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Hall v. Dougherty County School System

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Albany Division

August 17, 2017

MATTHEW L. HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
DOUGHERTY COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LESLIE J. ABRAMS, JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 12).[1] For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         Defendant Dougherty County School System hired Plaintiff Matthew Hall, a white male, as a teacher on July 31, 2013. (Doc. 16-1, ¶¶ 1-2). Plaintiff was assigned to teach at Albany Early College. Id. at ¶ 2. Plaintiff was the only white male teacher at Albany Early College for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. Id. at 64. Barbara Harvey was the Principal and Cartisha Lewis was an administrative assistant. Id. at ¶ 3. Harvey and Lewis are both black females. Id. at ¶ 30.

         I. 2013-2014 School Year

         On August 20, 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a condition that causes severe pain in the head and the jaw. Plaintiff informed both Harvey and Lewis of his diagnosis. (Doc. 16-3, ¶ 5). After informing them of the diagnosis, Plaintiff claims that Harvey and Lewis “began a campaign of harassment and abuse” against him. (Doc. 16-1, ¶ 27). The alleged harassment consisted of:

• “General treatment, ” including not being told hello in the morning and the way Defendants “looked at” Plaintiff in meetings (Doc. 16-4 at 58:2-5, 11-15)
• A comment Harvey made during a faculty meeting about being treated differently as a female (Id. at 74:6-10)
• Lewis asking Plaintiff “What are you doing up here using the bathroom during transition?” when Plaintiff went to use the bathroom in the front office during class transition (Id. at 58:6-10)
• “Having stuff said” to him while heating up his food (Id. at 59:3-4)
• “Belligerent conversations” when called into Harvey's office (Id. at 59:4-5)
• Lewis asking Plaintiff “What do you want me to do about it?” when he called in sick (Id. at 18:6-9)
• Being reprimanded for not doing “something that was associated with a particular extra-curricular activity with students” (Id. at 76:21-25)
• Notifying Harvey that he needed to leave work at 3:45 p.m. for a doctor's appointment, but not being allowed to leave until 4:00 p.m. (Doc. 16-1 ¶ 4)

         Plaintiff did not observe any other employees taking sick leave or how Harvey responded to their requests. Id. at 19:11-20:19.

         II. 2014-2015 School Year

         During the 2013-2014 school year, Plaintiff taught Economics and American Government. Id. at 23. At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, Plaintiff was assigned to teach Psychology. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff learned of his assignment after the school year began from his students rather than from the school's administration. (Doc. 16-3, ¶ 19). Accordingly, Plaintiff was not able to properly prepare or obtain appropriate materials to teach the psychology course. Id. After learning that Plaintiff had been unaware of his assignment, Harvey requested a meeting to discuss the class. (Doc. 16-1, ¶ 9). Plaintiff responded to Harvey's request with an e-mail stating that, while he was surprised to learn of the assignment, he would teach the class to the best of his ability and did not express any reservations. Id.

         Around August 14, 2014, Lewis came to Plaintiff's classroom and informed him that she was checking the phone extensions. Id. at ¶ 11. She asked him to dial Harvey's extension number. Id. Harvey answered the phone, confirmed that they were checking phone extensions, and then told Plaintiff that he “needed to be doing his job” because she “walked by his room and it looked like he wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing.” Id. Plaintiff never heard Harvey telling other teachers that they needed to be doing their jobs nor did he hear other teachers complain about similar comments. Id. at ¶ 12. Although Plaintiff does not specify what he said or what conduct he was referring to, Plaintiff complained internally to the Assistant Principal about the treatment he received from Harvey and Lewis. Id. at ¶ 39.

         Plaintiff sought psychological treatment because of “Harvey and Lewis' harassment and abuse” and was evaluated on August 18, 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 13, 46. The psychologist recommended that Plaintiff take sick leave for the remainder of the week, August 18-22, 2014. Id. Harvey approved the leave and requested medical documentation. (Doc. 11-6). On Sunday, August 24, 2014, the psychologist sent Plaintiff an e-mail recommending that his excused medical leave be extended for an additional week, through August 29, 2014. (Doc. 16-1 at ¶ 14). Plaintiff notified Harvey of this at 10:25 p.m. on August 24, 2014 via e-mail. Id. The next morning, Harvey responded to Plaintiff's e-mail with the following:

I regret to hear that you are still mentally not feeling well, but know this is extreme late notice of [sic] another week absence your teaching position. As I attempt to surmise your circumstances, please understand my position in the matter. I am concerned that you have not called to communicate the severity of your situation. I am equally concerned of your -untimely notification. I have not received your first medical excuse which you indicated was faxed to me on 8/18/14 and for this reason I am copying Dr. Young, Human Resource Director and Mr Jack Willis, Asst ...

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