United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 39). Plaintiff has filed a Response (Doc.
No. 48), and Defendant has filed a Reply (Doc. No. 58).
Marie Hasting is a former employee of Defendant First
Community Mortgage (“FCM”). In this action, she
alleges that Defendant discriminated against her based upon
gender (female) and national origin (Hispanic) and retaliated
against her for protected activity, all in violation of Title
VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.).
began her employment with Defendant in 2014 as Director of
Human Resources. At that time, Defendant's CEO was Keith
Canter and its President was Philip Carlton. The Offer of
Employment and Terms letter, dated October 29, 2014, and
signed by both Plaintiff and Canter (as CEO of FCM), states
that Plaintiff's annual salary will be $90, 000, and a
bonus will be paid as follows: (a) $2, 500 due on the most
immediate pay date after her official start date, to cover
the bonus for the 4th quarter 2014; and (b) a $2, 500 bonus
in each quarter of 2015 (Doc. No. 42-1, Ex. 1). Plaintiff
contends that Canter agreed that Plaintiff's salary would
be increased by 25% after one year, but that agreement is not
reflected in the Offer Letter.
alleges that, over time, she began to feel that Canter
treated her differently than other employees by (1) walking
by her without saying “good morning” and (2)
socializing or attending lunches with male employees and not
with Plaintiff. In December 2015, Plaintiff allegedly
discussed this perceived differential treatment with Canter.
She claims she told Canter that she felt like he was treating
her differently and that it was important for her to have a
good relationship with her boss. She contends that after her
conversation with Canter about this “differential
treatment, ” Canter told Plaintiff to report to Carlton
for her 2015 performance evaluation. Plaintiff claims she
received an overall rating for 2015 of “very
good” and then began reporting directly to Carlton, who
by then had assumed responsibility for Human Resources.
alleges that in March 2016, she met with Carlton to share
concerns about Canter's behavior, and Carlton told
Plaintiff about a group called the “Penis Club”
(“the Club”). Plaintiff contends that the Club,
named by a former female employee, was a group of male-only
managers and executives who would go to lunch together, have
meetings, and socialize together during work hours.
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that the Club members made
company decisions without females present. Plaintiff
complained to Carlton about being excluded from the Club.
contends that at an executive team meeting in January 2017,
while Carlton was out of the room, Plaintiff answered a
number of work-related questions about the status and
timeline for various projects that Carlton was handling.
Plaintiff alleges she answered these questions truthfully.
Plaintiff also alleges that, after the meeting, Carlton told
her that she had “thrown him under the bus” in
that meeting. A few days later, Carlton and Plaintiff met to
do Plaintiff's 2016 performance evaluation. Although she
claims she was surprised by and disagreed with some of the
parts of her performance evaluation, Plaintiff did not
consider that evaluation to be negative. Nonetheless,
Plaintiff asserts that she realized during this meeting that
she and Carlton were not going to be able to continue working
together because she could not trust him anymore. The
following Monday, Plaintiff resigned.
judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “By its very terms,
this standard provides that the mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). In other words, even if genuine, a factual
dispute that is irrelevant or unnecessary under applicable
law is of no value in defeating a motion for summary
judgment. See Id. at 248. On the other hand,
“summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a
material fact is ‘genuine[.]'” Id.
is “material” within the meaning of Rule 56(c)
“if its proof or disproof might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing substantive law.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A genuine dispute of
material fact exists if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. Harris v. Klare, 902 F.3d 630, 634-35 (6th
party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial
burden of identifying portions of the record that demonstrate
the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts.
Pittman v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 901
F.3d 619, 627-28 (6th Cir. 2018). If the summary judgment
movant meets that burden, then in response the non-moving
party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Id. at 628.
asserting that a fact cannot be or genuinely is
disputed-i.e., a party seeking summary judgment and a party
opposing summary judgment, respectively-must support the
assertion by citing to materials in the record, including,
but not limited to, depositions, documents, affidavits or
declarations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). The court should view
the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. Pittman, 901 F.3d at 628.
Credibility judgments and weighing of evidence are improper.
Hostettler v. College of Wooster, 895 F.3d 844, 852
(6th Cir. 2018). As noted above, where there is a genuine
dispute as to any material fact, summary judgment is not
appropriate. Id. The court determines whether
sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of
fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving
party's position will be insufficient to survive summary
judgment; rather, there must be evidence upon which the jury
could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers v.
Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003).
VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against
any individual because of such individual's gender, race
or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); Risch
v. Royal Oak Police Dep't, 581 F.3d 383, 390 (6th
Cir. 2009). A plaintiff may use either direct or
circumstantial evidence to bring a discrimination claim.
Direct evidence is evidence which, if believed, requires the
conclusion that unlawful discrimination was at least a
motivating factor in the employer's actions. Rock v.
T.N.H.D. Partners, LLC, 833 F.Supp.2d 802, 815 (M.D.
plaintiff relies on circumstantial evidence, she must
establish a prima facie case of discrimination by a
preponderance of the evidence. Redlin v. Grosse Pointe
Pub. Sch. Syst., 921 F.3d 599, 606 (6th Cir. 2019). If
she establishes that prima facie case, the burden
shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. If it does so, the
burden returns to the plaintiff to show that the
defendant's reason was a pretext for discrimination.
Sybrandt v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 560 F.3d 553,
557-58 (6th Cir. 2009); Monce v. Marshall Cty. Bd. of
Educ., 307 F.Supp.3d 805, 814 (M.D. Tenn.
2018). Throughout this burden-shifting approach,
the plaintiff bears the ultimate burden of proving, by a
preponderance of the evidence, the intent to discriminate.
Monce, 307 F.Supp.3d at 814.
AND NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION
has pointed to deposition testimony of Plaintiff that
strongly suggests she has no direct evidence of gender or
national origin discrimination by Carlton (Doc. No. 42-1 at
25 and 32 (Dep. at 98 and 126)). Defendant claims that this
testimony constitutes an admission by Plaintiff that Carlton
did not discriminate against her on these prohibited grounds.
Identifying this testimony satisfies Defendant's burden
as the movant on this issue. Plaintiff's response to this
claim purports to deny that she admitted any such thing, but
she fails adequately to support her denial; her response
states simply that Carlton knew about the Club, not
that he personally discriminated against her (Doc. No. 49 at
further response to Defendant's assertion, Plaintiff
contends in her Affidavit (Doc. No. 52) that she now (after
discovery) believes Carlton discriminated against
her based on her gender (Id. at ¶ 14), but she
does not adequately support this new “belief.”
Affidavits used to oppose a summary judgment motion must be
made on personal knowledge. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(4). Conclusory assertions are not sufficient to show a
genuine issue of fact necessary for the denial of summary
judgment. Deramus v. McCoig, ...