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United States District Court for the District of Kansas
March 24, 2022, Decided; March 24, 2022, Filed
Case No. 5:21-cv-04006-HLT-ADM
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Susan Pfannenstiel, Amber Harrington, Natasha McCurdy, Rebecca Corazzin-McMahan, Kimberly Meader, and Jarah Cooper bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII. Defendants are the State of Kansas, Herman Jones, Jason De Vore, Michael Murphy, Andrew Dean, Eric Sauer, Wesley Ludolph, and Thomas Catania. Plaintiffs assert thirty counts in the second amended complaint. Doc. 65. The [*2] claims arise out of Plaintiffs' employment with the Kansas Highway Patrol ("KHP"). At issue are five motions to dismiss. Docs. 67, 69, 71, 73, and 75. The Court addresses each motion. The surviving claims are summarized in the conclusion.
Jones is the KHP Superintendent. Doc. 65 at ¶ 15. De Vore is the Assistant Superintendent. Id. ¶ 16. Murphy, Dean, and Sauer are KHP Majors. Id. ¶¶ 17-19. Ludolph is a KHP Captain, and Catania was a KHP Lieutenant. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. These defendants are sued individually. The State of Kansas is also named as a defendant.
The governor appointed Jones in April 2019. Id. ¶ 32. Jones selected De Vore as Assistant Superintendent in May 2019. Id. ¶ 34. De Vore oversees the KHP Executive Commanders, as well as daily operations and departmental policy. Id. ¶ 36. Murphy, Dean, Sauer, Ludolph, and Catania were all under the chain of command of Jones and De Vore. Id. ¶ 44. Only Jones can fire KHP employees, but KHP employees can be reprimanded through their chain of command. Id. ¶¶ 45-46.
B. Plaintiff Pfannenstiel
Pfannenstiel started working for the State of Kansas in 1999. Id. ¶ 26. She served as KHP's Human Resources Director until September [*3] 2020. Id. ¶ 2. Although Pfannenstiel had supervisors within KHP, she also reported to the Office of Personnel Services ("OPS") under the Kansas Department of Administration ("KDA"), which was headed by Kraig Knowlton. Id. ¶¶ 54-55. OPS provides human resources policies and procedures for the State of Kansas. Id. ¶ 56.
On October 10-11, 2019, Pfannenstiel received instant messages from Jones. The complaint does not detail the substance of the messages other than to describe them as "of a sexual nature and . . . offensive." Id. ¶¶ 59-60. Defendants attached the messages to one of the motions to dismiss. Doc. 68-1.2 The messages, which include labels for the emojis used in parenthesis, read:
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2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53517 *; 2022 WL 873674
SUSAN PFANNENSTIEL, et al., Plaintiffs, v. STATE OF KANSAS, et al., Defendants.
Prior History: Pfannenstiel v. Kan., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177071 (D. Kan., Sept. 17, 2021)
hostile work environment, allegations, harassment, retaliation, employees, adverse employment action, Counts, touching, female, Woman, sex discrimination, severe, belong, gender, hostile-work-environment, pervasive, sexual, hug, motion to dismiss, sexual harassment, messages, email, inappropriate, hostile, qualified immunity, no action, investigators, supervision, ORDERS, male