COULD THE HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR BE SUED UNDER TITLE VII?
Case citation: Van Myers v. Tyler ISD, 2013 WL 449358 and 2013 WL 449329 (E.D. Tex. 2013) (unpublished).
Summary: Jesse Van Myers filed suit against the Tyler Independent School District and Human Resources Director, Sharon Roy, claiming discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, he claimed race, gender, and age discrimination. In response, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, seeking dismissal of the claims against Sharon Roy. Van Myers, who was proceeding without the assistance of legal counsel, did not respond to the motion.
Ruling: The trial court dismissed the discrimination claims against the human resources director. Under Title VII, an “employer” may not discriminate against its employees or potential employees because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Here, Van Myers’s employer was the Tyler Independent School District. Sharon Roy was an employee of the district and was not Van Myers’s employer. The trial court observed that a Title VII plaintiff cannot maintain a suit against both an employer and its agent acting in her official capacity. Further, a federal claim against a government employee in their “official capacity” is the equivalent of a claim made against the governmental entity.
Van Myers’s claim against Roy in her official capacity under Title VII was, therefore, a claim against the district. As the district is also named as a defendant, it was unnecessary to name Roy as a defendant. The trial court also determined that the suit did not allege facts stating a claim against Roy in her individual capacity. Thus, Roy could not be held personally liable under Title VII and could not be sued in her individual capacity.