United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
JANICE C. CLARK, DPM, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA, Defendant.
RANDAL HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 34.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. Defendant
argues that it had legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for
firing Plaintiff, and that Plaintiff has not provided
sufficient evidence to rebut its non-retaliatory reasons. The
Court DENIES Defendant's motion.
began work for Defendant in August 2009 as a Podiatrist and
Assistant Professor of Orthopedics. On March 8, 2010, Dr.
Douglas Miller, Dean of the School of Medicine, offered to
renew Plaintiff's contract for the 2010-2011 academic
year. Dr. Miller made his offer on the recommendation of
Plaintiff's immediate supervisor, Dr. Norman Chutkan,
Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics.
April 2010, Plaintiff complained to Solomon Walker, the
Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
Employment, about race and sex discrimination. Plaintiff
complained about the clinic in general, but she specifically
named Mark Lewis, the Department Administrator, as a
particular cause for concern. According to Plaintiff, Mr.
Walker told her he would speak with Dr. Chutkan about the
complaint. On May 5, 2010, Dr. Chutkan, Mark Lewis, and Susan
Norton, Vice President of Human Resources, met with Plaintiff
to discuss several performance issues. Dr. Chutkan outlined
the performance issues in a written memo. They included:
- Failure to complete patient notes in a timely manner which
resulted in management being unable to bill for services
rendered by Plaintiff - Two missed meetings with Dr. Chutkan
- Failure to arrive at the Lake Oconee clinic on a date when
Plaintiff had patients scheduled
- Allegations that Plaintiff might have attempted to get
reimbursement for a business trip from multiple sources
- Failure to adequately communicate with residents and other
next day, Plaintiff met once more with Mr. Walker to discuss
filing a complaint about race and sex discrimination. On May
7, 2010, Ms. Norton met with Mr. Walker to discuss HR issues.
Ms. Norton's agenda for the meeting included a discussion
of Plaintiff. In her deposition, Ms. Norton claimed that she
probably only wanted to discuss what she perceived as
Plaintiff's rude behavior during their meeting on May 5,
but she could not recall whether they discussed the
discrimination complaints made by Plaintiff to Mr. Walker.
14, 2010, Ms. Norton emailed Mr. Lewis to discuss not
renewing Plaintiff's contract for the 2011-2012 fiscal
year. In the same email, she also discussed the possibilities
of rescinding Plaintiff's offer for the 2010-2011 term,
but determined that such a move would be too administratively
difficult. In response, Mr. Lewis asked Ms. Norton how they
should communicate their decision not to renew
Plaintiff's contract. By May 26, Mr. Lewis sent a draft
non-renewal letter to Dr. Chutkan. Dr. Chutkan testified that
he made the decision to fire Plaintiff on either May 26 or
June 30. (Dr. Chutkan bases his testimony on written
memoranda and some confusion exists as to when Dr. Chutkan
actually relayed his decision to Dean Miller.) In August
2010, Defendant informed Plaintiff it would not renew her
contract for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
October 27, 2010, Plaintiff, still in Defendant's employ,
filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. By November
2010, she had already begun to look for new employment in
anticipation of her contract ending in June 2011. Despite
applying to over fifty institutions, and receiving several
interviews, Plaintiff could not get a job. As soon as the
potential employers checked her references, they ceased
discussions with her. Suspicious, she contracted with a
company to conduct a reference check. When the company called
Dr. Chutkan to inquire about Plaintiff in November 2011, he
stated, "It was a mistake to list me [as a reference] .
I can tell you that. . . . She filed a few complaints against
me. . . . One was regarding discrimination." (Doc. 38 at
remained unemployed for a year after her contract with
Defendant ended. In July 2012, Plaintiff finally gained
employment as a podiatrist with the federal government
working for Indian Health Services in Zuni, New Mexico -
population 6, 302 persons as of the 2010 census. Indian
Health Services had been trying to hire a podiatrist for two
years, and Plaintiff accepted its offer of $109, 000 per
year. Her compensation, not including other benefits, had
been $135, 000 under Defendant's employ.
her initial EEOC charge in October 2010, Plaintiff has made
three amended charges. On January 28, 2011, Plaintiff
formally amended her charge to include retaliation claims
related to Defendant's decision not to renew her
contract. On June 6, 2012, Plaintiff amended her EEOC charges
to include retaliation claims related to negative references