United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
For JAMES FRANK REYNOLDS, Plaintiff: JOHN W ROPER, LEAD ATTORNEY, COLUMBUS, GA.
For WINN-DIXIE RALEIGH INC, Defendant: DAVID T WILEY, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Jackson Lewis P.C., Birmingham, AL; KIMBERLY RENEE WARD, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jackson Lewis P.C., BIRMINGHAM, AL.
CLAY D. LAND, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff James Frank Reynolds (" Reynolds" ), a pharmacist, claims that his former employer, Defendant Winn-Dixie Raleigh, Inc. (" Winn-Dixie" ): (1) disciplined him more harshly than a female pharmacist, (2) terminated him after he complained about the disparate discipline, and (3) terminated him after he warned that Winn-Dixie was submitting potentially fraudulent claims to Medicaid. Reynolds brings discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and a retaliation claim under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h).
Presently pending before the Court is Winn-Dixie's summary judgment motion. (ECF No. 15). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment may be granted only " 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). In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A fact is material if it is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit. Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
Viewed in the light most favorable to Reynolds, the record reveals the following.
Winn-Dixie hired Reynolds as a pharmacist on February 16, 2012. During his employment with Winn-Dixie, Reynolds worked with another pharmacist, Georgia Todd. Todd, who is female, was designated " pharmacy manager." As manager, Todd's responsibilities included additional administrative tasks such as overseeing the pharmacy inventory, payroll procedure, and customer service. Reynolds downplays Todd's role as manager, insisting that she " just happened to be the individual responsible for the overall or general operations of the pharmacy." Reynolds Dep. 235:5-7, ECF No. 15-3. He describes their relationship as that of " partner" and " peer." Id. at 235:4. They both reported directly to Chad Brabston, the pharmacy district manager.
I. The Missing Xanax
In January 2013, Reynolds discovered that more than 1000 Xanax pills were missing from the pharmacy inventory, and he notified district manager Brabston. Reynolds told Brabston that he believed a pharmacy employee diverted the medicine for personal use. Brabston instructed Reynolds " to only share the results of [his] conclusions with him privately and not with [Todd,] the pharmacy manager." Id. at 189:13-15. Reynolds ignored this instruction and informed Todd of the missing medication. Reynolds contends that his reporting the missing medication relates ...