State, Symphony file motions to dismiss in COVID-19 vaccination discrimination case 

RALEIGH — The state of North Carolina and the North Carolina Symphony have filed motions to dismiss a case brought by former members of the symphony over COVID-19 vaccination mandates. 

In late August, three musicians filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) after they were fired after their religious exemption requests were denied related to a 2021 COVID-19 vaccine mandate imposed on symphony members. 

In addition to the Symphony as an organization, Sandy MacDonald, president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Symphony, is also named as a defendant. 

The musicians’ lawsuit alleges that Symphony leadership had no intention of granting religious exemptions and cites Macdonald as having declared the organization was committed to a “culture” of vaccination.  

In its Nov. 3 motion, the Symphony contends that the musicians delayed too much before lodging a complaint, while the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources maintains that the musicians lack a case against the department by claiming they were never employed by the state. 

 “As explained in the Symphony and Macdonald’s accompanying memorandum of law, Plaintiffs’ Title VII claim is time-barred because they did not file charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days after the denial of their requested accommodations,” the motion states. 

Additionally, the motion argues the plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claim is deemed insufficient because they did not prove that the Symphony or Macdonald acted under state law when making the contested decisions, and thereby failing to establish that the employment actions are attributable to the State of North Carolina. 

In a separate dismissal filing, lawyers representing the state asserted that all claims against DNCR should be dropped, arguing that the plaintiffs’ employer was the North Carolina Symphony Society, Inc., not DNCR or the State of North Carolina. 

About A.P. Dillon 1126 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_