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Rosette v. Pinnacle Entertainment

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 18, 2018




         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 38) filed by Defendant, PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership, which seeks dismissal of Plaintiff Charlene Rosette's Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims. Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. 40). For the reasons that follow, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and the action is DISMISSED.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         Beginning on August 16, 2012, Plaintiff, a black female, worked as a server in the LAuberge Casino & Hotel's Bon Temps Buffet. (Doc. 38-8). The chain of events that led to this litigation began when Plaintiff made reports to management and human resources officials, alleging that one of her supervisors was showing up to work drunk and stealing employees' tips. (Doc. 45-1 at pp. 14-15, 46-47; Doc. 45-2 at pp. 1-3 (email dated May 29, 2014)). The record does not reveal what became of these reports.

         Relevant to Plaintiffs claims, she asserts that in the fall of 2014, she and another employee were appointed lead servers. [2] (Doc. 45-1 at p. 27). However, Plaintiff insists that she was demoted after complaining that she did not receive a pay increase upon her promotion. (Id.). Defendants claim that she never held the position of lead server and that instead she was engaged in a "trial period" to determine if she was suited for the position of lead server. (Doc. 38-20 at p. 8).

         On March 4, 2015, Defendant issued a "Final Notification" warning to Plaintiff based on a purported outburst on February 28, 2015. (Doc. 38-15 at p. 1). Plaintiff disputes her culpability, claiming that she was not culpable for the argument described in her record of counseling and that she should not have been punished. (Doc. 45-5 at pp. 1-4). The white female employee who had the altercation with Plaintiff also received a "Final Notification" for the incident. (Doc. 38-16 at p. 1).

         On August 28, 2015, Defendant terminated Plaintiffs employment. (Doc. 38-9 at p. 1). Plaintiffs personnel file indicates that she was terminated for a violation of company policy. (Id.). Defendants allege that Plaintiff was terminated for taking an unclaimed tip of $3.00 that did not belong to her.[3] (Doc. 38-4 at ¶ 16; Doc. 38-25 at p. 1). Defendant admits that she signed for a tip even though she did not have a ticket for it, and that she was aware that signing for a tip without a ticket was against company policy. (Doc. 45-1 at p. 49). However, Plaintiff asserts that she believed the tip was hers when she signed for it. (Id.) Defendants claim that their investigation revealed Defendant had likely violated the policy on multiple occasions.[4] (Doc. 38-4 at ¶ 13).

         Plaintiff filed two charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") relating to Defendant. (See Docs. 1-4 & 1-5). The first charge, filed on March 26, 2015, indicated that the discrimination was based on retaliation. (Doc. 1-4 at p. 1). In the "particulars" section of the charge sheet, Plaintiff described the basis of her charge:

I. I have been employed by [Defendant] as a Server .... On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, I reported Assistant Manager Derek Gaspard (White) for stealing servers; tips to Human Resources manager Kizzy Smith. On Sunday, March 22, 2015, Mr. Gaspard approached me and said, "I do not Uke you. I am tired of you. I promise things are not going to turn out good for you if you keep messing with me." Mr. Gaspard used intimidation tactics and also harassed me while working tables. I sent an E-mail to Human Resources, Ms. Kizzy Smith, and she failed to respond to my complaint.
II. [Defendant] has failed to respond to the intimidation and harassment.
III. I believe [Defendant] has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, by using intimidation in retaliation against me for reporting Mr. Gaspard stealing tips.


         Following her termination, Plaintiff filed a second EEOC charge on October 5, 2015. (Doc. 1-5 at p. 1). That charge again indicated that Plaintiff was bringing a charge based solely on retaliation. (Id.). In the "particulars" section of that charge, Plaintiff indicated that she was suspended and discharged for filing her previous EEOC complaint. (Id.).

         Plaintiff filed suit in this Court, alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of race and that she was retaliated against for reporting her manager and filing EEOC charges, all in violation of Title VII. (Doc. 8 at ¶¶ 30-39).


         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 motion for summary judgment is filed, 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). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Austin v. Kroger Tex., L.P., 846 F.3d 326, 328 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Gates, 537 F.3d at 417). At this stage, however, 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).

         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 lie 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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