United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
Randal Hall, united states district judge
before the Court is Defendant's motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 25.) Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant
under Title VII alleging race discrimination, sex
discrimination, and a hostile work environment. Defendant
seeks summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff has
failed to provide sufficient evidence to support any of her
claims. The Court agrees with Defendant.
present litigation stems from the termination of
Plaintiff's employment by Defendant. Plaintiff began
working for Verizon in January 2006 in Illinois. In 2012,
Verizon promoted Plaintiff to Assistant Store Manager
("ASM") and moved her to Augusta, Georgia. Then, in
2013, Verizon promoted Plaintiff to ASM of a superior retail
location in the Augusta Exchange shopping center.
February 2014, Verizon received a complaint from Michelle
Cisco, one of Plaintiff's subordinates. Ms. Cisco alleged
that Plaintiff took no corrective action after Plaintiff
heard another subordinate use the term "cracker"
and state that she wanted "to make all African American
sales reps number one since it was African American heritage
month." (Doc. 25, Defendant's Statement of Material
Facts, p.5.) Ms. Cisco also alleged that after she told
Plaintiff, the declarant and another employee that she found
the comments offensive, she overhead Plaintiff tell the group
"I hate that bitch." (Id.)
response to Ms. Cisco's complaint, Verizon conducted an
investigation and concluded that Plaintiff committed multiple
code-of-conduct violations during the incident. First,
Plaintiff failed to take corrective action when one of her
subordinates used a racial epithet in her presence. (Doc.
27-1, Verizon Internal Investigation, p. 1.) Second,
Plaintiff made severely disparaging remarks about an employee
in the presence of other employees. Id. Third, when
confronted by another manager about the situation, Plaintiff
admitted that her conversation was "not HR
appropriate." (Doc. 25-6, HR Consultant Declaration,
¶ 8.) The investigation also concluded that, separate
and apart from the incident in question, Plaintiff used
strong profanity when coaching her subordinates.
(Id.) Based on these findings, Verizon discharged
Plaintiff in early March 2014. (Id. at ¶ 10.)
Standard of Review
Summary judgment is appropriate only if "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). Facts are "material" if they could affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law,
and a dispute is genuine "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court must view factual disputes in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), and must draw "all justifiable
inferences in [the non-moving party's] favor."
United States v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941
F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (internal
punctuation and citations omitted). The Court should not
weigh the evidence or determine credibility.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
moving party has the initial burden of showing the Court, by
reference to materials on file, the basis for the motion.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
Because the standard for summary judgment mirrors that of a
directed verdict, the initial burden of proof required by
either party depends on who carries the burden of proof at
trial. Id. at 323. When the movant does not carry
the burden of proof at trial, it may satisfy its initial
burden in one of two ways - by negating an essential element
of the non-movant's case or by showing that there is no
evidence to prove a fact necessary to the non-movant's
case. See Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d
604, 606-08 (11th Cir. 1991) (explaining Adickes v. S.H.
Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970) and Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986)). The movant
cannot meet its initial burden by merely declaring that the
non-moving party cannot meet its burden at trial.
Clark, 929 F.2d at 608.
and only if - the movant carries its initial burden, the
non-movant must "demonstrate that there is indeed a
material issue of fact that precludes summary judgment."
Id. When the non-movant bears the burden of proof at
trial, the non-movant must tailor its response to the method
by which the movant carried its initial burden. If the movant
presented evidence affirmatively negating a material fact,
the non-movant "must respond with evidence sufficient to
withstand a directed verdict motion at trial on the material
fact sought to be negated." Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d
at 1116. If the movant shows an absence of evidence on a
material fact, the non-movant must either show that the
record contains evidence that was "overlooked or
ignored" by the movant or "come forward with
additional evidence sufficient to withstand a directed
verdict motion at trial based on the alleged evidentiary
deficiency." Id. at 1117. The non-movant cannot
carry its burden by relying on the pleadings or by repeating
conclusory allegations contained in the complaint.
Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1033-34 (11th Cir.
1981). Rather, the non-movant must respond with affidavits or
as otherwise provided by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
action, the Clerk of the Court gave Plaintiff notice of the
motion for summary judgment and informed her of the summary
judgment rules, the right to file affidavits or other
materials in opposition, and the consequences of default.
(Doc. 26.) Therefore, the notice requirements of Griffith
v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985) (per
curiam), are satisfied. The time for filing materials in
opposition has expired, and the motion is now ripe for
complaint alleges that: (1) Verizon discriminated against her
because of her race; (2) Verizon discriminated against her
because of her sex; and (3) Verizon tolerated a hostile work
environment. In her response to Defendant's motion,
Plaintiff abandoned her hostile work environment ...