Sims v. Unified Government of Wyandotte County, No. 99-2406-WL.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
Writing for the CourtLungstrum
Citation120 F.Supp.2d 938
PartiesDiane E. SIMS, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF WYANDOTTE COUNTY/KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, et al., Defendant.
Decision Date14 August 2000
Docket NumberNo. 99-2406-WL.
120 F.Supp.2d 938
Diane E. SIMS, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF WYANDOTTE COUNTY/KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, et al., Defendant.
No. 99-2406-WL.
United States District Court, D. Kansas.
August 14, 2000.
Order Granting Reconsideration in Part, October 24, 2000.

Page 939

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Page 940

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Page 941

John B. Gage, II, The Gage Law Firm, P.C., Overland Park, KS, for plaintiffs.

Daniel B. Denk, Gregory P. Goheen, McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A., Kansas City, KS, for defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LUNGSTRUM, District Judge.


This is a race discrimination case arising out of plaintiff's employment with the Health Department of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. Plaintiff is an African American female who contends that she was discriminated against and retaliated against by defendants in the course of her employment. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants, because of plaintiff's race, refused to increase plaintiff's salary to a competitive rate after she completed training through a federally funded program and obtained certification as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. Plaintiff brings numerous claims against defendants, including: (1) a Title VII claim alleging discrimination and retaliation, (2) a 42 U.S.C. § 1981 claim alleging discrimination and retaliation, (3) a Title VI claim alleging discrimination or retaliation in the application of a federally funded program, (4) a 42 U.S.C. § 1985 claim alleging conspiracy to discriminate on the basis of race, (5) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging denial of equal protection, (6) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging denial of procedural due process, and (7) a breach of contract or, alternatively, unjust enrichment claim.

Defendants have filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) (Doc. 19). As set forth in more detail below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 35). Defendants' sole objection to plaintiff's motion is that the proposed changes to her amended complaint are futile. Thus, the court will examine plaintiff's second amended complaint in considering defendants' motion, and, to the extent that the second amended complaint is not futile, will grant plaintiff leave to amend. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) ("leave shall be freely given when justice so requires"); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962) (holding that the provision "leave shall be freely given" is a "mandate ... to be heeded"); Viernow v. Euripides Devel. Corp., 157 F.3d 785, 799 (10th Cir.1998) (holding that the decision to grant leave to amend a complaint lies within the sound discretion of the trial court).

I. Background1

Plaintiff is an African American woman employed by the Health Department of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (Unified Government). She began working for the Health Department in 1996 as a Registered Nurse (RN). In April, 1997, plaintiff

Page 942

was approached by her supervisors and asked if she would be interested in enrolling in the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Plaintiff was informed that federal Title X funds would be used to pay for the program's tuition fees and would also be used to pay her RN salary during the course of the program. After successful completion of the program and a preceptorship following the program, plaintiff would obtain certification as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP). Plaintiff was promised that upon obtaining certification she would receive a salary increase such that her salary would be competitive with other ARNPs in the Kansas City metropolitan area. In exchange for these benefits, plaintiff would be required to sign an agreement to work for the Health Department for two years after completing her preceptorship. Plaintiff accepted the offer and began the program.

While plaintiff was performing her preceptorship in the fall of 1997, the governments of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County, Kansas consolidated into the Unified Government. As a result of the consolidation, the Health Department, which had formerly been under the control of Wyandotte County, came under the authority of the Unified Government. Defendant Joseph Connor, the interim director of the Wyandotte County Health Department, continued to serve as the interim director of the Unified Government Health Department. Defendant Dennis Hayes, the former administrator for the city of Kansas City, Kansas, was appointed as the administrator of the Unified Government.

In light of her impending certification, plaintiff informed Mr. Connor that she would be requesting an increase in her salary. Mr. Connor responded by informing plaintiff that there were no dollars budgeted for such an increase and asking plaintiff why she expected an increase when the Health Department had "sent her to school." Plaintiff explained that a salary increase was part of the consideration for her agreement to work for the Health Department for two years following certification. The past participants of the ARNP training program, all white women, had received raises after they had completed the program and received certification. On April 17, 1998, plaintiff gave written notice to Mr. Connor that she had been certified as an ARNP. After consulting with Mr. Hayes, Mr. Connor mailed a letter to plaintiff detailing the economic benefit of the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners program to plaintiff and indicating that she would be responsible for reimbursing the Health Department for over $31,000 if she left her position before the expiration of two years.

After receiving Mr. Connor's letter, plaintiff filled out a Personal Action Form requesting a pay increase to the amount of $3,294 per month or $39,500 per year. Plaintiff based the specific amount of her request on a Wyandotte County Job Vacancy Announcement for August 26, 1996, which advertised the salary for an ARNP at "$3,294.00/Mo." Plaintiff later learned that the competitive salary range for nurse practitioners in the Kansas City metropolitan area in April, 1998 was between $45,000 and $55,000. Mr. Connor submitted plaintiff's Personal Action Form to Mr. Hayes in late April, 1998. On June 25, 1998, Mr. Connor informed plaintiff that Mr. Hayes had denied her request for an immediate pay increase. Instead, Mr. Hayes had approved a raise to be given in three increments over a two year period. On June 26, 1998, plaintiff submitted a memorandum to Mr. Hayes, stating that she had been orally promised by Health Department officials in 1996 that her salary would increase to $40,000 per year upon completion of the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners program. She further stated that she considered the failure to immediately increase her salary a breach of contract with serious legal repercussions.

Page 943

Thereafter, plaintiff filed two grievances with the Unified Government, one alleging breach of contract and the other alleging discrimination and retaliation. In connection with those grievances, plaintiff substituted a "more realistic figure in line with comparables in the Kansas City area" for her initial request of a pay increase to $3,294 per month. Although Mr. Connor, Mr. Hayes, and others "failed to allow plaintiff Sims to pursue those grievances to their final stages," and "engag[ed] in the mediation process in bad faith," defendants unilaterally increased plaintiff's pay to the amount which she had originally requested, $3,294 per month.

On October 9, 1998, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and on October 15, 1998, plaintiff filed a charge with the Kansas Human Rights Commission. In both charges, plaintiff alleged that she had been discriminated against and retaliated against because of her race. Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC on June 10, 1999.

On November 19, 1999, when the Unified Government replaced its compensation program for a program assigning three salary ranges to each job classification, plaintiff was placed in the lowest salary range for her position, despite the fact that she had over one and one-half years experience as an ARNP. Plaintiff subsequently filed this suit on September 9, 1999.

II. Legal Standard

A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is governed by the same standards as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Mock v. T.G. & Y. Stores Co., 971 F.2d 522, 528 (10th Cir.1992). The court will dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim only when it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the theory of recovery that would entitle him or her to relief, see Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); Maher v. Durango Metals, Inc., 144 F.3d 1302, 1304 (10th Cir.1998), or when an issue of law is dispositive. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). The court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, as distinguished from conclusory allegations, see Maher, 144 F.3d at 1304, and all reasonable inferences from those facts are viewed in favor of the plaintiff. See Witt v. Roadway Express, 136 F.3d 1424, 1428 (10th Cir.1998). The issue in resolving a motion such as this is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether he or she is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974) (overruled on other grounds).

In deciding a 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 practice notes
  • Bolden v. City of Topeka, Kan., No. 04-3306.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • March 21, 2006
    ...1983, the district court should have permitted him to amend his complaint to do so. See Sims v. Unified Government of Wyandotte County, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 953 (D.Kan.2000) (ruling that Jett remains good law, but granting leave to amend complaint "to clarify that [plaintiff] is pursuing her ......
  • Rogers v. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's Cnty., Civil Nos. PJM 11–1194
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 9, 2012
    ...750]purpose of the federal funding defendant received was for employment); Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte Cnty./Kansas City, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 955–56 (D.Kan.2000) (denying motion to dismiss because plaintiff adequately pled that the federal funding was “provided for the purpose of faci......
  • Rubio v. Turner Unified School Dist. No. 202, Civil Action No. 05-2522-KHV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • September 28, 2006
    ...official capacity claims against individuals who are sued in their official capacities. See Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte County, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 945 (D.Kan.2000) (official capacity claims dismissed as redundant). The Court therefore dismisses all claims against the individual defen......
  • Bolden v. City of Topeka, No. CIV.A. 02-2635-KHV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • May 25, 2004
    ...of Jackson, 197 F.Supp.2d 1278, 1296 (D.Kan.2002) (Judge Sam A. Crow); Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte County/Kan. City, Kan., 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 953 (D.Kan.2000)(Judge John W. Lungstrum); see also Oden v. Oktibbeha County, 246 F.3d 458, 462-64 (5th Cir.), cert. denied 534 U.S. 948, 122 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • Bolden v. City of Topeka, Kan., No. 04-3306.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • March 21, 2006
    ...1983, the district court should have permitted him to amend his complaint to do so. See Sims v. Unified Government of Wyandotte County, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 953 (D.Kan.2000) (ruling that Jett remains good law, but granting leave to amend complaint "to clarify that [plaintiff] is pursuing her ......
  • Rogers v. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's Cnty., Civil Nos. PJM 11–1194
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 9, 2012
    ...750]purpose of the federal funding defendant received was for employment); Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte Cnty./Kansas City, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 955–56 (D.Kan.2000) (denying motion to dismiss because plaintiff adequately pled that the federal funding was “provided for the purpose of faci......
  • Rubio v. Turner Unified School Dist. No. 202, Civil Action No. 05-2522-KHV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • September 28, 2006
    ...official capacity claims against individuals who are sued in their official capacities. See Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte County, 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 945 (D.Kan.2000) (official capacity claims dismissed as redundant). The Court therefore dismisses all claims against the individual defen......
  • Bolden v. City of Topeka, No. CIV.A. 02-2635-KHV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • May 25, 2004
    ...of Jackson, 197 F.Supp.2d 1278, 1296 (D.Kan.2002) (Judge Sam A. Crow); Sims v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte County/Kan. City, Kan., 120 F.Supp.2d 938, 953 (D.Kan.2000)(Judge John W. Lungstrum); see also Oden v. Oktibbeha County, 246 F.3d 458, 462-64 (5th Cir.), cert. denied 534 U.S. 948, 122 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT