United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
G. BYRON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Defendant Barry University,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint or, in the
Alternative, for a More Definite Statement (Doc. 41), filed
March 9, 2018. Plaintiff responded in opposition on March 26,
2018. (Doc. 46). Upon consideration, Defendant's motion
is due to be granted in part and denied in part.
employment discrimination case, Plaintiff alleges that he was
unlawfully terminated from his professorship at Barry School
of Law (“Law School”). Plaintiff
claims that in the female dominated environment at the Law
School, his female supervisor, Dean Leticia Diaz
(“Dean Diaz”): (1) said she
preferred working with women; (2) often commented that she
did not want men in certain departments and positions; and
(3) subjected Plaintiff to more rigorous review than his
female counterparts. (Doc. 38, ¶¶ 9- 14
(“Amended Complaint”)). After
receiving a single negative performance review, Dean Diaz
concluded that Plaintiff was “not a good fit” and
terminated him. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19). Citing
his superlative employment record and contributions to the
Law School, Plaintiff maintains that the negative performance
review and the attendant reasoning were proffered to conceal
Dean Diaz's animus and the true basis for Plaintiff's
dismissal- because he is a male. (Id. ¶¶
his termination, Plaintiff initiated this action alleging
that Defendant terminated him on the basis of his gender in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e (“Title
VII”), and the Florida Civil Rights Act
(“FCRA”). (See Doc. 1
(“Initial Complaint”)). In his
Initial Complaint, Plaintiff asserted several theories of
liability in each count, including disparate treatment,
hostile work environment and retaliatory discharge.
(Id.). Finding it deficient, the Court dismissed the
initial complaint and granted Plaintiff leave to file an
amended complaint. (Doc. 35). Plaintiff did so. In his
Amended Complaint, he again asserts multiple theories of
liability in two counts: Count I alleging Title VII
violations; and Count II advancing FCRA violations.
(See Doc. 38). In each Count, Plaintiff alleges that
he was “subjected to discrimination, unequal treatment,
and an offensive and hostile work environment.”
(Id. ¶¶ 34, 36).
moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint, arguing that the
Amended Complaint, like its predecessor, fails to state a
claim for hostile work environment and
retaliation. (Doc. 41). Plaintiff opposes (Doc. 46),
and the matter is now ripe.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). Thus, in order to
survive a motion to dismiss made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6),
the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
plausible on its face when the plaintiff “pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations,
mere legal conclusions or recitation of the elements of a
claim are not enough. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Moreover, courts are “not bound to accept as true a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Courts
must also view the complaint in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff and must resolve any doubts as to the
sufficiency of the complaint in the plaintiff's favor.
Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480, 1483 (11th
Cir. 1994) (per curiam). In sum, courts must (1) ignore
conclusory allegations, bald legal assertions, and formulaic
recitations of the elements of a claim; (2) accept well-pled
factual allegations as true; and (3) view well-pled
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
moves to dismiss Plaintiff's hostile work environment and
retaliation claims. (Doc. 41, pp. 6-11). Further, Defendant
moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint for improperly
combining multiple claims into each count. (Id. at
pp. 5-6). In the alternative, Defendant moves for a more
definite statement. (Id. at pp. 11-12).
Hostile Work Environment Claims
bases his Title VII and FCRA claims, in part, on a hostile
work environment theory. Under this theory, a plaintiff
“must allege, and ultimately prove, discriminatory
behavior ‘sufficiently severe to alter the conditions
of his employment.'” Short v. Immokalee Water
& Sewer Dist., 165 F.Supp.3d 1129, 1141 (M.D. Fla.
2016) (alteration accepted) (quoting Pa. State Police v.
Suders, 542 U.S. 129, 133 (2004)). Plaintiff must allege
that: (1) he belongs to a protected group; (2) he has been
subject to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based
on his membership in the protected group; (4) the harassment
was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and
conditions of employment and create a discriminatorily
abusive working environment; and (5) the employer is
responsible for the harassment under either vicarious or
direct liability. Id. In regards to the
“severe or pervasive” element, the Eleventh
Circuit has stated:
To be actionable, this behavior must result in both an
environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or
abusive and an environment that the victim subjectively
perceives to be abusive. In evaluating the objective severity
of the alleged hostile work environment, we consider (1) the
frequency of the conduct; (2) the severity of the conduct;
(3) whether the conduct is physically threatening or
humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether
the conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee's
job performance. But Title VII is not a general civility
code; ordinary tribulations of the workplace, such as
sporadic use of abusive language, gender-related jokes, and
occasional teasing cannot form the basis of a claim for
actionable harassment or hostile work environment. Instead,
conduct must ...