United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
LEONARD C. TALLEVAST, Plaintiff,
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion (ECF No. 6) of
Defendant City of St. Louis (the “City”) to
dismiss Plaintiff Leonard Tallevast's complaint.
Plaintiff asserts claims of race discrimination and
retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
will grant the motion.
as true for the purpose of this motion, Plaintiff alleges the
following facts. Plaintiff, a white male, was employed as a
park ranger in the City police department's Park Rangers
Division, beginning on May 14, 2014. On the morning of June
14, 2018, a black, female co-worker addressed Plaintiff at
work by saying, “Fuck you, Leo! You're an Old White
Motherfucker!” ECF No. 1, Compl. ¶ 30. Sergeant
Kenneth Haynes, a park ranger supervisor, witnessed this
encounter and instructed Plaintiff to “just walk away
from it.” Id. ¶ 32. Plaintiff also
immediately informed his direct supervisor, Sergeant John
Garrett, of the incident, and the next day, Garrett informed
Plaintiff not to speak with the coworker.
on the morning of July 3, 2018, a black, male co-worker
called Plaintiff a “fucking liar”; challenged
Plaintiff to fight him; and said to Plaintiff, “Kiss my
ass, better yet, kiss my black ass!” Id.
¶¶ 42-46. Shortly after this encounter, Garrett
approached Plaintiff and told Plaintiff that he (Garrett) had
witnessed the incident, but Garrett did not take any further
same day, July 3, 2018, Plaintiff reported both of the
above-described incidents to the Deputy Commander of the
Ranger Division, Sergeant Brandt Flowers. Plaintiff alleges
that as a result of these two incidents and his
supervisors' failure to discipline the coworkers or
otherwise correct the issue, Plaintiff was
“constructively discharged on or about July 5,
2018.” Id. ¶ 12.
filed suit on July 29, 2019, after filing a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission and receiving a notice of right to sue. Plaintiff
asserts claims under Title VII for race discrimination on a
constructive-discharge theory (Count I); retaliation in the
form of a constructive discharge as a result of
Plaintiff's complaints about his co-workers (Count II);
and hostile work environment (Count III).
City seeks dismissal of all counts for failure to state a
claim. The City contends that Plaintiff has not pled
sufficient facts to demonstrate that he acted reasonably in
resigning his employment after the two incidents described
above, or that he gave his employer an opportunity to correct
the problem, so as to support a claim of constructive
discharge. The City likewise argues that the facts as alleged
fail to demonstrate conduct severe or pervasive enough to
constitute a hostile work environment.
opposes the motion to dismiss and argues that he has pled
sufficient facts to state claims of constructive discharge
and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.
Alternatively, Plaintiff seeks leave to amend his complaint,
but he does not attach a proposed amended complaint or
suggest how he might cure any pleading deficiency.
survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's claims must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). The reviewing court accepts the
plaintiff's factual allegations as true and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Torti v. Hoag, 868 F.3d 666, 671 (8th Cir. 2017).
But “[c]ourts are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation, and factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Id.
claim of discrimination or retaliation under Title VII first
requires a plaintiff to identify an adverse employment
action. Blake v. MJ Optical, Inc., 870 F.3d 820, 826
(8th Cir. 2017). A plaintiff relying on a
constructive-discharge theory to prove this element
“shoulders a substantial burden.” Blake v. MJ
Optical, Inc., 870 F.3d 820, 826 (8th Cir. 2017).
constructive-discharge doctrine contemplates a situation in
which an employer discriminates against an employee to the
point such that his working conditions become so intolerable
that a reasonable person in the employee's position would
have felt compelled to resign.” Green v.
Brennan, 136 S.Ct. 1769, 1776-77 (2016) (citation
omitted). “When the employee resigns in the face of
such circumstances, Title VII treats that resignation as
tantamount to an actual discharge.” Id.
Moreover, the employee must show that the “employer
deliberately created intolerable working conditions with the
intention of forcing [him] to quit, ” and that he gave
his employer a “reasonable chance to work out a
problem” before quitting. Blake, 870 F.3d at
harassment is only actionable under Title VII as a hostile
work environment if it is so “severe or pervasive to
alter the conditions of the victim's employment and
create an abusive working environment.” Cooper Tire
& Rubber Co. v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., 866
F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2017). And when the alleged harasser
is a non-supervisor, the plaintiff must also prove the
employer knew or should have known about the ...