Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Roberts v. Arkansas Department of Workforce Services

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

April 17, 2019



          J. Leon Holmes, United States District Judge.

         Janice Roberts has worked for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services since 2007. She sues that agency, alleging “a hostile work environment and retaliation for reporting unlawful discrimination against the Plaintiff; discrimination, a hostile work environment, and violations of [her] due process and equal protection rights.” Document #16 at 2. Roberts says the agency failed to promote her, “failed to maintain classification, duties, and responsibilities, and otherwise discriminated and retaliated” against her. Id. at 2-3.

         A court should enter summary judgment if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is sufficient to allow a jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2511.

         In this case, Count One of the amended complaint is for “discrimination, ” and it describes “harassment and a hostile work environment based on her race, age, and gender.” Id. at 5. This count mentions Title VII and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act. Id. Count Two is for violations of “the Fourteenth Amendment[] to the United States [Constitution].” Id. at 6. In this count Roberts mentions due process as well as equal protection. Id. Count Three is for “retaliation” after reporting alleged unlawful discrimination, and it mentions Title VII. Id. at 7. In the jurisdiction paragraph of her complaint, Roberts also mentions 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Id. at 1. Roberts names as the sole defendant the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, “a department of the State of Arkansas, a public body organized and existing under the laws of the State of Arkansas.” See Id. at 1-2.

         The Department moves for summary judgment on several bases. First, it asserts Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity on Roberts's 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and ADEA claims. Document #29-1 at 5-6. The Department also asserts sovereign immunity on Roberts's ACRA claim pursuant to the Arkansas Constitution. Id. at 6-7.

         The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars suit against a state in federal court unless the state has consented to suit or if Congress has unequivocally and validly abrogated the states' sovereign immunity. See Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 54-55, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1122-23, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996). This immunity applies to state agencies. Monroe v. Ark. State Univ., 495 F.3d 591, 594 (8th Cir. 2007). States and state agencies are immune from both § 1981 and ADEA claims in federal court. Rush v. State of Ark. Dep't of Workforce Services, 876 F.3d 1123, 1126 n.1 (8th Cir. 2017); Singletary v. Mo. Dep't of Corr., 423 F.3d 886, 890 (8th Cir. 2005); see also Rodgers v. Univ. of Mo. Bd. of Curators, 56 F.Supp.3d 1037, 1049 (E.D. Mo. 2014) (dismissing claims under §§ 1981, 1983, and the Fourteenth Amendment based on Eleventh Amendment immunity). As Roberts has sued only the Department in this case, summary judgment is granted on Roberts's claims under § 1981 and the ADEA.

         The Arkansas Constitution provides that “[t]he State of Arkansas shall never be made defendant in any of her courts.” Ark. Const. Art. 5 § 20. And the Arkansas Civil Rights Act expressly states that it shall not “be construed to waive the sovereign immunity of the state of Arkansas.” Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123-104. Arkansas has not waived sovereign immunity in ACRA cases. Summary judgment is therefore granted on Roberts's ACRA claims. See Reddix v. Ark. Dep't of Workforce Servs., 2019 WL 1449613 at *6 (E.D. Ark. Mar. 31, 2019) (dismissing plaintiff's ACRA claims against Arkansas Department of Workforce Services as barred by sovereign immunity); Rauf v. Ark. State Police, 2008 WL 4643904 at *3 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 20, 2008) (dismissing plaintiff's ACRA claims against the Arkansas State Police as barred by sovereign immunity).

         Roberts's remaining claims are for race and sex discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation under Title VII. The Department next argues for summary judgment because Roberts failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The Title VII laws establish that a complaining employee must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. Williams v. Little Rock Mun. Water Works, 21 F.3d 218, 222 (8th Cir. 1994). Within 180 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice, a plaintiff must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC setting forth the facts and nature of the charge. Id.; 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b), (c), (e). The plaintiff must then file suit against the respondent named in the charge within 90 days of receiving a notice of right to sue from the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).

         “Exhaustion of administrative remedies is central to Title VII's statutory scheme because it provides the EEOC the first opportunity to investigate discriminatory practices and enables it to perform its roles of obtaining voluntary compliance and promoting conciliatory efforts.” Williams, 21 F.3d at 222. A plaintiff must give notice of all claims of discrimination in the administrative complaint. Stuart v. Gen. Motors Corp., 217 F.3d 621, 630 (8th Cir. 2000).

         In this case, Roberts filed two EEOC charges. Document #30-4. She filed the first charge on March 8, 2017. That charge states that discrimination took place from “07-29-2016” through “11-18-2016.” Id. at 1. It charges discrimination based on race, sex, and age, and retaliation. Id. The charge explains:

I was hired on or about April 9, 2007, with my most recent position as Workforce Specialist/Receptionist. On July 29, 2016, I was forced to move from the Central Office location to the Pine Bluff location. on or about November 18, 2016, I noticed my job title had been changed from Program Monitor to Workforce Specialist/Receptionist.
I believe I was subjected to the above treatment because of my race and sex, Black female, and in retaliation for filing previous complaints with the agency and EEOC charge, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and my age, 56, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended.

Id. The EEOC mailed Roberts her notice of right to sue on September 13, 2017. Id. at 3.

         Roberts filed her second charge of discrimination on November 20, 2017. Id. at 4. The charge confines the dates of discrimination from “05-04-2017” through “10-31-2017.” Id. The charge only checks ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.