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Reyes v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

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

April 10, 2017

ANTHONY REYES, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE & DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          ALETA A. TRAUGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is an unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 15) filed by the Defendant, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee (“Metro”). For the reasons discussed herein, Metro's motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The plaintiff, Anthony Reyes, is an African American man and a former police officer with Metro Police Department. He filed this employment discrimination action on November 3, 2015 based on disciplinary action that was taken against him by Metro, including restrictions on his secondary employment privileges and termination from his position as a police officer. (Docket No. 1.) The Complaint brings claims for racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. (“Title VII”).

         On October 12, 2016, the court issued an Order temporarily holding this action in abeyance due to the Tennessee Supreme Court's suspension of Mr. Reyes's former counsel, Andy Allman. (Docket No. 14.) The Order provided that the case would remain in abeyance until Mr. Reyes entered the appearance of substitute counsel or until December 9, 2016 (at which point, absent the appearance of substitute counsel, Mr. Reyes would be presumed to be proceeding pro se), whichever came first. No appearance of substitute counsel was ever entered.

         On February 10, 2017, Metro filed a Motion for Summary Judgement. (Docket No. 15.) Metro attached to its Motion the full transcript of proceedings before the Metro Civil Service Commission Administrative Law Judge Anthony Adgent, in which Mr. Reyes, with representation of counsel, challenged his termination from Metro Police Department. (Docket No. 15-3.) Metro also attached Judge Adgent's Initial Order in those proceedings, as well as the Final Order issued by Bill Farmer, Chairman for Metro's Civil Service Commission. (Docket No. 15-1.)[1] Finally, Metro attached two EEOC charges filed by Mr. Reyes in connection with this matter. (Docket No. 15-2.) The first EEOC charge is dated September 5, 2014 (after disciplinary charges by Metro had been filed against Mr. Reyes) and alleges racial discrimination. This EEOC charge makes the vague allegation that white police officers working for Metro have received less discipline than Mr. Reyes for similar offenses, though the charge does not name any other officer in particular or provide any details about the infractions of other officers or the discipline received. The second EEOC charge is dated October 1, 2014 (after Mr. Reyes was terminated from his position) and alleges retaliation. Metro simultaneously filed a Memorandum in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 16) and a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket No. 17).

         The key facts contained in Metro's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts and in its Memorandum echo (and cite to) the facts contained in Judge Adgent's Initial Order, which were adopted by Mr. Farmer's Final Order. These facts are as follows:

• Mr. Reyes was a police officer with the North Precinct of Metro Police Department in December of 2013, when he was involved in an accident while driving a Metro patrol car. Upon investigation, Metro made the following findings: that Mr. Reyes was at fault for the accident; that he was not authorized to have been using the patrol vehicle at the time of the accident, while he was performing a secondary employment position; that he was not logged into the patrol vehicle's laptop, which is required whenever the vehicle is in use; and that Mr. Reyes had a prior history of disciplinary infractions and complaints against him, including a history of accidents while using a Metro patrol vehicle.
• As a result, Metro placed restrictions on Mr. Reyes's secondary employment privileges, such that Mr. Reyes would thereafter only be permitted to take secondary employment positions through Metro's own Secondary Employment Unit, through crime reduction initiatives implemented by the North Precinct, or for special events. Mr. Reyes was given a memorandum explaining these restrictions, which were also verbally explained to him by a supervisor, and he signed an acknowledgement of receipt.
• Despite the restrictions, Mr. Reyes continued to work as a courtesy officer for the Grove Apartments, where he was a resident, in exchange for compensation in the form of an $800 per month reduction in his rent. This position did not fall under one of the enumerated exceptions to Mr. Reyes's secondary employment restrictions, and it was a violation of Metro policies for him to continue this employment.
• In January of 2014, Mr. Reyes was transferred from the North Precinct to Metro's West Precinct. Around the same time, Mr. Reyes's term as a courtesy officer with Grove Apartments was scheduled to end, and Mr. Reyes asked his new supervisors for permission to apply for a renewed term as a courtesy officer at Grove Apartments, without informing his new supervisors of his secondary employment restrictions.
• On February 16, 2014, Mr. Reyes's request for renewed secondary employment at Grove Apartments was denied by Metro due to the restrictions on Mr. Reyes's secondary employment privileges. When asked by a supervisor if he had been working at Grove Apartments, Mr. Reyes told the supervisor that he had not. In fact, Mr. Reyes continued to perform the functions of a courtesy officer for Grove Apartments, and receive the rental reduction compensation, through March 18, 2014. Dishonesty in communications with a Metro supervisor is a violation of Metro policy.
• During this time, Mr. Reyes also looked up information about license plates of vehicles parked at Grove Apartments and shared that information with Grove Apartments staff members who were not Metro law enforcement personnel, in violation of Metro policies.
• On August 28, 2014, Metro filed disciplinary charges against Mr. Reyes on the basis of ...

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