Existing Clients 404-214-0120

Blog and News

Summary Judgment Orders - May

Posted by B&F Contributor | Jul 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Lindsey Waldera v. Marketsource, Inc.; District Judge Batten Sr. and Magistrate Judge Larkins; Pay Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, and retaliation claims; Summary Judgment: Recommend Grant. 


Natasha L. Franklin v. Northside Hospital, Inc.; District Judge Grimberg and Magistrate Larkins; ADA discrimination and retaliation; Summary Judgment: Recommended Granting for Race Discrimination, Remaining claims Plaintiff conceded. 


Naomi Pittman v. JCG Foods of Georgia LLC, d/b/a Koch Foods of Pine Mountain Valley; District Judge Batten Sr. and Magistrate Judge Vineyard; Gender discrimination; Summary Judgment: Recommend Grant. 


Latoya Riley v. CSX Transportation, Inc; District Judge Cohen and Magistrate Judge Walker; Race and gender discrimination and retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted. 


Ball v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia; District Judge Grimberg and Magistrate Walker; Disability discrimination and retaliation; Summary Judgment: Recommended Grant. 


Jordan-Philadelphia v. Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Inc.; District Judge May; Hostile work environment (national origin) and constructive discharge (national origin); Summary Judgment: Granted. 


Muhammad v. City of Atlanta; District Judge Totenberg and Magistrate Judge Johnson; disability discrimination and retaliation; Summary Judgment: Recommended Grant. 


Anthony v. Georgia Department of Public Safety; District Judge Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Walker; Race Discrimination; Summary Judgment: Recommended Grant. 


Shelton v. Vertical Earth, Inc.; District Judge Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Larkins; FLSA Overtime and FMLA Interference and Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Recommend Denial. 

Case Name: Lindsey Waldera v. Marketsource, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkins III

District Judge: Timothy C. Batten, Sr.

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Equal Pay Act – Pay Discrimination
Outcome: Recommended Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Equal Pay Act - Retaliation
Outcome: Recommended Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Title VII – Sex Discrimination
Recommended Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Title VII – Retaliation
Recommended Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Gender: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff, Lindsey Waldera began working for Defendant, Marketsource, Inc., in 2015 Marketsource operated the “Target Tech” program, which was led by two male Operations Directors, Matthew Burns and Justin Gorman. In December 2016, Ms. Waldera applied for Burns's position after he transitioned to a new role. She was told that she would be taking on most of Burns's responsibilities, along with some additional responsibilities. She was promoted in April 2017, and her new salary $86,500 with a $20,000 bonus potential. At the time of his transfer, Burns was making $109,241.60 in salary, with a $30,000 bonus potential. Gorman's salary was $107,515.20, with a bonus potential of $35,000. Gorman's salary increased in August 2017 to $112,528, with a bonus potential of $40,000. In March of April 2017, Ms. Waldera complained about her compensation to Tim Brannon, the Executive Director of the Target Tech program. In November 2017, Ms. Waldera learned that she would receive a transfer to a new role where she would supervisor more people and some of her responsibilities would be shifted to Gorman. Her pay would increase by $3,500. On April 13, 2018, Plaintiff notified Brannon that she was resigning because she was being under-compensated, among other things.

The Court found that Burns and Gorman were not proper comparators under the Equal Pay Act because they had materially different job responsibilities and their work was not substantially similar to Ms. Waldera's. Despite the less stringent standard for comparators under Title VII, the Court still found that Ms. Waldera failed to identify similarly situated male employees who were paid more than her. Turning to the retaliation claims, the Court found that Ms. Waldera could not demonstrate that her reassignment was an adverse employment action, and therefore she failed to establish a prima facie case for retaliation under the Equal Pay Act or Title VII. Citing to an unreported case from the Eastern District of New York, the Court held that “if the plaintiff can cite no facts suggesting that discretionary pay was awarded as a matter of course or that she was otherwise entitled to expect or rely on it, the employer's decision not to award the pay does not change the terms or conditions of Plaintiff's employment, so as to establish an adverse employment action.” The Court found that Ms. Waldera was unable to cite such facts.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Natasha L. Franklin v. Northside Hospital, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkins III

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: ADA – Discrimination (Failure to Accommodate)
Outcome: Recommend Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: ADA – Discrimination (Disparate Treatment)
Outcome: Recommend Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: ADA – Retaliation
Outcome: Recommend Denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Claim: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Recommend Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary:

Plaintiff Natasha L. Franklin was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension and multiple brain thromboses in 2016. In November 2017, she interviewed for a nursing position with Defendant Northside Hospital, Inc. Northside maintains an Attendance Policy, which provides that an employee is tardy if she arrives to work after the start of a scheduled shift. Ms. Franklin arrived to work late several times at the beginning of her employment. She asked her supervisor, Pam Mize, to “give me a break” and not count her as tardy because she had a medical condition that made her late for work. In July 2018, Ms. Franklin submitted reasonable accommodation paperwork requesting intermittent leave to attend medical appointments. Ms. Franklin was notified on August 13, 2018, that her accommodation request had been approved and included a total of eight hours of leave each month for doctor visits. Mr. Franklin was assessed the seventh tardy on July 30, 2018, and she was absent on August 9, 2018. Both infractions were violations of the Policy. On August 9, 2018, Northside received a complaint that Ms. Franklin had yelled at an employee to the point of making her cry.

A manager, Cynthia Gist decided to meet with Ms. Franklin to address her attendance and conduct issues. Just prior to this meeting, Gist was notified that Ms. Franklin's accommodation request had been approved. Ms. Franklin alleges that during this meeting Gist said something about knowing that Ms. Franklin applied for accommodations and Northside not needing to honor her requests. Northside alleges that she resigned. Ms. Franklin admits that she threatened to resign at this meeting, but also says that she explicitly stated that she was not resigning.

The Court first held that Ms. Franklin's failure to accommodate the argument failed because her “give me a break” comment was not sufficiently specific to constitute a request for a reasonable accommodation. Additionally, Ms. Franklin's approved accommodation request granted her leave for her to attend doctor's office appointment, but there was no evidence that any of her tardies related to a medical appointment. Ms. Franklin then argued that Northside discriminated against her in violation of the ADA because it did not reprimand non-disabled employees who violated the Attendance Policy, but the Court could find no similarly situated employees who were treated more favorably than Ms. Franklin.

Moving to Ms. Franklin's retaliation claims, the Court found Ms. Franklin presented a genuine issue of fact as to whether she suffered an adverse employment action. There is an issue of fact as to whether Ms. Franklin resigned or was fired and there is a causal connection due to the close temporal proximity between when Gist discovered Ms. Franklin's approved ADA accommodation and when Gist allegedly told Ms. Franklin during the August 10 meeting that Northside did not have to approve the accommodation. Ms. Franklin therefore established a prima facie case of retaliation. The Court rejected Ms. Franklin's IIED claim.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case Name: Naomi Pittman v. JCG Foods of Georgia LLC, d/b/a Koch Foods of Pine Mountain Valley

Nature of the Order: Magistrate's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Russel G. Vineyard

District Judge: Timothy C. Batten, Sr.

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Title VII – Gender Discrimination
Outcome: Recommended Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Gender: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff Naomi Pittman began working for Defendant Koch Foods on November 28, 2016, as a production worker. Koch Foods is organized by a Union, with which it would enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) every few years. Under this CBA, Human Resources posted job bids for jobs classified in the bargaining unit higher than the production worker. Ms. Pittman signed a bid sheet on July 30, 2018, for a position as a Maintenance Supervisor. A man was selected for this job instead. On September 5, 2018, Ms. Pittman filed a union grievance regarding the Maintenance Department bid process. On September 24, 2018, Ms. Pittman received another Corrective Action Report with a serious counseling statement for failing to put several items in the Parts Room. Believing this report was in retaliation for her union grievance, she filed another formal union grievance and made a report of discrimination.

Ms. Pittman signed the bid sheet for another position in the Maintenance Department on October 2, 2018. The person in charge of this bid, Marlon Spires, went out on leave before being able to conduct interviews, so the position was reposted on November 9, 2018. Ms. Pittman signed the bid sheet for the reposted position. On November 13, 2018, a co-worker filed a union grievance on Ms. Pittman's behalf based on the fact that Ms. Pittman had been denied several maintenance positions. That same day, Ms. Pittman was selected for the position she applied to on November 9, 2018. Ms. Pittman repeatedly requested a Personnel Action Form (“PAF”) for this new position from Human Resources, but one was never given to her. She resigned on November 29, 2018.

The Court skipped to the pretext analysis. It first considered the July 30, 2018, Maintenance Technician bid. Ms. Pittman argued that she was more qualified, but the Court explained that the pretext inquiry centers on the employer's beliefs, and an employer cannot prove pretext by simply arguing that she was better qualified than the individual who received the position. There was therefore insufficient evidence to prove pretext. Turning to the October 2, 2018, bid, the Court found that Ms. Pittman could not refute Koch Foods' explanation that it failed to timely fill the position because Spires went out on leave. Lastly, Ms. Pittman failed to prove that the delay in obtaining a PAF following her selection for the November 9, 2018 bid was pretextual. Ms. Pittman did not rebut Koch Foods' legitimate, nondiscriminatory explanations that the delay was because the Parts Room – where Ms. Pittman's was working at the time – was understaffed and needed her to work until it found a replacement. Further, Ms. Pittman resigned before the 30-day period expired.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Riley v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting the Report and Recommendation 

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker
District Judge: Mark H. Cohen 

Claims & Outcomes: 

Claim: Race Discrimination – 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Race Retaliation – 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Outcome: Plaintiff concedes

Claim: Race Discrimination – Title VII
Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Race Retaliation – Title VII
Outcome: Plaintiff concedes

Claim: Sex/Gender Discrimination – Title VII
Outcome: Plaintiff concedes

Claim: Sex/Gender Retaliation – Title VII
Outcome: Plaintiff concedes

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:
 Race of Plaintiff: African American
 Gender of Plaintiff: Female

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. Ms. Riley filed suit alleging discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race and gender. After conceding that Defendant was entitled to Summary Judgment on her retaliation claims and gender discrimination claims, Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker recommended granting summary judgment on all remaining claims.

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.

None of the parties objected to the recommendation, and District Judge Mark H. Cohen, therefore, adopted the recommendation as the opinion of the Court.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Ball v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

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

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Disability Discrimination
Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended

Claim: Disability Retaliation
Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

         Race of Plaintiff: N/A

         Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff was an employee of Georgia Southern University who was terminated for falsifying time records. His termination occurred within a month of him requesting accommodations for his recent amputation, which the University had granted. An investigation led to his termination. He filed disability discrimination and retaliation claims against the University under Title VII. The University filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court found summary judgment to be appropriate for the discrimination claim because Plaintiff's argument that he was treated differently upon his return from leave and was terminated just a few weeks after Southern granted his accommodations were deemed to be mere allegations that were not sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the decisionmakers were operated by discriminatory animus. The Court found summary judgment appropriate for the retaliation claim, stating that while the temporal proximity between Plaintiff's request for accommodations and his termination was sufficient to show a causal link, his falsified time records were an intervening act that eliminated any inference of causation.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Jordan-Philadelphia v. Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report & Recommendation.

Magistrate Judge:

District Judge: Leigh Martin May

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Hostile Work Environment -National Origin
Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Claim: Constructive Discharge – National Origin
Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

         Race of Plaintiff: N/A

         Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

The Court found Plaintiff, a woman from Guyana, was not subjected to a hostile work environment because the harassment she endured was either unrelated to her national origin or isolated, and neither severe not pervasive. Moreover, because Plaintiff was unable to meet the level required for a hostile work environment, the Court stated she was unable to meet the higher standard required for a constructive discharge claim. The Court granted summary judgment for the Defendant.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Muhammad v. City of Atlanta

Nature of the Order: Magistrate Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Walter E. Johnson

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Disability Discrimination
Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended

Claim: Disability Retaliation
Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

         Race of Plaintiff: N/A

         Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

A woman experiencing a lot of health issues sued her employer for failure to accommodate her medical needs and retaliation for disputing a work evaluation, filing an EEOC charge, and requiring her to obtain a “full duty release” requiring her to be 100% healthy before returning to work. The Court recommended that summary judgment was appropriate because Defendant attempted to accommodate Plaintiff, despite Plaintiff's disinterest in pursuing the positions offered to her. Moreover, because Plaintiff disputed her work evaluation almost 2 years prior to her termination, the Court found the temporal proximity alone not to be enough to show a causal link. The “full duty release” was only concerned with whether Plaintiff could perform the job and did not require her to be 100% healthy to return to work because it had a space for Plaintiff to provide her restrictions. Finally, much like with the work evaluation, Plaintiff was unable to show a causal link between filing the EEOC charge and her termination because she filed the charge almost 7 months before she was terminated.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Anthony v. Georgia Department of Public Safety

Nature of the Order: Final Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

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

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Gender: N/A

Race: African American

Summary:

Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for race discrimination pursuant to Title VII and alleges that Defendant subjected him to unwarranted investigations and denied him promotions on the basis of his race.  Defendant moved for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Walker recommended Defendant's motion be granted.  Magistrate Judge Walker concluded that, while Plaintiff established the first three elements of his prima facie case, he failed to offer evidence that Defendant treated his comparator more favorably. Magistrate Judge Walker then determined that, even without a valid comparator, Plaintiff could not prevail at summary judgment because Plaintiff could not create a convincing mosaic that would allow a jury to infer intentional discrimination and that Plaintiff offered no evidence that he was not promoted due to instruction to not promote him based on his race.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

Case Name: Shelton v. Vertical Earth, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkins III

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: FLSA Overtime
Outcome: Recommended Summary Judgement be Denied

Claim: FMLA Interference
Outcome: Recommended Summary Judgement be Denied

Claim: FMLA Retaliation
Outcome: Recommended Summary Judgement be Denied

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

Gender: N/A

Race: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff Elisabeth Shelton filed suit, alleging that Defendant violated the FLSA by failing to pay her overtime wages for times that she worked over forty hours and a violation of the FMLA by failing to notify her of her right to FMLA leave for her injury and for terminating her in retaliation for her injury-related absence. Defendant argued that Plaintiff's FLSA claim failed as a matter of law because she was a bona fide exempt administrative employee and not entitled to overtime. Defendant also argued that the FMLA claims failed because Plaintiff did not request FMLA leave, and even if she did, Defendant decided to terminate her before she asked for leave. Magistrate Judge Larkins recommended that summary judgment be denied on all claims.

With respect to the FLSA claim analyzed the following tasks, as identified in Defendant's brief: managing schedules, daily logs, involvement with work orders, pay applications, sorting mail and ordering office supplies, planning tasks for project managers, logging new construction jobs in foundations, and checking for underground utilities. Judge Larkins found that there were genuine issues of fact concerning Plaintiff's job duties and that he could not conclude that the Defendant carried its burden in showing that Plaintiff was an exempt employee under the administrative exemption.

With respect to the FMLA claims, Judge Larkins found that Plaintiff's foot injury constituted a serious health condition because Defendant did not present evidence to the contrary and that there is a triable issue of fact as to whether Plaintiff provided sufficient notice that her absence from work was potentially FMLA-qualifying. Additionally, found that a reasonable jury could find, given the record, that Defendant had not taken sufficient steps to show that they had already decided to terminate Plaintiff at the time it learned of her FMLA-qualifying injury.

To read the full analysis, click here.

For a copy of the complete order, click here

About the Author

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY.

When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Menu