United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 24)
filed by Defendant New Orleans Regional Physician Hospital
Organization Inc. d/b/a Peoples Health Network
(“Peoples Health”). Plaintiff Bill Jones opposes
the motion (Rec. Doc. 37). The Motion, set for submission on
May 15, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral
argument. Having considered the motion and memoranda of
counsel, the opposition, the record, and the applicable law,
the Court finds that Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Rec. Doc. 24) is DENIED in part and GRANTED in
Bill Jones worked for Peoples Health from March 2013 until
his alleged wrongful termination in 2017. (Rec. Doc. 1
Complaint, ¶ 9). Plaintiff filed the instant suit
alleging that his termination related to a meeting with
Janice Ortego, Peoples Health Vice President, during which he
raised concerns about violations of the Fair Labor Standards
Act (“FLSA”). (Id. at 14). Plaintiff
seeks reinstatement of his position and damages pursuant to
Section 15(a)(3) of the FLSA alleging that his termination
was motivated by his FLSA claims. (Id. at 18). The
Court notes that the Complaint pled a claim of retaliation
under the False Claims Act. (Rec. Doc. 1, ¶ 17).
Plaintiff's opposition provides that he does not wish to
pursue a claim under the False Claims Act and requests this
Court to dismiss the claim without prejudice. (Rec. Doc. 37,
p. 1). In the motion before the Court, Peoples Health argues
that all of Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary
judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant,
“show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir.2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is
“genuine” if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248, 106 S.Ct. 2505.). The court must draw all justifiable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id.
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505).
Once the moving party has initially shown “that there
is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving
party's cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 325106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986), the
non-movant must come forward with “specific
facts” showing a genuine factual issue for trial.
Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct.
1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). Conclusory allegations and
denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated
assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d
1093, 1097 (5th Cir.1993)).
to the FLSA, it is unlawful for an employer to discharge or
in any other manner discriminate against an employee
“because such employee has filed any complaint or
instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or
related to this chapter.” 29 U.S.C. § 215(A)(3).
In analyzing FLSA cases, the Fifth Circuit adopted the Title
VII burden-shifting framework set out in McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36
L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Hagan v. Echostar Satellite,
LLC, 529 F.3d 617, 624 (5th Cir. 2008). The framework is
applied as follows:
First, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing
of (1) participation in protected activity under the FLSA;
(2) an adverse employment action; and (3) a causal link
between the activity and the adverse action. If a plaintiff
meets this burden, the defendant must then articulate a
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its decision. The
burden then shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the
proffered reason is a pretext for discrimination.
Id.(quoting Hagan v. Echostar Satellite
L.L.C., No. H-05-1365, 2007 WL 543441, at *4 (S.D.Tex.
Feb. 16, 2007).
Health argues that Plaintiff's suit should be dismissed
on summary judgment because: (1) the facts show that he did
not engage in a protected activity; (2) Peoples Health did
not consider him to have engaged in a protected activity; and
(3) Peoples Health did not terminate his employment because
of a protected activity. (Rec. Doc. 24-1, p. 1). The Court
must determine whether there exists a genuine issue of
material fact upon examination of each element of a
prima facie case, if there was a
non-discriminatory reason for the employer's decision,
and if it was a pretext for discrimination.
Prima Facie Case