United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN, JUDGE
age discrimination case is before the Court on
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Complaint, Or in the
Alternative, For More Definite Statement. (Doc. 5). Plaintiff
David Adams (“Adams”), proceeding pro
se, filed a complaint alleging age discrimination by the
City of Jacksonville, Jerry Holland, Duval County's
elected property appraiser, and Kelly O'Leary, the
Director of the City's Employee Services Department
(collectively “Defendants”). (Doc. 1). Defendants
moved to dismiss the complaint or, alternatively, for a more
definite statement, (Doc. 5), to which Adams responded, (Doc.
November 3, 2015, Defendants terminated Adams from his civil
service position as a property appraiser for the City. (Doc.
1 at 7). At the time of his termination, Adams was fifty-four
years old, had worked for the City for twenty-nine years, and
was “within weeks” of receiving a full pension
for thirty years of service. (Doc. 1 at 7-8). Adams was told
that his position in the Property Appraiser's Office
(“PAO”) was being filled by a more senior member,
Kurt Kraft. (Doc. 1-1 at 2). Kraft, who is older than Adams,
was “reverting back” from his appointed position
within the PAO into Adams's then held civil service
position. (Doc. 1-1 at 2). Although City officials told Adams
that Kraft's reversion and Adam's lay-off were due to
a reduction in force, the PAO's office subsequently hired
four individuals who were less than forty years old. (Doc.
1-1 at 2).
to initiating this lawsuit, Adams filed a grievance with the
Duval County Civil Service Board (“CSB”) alleging
failure to follow City and County rules, (see Doc.
5-1), and he filed a Charge of Discrimination
(“Charge”) with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). (Doc. 1-1 at 2-4).
than a year after filing the Charge, the EEOC provided Adams
with a Dismissal and Notice of Rights form
(“Notice”), stating that the EEOC is closing its
file and that Adams has the right to file suit within ninety
days of receiving the Notice. (Doc. 1-1 at 1). Less than
ninety days later, Adams filed this action, alleging that
Defendants discriminated against him in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. (Doc. 1
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations of
alleged discrimination, see Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), so long as it pleads
enough facts to allow the court to draw a reasonable
inference that the defendant committed the alleged
misconduct. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “At the motion-to-dismiss stage, . . . the
facts derived from a complaint's exhibits [are] part of
the plaintiff's basic factual averments.”
F.T.C. v. AbbVie Prod. LLC, 713 F.3d 54, 63 (11th
Cir. 2013). Specific facts within exhibits override more
generalized or conclusory statements in the complaint.
Id. Pro se complaints are liberally construed, and
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers[.]” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
seek dismissal of the complaint because Adams pled no facts
showing discriminatory intent, Kraft was older than Adams,
Adams failed to allege he applied for another civil service
position within the City, and Adams failed to rebut the
City's nondiscriminatory reason for Adams's
termination. (Doc. 5 at 4, 7-8). Defendants also ask the
Court to take judicial notice of the CSB's Grievance
Order, which decided whether Adams's termination and the
PAO's reduction in force were “done correctly under
the provisions of the Jacksonville Municipal Charter, the
Ordinance Code of the City of Jacksonville, and the Civil
Service and Personnel Rules and Regulations of the
City[.]” (Doc. 5-1 at 3).
ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer 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.” 29 U.S.C. § 623 (2012). Age
discrimination claims based on circumstantial evidence follow
the burden-shifting framework laid out in McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Liebman
v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 808 F.3d 1294, 1298 (11th Cir.
2015). Under this framework, the plaintiff must create an
inference of discrimination via his prima facie case, which
then creates a rebuttable presumption of discrimination.
standard age discrimination case, a plaintiff demonstrates a
prima facie case by showing: (1) he was a member of the
protected class; (2) he was subject to an adverse employment
action; (3) a substantially younger person filled the
discharged plaintiff's position; and (4) he was qualified
to do the job from which he was discharged. Liebman,
808 F.3d at 1298. In a reduction-in-force case, the elements
of a prima facie case are slightly altered, requiring factual
(1) demonstrating that he was in a protected age group and
was adversely affected by an employment decision; (2) showing
he was qualified for his former position or another position
at the time he was adversely affected; and (3) producing
circumstantial or direct evidence from which a reasonable
factfinder could conclude that his employer intended to
discriminate on the basis of age in reaching the decision at
Diehl v. Bank of Am., N.A., 470 Fed.Appx. 771, 775
(11th Cir. 2012) (quotations omitted) (quoting Maddow v.
Procter & Gamble Co., 107 F.3d 846, 851 (11th Cir.
1997)); Jameson v. Arrow Co., 75 F.3d 1528, 1531-32
(11th Cir. 1996). The Eleventh Circuit has generally
“eschewed an overly strict formulation of the elements
of a prima facie case, ...