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Bouazizi v. Hillsborough County

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

June 24, 2019

JACQUELYN BOUAZIZI, Plaintiff,
v.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY and HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CIVIL SERVICE BOARD, Defendants.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendant Hillsborough County Civil Service Board's Motion to Strike the Third Amended Complaint (Doc. # 40) and Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV of the Third Amended Complaint (Doc. # 41), both filed on May 23, 2019. Plaintiff Jacquelyn Bouazizi responded on June 5 and June 21, 2019, respectively. (Doc. ## 47, 49).

         For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV is granted and the claims against the Civil Service Board are dismissed with prejudice. In light of the dismissal of Counts III and IV, the Motion to Strike is denied as moot.

         I. Background

         On November 18, 2015, Bouazizi initiated this action in state court. Bouazizi subsequently filed the Second Amended Complaint, asserting claims under Section 1983, the Equal Pay Act, and Title VII against the Civil Service Board and Defendant Hillsborough County on February 20, 2019. (Doc. # 1-1). Because the Second Amended Complaint raised federal claims for the first time, the County then removed the case to this Court on March 18, 2019. (Doc. # 1). After the case was removed, the County and the Civil Service Board moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. ## 4, 10). Bouazizi failed to respond to the motions to dismiss, so the Court granted the motions as unopposed and closed the case on April 11, 2019. (Doc. # 19).

         Subsequently, Bouazizi moved for reconsideration of the Court's dismissal order and asked for permission to file a Third Amended Complaint to assert Section 1983 claims against the County and the Civil Service Board. (Doc. # 22). The Court granted the motion to the extent the Court “reopen[ed] the case and permit[ted] Bouazizi to file a third amended complaint solely asserting Section 1983 claims by May 10, 2019.” (Doc. # 32).

         Bouazizi then filed her Third Amended Complaint on May 9, 2019, asserting claims under both Section 1983 and the Equal Pay Act against the County and the Civil Service Board. (Doc. # 33). In the Third Amended Complaint, Bouazizi alleges she began working for the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in 1990 and was “promoted from a Senior Customer Service Representative to the position of Solid Waste Coordinator/Franchise Activity Coordinator in June 2004.” (Id. at 2). Although Bouazizi remained a Franchise Activity Coordinator until 2014, her pay grade did not increase. (Id.). She first filed an EEOC complaint in 2003 and “continued to file EEOC complaints against [the County and the Civil Service Board] until 2014.” (Id. at 3).

         Bouazizi alleges the Civil Service Board “discriminated against [her] because of her race, gender, and age.” (Id. at 9). Bouazizi “requested that her position as a Franchise Activity Coordinator in the Hillsborough County Solid Waste Administration Section . . . be reclassified because she was managing contracts as the General Manager I position required.” (Id.). But the Civil Service Board allegedly “refused to reclassify [Bouazizi's] position because of her age, race, gender, and retaliation although it reclassified positions of white men and white females that worked as Franchise Activity Coordinators.” (Id. at 10). Bouazizi alleges the Civil Service Board hired a younger, less experienced man with a criminal record for the position of Special Projects Coordinator, even though she was better qualified and “had the highest interviewing score.” (Id.). She further alleges the Civil Service Board hired two men to perform the same work as Bouazizi, yet paid those men six grades higher than her and refused to increase her pay. (Id. at 10-11). She insists that the lower pay she received compared to male employees was “not due to a seniority system, a merit system or a system that measures the difference in pay employee[s] earn[] by the quality and quantity of work.” (Id. at 12).

         Bouazizi “ended employment with Defendant in 2014 and was 62 years old when she resigned.” (Id. at 2). Although she resigned in 2014, Bouazizi claims her “permanent psychological and physical injuries from the discrimination by [the County and Civil Service Board] became apparent in 2015.” (Id. at 3).

         The County moved to dismiss the Section 1983 and Equal Pay Act claims against it on May 15, 2019. (Doc. # 36). After briefing, the Court granted that motion and dismissed the claims against the County as time-barred on May 24, 2019. (Doc. # 43).

         Now the Civil Service Board moves to strike the Third Amended Complaint or dismiss the two claims asserted against it. (Doc. ## 40, 41). Bouazizi has responded (Doc. ## 47, 49), and the Motions are ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), this Court accepts as true all the allegations in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jackson v. Bellsouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1262 (11th Cir. 2004). Further, the Court favors the plaintiff with all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint. Stephens v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571, 1573 (11th Cir. 1990). But,

[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual ...

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