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McLin v. Chiles

United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division

March 3, 2015




This race- and gender-discrimination case is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, to Partially Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Qualified Immunity [13]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied as to the Title VII failure-to-promote claim against JSU involving the Director of Clinical Training Ph.D. Program position but granted as to the remaining claims against JSU and as to the claims against Drs. Richard Chiles and Lawrence Potter.

I. Facts and Procedural

History Plaintiff Dr. Dawn B. McLin joined Defendant Jackson State University’s (“JSU”) Psychology Department as an assistant professor in 2004. In 2010, JSU promoted McLin to associate professor and awarded her tenure. McLin claims that-beginning in 2010-Defendants discriminated against her in the terms and conditions of her employment because of her race (African-American) and gender (female). More specifically, McLin complains about the following incidents:

• In 2010, Interim Chair of the Psychology Department, Defendant Dr. Richard Chiles, withdrew his predecessor’s recommendation to terminate Dr. Keith Hudson, an African-American male, as an associate professor and coordinator of undergraduate studies. McLin asserts that she is more qualified than Hudson to serve as coordinator of undergraduate studies, a position which provides Hudson with supplemental pay that “pushe[s] his salary above Dr. McLin[’s].” Am. Compl. [10] ¶ 10.
• Dr. Chiles selected Dr. Bryman Williams, an African-American male, to serve as the Director of the Clinical Training Ph.D. program, without posting that position. McLin asserts that Williams’s salary is “almost double” her salary and claims that Williams was less qualified for the Director of Clinical Training Ph.D. program than McLin. Id. ¶ 12
• “In 2012, JSU hired Dr. Michael Moore, a white male, to serve as an assistant professor. JSU paid Dr. Moore nearly the same rate of pay as Dr. McLin, whose work as an associate professor with tenure requires greater skills and responsibilities than the assistant professor’s position held by Dr. Moore.” Id. ¶ 14. McLin claims that Defendant Dr. Lawrence Potter, the former Dean of JSU’s College of Liberal Arts, “advocated for Dr. Moore to receive substantially the same salary as Dr. McLin whose rank and experience far exceeded Dr. Moore.” Id. ¶ 15.

In her Amended Complaint, McLin asserts Title VII and Equal Pay Act claims against JSU based on alleged race and gender discrimination. She likewise sues Chiles and Potter in their individual capacities under §§ 1983 and 1981. Defendants moved to dismiss, McLin responded in opposition, and Defendants filed a reply. The Court has personal and subject-matter jurisdiction and is prepared to rule.

II. Standard

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the “court accepts ‘all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.’” Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations and footnote omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Ordinarily, a court considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion should limit its review to the contents of the pleadings, including “documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint.” Wilson v. Birnberg, 667 F.3d 591, 600 (5th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). In this case, McLin attached to her Response a number of documents that are not properly considered at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. Likewise, Defendants discuss evidence beyond the pleadings. Nevertheless, the Court declines to convert Defendants’ motion to one for summary judgment under Rule 12(d). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) (explaining that Court must convert 12(b)(6) motion into motion for summary judgment if it considers matters outside the pleadings).

III. Analysis

A. Race Discrimination

Defendants assert that McLin’s race-discrimination claim fails both because she did not administratively exhaust it and for ...

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