United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
JANICE L. ROBERTS PLAINTIFF
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
Leon Holmes, United States District Judge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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).
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
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.
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