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Davis v. Baton Rouge City Constable's Office

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

August 17, 2017




         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9) filed by the Baton Rouge City Constable's Office (hereinafter "Constable's Office" or "Defendant") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. Through its motion, Defendant seeks summary judgment on Rhea Davis' ("Plaintiff') Title VII claims of gender discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff filed a memorandum opposing Defendant's motion. (Doc. 16). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Oral argument is not necessary. For reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was employed as a Deputy Constable for Defendant from January 19, 2010 until mid-todate 2012, at which time she received a promotion to the position of Jail Corporal. Plaintiff retained that position her resignation on January 2, 2015. (See Doc. 1-2). During her employment, Plaintiff avers that she successfully executed her job duties and responsibilities and was recognized as an exemplary employee. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 4).

         In early 2014, when the position of Jail Sergeant of the Constable's Office became available, Plaintiff, along with three other applicants, applied. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 20). Plaintiff alleges that although she received the highest score on the civil service sergeant examination and had the most experience as a Deputy Constable of the three candidates who applied for the position, Defendant hired Deputy Constable Travis Brooks (hereinafter Sgt. Brooks), a male employee and allegedly the only male applicant, for the Jail Sergeant position. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 21). When Plaintiff inquired about why Sgt. Brooks was chosen for the position, Plaintiff alleges that she was told the final decision was based on seniority, although seniority was not listed as a criteria to be considered for the position.[1] (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 22).

         A few weeks later, a position in Defendant's Judicial Enforcement Division became available. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 26). After speaking with Sergeant Ganiyu Jimoh (hereinafter "Sgt. Jimoh"), the supervisor in the Judicial Enforcement Division, about the position, Plaintiff applied and was thereafter interviewed. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶¶ 26-30). Following her interview, Plaintiff learned that Deputy Constable Anthony Haynes (hereinafter "Deputy Haynes"), a male deputy who had been working for Defendant for less than a year, was selected for the vacant position in the Judicial Enforcement Division. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 30). After speaking with Sgt. Jimoh, Plaintiff learned that despite being highly recommended for the position, Constable Brown selected Deputy Haynes. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 31).

         In response to being overlooked for the position of Jail Sergeant and the position in Defendant's Judicial Enforcement Division, Plaintiff filed her first EEOC Charge of Discrimination ("the Discrimination Charge") on April 16, 2014. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 32; Doc. 9-3). Therein, Plaintiff complained that, although she interviewed for the Jail Sergeant position and was told that she was "exceptionally qualified, " Defendant hired Deputy Brooks for the position. (Doc. 9-3 at p. 2). Plaintiff also alleged that, after applying for a position in Defendant's Judicial Enforcement Division, Defendant hired Deputy Haynes, who had only been employed by Defendant for eleven months. (Id.).

         Shortly after Plaintiff filed the Discrimination Charge, she was accused by an employee to have used illegal drugs recreationally. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 36). That same day, Defendant placed Plaintiff on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into the accusations of her alleged drug use. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 38). In accordance with the underlying investigation, Plaintiff was required to submit both urine and hair samples to test for drugs, a protocol which Plaintiff argues was contrary to Defendant's practice. (Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 38). While the investigation was ongoing, Plaintiff resigned from the Constable's Office. After Plaintiff resigned from her employ with Defendant, she filed a second Charge of Discrimination with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights ("the Retaliation Charge") on January 15, 2017. In her complaint, Plaintiff stated her belief that she was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation in retaliation for filing the Discrimination Charge. (Doc. 9-4 at p. 2).

         Plaintiff filed the instant action on January 12, 2016, asserting claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S. §§ 2OOOe, et seq., and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law, La. R.S. § 23:301, et seq. ("LEDL").[2] Specifically, Plaintiffs Petition outlines five discrete actions-which Plaintiffs petition calls "disparate treatment"-taken by Defendant that she believes either amount to or are evidence of violations of Title VII and the LEDL: i) temporarily changing Plaintiffs work hours from 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. after she notified Defendant that she was pregnant and would need to go on "light duty status"; ii) promoting Sgt. Brooks, a male employee, over Plaintiff to the position of Jail Sergeant; iii) allegedly demoting Plaintiff from her position as Jail Corporal while she was on maternity leave; iv) promoting Deputy Haynes, a male employee, over Plaintiff to a position in Defendant's Judicial Enforcement Division; and v) placing Plaintiff on administrative leave and failing to reinstate her after receiving a complaint alleging misconduct. (See Doc. 1-2 at pp. 6-13). On February 21, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (See Doc. 9).



         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[t]he 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Coleman v. Hous. Indep. Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

         After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the non-movant "must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (internal citations omitted). At this stage, the court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if "the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, " the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Id. at 1263.

         On the other hand, the non-movant's burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, or by conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp.,37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994) (internal quotations omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In other words, summary judgment will he only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine ...

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