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Bradford v. Everett

March 09, 1999

SHIRLEY BRADFORD APPELLANT
v.
SHEILA EVERETT, GLORIA HIPPLE, JOHN APPELLEES COOK AND IRVING WILKERSON



Before McMILLIN, C.j., King, P.j., And Diaz, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, C.j.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/22/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - TORTS - OTHER THAN PERSONAL INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES DISMISSED

¶1. This case comes before the Court on Shirley Bradford's appeal from an order of dismissal of her complaint entered after the defendants filed a motion to dismiss on several different grounds. We conclude that the trial court was correct in part and incorrect in part, requiring us to reverse and remand the case for further proceedings.

¶2. Bradford is an African-American who filed suit claiming damages because she (a) was subjected to a hostile work environment and (b) was ultimately terminated as an employee of the Mississippi Department of Human Services for the sole reason that she was a member of a racial minority. Additionally, she claims that she was terminated because she spoke out about her employer's discriminatory employment practices and other matters alleged to be of public concern. In her complaint, she specifically invoked the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code as providing a jurisdictional basis for her claim for relief. The named defendants in the suit were persons occupying various positions in the Department who had some supervisory authority over Bradford. They were sued both in their official capacity and as private individuals. For purposes of clarity, though these litigants are the appellees before this Court, we will continue to refer to them collectively as "the defendants" since this is more informative as to their status in this case.

¶3. The defendants' motion to dismiss raised five matters for the trial court's consideration:

"(1) The complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted;"

"(2) Section 1981 does not establish a cause of action for racially discriminatory activity undertaken or sanctioned by an employer against an employee;'

"(3) The defendants, in their official capacities, enjoyed sovereign immunity from claims of this nature;"

"(4) The defendants, in their individual capacities, enjoyed qualified immunity; and"

"(5) Bradford had a claim for disability benefits pending before the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission based ...


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