United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter was before the court on February 22, 2017, for hearing
on defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) (ECF No. 10) and the court's January 13, 2017
order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for
plaintiff's failure to timely file a response to
defendant's motion, ECF No. 13. Attorney Shanan Hewitt
appeared on behalf of defendant; plaintiff appeared pro se.
For the reasons explained below, the order to show cause is
discharged and it is recommended that defendant's motion
to dismiss be granted.
I. Order to Show Cause
motion to dismiss was originally noticed for hearing on
January 25, 2017. Pursuant to Local Rule 230(c), plaintiff
was required to file an opposition or statement of
non-opposition to the motion by January 11, 2017, but failed
to do so. Accordingly, the court continued the hearing and
ordered plaintiff to, by no later than February 8, 2017, file
an opposition or statement of non-opposition to
defendant's motion and to show cause why sanctions should
not be imposed for her failure to timely file response to the
response, plaintiff explains that an unspecified family
emergency interfered with her ability to timely file an
opposition or statement of non-opposition. ECF No. 14.
Plaintiff has now filed an opposition to the motion, and in
light of her representation, the order to show cause is
discharged and no sanctions are imposed.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Complaint's Factual Allegations
complaint alleges that plaintiff, a black female, was
terminated from her employment based on racial discrimination
and retaliation for participating in protected activities in
violation of Title VII.
previously worked for the County of Sacramento, Department of
Human Assistance, as a Human Services Specialist.
Id. ¶¶ 4, 7. In March 2014, after
approximately three months of employment, plaintiff received
her first performance evaluation, which indicated that she
“meets standards.” Id. ¶¶ 7,
8. Shortly after that review, plaintiff's supervisor
provided “some unsolicited advice” regarding
plaintiff's intention to take the African American
Cultural Specials Skills Exam. Id. ¶ 4. The
supervisor allegedly warned plaintiff to “do her due
diligence by consulting other Special Skills employees before
taking the exam . . . because that particular demographic can
be difficult (referring to African Americans).”
subsequently met with the program director to discuss the
supervisor's comments. Id. ¶ 10. The
program director allegedly wrote plaintiff “off as a
trouble maker with a bad attitude who would not accept
supervision.” Id. Shortly thereafter,
plaintiff met with the Bowling Green Program Manager and a
union representative. Id. ¶ 12. At the meeting
she expressed her concern that her supervisor's comments
were racially motivated and requested reassignment to a new
supervisor. Id. That request was denied.
23, 2014, plaintiff's employment was terminated.
Id. ¶ 23. The primary basis for the decision
was plaintiff's “continued pattern of poor behavior
and unprofessional attitude when dealing with others.”
Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims, however, that her
termination was motivated by racial discrimination and
retaliation for participating in protected activities.
Id. at 8-11. Her requested relief includes, among
other things, general damages in the sum of $2.5 million and
punitive damages. Id. at 12.
does not seek dismissal of any specific claim. Instead,
defendant moves to dismiss from the action the
complaint's request for $2.5 million in general damages
and punitive damages. ECF No. 10 at 4. Defendant argues that
punitive damages are not available against a government
entity, and that plaintiff's request for general damages
exceeds the statutory cap imposed by Title VII. Id. at
argued by defendant, Title VII prohibits an award of punitive
damages against a government agency or political subdivision.
42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(1). Title VII also limits the
amount of compensatory damages a plaintiff may recover based on
the size of the employer ///// ///// defendant, with the
highest cap set at $300, 000. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3);
see Hemmings v. Tidyman's Inc., ...