United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 87); Plaintiff's Response (Doc. No.
94); and Defendant's Reply (Doc. No. 96). The Court held
oral argument on the Motion on September 11, 2019. For the
reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion (Doc. No.
87) is DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed the Complaint (Doc. No. 1) in this case, which was
originally assigned to Judge Aleta A. Trauger, on September
11, 2015, and filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 17) on
February 9, 2016. Through the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff
alleged the Secretary of the United State Department of
Veterans Affairs (“the VA”), in his official
capacity, violated her rights under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621;
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 41 U.S.C.
§§ 2000, et seq.; and the Tennessee Public
Protection Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304. Defendant
subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint,
which was granted in part and denied in part by Judge
Trauger. (Doc. Nos. 31, 32). Judge Trauger granted the motion
with regard to Plaintiff's Tennessee Public Protection
Act claim, and with regard to Plaintiff's Title VII claim
based on national origin discrimination. Judge Trauger denied
the motion to dismiss Plaintiff's ADEA claim on
exhaustion grounds. Judge Trauger also granted permission for
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, and on June 29, 2016,
Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 36).
The Second Amended Complaint mirrors the Amended Complaint,
except that it deletes the allegations about the Tennessee
Public Protection Act, the reference to national origin
discrimination in connection with the Title VII claim, and
the request for prejudgment interest, and it adds a Title VII
case was subsequently transferred to the undersigned Judge.
(Doc. No. 51). After the case was transferred, Defendant
filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 65) seeking to dismiss
the Second Amended Complaint. The Court granted dismissal of
Plaintiff's retaliation claim based on whistleblowing
activity, and denied the Motion in all other respects (Doc.
Nos. 85, 86).
the pending motion, Defendant seeks summary judgment on
Plaintiff's retaliation claim and her age discrimination
claim. As noted above, the Court heard oral argument on the
pending summary judgment motion on September 11, 2019. For
the reasons stated on the record at the hearing, the Court
deemed timely Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's
requests for admission.
The Standards Governing Motions for Summary
judgment should be granted "if the movant shows 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). The Supreme Court has construed Rule 56
to “mandate the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
See, e.g., Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Shreve v. Franklin County, Ohio,
743 F.3d 126, 132 (6th Cir. 2014). The court does not,
however, make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence,
or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
VII prohibits retaliation by an employer against an employee
who has either: (1) “opposed any practice made an
unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, ” or
(2) “made a charge, testified, assisted, or
participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding,
or hearing under this subchapter.” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-3(a). These two provisions are referred to as the
“opposition” clause and the
“participation” clause, respectively. A plaintiff
can establish a Title VII retaliation claim
“‘either by introducing direct evidence of
retaliation or by proffering circumstantial evidence that
support an inference of retaliation.'” Mulvey
v. Hugler, 2018 WL 2771346, at *3 (6th Cir.
Apr. 3, 2018) (quoting Imwalle v. Reliance Med. Prods.,
Inc.,515 F.3d ...