United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
H. SHARP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
litigation under (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of
1964 (“Title VII”), (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
and (3) the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”)
arose after Plaintiff Marilyn Bryant was discharged from her
employment at Defendant HTI Memorial Hospital Corporation
d/b/a TriStar Skyline Madison Campus. These causes of action
are based on the allegation that Defendant discriminated
against Plaintiff because of her race when Defendant
terminated Plaintiff on June 5, 2014. Defendant has filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims, (Docket No. 23),
to which Plaintiff has responded, (Docket No. 31), and
Defendant has replied, (Docket No. 33). The Court will grant
Defendant's Motion and this case will be dismissed.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
is an inpatient and outpatient treatment facility that offers
healthcare to adults and adolescents struggling with
psychiatric disorders and behavioral concerns. Defendant
employed Plaintiff, full-time, as a Registered Nurse
(“RN”) from April 26, 2010 to June 5, 2014.
Beginning in 2011, Plaintiff worked primarily in
Defendant's Adolescent Unit. Plaintiff was also competent
and qualified to work in other parts of the hospital too.
Mitchell (“Ms. Mitchell”), another RN, asked
Plaintiff to fill in for her during the day shift on June 5,
2014. Plaintiff agreed. However, on that day and prior to
that shift, Ms. Jamie White (“Ms. White”), the
nursing supervisor, who oversaw the Adolescent Unit, assigned
Plaintiff to float the Adult Unit. While parties dispute
specifically how Plaintiff responded to this directive, they
agree that Plaintiff's “initial refusal to float
resulted in Plaintiff arriving to the Adult Unit 30 minutes
late.” (Docket No. 32 at 5). This delay caused an RN
working in the Adult Unit to stay after her shift ended.
Plaintiff admits that this delay likely caused Defendant to
incur overtime compensation costs.
White reported this incident to Jill Howard (“Ms.
Howard”). Ms. Howard is Defendant's Chief Operating
Officer and served as the interim manager of the Adolescent
Unit, the unit where Plaintiff primarily worked, from April
28, 2014 to August 11, 2014. Plaintiff was specifically
supervised by Ms. Howard from April 28, 2014 until the time
of her termination.
White relayed to Ms. Howard Plaintiff's delay in arrival
to her Adult Unit shift and her initial refusal to float. Ms.
Howard confirmed with Penny Mathis, an employee who witnessed
Plaintiff's conduct, that these events had occurred.
Around this time, Ms. Howard received several other employee
complaints about Plaintiff. These complaints accused
Plaintiff of being “abusive, rude, confrontational, and
a bully toward her coworkers. [They further assert that
Plaintiff was] not a ‘team player' and
‘rarely assist[ed] coworkers when needed or
requested.'” (Docket No. 32 at 6, ¶ 2).
Plaintiff admits that none of these complaints referenced her
race in any manner.
completion of her investigation, Ms. Howard concluded that
Plaintiff's actions had violated Defendant's RN
Floating Policy and its Behavioral Standards Policy.
Defendant's Floating Policy ensures that patients receive
timely and effective care from competent and qualified RNs at
all times. Every RN is expected to abide by the RN Floating
Policy. All RNs, except certain new hires, are expected to
float. According to established practice in the Adolescent
Unit, nursing supervisors assign RNs to float to other units.
If a nursing supervisor assigns an RN to float, the RN is
required to float.
Behavioral Standards Policy outlines expectations relating
employee conduct in the workplace. Defendant's
“mission statement” for Behavioral Standards is
that employees “pledge to treat others with loyalty,
respect and dignity.” (Docket No. 32 at 2). In tandem
with this mission, bullying is prohibited conduct because
employees are expected to “treat others with compassion
and kindness.” Id. Plaintiff admits that
bullying coworkers and refusing the instructions of
supervisors would violate Defendant's Behavioral
Howard expects all of the employees she is responsible for to
comply with all of the Defendant's policies and
procedures governing the performance of their job duties
including the Defendant's Behavioral Standards Policy.
Ms. Howard is responsible for disciplining employees who do
not meet her performance or behavioral expectations. Because
of Plaintiff's above-mentioned conduct, Ms. Howard and
Plaintiff met around 2:30 p.m. on June 5, 2014 to discuss a
corrective action plan. The plan, which was presented as a
final written warning, was as follows:
(1) Going forward, Plaintiff would follow her
supervisors' instructions; (2) [t]he Hospital would pay
for Plaintiff to attend workplace sensitivity training; and
(3) Plaintiff would re-acknowledge the requirements of her RN
Job [D]escription and the Hospital's Behavioral
(Docket No. 32 at 7). Ms. Howard had no intention of
terminating Plaintiff going into her June 5, 2014 meeting.
During this meeting, Ms. Howard gave Plaintiff a copy of her
Employee Corrective Counseling Performance Improvement Plan.
As part of this Plan, Ms. Howard asked Plaintiff to re-sign
her “job description and the Behavioral Standards
[Policy].” (Docket No. 37-6 at 2, ¶ 6). Although
Plaintiff admits at her deposition that the expectations,
outlined in the RN Job Description and the Behavioral
Standards Policy, were reasonable, Plaintiff did not sign
these documents because she believed them to be an admission
of guilt based on alleged representations made by Ms. Howard.
Plaintiff believed it was in her “best interest”
not to sign them (although she signed them earlier in her
employment) because she denied the accusations that she had
bullied others. (Docket No. 32 at 8). Ms. Howard saw this
refusal as evidence that Plaintiff would not comply with the
obligation required by her job in the future. Ms. Howard then
discharged Plaintiff based on her behavior at the June 5th
meeting. Plaintiff admits that race was never mentioned in
this meeting and that Ms. Howard had never previously acted
toward her with racial bias.
10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge of race discrimination
against the Defendant with the Tennessee Human Rights
Commission and the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission.
The only date of discrimination listed in the charge is June
5, 2014, the date of Plaintiff's dismissal. After
receiving a “notice of right to sue” on January
22, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant on ...