Dismissal of redundant federal court complaint granted in multiple-plaintiff employment discrimination action

Smith Sovik attorneys Kristen Benson, Edward Smith, and Anthony Brighton successfully obtained judgment dismissing a federal court complaint in an employment discrimination suit brought by three teachers against a school district, its board of education, and numerous individual defendants. In 2012 the plaintiffs attempted to file a federal court complaint to assert federal causes of action under Title VII (employment discrimination) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (denial of federal civil rights) after they were denied leave to amend a pending state court complaint that alleged employment discrimination only under state law. Plaintiffs had sought to add the federal court claims in order to avail themselves of federal provisions allowing recovery of attorney’s fees in civil rights and employment discrimination actions. The plaintiffs originally filed their new complaint in state court as well, but defendants removed the case to federal court and then moved to dismiss the action as time-barred, redundant of a pending action, and for failure to state a claim. Because the complaint alleged the same acts of discrimination that had been alleged in the original state court complaint, defendants successfully argued that the claims should be dismissed as time-barred. The original complaint was filed in 2007 and concerned incidents that occurred in 2006, and thus those claims were time-barred for purposes of the new complaint. The federal court also dismissed plaintiffs’ federal claims with regard to new allegations concerning incidents of alleged discrimination that occurred in 2012. Defendants successfully argued that plaintiffs’ claims regarding 2012 incidents failed to state a cause of action because the allegations failed to adequately allege adverse employment actions or resulting harm. Plaintiffs alleged an incidents of alleged discrimination that was corrected by their employer at the administrative grievance stage, and thus no adverse action or harm was alleged. Plaintiffs also alleged that their employer provided inadequate sexual harassment training, but the complaint failed to allege that any discrimination or other harm had resulted from the inadequate training. The federal court complaint was thus dismissed, and the state court ultimately granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment in the original state court case.