United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, United States District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BROWN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. No. 42). For the reasons stated below, the
Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that
Defendant's motion for summary judgment be
GRANTED and that this action be
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Patricia Courts, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, filed this action against Defendant, Correct
Care Solutions, LLC, asserting claims for employment
discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(Doc. Nos. 1, 22). Plaintiff alleged discrimination based on
age, race and retaliation. (Doc. No. 22, p. 16). The District
Judge adopted the undersigned's Report and Recommendation
to partially grant Defendant's motion to dismiss. (Doc.
Nos. 29, 30). As a result, the only remaining claim was a
Title VII claim of retaliation “for reporting a
co-worker's offensive statements.” (Doc. No. 29, p.
April 3, 2019, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment
(Doc. Nos. 42, 43) on the remaining Title VII retaliation
claim, contending that (1) Plaintiff cannot establish a
prima facie case of Title VII retaliation as a
matter of law and (2) that Plaintiff has failed to offer
evidence of retaliatory intent. (Doc. No. 42, p. 1). Pursuant
to Local Rule of Court 56.01, Defendant contemporaneously
filed a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. (Doc. No.
44). Plaintiff filed a timely response to summary judgment
(Doc. No. 45), and following the undersigned's Order
directing Plaintiff to Local Rule 56.01 (Doc. No. 49),
Plaintiff submitted a Response to Defendant's Statement
of Undisputed Material Facts (Doc Nos. 50-52), to which
Defendant responded. (Doc. Nos. 53-54).
SUMMARY OF PERTINENT FACTS
Correct Care Solutions, LLC (“CCS”),
a healthcare company that primarily contracted with
government entities to arrange for healthcare for inmates at
federal, state, and local correctional facilities. (Doc. No.
50, Pl. Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Material
Facts, ¶ 3). After starting as a temporary contractor in
June 2015, Plaintiff, Patricia Courts was hired as a Contract
Specialist in CCS's Network Development department in
November 2015. (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 1). Contract Specialists
help develop and manage relationships with targeted hospitals
and providers, who enter into contracts to treat inmates from
local jails and state and federal prisons. (Doc. No. 50,
¶ 4; see also Plaintiff Deposition, Ex. 3).
Plaintiff performed those duties, in addition to other
“interim director” and customer service duties.
(Doc. No. 50, ¶ 5).
early July 2016, Plaintiff overheard her co-worker Duncan
Gibson state on three separate occasions that he was a
“redneck” and that it was “stupid to have a
female for president, especially Hillary Clinton.”
(Doc. No. 50, ¶¶ 7-8). As an African American
woman, Plaintiff found the comments offensive and reported
Gibson's comments to her direct supervisor, Tracy Blair,
and they discussed the comments. (Doc. No. 50, ¶¶
9-10). After that meeting, Plaintiff sent an email on July
11, 2016 to Blair thanking him for addressing the comments
with Gibson. (Doc. No. 42-1, p. 46). Plaintiff also included in
the email that she was “doing work at one time or
another equated to the contractor, senior manager, and
director position in this department” and copied the
head of the Network Development department, Vice President
Kenya Adams. Id. Plaintiff alleges that this
director and manager work was a form of retaliation by Adams
for reporting the “redneck” comments. (Doc. No.
42-1, p. 17). Plaintiff also alleges that she was later given
customer service work, which no other Contract Specialists
had to do, as a retaliation for reporting the
“redneck” comments. (Doc. No. 52, Pl. Aff.,
July 11 and July 15, 2016, Adams, who is African American,
met with Blair and Plaintiff to discuss the
“redneck” comments, the extra work Plaintiff was
doing, and a raise or promotion requested by Plaintiff. (Doc.
No. 50, ¶¶ 17-18). Adams summarized the meeting in
a July 15 email. (Doc. No. 42-1, p. 45). Adams reported that
Gibson was to “refrain from using such terms” and
that Plaintiff was not eligible for a raise because raises
occur in conjunction with annual reviews, which would not
occur until November for Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 50,
¶¶ 19-20). In fact, Plaintiff did get a raise with
her annual review, but that did not occur until March of the
following year. (Doc. No. ¶ 30). In response to
Plaintiff's complaint about increased work, which she
contends was a report of retaliation, Adams advised Plaintiff
on resources for work- life balance and told Plaintiff that
she should “always be willing to step in and
help” other team members. (Doc. No. 50, ¶¶
21-22). Notably, Adams' email does not make a connection
between the increased work and Plaintiff reporting the
“redneck” comments, (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 19), so
Plaintiff's affidavit is the only evidence supporting
Plaintiff's contention that retaliation was discussed in
the meeting with Adams and Blair. (Doc. No. 52, ¶ 6).
the meeting, Plaintiff alleges that she faced retaliation for
reporting the increased workload as retaliation. (Doc. No.
50, ¶ 24). Plaintiff contends that CCS
“significantly decreased” her contracting
workload. (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 24). In August, less than a
month after the July 15 email, Kenya Adams reorganized those
people into two teams: one primarily for Federal Bureau of
Prisons (“FBOP”) contracts and one primarily for
jail and prison (“JAILS”) contracts. (Doc. No.
42-2, ¶¶ 3-5). In her Declaration, Adams maintains
that the reorganization was to “streamline and improve
efficiencies within Network Development.” (Doc. No.
42-2, ¶ 5). Adams assigned Gibson and Paulo Viteri to
the FBOP team and the other Contract Specialists, including
Plaintiff, Pamela Cane, and Bart Cunningham, to the JAILS
team. (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 27). Viteri, who had previous
experience with FBOP contracts at a competitor, joined the
Network Development team to work on FBOP contracts (Doc. No.
50, ¶¶ 25, 27), and his addition siphoned off FBOP
contracts from JAILS team members. (Doc. No. 42-2, p. 6). In
the remainder of the year after Viteri joined in August,
Plaintiff executed fewer FBOP contracts than Pamela Cane, one
of her JAILS co-workers, but just as many contracts (9) as
her other JAILS co-worker: Bart Cunningham. Id.
2016 annual review in March 2017, Adams noted that Plaintiff
was “in line with the contract productivity standards,
in that she is able to execute contract requests within a
reasonable time.” (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 30).
Furthermore, Plaintiff's number of executed contracts
(133) was “slightly above the department average in
2016.” Id. She received a 1.5% raise for
“Meeting Standards.” (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 30).
was discharged on Monday, May 15, 2017. (Doc. No. 50, ¶
33). Plaintiff alleges that she informed management on the
preceding Friday, May 12, 2017 that she was going to file an
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint due
to her decreased workload following her initial retaliation
complaint in July 2016. (Doc. No. 52, ¶ 28). A meeting
was scheduled for Monday to discuss the complaint with only
Pamela Cane and Adams attending with Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 52,
¶ 16). The other two women were “much larger and
aggressive” and became “verbally hostile.”
(Doc. No. 52, ¶ 17). Plaintiff left the meeting and the
office after the “retaliatory meeting, ” and was
discharged later that day, allegedly for job abandonment and
insubordination. (Doc. No. 50, ¶ 34). Plaintiff filed a
Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) with the
EEOC, which issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on May
24, 2017. (Doc. No. 22, p. 15).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must
show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute
of material fact exists if a “reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The
movant may successfully support its motion by showing that
“the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient
showing on an essential element of her case with respect to
which she has the burden of proof.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To defeat the
motion, the nonmovant must provide more than “a mere
‘scintilla' of evidence in support of [her]
position.” Tingle v. Arbors at Hilliard, 692
F.3d 523, 529 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252). Finally, “[w]hen ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, a court must consider the evidence
‘in the light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.'” Risher v. Lappin, 639 F.3d 236,
239 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986)).