Court denies some of Delta R-V School District's motions to dismiss claims in age discrimination case

By Charmaine Little | Nov 30, 2018

CAPE GIRARDEAU – The Delta R-V School District and administrators were only partially granted their motions to dismiss a case filed by a science teacher over allegations he was terminated because of his age.

The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri for the Southeastern Division granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motions to dismiss Oct. 26.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni ruled to deny the defendants' motion to dismiss count two of Carl D. Ritter Jr.'s claims over allegations of "failure to instruct, supervise, control and discipline directed against defects district, (Superintendent Mellisa) Heath and board;" and count four alleging violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the ruling states.

Crites-Leoni did grant the defendants' to dismiss count one alleging age discrimination in violation of the Missouri Humans Rights Act (MHRA).

Crites-Leoni agreed to dismiss Ritter's claims pertaining to the MHRA because Ritter failed to get a right-to-sue letter from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights Act in order to file a suit under the MHRA. While he received one after filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court stated a letter from the EEOC "does not give rise to a right-to-sue under the MHRA."

As for count two, the court pointed out, “Defendants have failed to cite any authority for their position that Ritter’s failure to supervise claim is preempted by the MHRA. Construing Ritter’s allegations in his favor as the court must do, the undersigned finds that Ritter has stated a claim sufficient to survive defendants' motion to dismiss."

As for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim, the court dismissed the count in regards to Heath. The court disagreed with the district on the argument that Ritter didn’t give any sufficient facts to prove he fell victim to an ADEA violation. While the only thing he mentioned in his first complaint about age was stating he was 57, he added more details in his amended complaint, like being replaced by a 25-year-old, that the court said was enough for his claim to survive dismissal.

Ritter worked as a science teacher, physical education teacher and coach for Delta School District when he was passed up for the principal position, the ruling states. After a back-and-forth with the superintendent, he was ultimately let go without a contract renewal. 

Ritter alleged Heath told other staff that Ritter didn’t get the principal position before she told him. Ritter and Heath met and he was put on administrative leave in March 2017. Heath wanted to meet with Ritter again and he allegedly told her he would only do it if it was in person and with a witness. Heath said Ritter was refusing to cooperate, the ruling states. 

A few days later he received a letter that said the school board voted to reconsider a previous offer it sent him for employment and that the board wouldn’t be renewing his contract for the current school year.

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