from the United States District Court for the District of
Utah (D.C. No. 2:16-CV-01107-BSJ)
Christian A. Kesselring, Wasatch Law Group, PLLC, Salt Lake
City, Utah, for Plaintiff -Appellant.
R. Derum (Christopher M. Glauser, with him on the brief),
Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar PLLC, Salt Lake City,
Utah, for Defendant - Appellee IHC Health Services, Inc.
PHILLIPS, KELLY, and CARSON, Circuit Judges.
Karna Sacchi obtained an unpaid internship with
Defendant-Appellee IHC Health Services, Inc. (the
"Hospital"), but her internship was terminated by
Defendant-Appellee Joy Singh before it was scheduled to
finish. 1 Aplt. App. 17, 21, 23-24. Ms. Sacchi then filed a
complaint alleging: (1) associational discrimination and
retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
(2) sex and religious discrimination under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act, (3) age discrimination under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), (4) breach of
contract, and (5) defamation against Ms. Singh. Id.
at 13-14. The district court dismissed Ms. Sacchi's
federal claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because it
concluded that she was not an employee and therefore not
protected under the antidiscrimination statutes. 1 Aplt. App.
at 43. The district court also declined to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over her non-federal claims and
dismissed them without prejudice. Id.
appeal, Ms. Sacchi asks the court to hold that, in an
internship setting, access to professional certification, a
path to employment, or both can constitute indirect,
significant job-related benefits and thereby satisfy the
"threshold-remuneration" test if those benefits are
substantial and not incident to the internship. Aplt. Br. at
24-25. In the alternative, Ms. Sacchi asks the court to hold
that most unpaid interns are "employees" under
federal antidiscrimination statutes. Id. at 25. On
the facts alleged in Ms. Sacchi's complaint, we conclude
that the benefits claimed are too attenuated and speculative
to constitute sufficient remuneration for purposes of this
circuit's threshold-remuneration test. Accordingly,
exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we
Sacchi's complaint alleged that she was pursuing a
master's degree at Mills College in early childhood
education with an emphasis in child life in hospitals, and
she sought to become a certified child life specialist. 1
Aplt. App. 16. The Child Life Council requires that
applicants for certification complete 480 hours in an
internship with an approved institution. Id. at 16.
To that end, Ms. Sacchi began an internship with the
Hospital, and her internship was originally scheduled to last
from August 26, 2015, to December 15, 2015. Id. at
17-18. On November 3, however, Ms. Singh, the Director of
Child Life at the Hospital, terminated the internship.
Id. at 24. The complaint further alleged that Ms.
Singh and the Hospital knew that Ms. Sacchi's father had
a disability, that Ms. Sacchi was a single mother and not a
member of the LDS church, and that Ms. Sacchi was over 40
years of age. Id. at 5, 22, 26, 28.
to this appeal, Ms. Sacchi received no direct payment or
other benefits for her work as an intern. Ms. Sacchi alleged,
however, that the internship would provide other benefits;
namely, it would allow her to satisfy the internship
requirement to be certified as a child life specialist, and
that it would provide a pathway to employment because
"[t]he great majority of newly certified child life
specialists obtain paid employment in the field shortly after
certification - often with the institutions where they
completed their internships." Id. at 16, 21,
26. To be certified as a child life specialist Ms. Sacchi was
required to have satisfied three requirements: (1) complete
an educational component, (2) complete 480 hours of clinical
training, and (3) pass a certification exam. See id.
at 16. The Hospital's internship program is designed to
satisfy the clinical experience requirement, and the program
is accredited and recognized by the Child Life Council.
Id. Once Ms. Sacchi completed her internship she
would have been qualified to take a certification exam, which
most people pass on the first attempt. Id. Given Ms.
Sacchi's previous academic performance, she maintains it
is likely that she would have passed the exam. Id.
district court dismissed Ms. Sacchi's federal claims
because it concluded that Ms. Sacchi had not alleged facts
sufficient to qualify as an employee for the purposes of the
ADA, ADEA, and Title VII and thus did not fall within those
statutes' protections. Id. at 43.
review a district court's dismissal of a complaint for
failure to state a claim de novo. Young v. Davis,
554 F.3d 1254, 1256 (10th Cir. 2009). We accept all facts
alleged in a well-pleaded complaint as true, and we view the
facts in the light most favorable to Ms. Sacchi. Potts v.
Ctr. for Excellence in Higher Educ., Inc., 908 F.3d 610,
613 (10th Cir. 2018). We also review de novo the legal
conclusion whether a person is within the class of persons
protected by the statutes under which she claims relief.
Whether Ms. Sacchi Satisfies the ...