United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
J. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. No. 55). For the reasons set forth herein, the motion
will be granted and this action dismissed.
UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS
facts set forth herein are drawn directly from Plaintiffs
Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts
(Doc. No. 63), unless otherwise indicated.
was employed by the Department of the Army at the Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, Civilian Personnel Advisory Center
("CPAC") as a Human Resources Assistant, GS
0203-07, from August 15, 2010 until June 18, 2011. From
August 15, 2010 until February 27, 2011, Shanna Pinckney
served as Plaintiffs first line supervisor. From February 28
until June 17, 2011, Kim Santiago served as Plaintiffs first
line supervisor. Plaintiff was reassigned to Santiago in an
effort to alleviate Plaintiff s concerns regarding Pinckney.
Plaintiff s second level supervisor was Valencia Bratton,
Human Resources Officer.
working as a Human Resources Assistant, Plaintiff filed two
charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity
("EEO") office in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the
first in October 2010 and the second in March 2011. Plaintiff
s October 2010 EEO charge alleged discrimination and a
hostile work environment based on her race (African
American), color (black), sex (female), and age (over 40).
Plaintiff withdrew her October 2010 charge for personal
Amended Complaint in this Court, Plaintiff alleges that,
after she withdrew the first EEO charge, she was "subj
ected to a hostile work environment and reprisal for her EEO
complaint." (Compl. ¶ 11.) She alleges that she was
"held to harsher standards" and denied
opportunities that were afforded her colleagues who had not
filed EEO charges. (Id.)
s second EEO charge again alleged discrimination based on
color, sex, and age, and also alleged reprisal for prior
protected activity arising from 14 events from December 2010
through March 2011. On August 7, 2012, a final agency
decision issued from the Department of the Army finding that
Plaintiff was not discriminated against on any basis set
forth in her second EEO complaint. Plaintiff was notified of
her appeal rights, but she did not file an appeal to the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or file a timely
civil action in the United States District Court.
alleges in her Amended Complaint in this Court that the
retaliatory treatment related to her having filed her first
and second EEO charges continued up until she left her
position at the CPAC in June 2011. (Compl. ¶ 14.)
18, 2011, Plaintiff voluntarily left her position as a Human
Resources Assistant at CPAC and accepted a job with the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to
Plaintiffs departure, Santiago planned a luncheon in the
Plaintiffs honor. Farewell luncheons traditionally were used
to show appreciation for the contributions of outgoing CPAC
employees. CPAC farewell luncheons are voluntary for the
outgoing employee as well as the attendees. (See
Doc. No. 56-4, Santiago Decl. at 3-5.
)Plaintiff initially indicated to Santiago
that she did not want the fuss of a luncheon and wished to
leave quietly. Santiago told the Plaintiff to think about it
and, on June 13, 2011, emailed Plaintiff asking her where she
wanted to go for her going-away luncheon. Plaintiff responded
to Santiago's email by stating "if we must the
Southern Buffet at Cole Park Commons would be ok.
Thanks." (Santiago Decl. at 4.) On 13 June 2011,
Santiago responded to the Plaintiff by stating "Yes we
must and thanks!!" Plaintiff replied by telling
Santiago: "Yes Ma'am. You are welcome and thank
you." (Santiago Decl. at 3-4). After the June 13, 2011
email, the Plaintiff did not express any feelings to Santiago
about the luncheon.
luncheon was held on June 17, 2011. Plaintiff claims that
Bratton warned her at the luncheon not to go to Nashville
speaking badly of the CPAC office because she might wish to
return to Fort Campbell. Another employee added, "yeah
because we do the [personnel] actions." (Doc. No. 56-21,
at 2.) However, the overall tenor of luncheon was positive,
and Plaintiff admits she is the only attendee who recalls
hearing any specific negative or derogatory comments.
for GS-0301-09 Position
position of Administrative Specialist, GS-0301-09, located at
the Mission Support Element's Director's office at
the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, was announced on April 18, 2012 and
closed on April 25, 2012. Plaintiff applied for the position
on April 25, 2012. Plaintiff was not among those candidates
referred to the selecting official for the position.
Graves was the Human Resource specialist who rated the
applicants and referred them to the selecting official. In
June 2012, Plaintiff emailed Graves to inquire why she was
not referred to the selecting official for the Administrative
Specialist position. Graves responded that she did not meet a
sufficient number of skills to be rated as best qualified on
the referral list. (Doc. No. Doc. No. 56-10, Graves Decl. at
6; Doc. No. 56-17, email exchange between Graves and
Kim Santiagonor Valencia Bratton was involved in generating
the referral list. They became involved after Plaintiff
inquired why she was not referred. (Doc. No. 56-3, Bratton
Decl. at 5-6; Doc. No. 56-4, Santiago Decl. at 7-8; Doc. No.
56-10, Graves Decl. at 5.) In her Response to Defendant's
Statement of Undisputed Facts, Plaintiff states that she
"believes that Mr. Graves was influenced by Ms. Santiago
and Ms. Bratton." (Doc. No. 63, at ¶30.) Her belief
is not substantiated by any citation to the record.
Graves made her aware of Plaintiff s inquiry, Santiago
directed a second quality review by senior HR Specialist
Victoria Zimmerman, who determined that Graves had made an
error in generating the referral list. (Santiago Decl. at
7-8; Doc. No. 56-9, Zimmerman Decl. at 5-6.) Graves committed
the administrative error by referring the seven applicants
who matched the required skills and one desired skill when he
should have referred all twelve of the applicants for the
position, as each had the required skills. (Graves Decl. at
5; Zimmerman Decl. at 6; Santiago Decl. at 7-8.)
letters dated July 23, 2012, the Agency informed Plaintiff
and four other applicants in accordance with 5 C.F.R. §
335.103(c) that a review had been conducted and that they
should have been referred but had not been due to an error in
the rating process. (Doc. No. 56-18.) The letters further
notified the candidates that each of them would have priority
consideration for the next Administrative Support Specialist
position announcement at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
(Id.) Rouse was the only one of the five
non-referred candidates who had engaged in prior protected
Title VII activity at Fort Campbell.
September 20, 2012, Plaintiff made initial contact with the
EEO office at Fort Campbell about her non-referral for the
GS-301-09 position. On September 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed
her Formal Complaint of Discrimination, which is the
underlying basis for the action in this Court. Her formal EEO
charge cited reprisal as the only basis for her claim. In the
EEO charge, Plaintiff complains generally about experiencing
"constant denials of placements and advancements"
because of her prior EEO activity (Doc. No. 56-21, at 1) and
specifically identifies the following as retaliatory actions:
(1) Valencia Bratton or other prior supervisors caused her
non-referral for the GS-0301-09 Administrative Specialist
position in July 2012;
(2) she was "ordered" to attend the farewell
luncheon held in her honor in June 2011 (id. at 2);
(3) Bratton commented at the farewell luncheon that Plaintiff
should not "go to Nashville talking bad about [CPAC]
because [she] may want a job back at Fort Campbell, "
and this comment was reinforced by Sara Barksdale, who added,
"yeah because we do the actions" (id.);
(4) Bratton used her position to thwart Plaintiff s attempts
to seek a promotion in November or December 2010 when she
applied for a developmental position within CPAC; and
(5) Bratton "continued to abuse her position" to
influence Plaintiff s non-selection for several other
promotions she sought during 2011, prior to Plaintiffs
accepting the job in Nashville (id. at 3).
the investigation ended, a Final Agency Decision (FAD) was
issued on May 28, 2014, finding that Plaintiff was not a
victim of retaliation and setting forth her appeal rights.
Plaintiff thereafter filed suit in this Court on August 26,
April 6, 2014, Plaintiff changed job series to a GS-0203-07
HR Assistant position with the Army in Kentucky. On April 20,
2014, Plaintiff changed job series to an Army GS-201-07 HR
Specialist position with promotion potential to GS-11 in
Kentucky. Plaintiff was promoted to GS-201-09 HR Specialist
with the Army on ...