United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
GAY M. STORY
OUR LADY OF THE LAKE PHYSICIAN GROUP
RULING AND ORDER
W. DEGRAVELLES JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 44) filed by defendant Our Lady of the Lake
Physician Group. Plaintiff Gay M. Story opposes the motion.
(Doc. 47). The defendant has filed a reply brief in support
of its motion. (Doc. 50). Oral argument is not necessary.
After careful consideration of the parties' arguments,
the facts in the record, and the applicable law, and for the
following reasons, the defendant's motion (Doc. 44) is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Gay Story (âDr. Storyâ), who is an African-American female,
filed suit on September 18, 2017, alleging that she was
discriminated against on the basis of her race, sex, and age
when Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group (âOLOLâ) fired her.
On November 15, 2017, she filed an amended complaint. (Doc.
19). OLOL moved for dismissal of Dr. Story's retaliation
claim and state-law claim under La. Civil Code Article 2315.
(Doc. 24). On April 20, 2018, the Court granted the motion
for partial dismissal. (Doc. 29). OLOL answered the remaining
claims. (Doc. 30). On August 30, OLOL moved for summary
judgment on all remaining claims. (Doc. 44).
February 22, 2015, OLOL hired Dr. Story to work in its new
Endocrinology Clinic. Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group is
a wholly-owned subsidiary of Our Lady of the Lake Regional
Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Doc. 44-35 at 2).
In accordance with its standard procedure, OLOL offered Dr.
Story a two-year employment agreement based on a fixed annual
salary of $275, 000. (Docs 44-4 at 7-8; Doc. 44-5 at 1; Doc.
44-6). At the conclusion of the fixed-compensation period,
Dr. Story's salary would shift to a production-based
model of compensation--which is the norm for all full-time
physicians at OLOL. (Doc. 44-4 at 7-8; Doc. 44-5 at 1).
October 2016, four months before the scheduled expiration of
the contract and the term of fixed compensation, Dr. Story
requested that the fixed-compensation term be extended for
two additional years. (Doc. 44-4 at 14-17; Doc. 44-17 at 1).
Jamy Richard, VP of Finance, performed an analysis of Dr.
Story's compensation in relation to her level of
production over a 12-month period. (Doc. 44-5 at 1-2).
Richard concluded that OLOL was overpaying Dr. Story by $125,
000 per year based on her production and that Dr. Story's
Endocrinology Clinic coworkers were exceeding her level of
production. (Id.). Accordingly, OLOL's Senior
Leadership Group voted unanimously not to extend the two-year
term of fixed compensation, thus guaranteeing that Dr.
Story's compensation would soon be based on her
productivity. (Doc. 44-4 at 13). At Dr. Chastain's
request, Dr. Story sent an email in October 2016 with a list
of concerns she felt âhindered [her] ability to get [her]
production numbers up.â (Doc. 47-5 at 1; see also
Doc. 44-4 at 8-9 & Doc. 44-17 at 1).
November 11, 2016, Richard, Dr. Curtis Chastain (President
and Medical Director), and LaDonna Green (VP of Operations)
met with Dr. Story to inform her of the leadership
group's decision and to give Dr. Story âan understanding
of what needed to be done . . . to help her get to where she
needed to be from a productivity standpoint, so she
wouldn't take a cut in salary.â (Doc. 44-4 at 22). This
was the sole purpose of the meeting. (Id. at 22-23;
Doc. 44-17 at 1).
meeting, Dr. Chastain first informed Dr. Story that her
salary request was denied. (Doc. 44-17 at 1). He then told
her that her performance was below expectations, but that the
purpose of the meeting was to discuss opportunities for
improvement to avoid a production-related decrease in salary
beginning in February 2017. (Doc. 44-4 at 22 & 24). Dr.
Story responded by pointing to a number of barriers she
believed prevented her from seeing more patients, many of
which--according to OLOL--were covered in her prior email and
had already been resolved by that point. (Doc. 44-4 at 25;
Doc. 47-11 at 8-9; Doc. 44-20 at 1). At this point, the
accounts of the meeting diverge.
to OLOL, Dr. Chastain committed to removing any barriers to
Dr. Story's ability to see patients and sought to discuss
several specific ways in which Dr. Story could increase her
production. (Doc. 44-4 at 14-17). The three action items
included Dr. Story: (1) billing 32 hours of patient visits
per week; (2) no longer screening referrals from other
doctors; and (3) conducting inpatient consultations of
endocrinology patients in the hospital (which were being
provided by a third-party organization). (Id. at 15;
Doc. 44-18 at 17-18).
to those present at the meeting, Dr. Story opposed the idea
of inpatient consultations at the hospital, and immediately
became angry and aggressive. (Doc. 44-5 at 2; Doc. 44-17 at
2; Doc. 44-18 at 18-19; Doc. 44-19 at 4-6). Dr. Story began
behaving âirrationallyâ and stating that this would be
unacceptable. (Doc. 44-4 at 26-27; Doc. 44-17 at 2; Doc.
44-18 at 18). She stated that she did not know who Richard
was and did not âlike the smirk on [her] face.â (Doc. 44-17
Chastain testified that if Dr. Story simply disagreed with
the ways in which to improve her performance, âshe'd
probably still be employed today.â (Doc. 44-4 at 29).
Instead, âshe became very aggressive, very angry, [had] very
pressured speech, taunting, questioning my integrity,
questioning my colleagues' integrity, . . . and saying
she'd been singled out.â (Id. at 29- 30). Dr.
Chastain said that it became âterribly frighteningâ and the
room was ânot a safe environment any longer, â and that Dr.
Story refused to stop yelling. (Id. at 30). âI
finally had to stand up and open the door and ask her to
leave.â (Id.). According to Dr. Chastain, the three
were âafraid to leave the roomâ after Dr. Story walked out
for fear they would âbump into her again.â (Id. at
33). Dr. Chastain considered calling security. (Doc. 44-17 at
Green testified that she had never seen anyone in a
professional setting behave the way Dr. Story did at the
meeting, that she âraised her voice, â became âreally angry[,
] and would not let anyone else around the room say
anything.â (Doc. 44-19 at 4). Green had ânever seen anything
like that in [her] life.â (Id.). Green stated that
Dr. Story continually yelled at Dr. Chastain about hospital
consultations and that she was âstunnedâ because she had
ânever seen [Dr. Story] come at anyone in this manner.â
(Id. at 6). The meeting left Green âshakenâ and
âupset, â believing that â[w]e would never be able to talk
with Dr. Story about anything if she's going to behave
like this.â (Id. at 8-9). Green physically moved her
chair away from Dr. Story during the meeting. (Doc. 44-20 at
testified that Dr. Story âdid not like [the] ideaâ of seeing
hospital patients and became âcompletely irate, very
insubordinate, very unprofessional, was screaming and got
very aggressive, at which point Dr. Chastain said âwe need to
end this meeting.'â (Doc. 44-18 at 18). Richard was
confused by Dr. Story's anger because the purpose of the
meeting was âhow can we help you get your numbers up? What
can we do to help you?â (Id. at 19). She testified
that after stating three times that the meeting was over, Dr.
Chastain finally stood up and opened the door. (Id.
two administrative assistants sitting at a desk outside the
conference room told National Labor Relations Board (âNLRBâ)
investigators that they heard a woman yelling âloudlyâ and in
an âangryâ manner, such that the two felt they might need to
call security because the situation seemed âtense,
uncomfortable, and a bit frightening.â (Doc. 44-26 at 2).
Story states that she agreed during the meeting to conduct
hospital consultations and did not express any opposition to
doing so. (Doc. 47-9 at 8). She denies that she âbecame loud
or aggressive or threatening or inappropriate in that meeting
in any way.â (Id. at 9). She stated that that she
became âanimatedâ and âraised my voiceâ while Dr. Chastain
âraised his voice.â (Id. at 10). She could not think
of any reason why any person outside the room would have
heard her. (Id. at 11). She agreed that Dr. Chastain
asked her several times to leave the meeting, but that she
refused to do so at first because she âcouldn't believe
what was going on with the attacks.â (Id. at 12).
affidavit supporting her complaint to the National Labor
Relations Board (see infra Section I.B.), Dr. Story
corroborated that Dr. Chastain and Green discussed with her
at the meeting her practice of reviewing and denying patient
referrals from other physicians. (Doc. 47-11 at 8-9). She
testified that Richard informed her that her productivity was
lower than her coworkers', despite the fact that they
worked less frequently. (Id. at 9). Richard's
analysis accounted for the discrepancy by extrapolation,
finding that if the coworkers worked the same amount of hours
as Dr. Story, their production would be higher.
(Id.). When Dr. Story responded to this with an
explanation for the disparity, Richard ârolled her eyes.â
(Id.). When she rolled her eyes a second time, Dr.
Story asked âwhy are you being so disrespectful?â
(Id.). Richard did not respond. (Id.). Then
Dr. Chastain began discussing hospital consultations.
(Id. at 9-10).
Dr. Story suggested that a group of doctors could establish a
rotation for hospital calls, Dr. Chastain replied that it
would âbe up to them if they choose to be on hospital
[consultations].â (Doc. 47-11 at 10). Dr. Story asked, âcan
you just meet with us and talk about our concerns?â to which
Dr. Chastain replied, âwe are not here to discuss thatâ and
âokay, this meeting is over.â (Id.). Dr. Chastain
âgot up, walked to the door and opened it, and stated âyou
can leave now.'â (Id.). He was âvisibly angryâ
and Dr. Story was âstunned, â such that she did not âget up
right away.â (Id.). She then stated âI cannot
believe thisâ and stood up, saying âsir, sir, what are you
doing?â (Id.). While Dr. Chastain stood with the