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April Summary Judgment Orders for the Northern District of Georgia

Posted by B&F Contributor | May 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

In this second feature below, you will find summaries of seven recent employment-related reports and recommendations by magistrate judges in the Northern District of Georgia. For a copy of each order, click on the link at the end of the summary.

  • Cisero v. ADT LLC of Delaware; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg; Race discrimination and retaliation claims; Summary Judgment: Granted. 
  • Roberson v. Richardson; District Judge Ross and Magistrate Johnson; Race discrimination and sex discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted. 
  • Heard v. Georgia's Own Credit Union; District Judge Batten Sr. and Magistrate Judge Anand; Race discrimination and FMLA retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted. 
  • Latoya Riley v. CSX Transportation, Inc; District Judge Cohen and Magistrate Judge Walker; Race and gender discrimination and retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted. 
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc.; District Judge Totenberg and Magistrate Johnson; ADA reasonable accommodation claim; Summary Judgment: Denied. 
  • Giordano v. Adaptive Learning Center for Infants and Children, Inc.; District Judge Ross and Magistrate Judge Salinas; ADA disability discrimination, ADA retaliation, and Breach of employment contract; Summary Judgment: Denied. 
  • Stevenson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.; District Judge Totenberg and Magistrate Judge Walker; ADA, gender, and age discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted. 

Case: Cisero v. ADT LLC of Delaware

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Catherine M. Salinas

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Title VII Race Discrimination
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Claim: Section 1981 Race Discrimination
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Claim: Title VII Retaliation
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Claim: Section 1981 Retaliation
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Whether R&R Followed: N/A
For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

Race of Plaintiff: African American

Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff, an African American woman, worked for Defendant ADT as a Commercial Security Consultant (“CSC”). During her employment, Plaintiff became concerned that her manager, a white man, was sabotaging her income potential by bringing in other CSCs on her projects at the last minute, which implicated ADT's policy of splitting commissions. Plaintiff complained of this practice on several occasions. Months later, Plaintiff was terminated in April for job deficiencies. In Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims pursuant to Title VII and Section 1981, alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race when ADT's Commercial Sales Manager interfered with her sales by: (1) reassigning her leads to non-African-American counterparts; (2) taking over or removing leads generated or managed by Plaintiff at the last minute; and/or (3) requiring her to split leads with other CSC, resulting in shared commissions. Judge Salinas concluded that Plaintiff failed to show that reassigning leads to non-African American counterparts, taking over or removing leads generated or managed by Plaintiff at the last minute, and/or requiring Plaintiff to split leads with other CSCs were adverse employment actions. Judge Salinas also found that Plaintiff could not show that she was treated less favorably than similarly-situated employees outside of her protected class. Further, Plaintiff claimed that ADT unlawfully retaliated against her for making internal complaints of race discrimination and for filing EEOC charges by (1) denying Plaintiff commission compensation; (2) issuing her a final written warning regarding behavioral issues; and (3) terminating her employment. Judge Salinas concluded that Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation because she failed to show a causal connection because, while the Defendant had knowledge that she engaged in protected conduct prior to the final warning, Plaintiff also had documented behavioral and performance issues before and after Plaintiff made complaints of race discrimination. Judge Salinas stated that Plaintiff failed to establish causation because temporal proximity alone, post-Nasar, is insufficient.  Accordingly, Judge Salinas recommended that the motion for summary judgment be GRANTED in its entirety.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Roberson v. Richardson

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting the Report & Recommendation and Granting Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Walter E. Johnson

District Judge: Eleanor L. Ross

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Title VII Race Discrimination

Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Title VII Sex Discrimination

Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted (b/c Claim Abandoned)

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African-American

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

            Defendant W. Gene Richardson, Chief Magistrate Judge of Floyd County, Georgia, eliminated the position of Floyd County Constable, resulting in the termination of Plaintiff Thometrice Roberson (African-American female) and two others.  Roberson filed suit, alleging race and sex discrimination in her termination.

            Richardson moved for summary judgment on all claims.  Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson found that Roberson had abandoned her sex discrimination claim because she did not defend it at summary judgment.  As to the race discrimination claim, Judge Johnson concluded that comments made by Richardson – including racial slurs and praise for segregationists – were not direct evidence of discrimination because they did not concern Roberson or her termination.  Judge Johnson further found that Roberson could not prove her case using circumstantial evidence under the McDonnell Douglas framework because she could not show she was treated worse than similarly-situated people of a different race.  The other two constables who were terminated were white.  Finally, Judge Johnson found Roberson could not prove her case using a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence because she presented no other probative evidence of discrimination.  Because nobody objected to Judge Johnson's recommendations, District Judge Eleanor L. Ross adopted them as the opinion of the Court.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Heard v. Georgia's Own Credit Union

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Final Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Justin S Anand

District Judge: Timothy C. Batten Sr.

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: FMLA Retaliation
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Claim: Section 1981 Race Discrimination
Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment be Granted

Whether R&R Followed: N/A


For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

Race of Plaintiff: African American

Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff, an African American woman, worked for Defendant Georgia's Own Credit Union as a Human Resources Business Partner and held herself out as an expert on FMLA and leave processes. After an employee, Lia Bowers, took FMLA leave after her request for vacation time was denied, Plaintiff and VP Nathan McManus began holding meetings with Bowers to discuss the necessary steps regarding her leave. Plaintiff was later terminated for the mishandling of Bowers' leave situation. Plaintiff sued and alleged a FMLA retaliation claim and a Section 1981 race discrimination claim. Defendant moved for summary judgment. In Plaintiff's complaint, she alleged that she was retaliated against because of her protected conduct of opposition to McManus' hostility toward Bowers' and her use of FMLA leave. Judge Anand concluded that Plaintiff cannot show a causal connection between the protected activity and her termination. Further, Judge Anand stated that Plaintiff failed to satisfy the similarly situated comparator analysis required in the prima facie case of race discrimination and rejects the proposition that McManus and Plaintiff were comparators. Accordingly, Judge Anand recommended that the motion for summary judgment be GRANTED in its entirety

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Latoya Riley v. CSX Transportation, Inc

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Mark Howard Cohen

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Title VII – Race Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Title VII – Race Retaliation

Outcome: Plaintiff Conceded

Claim: Section 1981 – Race Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Section 1981 – Race Retaliation

Outcome: Plaintiff Conceded

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Gender: Female

Race: African American

Summary:

Plaintiff Latoya Riley worked for Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSX”), as a train dispatcher. Ms. Riley was charged with a Major violation – the worst of 3 types of rule violations – and was recommended for suspension by her supervisor, Robert Golden. Following an investigative hearing, Jermaine Swafford, the Atlanta Division Manager, terminated Ms. Riley's employment. Ms. Riley's union contested her termination, and the termination decision was overturned. The Court first dismissed Ms. Riley's comparator argument. The evidence – Ms. Riley's declaration and testimony – were insufficient to prove a proper comparator because Ms. Riley did not have personal knowledge of the relevant information. The Court then turned to Ms. Riley's argument under the “cat's paw” theory that Mr. Golden's decision to refer her for discipline was akin to terminating her employment. The Court disagreed. Committing a Major violation did not result in automatic termination and Ms. Riley failed to show that Mr. Swafford followed any allegedly biased recommendation without independently investigating.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Walter E. Johnson

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: ADA – Reasonable Accommodation

Outcome: Recommend Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to liability; Denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Summary:

Sharion Murphy, represented by the EEOC, suffers from claustrophobia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Accordingly, she avoided entering Defendant Kaiser's facility through the revolving doors. When Kaiser informed Ms. Murphy that she was required to use the revolving doors for security reasons, she provided a doctor's note indicating her disability and need to use a non-revolving door. Kaiser did not approve Ms. Murphy's request for accommodations until nearly four months after she initially sent in the doctor's note.  The Court found that Kaiser failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to Ms. Murphy because it was required to make its facility accessible to individuals with disabilities, and this obligation could easily have been met by allowing Ms. Murphy to use a non-revolving door within a reasonable time after she made her initial request. Additionally, the Court noted that Kaiser was obliged under the ADA and EEOC regulations to accommodate Ms. Murphy without first determining whether her disability impacted her ability to perform the essential functions of her job.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Giordano v. Adaptive Learning Center for Infants and Children, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting the Report & Recommendation and Denying Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Catherine M. Salinas

District Judge: Eleanor L. Ross

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: ADA Disability Discrimination

Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Claim: ADA Retaliation

Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Claim: Breach of Employment Contract (GA state law)

Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

District Judge Eleanor L. Ross adopted the recommendation of Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas that summary judgment be denied in this case involving an employee with seizure-like anxiety episodes.  Employer Adaptive Learning had asked for summary judgment on Cecilia Giordano's claims of ADA disability discrimination, retaliation, and breach of the employment contract, but failed to specifically challenge or analyze the specific claims made in its motion.  Instead, Adaptive focused on the issue of whether Giordano was terminated or resigned.  Judge Salinas called the case a “classic dispute over a material fact . . . that only a jury can resolve” and denied summary judgment.  In an unusual action in favor of the non-movant, Judge Salinas also deemed facts included in Giordano's Statement of Additional Material Facts as admitted when Adaptive failed to respond to them.  Because nobody objected to Judge Salinas's recommendations, Judge Ross adopted them as the opinion of the Court.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case: Stevenson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: ADA Failure to Accommodate

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: ADA Disability Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Title VII & Section 1981 Race Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Title VII Gender Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: ADEA Age Discrimination

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Retaliation (Title VII, Section 1981, ADA, ADEA)

Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African-American

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

            Defendant Delta Air Lines, Inc. investigated Plaintiff Quaniah Stevenson for allowing someone to use her “travel passes” (free and reduced-fare travel Delta provides to employees and their companions) for business travel, which is against company policy.  In the investigation Delta found Stevenson to be untruthful and terminated her, citing her dishonesty and the abuse of travel passes.  Stevenson filed suit, alleging failure to accommodate her disability, race/sex/age/disability discrimination, and retaliation.

Delta moved for summary judgment.  Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker found that Plaintiff failed to separately list – and, more importantly, cite evidence supporting – its assertions of fact and responses to Defendants statements of fact.  Therefore, Plaintiff's facts were not considered.  Judge Walker then found Stevenson's failure to accommodate and retaliation claims failed because she hadn't provided evidence that she had requested an accommodation or otherwise engaged in protected activity.  Her age discrimination claim failed because she hadn't shown that she was replaced by a “substantially younger” employee (or even identified the age of her replacement).  Her disability discrimination claim failed because she did not explain how she was disabled and introduced no competent evidence of discrimination.  And her sex/race discrimination claims failed because she did not identify any similarly situated comparator outside her protected class who was treated better than her for the same violations.  Finally, Stevenson did not demonstrate that Delta's justifications were pretext.  Judge Walker, therefore, recommended granting summary judgment on all claims in favor of Defendant.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

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