc., 120 F. Supp. 2d 478, 484 (E.D.Pa. 2000) (quoting Robinson v. City of Pittsburgh, 120 F.3d 1286, 1300 (3d Cir. 1997)). In other words, "[a]n adverse employment action sufficient to support a prima facie case must be `a significant change in employment status such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.'" Sherrod v. Philadelphia Gas Works, 209 F. Supp. 2d 443, 450 (E.D.Pa. 2002) (citingBurlington Indus., 524 U.S. at 761). That action "in most cases inflicts direct economic harm," Burlington Indus., 524 U.S. at 762, and is not merely that sort of "conduct that the employee generally finds objectionable." Harley v. McCoach, 928 F. Supp. 533, 541 (E.D.Pa. 1996).
Though the Court, by this quoted language, is not intimating that Plaintiff is "an irritable, chip-on-the-shoulder employee," it is clear from the record that Plaintiff and Defendant Knox did not see eye to eye on a number of matters. Clash of personalities or personal dislike, however, is not sufficient to give rise to an inference of age discrimination.See, e.g., Crawford v. Medina Gen. Hosp., 96 F.3d 830, 836 (6th Cir. 1996) (clash of personalities); Hamm v. Cent. Bucks Sch. Dist., 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16304, at *36 (E.D.Pa. Nov. 15, 1994) (personal dislike).
Here, Plaintiff can not demonstrate that she suffered material adverse employment action in these particular instances. The four instances in which she was reprimanded or disciplined were not serious enough to alter the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of her employment. Indeed, in several of those instances the only real consequence she suffered was that her personnel file would reflect that she had been reprimanded. That is not the sort of adverse employment action that the age discrimination statutes at issue here were designed to protect against.
Plaintiff also appears to make a hostile work environment claim based on these incidents. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 21, 29, 35.) Though there are questions about whether the Third Circuit has yet recognized such a claim under the ADEA, see Tate v. Main Line Hospital, Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1814, at *59 (E.D.Pa Feb. 8, 2005), generally speaking, harassment based on an individual's age is actionable only in those cases when it is "so `severe or pervasive' as to `alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment.'" Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 786 (1998) (quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993)). Because the Court holds that such an environment did not exist in this case, this issue need not be decided.
Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff claims that Defendants took retaliatory actions in response to her filing formal complaints, that claim is as well is without merit. Specifically, Plaintiff only points to one specific instance of alleged discrimination that occurred after June 22, 2001, the date she filed her contested transfer petition. As discussed below, however, even if that act were taken in response to Plaintiff's petition, there is no showing that it was motivated by considerations of age. See Armendariz v. Pinkerton Tobacco Co., 58 F.3d 144, 153 (5th Cir. 1995) (holding that with nothing more, comments by decisionmaker to another employee that plaintiff was "getting old" and "losing her memory" were too remote and vague to be probative of age discrimination).
A closer question, however, is presented by Plaintiff's transfer to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction. "Obviously, a purely lateral transfer, that is, a transfer that does not involve a demotion in form or substance, cannot rise to the level of a materially adverse employment action. A transfer involving no reduction in pay and no more than a minor change in working conditions will not do, either." Williams v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 85 F.3d 270, 274 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding transfer was not a demotion even though plaintiff's commission income "fell precipitately" the year following his transfer).
To be sure, "a plaintiff might be able to meet the adverse employment action requirement for a prima facie case on a showing that a job transfer was to a "dead-end job," even though it did not involve a loss of pay or benefits." Washington v. Martinez, 2004 U.S. Dict. LEXIS, at *26 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 28, 2004) (citingTorre v. Casio, Inc., 42 F.3d 825, 831 n. 7 (3d Cir. 1994) (citing Collins v. Illinois, 830 F.2d 692, 702-04 702 n. 7 (7 th Cir. 1987) (collecting cases))). In Torre, for example, the plaintiff was transferred to a job with a "seemingly more encompassing title" than his previous job; he experienced no pay reduction; and he was no longer required to travel. Nonetheless, the court held that there was a material fact issue concerning whether the plaintiff was transferred to a dead-end job and whether his transfer was part of the alleged discriminatory scheme. 42 F.3d at 831 n. 7. In that case, though, the court relied on the fact that the position to which the plaintiff was transferred was eliminated shortly thereafter, resulting in the termination of the plaintiff's employment. Similar facts are not before the Court here.
In this case, even though Plaintiff maintains that Defendant Knox originally proposed that Plaintiff receive a pay cut upon her transfer, in fact Plaintiff's compensation, benefits and other terms of employment remained the same. The only question remaining as to whether Plaintiff's move was a lateral transfer or a demotion, then, is whether the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction was a "dead-end job." Plaintiff has made no such showing.
In McCrary v. Aurora Public Schools, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 1449 (10th Jan. 29, Cir. 2003) (unpublished opinion), an elementary school teacher filed an age discrimination suit under the ADEA arising out of the following events: she was accused of professional incompetence; the principal had placed her on evaluation outside of the normal evaluation cycle; she received an adverse performance evaluation from the principal and was placed on a remediation plan with work restrictions; the principal placed a letter of reprimand in her personal file that was not removed until she resigned; the principal denied her request to be transferred to a fourth-grade classroom teacher position; and she was transferred, against her wishes, to a newly created position called "classroom support teacher" ("CST").
The court concluded that those facts were insufficient to support the plaintiff's age discrimination claim. With respect to the transfer, the court held:
Ms. McCrary did not meet her burden of establishing that the proposed transfer to the CST position was an adverse employment action. Ms. McCrary did not dispute that she would have received the same salary and benefits in the CST position and that her seniority would not have been affected by the transfer. She argued that the transfer was a demotion, nonetheless, because it was made against her will and because the responsibilities of the job were significantly different. "If a transfer is truly lateral and involves no significant changes in an employee's conditions of employment, the fact that the employee views the transfer either positively or negatively does not of itself render the denial or receipt of the transfer adverse employment action." Further, Ms. McCrary made only conclusory allegations about the differences between the duties of a third-grade classroom teacher and those of the CST, and the evidence did not establish that the responsibilities of the two jobs were significantly different.Id., at *13-15 (internal citations omitted). Similarly here, other than characterizing it as such, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the move to the directorship position was a demotion. Indeed, the title of that position, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, suggests many of the same responsibilities as the position to which Plaintiff originally sought to be promoted, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Simply stated, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that her transfer constituted adverse employment action.
For the above reasons, Plaintiff can not make out a prima facie case of age discrimination based on the (1) February 12, 2001 staff meeting; (2) the February 12, 2001 letter; (3) the February 20, 2001 "Liaison Committee Meeting"; (4) her transfer to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction; or (5) the June 23, 2002 incident.
Even if Plaintiff could make out a prima facie case for age discrimination with regard to the five incidents cited, she would not be able to overcome Defendants' nondiscriminatory reasons therefor. Specifically, there is no indication that Defendants' conduct was motivated in any way by considerations of age. Indeed, with regard to several of those instances, she was not the only employee reprimanded. For example, at the February 12, 2001 meeting, both she and Mr. Gibson were publicly reprimanded and then asked to go to the Defendant Knox's office. As noted above, that meeting was called to specifically address the January 26, 2001 memorandum regarding the rescheduling of parent conferences. Though that memorandum was sent by Mr. Horace Gibson, Supervisor of Guidance Testing, Plaintiff was also involved in rescheduling the conferences — she had been the one who raised the issue with Defendant Knox on a prior occasion. It is thus logical that at the close of the meeting, Defendant Knox asked to see both Plaintiff and Mr. Gibson privately in her office and did not merely single out Plaintiff. (Farmer Dep. Tr. Def. Ex. A at 44:10-12.)
Additionally, Plaintiff was not the only employee transferred to a different position. As noted, infra, no less than twelve other employees were also considered for transfer. And, Plaintiff has not offered proof that those other employees were considerably younger than she. Thus, Plaintiff is not able to show that her age was a "but for" cause of her transfer. To be sure, a plaintiff "need not prove that age was the employer's sole or exclusive consideration, but must prove that age made a difference in the decision." Chipollini, 814 F.2d at 897. For the reasons just explained, however, Plaintiff has failed to satisfy that burden here.
Finally, Defendants' allegedly discriminatory acts were too isolated to support a finding of age discrimination. Indeed, the five specific incidents cited by Plaintiff occurred over the course of 16 months — February 12, 2001 to June 23, 2002. These incidents are too remote in time from one another to suggest a direct or indirect inference of age discrimination. See Sosky v. Int'l Mill Service, Inc., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 791, at *28 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 25, 1996), aff'd, 103 F.3d 114 (3d Cir. 1996) (concluding that various "agist" comments were "too stray and too remote" from the allegedly discriminatory conduct to support an inference of age discrimination, either direct or indirect).
For the reasons expressed in this Opinion, the motion for summary judgment by Defendants Camden Board and Annette D. Knox will be granted in its entirety and Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed.
ORDER OF DISMISSALThis matter came before the Court upon motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rul 56(c), Fed.R.Civ.P, by Defendants Camden City Board of Education and Annette D. Knox [Docket Item 13]; and
The Court having considered the written submissions of the parties; and for good cause shown; and
For the reasons expressed in the Opinion of today's date;
IT IS this 28th day of March, 2005 hereby
ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment by Defendants [Docket Item 13] shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED ;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint shall be, and hereby is, DISMISSED.