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Coarsey v. Regions Bank Corporation

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 4, 2015

BRENDA COARSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
REGIONS BANK CORPORATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

ALETA A. TRAUGER, District Judge.

Defendant Regions Bank Corporation ("Regions") has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 31), to which the plaintiff, Brenda Coarsey, has filed a Response in opposition (Docket No. 37), and Regions has filed a Reply (Docket No. 39). For the reasons stated herein, Regions' motion will be granted and the plaintiff's Amended Complaint, which alleges a single count of age discrimination, will be dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

I. The Parties' Rule 56 Submissions

Regions has filed a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket No. 32) ("Defs. SUMF"), to which the plaintiff has filed a Response (Docket No. 38). Coarsey does not dispute any of the defendant's stated facts. To the extent Coarsey's responses purport to state additional facts (after conceding that each fact stated by the defendant is "undisputed"), the court has considered them in its analysis. At times, Coarsey's additional stated "facts" are not supported by the referenced citations.

The plaintiff has not filed a separate statement of disputed material facts under Local Rule 56.01(c), which provides that "the non-movant's response may contain a concise statement of additional facts that the non-movant contends are material and as to which the non-movant contends there exists a genuine issue to be tried."

In support of its Rule 56 motion, Regions has filed (1) transcripts with selected exhibits for the depositions of Brenda Coarsey, Lisa Greene, Ed Stansberry, Allison Murphy Smith, Tanya Taylor, Marlene Akin, and Katherine Collins (Docket No 31, Exs. A, C, D, E, G, H, and I); and (2) affidavits from Stansberry, Joyce Wright, and Akin ( id., Exs. B, F, and J). In support of her opposition, Coarsey has filed duplicate copies of the deposition transcripts for Coarsey, Stansberry, Collins, Greene, Murphy Smith, Taylor, and Akin, and one document that was already in the record as an exhibit to the Coarsey deposition. (Docket No. 37, Exs. 1-8.)

II. Facts

A. Regions' Policies and Reported Breaches of Policy by Coarsey

The facts of this case are essentially undisputed. Coarsey worked as a teller at Regions' Inglewood Branch, where she reported to Head Teller Lisa Greene and where Ed Stansberry served as Branch Manager. During the course of her employment, Coarsey was also an account holder on multiple Regions accounts, including one she co-owned with her husband and one she co-owned with her son. Coarsey's relatives also maintained separate accounts at Regions on which Coarsey was not a signer. These included a joint account held by Coarsey's husband and their daughter, an account held by Coarsey's son and his wife, an account held by her grandson, and an account held by her grandson's mother. At the time, Coarsey (as did all Regions tellers) had the ability to view customer account information on her computer, including the customer's name, social security number, account number, and transactions associated with the account.

At the time of Coarsey's termination, Regions policy expressly prohibited tellers from processing or approving transactions relating to their own accounts, the accounts of immediate family members or personal acquaintances, or accounts in which the employee may have a personal interest or be an authorized signer. Regions' Branch Banking Guidelines stated that (1) "Branch Associates should not complete paperwork and/or transfer[] funds from a customer's account (regardless of relationship) to their personal account without manager approval";[1] (2) tellers should "[k]eep customer information confidential: This includes the associate looking at someone's account for personal gain or curiosity...." and (3) "Violations of these guidelines could subject the employee to discipline up to and including termination ." (Emphasis added.) On January 5, 2012, just weeks before the circumstances leading to her termination, Coarsey acknowledged receipt of the Branch Banking Guidelines.

As a Regions employee, Coarsey also watched training videos about processing transactions and the types of personal and family transactions that were prohibited by Regions. These policies were also articulated in other written materials that Regions distributed or made available to Coarsey. ( See, e.g., Coarsey Dep., Ex. 4, Regions Code of Business Conduct (stating that "[y]ou are not allowed to process or approve transactions relating to your own personal accounts, the accounts of members of your immediate family or personal acquaintances, or accounts in which you have a personal interest or on which you are an authorized signer"); Ex. 10, Teller Manual ("CAUTION: Teller is prohibited from processing their own transactions or those of their immediate family or household. This includes processing deposits, withdrawals, or any other transactions to their own personal account."); Ex. 14 (stating that "[a]ssociates are not allowed to process or approve transactions relating to their own personal accounts, the accounts of members of their immediate family members or personal acquaintances, or accounts in which the Associate may have a personal interest or is an authorized signer"). According to Coarsey's deposition testimony, the Inglewood Branch's Head Teller, Lisa Greene, was "lax" about enforcing company policies, including the policy forbidding tellers from looking at family members' accounts. (Coarsey Dep. at 63:19-64:3.)

Allison Murphy worked as a teller at the Inglewood Branch along with Coarsey. Murphy saw Coarsey looking at Coarsey's son's account on multiple occasions. After hearing Coarsey make a comment about the money in her grandson's mother's account, Murphy decided to report Coarsey's conduct. On January 23, 2012, during a break, Murphy told Head Teller Greene and Assistant Branch Manager Tanya Taylor that Coarsey had inappropriately viewed a customer account in violation of the company's policies.[2] Taylor reported Murphy's complaint to Branch Manager Stansberry. ( See Taylor Dep. at 11:3-14:6 (stating that she could not "let the idea of someone breaching ethics go on without reporting it"). Upon receiving this report from Taylor, Stansberry called Area Human Resources Manager Marlene Akin to report the allegations about Coarsey.

On or about January 25, 2012, Murphy also called the Regions "Report It" hotline (an internal "1-800" reporting service for ethical violations) to report that Coarsey had been viewing the accounts of family members in violation of company policy. ( See Collins Dep., Ex. 2, 1/25/12 Ethics and Compliance Report.) The company's internal record of that report indicates that the anonymous caller (who was actually Murphy) had reported that Coarsey "has been monitoring her grandson's, her daughter-in-law's, and her son's account, and she isn't an account holder for any of those accounts." ( Id. ) The internal report ...


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