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Byrd v. Board of Supervisors for University of Louisiana System

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

March 10, 2017

MISTY BYRD
v.
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM d/b/a LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY

          KAREN L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE.

          RULING

          ROBERT G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Misty Byrd (“Byrd”), a former employee of Louisiana Tech University, brought this action against the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System d/b/a Louisiana Tech University (“Tech”) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Tech filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 56], contending that Byrd is not entitled to recover damages for her alleged loss of health and dental insurance, employer contributions to the state employees' retirement system, or miscellaneous fringe benefits. Byrd filed a memorandum in opposition to Tech's motion. [Doc. No. 60]. Tech filed a reply memorandum. [Doc. No. 61].

         For the following reasons, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Byrd was an employee of Tech between 2003 and April 30, 2012, the effective date of her termination. She was hired by and worked under the supervision of her former step-father, Dr. Glen Beer (“Beer”). Byrd contends that Beer sexually harassed her until 2012. She contends further that her termination was a culmination of the harassment and/or retaliation in violation of Title VII. At the time of her termination, Byrd was an office manager in the College of Education. Byrd alleges that she attempted to report the alleged harassment to David Gullatt, Dean of the College of Education, but she claims he refused to listen. Tech contends that Byrd was terminated by Dean Gullatt after she was involved in two incidents with a Kinesiology professor, Tammy Schilling. Tech further contends that it was unaware of Beer's alleged harassment of Byrd until she made a report to the Human Resources Department on April 26, 2012, after she had been informed that she was being terminated.

         After receiving her notice of right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), Byrd filed a Complaint [Doc. No. 1] in this Court on September 25, 2014. In the Complaint, Byrd alleges that “[s]he has suffered loss of income, past and future, lost her health and dental insurance as well as employer contributions in the state employee's retirement system, causing her great economic damage.” Id. at ¶13. In her prayer for relief, Byrd seeks “judgment . . . in a sum reasonable in the premises, estimated to be $750, 000.00 to compensate her for her lost wages, past and future, lost retirement income to compensate her for her emotional distress, pain and suffering, reinstatement to a position similar in nature to her previous employment together with all costs of these proceedings and judicial interest from date of judicial demand.” Id. at ¶ 14.

         On January 4, 2017, Tech filed the instant motion. On January 30, 2017, Byrd filed an opposition memorandum. On February 13, 2017, Tech filed a reply memorandum.

         On March 6, 2017, Tech also filed a pretrial memorandum. [Doc. No. 64]

         Finally, the instant motion was discussed with Magistrate Judge Hayes at the pre-trial conference on March 8, 2017.

         The Court is now prepared to rule.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Motions for Summary Judgment

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under ...


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