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Rosecrans v. Village of Wellington

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

February 9, 2018

DANIEL C. ROSECRANS, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF WELLINGTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONALD C. NUGENT Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Defendants, Village of Wellington (“the Village”), Timothy Barfield (“Chief Barfield”), Joshua Poling (Sgt. Poling”), and Jeffrey Shelton (“Lt. Shelton”). (Docket #7.) Defendants ask the Court to dismiss Counts III and IV of the Complaint filed by Plaintiff, Daniel C. Rosecrans (“Mr. Rosecrans”) and to dismiss all claims against Chief Barfield, Sgt. Poling and Lt. Shelton.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background.

         A. Employment History - Past EEOC Complaints and Lawsuits.

         Mr. Rosecrans was employed by the Village of Wellington as a part-time police officer from approximately 1996 until he resigned on July 31, 2015. (Complaint at Paragraphs 25 and 54.) Mr. Rosecrans states that during his tenure with the Village, he was subjected to a hostile work environment; that Village employees and/or agents engaged in conduct that was disrespectful, emotionally abusive, and intimidating relative to his age; that during his tenure he was a loyal employee who diligently and competently worked for Defendants; that he discharged all duties assignment to him competently and enjoyed an excellent reputation with regard to the high quality of his work; and, that he was fully qualified for his position, performed the essential functions of his job within the reasonable expectations of his employer, and was a dedicated employee. (Id. at Paragraphs 20-24.)

         Mr. Rosecrans states that in June 2014, when he was 47 years old, he was passed up for a full-time police officer position and that a younger, less-qualified employee was hired. (Complaint at Paragraph 15.) As a result, Mr. Rosecrans filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC - alleging age discrimination, harassment, disability discrimination, and hostile work environment - and later filed a lawsuit against the Village regarding the same. (Id. at Paragraph 17.) Several months later, in October 2014, Mr. Rosecrans alleged the Village hired two younger, less-qualified police officers instead of hiring Mr. Rosecrans for a full-time position. (Id. at Paragraph 18.) Mr. Rosecrans filed a second Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC in 2015 stemming from the October 2014 hiring, and later filed a second lawsuit against the Village regarding the same. (Id. at Paragraph 19.)

         B. Facts and Circumstances Giving Rise to the Instant Lawsuit.

         Mr. Rosecrans alleges that after he filed the two EEOC Charges and lawsuits referenced above, employees and agents of the Village, including Chief Barfield and Sgt. Poling, engaged in a pattern of conduct meant to harass, intimidate and retaliate against him. (Complaint at Paragraph 26.) Mr. Rosecrans alleges that in July 2016, he was falsely accused of not following proper scheduling procedures and that he was intentionally subjected to different and less-desirable work schedules and his hours were reduced, despite the fact that he was the part-time police officer with the most seniority. (Id. at Paragraph 27.) Mr. Rosecrans alleges that Defendants were setting him up for discipline due to the EEOC Charges and lawsuits he had filed and that Defendants manufactured the scheduling issues in an attempt to harass, intimidate, discipline, and ultimately remove Rosecrans as a part-time officer with the Village. (Id. at Paragraph 41-42.)

         As alleged in the Complaint, Chief Barfield, Sgt. Poling and Lt. Shelton held supervisory positions within the Village Police Department and supervised and managed Mr. Rosecrans during the relevant time period. (Complaint at Paragraphs 46-47.) On July 31, 2015, Chief Barfield and Sgt. Poling went to Mr. Rosecrans' home, in uniform, arriving in two police cars - one pulling into his driveway and the other parking in front of his residence. (Id. at Paragraphs 28-30.) Defendants state that Chief Barfield and Sgt. Poling went to Mr. Rosecrans' residence to discuss Mr. Rosecrans' alleged refusal to abide by the new scheduling policy which would be implemented beginning August 2015 and that Mr. Rosecrans resigned immediately upon their arrival. (Defendants' Brief in Support of Judgment on the Pleadings, Docket #7-1, at p. 1.) However, Mr. Rosecrans alleges that Chief Barfield and Sgt. Poling came to his home to intimidate and harass him and, that as a result, he felt compelled to resign. (Complaint at Paragraph 31.)

         C. Mr. Rosecrans Third EEOC Charge and the Instant Lawsuit.

         Mr. Rosecrans filed a third Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC in 2016, based on what he alleges was the harassing, retaliatory, hostile, and intimidating conduct. On June 30, 2017, the EEOC sent a Notice of Right to Sue. Mr. Rosecrans filed his lawsuit in this Court on July 31, 2017, alleging Chief Barfield, Sgt. Poling and Lt. Shelton “violated his Constitutional right to equal protection under the law in numerous ways” including but not limited to 1) “Condoning and encouraging a harassing and intimidating environment designed to remove Rosecrans as a part-time employee;” 2) “Changing scheduling procedures to specifically aggravate and intimidate Rosecrans;” 3) “Showing up at the home residence of Rosecrans with two officers ans two police officers [sic] to intimidate and scare Rosecrans;” 4) “treating Rosecrans differently and more harshly than other part-time officers;” and, 5) “Engaging in conduct designed to stifle the exercise of his rights by Rosecrans and his right to freedom of speech by posting false and/or negative comments about Rosecrans in the newspaper.”

         Mr. Rosecrans asserts claims for Retaliation (Count I), alleging he was retaliated against for pursuing charges and lawsuits against the Village; Hostile Work Environment (Count II), alleging he was subjected to continuous and prolonged harassment by Defendants and that other part-time officers were treated more favorably, forcing his resignation in July 2015; State Law Claims (Count III) pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 4112.01 et seq. for retaliation and hostile work environment; and, a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count IV), alleging Defendants harassed, retaliated and intimidated him and “violated the rights of Rosecrans under the color of the law.”

         On November 16, 2017, Defendants filed their Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. (Docket #7.) Defendants ask the Court to enter an order dismissing Counts III and IV of the Complaint and also to dismiss Chief Barfield, Sgt. Poling and Lt. Shelton as named Defendants. Specifically, Defendants argue that Mr. Rosecrans' discrimination claims under Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code are barred by the 180-day statute of limitations or, alternatively, that Mr. Rosecrans is barred from pursuing a civil action under Chapter 4112 based upon his election of remedies; that his Section 1983 claim must be dismissed because his sole and exclusive remedy arises under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); and, that because Mr. Rosecrans' sole remaining claim arises under the ADEA, which limits liability to employers and specifically excludes supervisors sued in their individual capacities, the individual Defendants must be dismissed.

         Mr. Rosecrans filed his Memorandum in Opposition on December 18, 2017. (Docket #10.) Defendants filed a Reply Brief ...


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