United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Vanderbilt University
Medical Center's motion for summary judgment, filed on
November 8, 2017. (Doc. No. 29.) LaShawn Edwards has not
responded to that motion or to the Court's order to show
cause why this case should not be dismissed for her failure
to do so (Doc. No. 40). For that reason, Vanderbilt
University Medical Center's motion for summary judgment
will be granted.
filed the Complaint alleging employment discrimination and
retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) in Davidson County Circuit Court on August 17, 2017.
(Doc. No. 1-1.) Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC)
removed the action to this Court on October 3, 2016 (Doc. No.
1), and answered Edwards's complaint (Doc. No. 20.)
Shortly after the action arrived in this Court, Edwards's
attorney was suspended from the practice of law.
Court issued an order advising Edwards that she must obtain
new counsel or go forward in this action representing
herself. (Doc. No. 10.) Unable to find counsel in the time
allowed by the Court, Edwards moved for additional time to
obtain counsel which the Court granted. (Doc. Nos. 12, 13.)
Edwards never retained a new attorney. The Court set a case
management conference on March 8, 2017, to set a schedule for
the litigation. (Doc. No. 16.) Edwards did not appear for
that conference, and the Court's case management order
was returned as undeliverable. (Doc. No. 24.) Edwards filed
no change of address with the Court. However, on May 31,
2017, VUMC notified the Court of a new mailing address for
Edwards. (Doc. No. 26.)
November 8, 2017, VUMC filed its motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. No. 29.) The Court held a telephonic status conference
with the parties on November 9, 2017, during which Edwards
stated that she had not received certain orders of the Court.
The Court directed the Clerk to send Edwards the orders she
had not received, and a receipt reflecting that Edwards
received the Court's orders by certified mail was filed
on November 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 36.)
has made no filings since the telephonic status conference.
Because Edwards did not timely respond to VUMC's motion
for summary judgment, VUMC filed a reply requesting that the
Court consider its motion unopposed and grant the motion
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). (Doc. No. 37.) On May 2, 2018, the
Court issued an order to show cause notifying Edwards that
this matter is set for trial on June 26, 2018, and affording
her fourteen days from the date of that order to explain why
VUMC's motion for summary judgment should not be granted
as unopposed. (Doc. No. 40.) Edwards was forewarned that her
failure to respond would likely result in a recommendation
that summary judgment be entered against her and this matter
be dismissed. (Id.)
order to show cause was sent by certified mail to the address
where Edwards had received prior mailings (Doc. No. 41), but
was returned as undeliverable (Doc. No. 42). Edwards has not
submitted any change of address to the Court. However,
because the undelivered certified mail included a forwarding
address for Edwards, the Clerk's office re-sent the order
to show cause to Edwards at that address and received
confirmation that Edwards received it on May 18, 2018. (Doc.
Nos. 43, 44.) Edwards has filed nothing in response.
Statement of Facts
complaint, Edwards, who is an African-American woman, alleged
that she was hired by VUMC as a surgery scheduler on or
around March 8, 2004; that at the time she was hired, Sherry
Knicks was the Director of Human Resources, Brenda Sandlin
was her manager, Lori Graves was her immediate supervisor;
and, beginning around 2008, Carolyn Manness was her
supervisor. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 5.) In March 2011,
Edwards was experiencing computer problems, which caused her
to schedule patients on the wrong days. She informed Graves
of the computer problem but nothing was done to fix it.
(Id.) Edwards received a disciplinary
“write-up” for failing to properly schedule
patients and her yearly evaluation score was lowered,
although the disciplinary write-up was rescinded after
“Informatics” diagnosed the problem with Edwards
computer and told Graves about it. (Id.)
in 2012, Edwards' co-worker, Lisa Larsens, was speaking
with Edwards and stated that something looked too “n
----- ish.” (Id. at PageID# 6.) Edwards
reported Larsens' conduct to Grave and made Larsens
apologize to Edwards, however, Graves did not discipline
Larsen. (Id.) Also in 2012, Edwards trained Sandra
Sangren and another person on a “new system.”
(Id. at 6.) When Edwards tried to correct an error
Sangren made, Sangren became angry and yelled at Edwards.
(Id.) Edwards was called into Graves' office to
discuss the incident. (Id.) Edwards filed two
complaints with Veritas, an online complaint system, but did
not receive a response to either complaint. (Id.)
Edwards was later told by a co-worker that Manness had
“tossed” her complaints. (Id.)
June 2013, because she was the sole scheduler, Edwards asked
Graves for a raise. (Id.) Her request was denied.
(Id.) In August, Edwards had “a
breakdown” at work. (Id.) Edwards was sent to
the Employee Assistance Program, which referred her to a
program at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. (Id.) At
the end of the program, Edwards told her counselor that she
was not “mentally ready” to return to work.
Edwards' counselor requested a ninety-day extension of
Edwards' time off. (Id.) Apparently the
extension was granted, but around the sixty day mark, VUMC
began contacting Edwards asking her when she planned to
return to work. (Id.)
returned to work around October 28, 2013, at which time she
asked Graves if she could work from home. (Id.)
Graves denied her request. (Id.) Manness disagreed
with Graves and told Edwards she would “get back to
her, ” but Manness failed to get back to her.
(Id.) Edwards learned that the “main schedule,
Kizzy Hayes” worked from home. (Id.) Edwards
contacted human resources and spoke to Knicks who told
Edwards and that Manness never asked about whether Edwards
could work from home. (Id.) Caucasian employees with
the same job title as Edwards were allowed to work from home.
November 2013, Edwards “was assaulted at work by
another co-worker.” (Id. at PageID# 7.)
Edwards reported the incident but the employee was not
disciplined. (Id.) Throughout her employment,
Edwards was disciplined for things for which other
non-African-American workers were not disciplined.
(Id.) Commencing on March 5, 2014, Edwards went on
FMLA medical leave. (Id.) Edwards was advised to
return to work by June 7, 2014. (Id.) On September
23, 2014, Edwards was placed on paid administrative leave
pending an investigation into her alleged misconduct, but
Edwards contends she was placed on administrative leave in
retaliation for taking FMLA medical leave. (Id.) In
the Complaint, Edwards ...