United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
LISA GODBEY WOOD JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Motions for Summary
Judgment of Defendant Glynn County Board of Health (the
"Board of Health") and Defendants Coastal Health
District 9-1 ("Coastal Health") and Betty T. Dixon.
Dkt. Nos. 23, 25. These Motions have been fully briefed and
are ripe for review. For the following reasons, Dixon and the
Board of Health's Motions are GRANTED,
and Coastal Health's Motion is GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part.
Beleta Lockwood brought claims for age and race
discrimination against Defendants, complaining of
termination, unequal terms and conditions in her employment,
and retaliation. Dkt. No. 1. She alleged that her harassment
included "criticism and excessive scrutiny of [her] job
performance, false accusations about [her] demeanor,
inquiries about work related decisions and expenses, time and
attendance related matters." Id. p. 5.
is an African American woman who was employed as an early
intervention coordinator for the Babies Can't Wait
Program at the Coastal Health District. Dkt. No. 23-4 pp.
15-16, 21, 64. As part of Lockwood's job duties, she was
required to hire independent contractors to serve children in
the Babies Can't Wait program. Dkt. No. 23-4 pp. 22-23.
She was terminated on August 11, 2015. Id. Defendant
Betty Dixon is a 59-year-old Caucasian female who served as
the director of clinical services for Coastal Health. Dixon
supervised Lockwood from October 1, 2013 until her
termination. Dkt. No. 23-4 p. 20. Dr. Diane Weems is a
61-year-old Caucasian female who served as the district
health director for Coastal Health from February 1, 2013
until September 1, 2016. Dkt. No. 23-11 ¶ 2. Dr. Weems
stated in her affidavit that she was the final decision maker
regarding Coastal Health's budget allocations as well as
hiring and firing. Id.
Smith is a 45-year-old Caucasian woman who has served as the
human resources manager for Coastal Health since August 2014.
Dkt. No. 23-13 ¶ 2. Saroyi Morris is the District
Program Manager at Coastal Health and is an African American
woman. Dkt. No. 23-12 ¶ 2. Her position reports directly
to Weems. Id. She directly supervised Plaintiff from
September 2010 until October 2013. Id. ¶ 3. She
testified that she found supervising Lockwood to be a
challenge, explaining that she perceived Lockwood to have
problems with attendance, with following policies, with being
hands on with her budget, and with regularly reporting
developments. Id. ¶ 3. In 2013, Weems and
Morris decided Lockwood needed more direct oversight and
moved her under the supervision of Defendant Dixon.
testified that she found supervising Lockwood to be
difficult, explaining that she felt Lockwood bristled at
being held accountable for her time out of the office, that
she was argumentative, and that she blamed Dixon for
excessively monitoring her when asked about her schedule.
Dkt. No. 23-10 ¶ 5. Dixon also testified regarding gaps
in Lockwood's job knowledge including the process for
encrypting emails and understanding the "deliverables of
the BCW program." Id. ¶¶ 6-7.
Weems hand-delivered a termination letter to Lockwood on
August 11, 2015. Dkt. No. 23-4 p. 64. The parties give
conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the
termination. Weems told Lockwood she was being terminated
because she was not a good fit. Id. Weems testified
that she decided to terminate Lockwood after conferring with
Morris, the district program manager, because they spent too
much time managing her, she was unwilling to digest anything
she did not want to hear, and her disruptive nature detracted
from her progress in the program deliverables. Dkt. No. 23-11
¶ 6. Expounding on the time spent managing Lockwood,
Morris testified that "the cumulative amount of time and
redundancy of effort required to support Beleta was beginning
to impact my ability to be an effective leader to my direct
report staff and programs." Dkt. No. 23-12 ¶ 7.
example of Lockwood's unwillingness to digest anything
she did not want to hear, Weems cited an episode relating to
a staffing shortage. Lockwood requested that Coastal Health
hire a full-time clerk. Dkt. No. 23-4 p. 48, 51. Lockwood met
with Weems, Morris, and Dixon to discuss this request in June
2015. Dkt. No. 23-12 ¶ 6; Dkt. No. 23-11 ¶ 5; Dkt.
No. 23-10 ¶ 8. The group decided that hiring a service
coordinator was a higher priority. Id. When Dixon
reiterated to Lockwood on August 7, 2015, that they could not
post a full-time clerk position, Lockwood replied, "[I]t
leaves me no other options other than to speak with the state
office." Dkt. No. 23-10 Ex. D. Feeling that
Lockwood's tone was insubordinate, Dixon forwarded the
email to her supervisors, Morris and Weems. Dkt. No. 23-10
¶ 8. Weems and Morris then decided to terminate
Lockwood. Dkt. No. 23-11 ¶ 6.
Health hired Kimberly McAliley to replace Lockwood. Dkt. No.
23-4 p. 67. McAliley is a Caucasian in her 40s. Id.
judgment is required where "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). A fact is "material" if it
"might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law." FindWhat Inv'r Grp. v. FindWhat.
com, 658 F.3d 1282, 1307 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). A dispute is "genuine" if the
"evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. In making
this determination, the court is to view all of the evidence
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Johnson v. Booker T. Washington Broad. Serv., Inc.,
234 F.3d 501, 507 (11th Cir. 2000).
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant
must show the court that there is an absence of evidence to
support the nonmoving party's case. Id. at 325.
If the moving party discharges this burden, the burden shifts
to the nonmovant to go beyond the pleadings and present
affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of fact
does exist. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257.
nonmovant may satisfy this burden in one of two ways. First,
the nonmovant "may show that the record in fact contains
supporting evidence, sufficient to withstand a directed
verdict motion, which was 'overlooked or ignored' by
the moving party, who has thus failed to meet the initial
burden of showing an absence of evidence."
Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1116
(11th Cir. 1993) (quoting Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
332 (Brennan, J., dissenting)). Second, the nonmovant
"may come forward with additional evidence sufficient to
withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the
alleged evidentiary deficiency." Id. at 1117.
Where the nonmovant attempts to carry this burden instead
with nothing more "than a repetition of his conclusional
allegations, summary judgment for the defendants [is] not
only proper but required." Morris v. Ross, 663
F.2d 1032, 1033-34 (11th Cir. 1981) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
Board of Health's Motion for Summary Judgment
undisputed evidence shows that the Board of Health is neither
Lockwood's employer nor an employer subject to Title VII
or the ADEA.
admitted in her deposition that the Board of Health was not
her employer and should not be a party to this litigation.
Dkt. No. 23-4 108:16-24; 109:1-12; 113:10-15; 133:2-9. She
has introduced no evidence that the Board of Health employed
her. In fact, the Board of Health has introduced evidence
that it did not employ her. Dkt. No. 25-4.
the undisputed evidence shows that the Board of Health is not
subject to Title VII or the ADEA. An employer subject to
Title VII is "a person engaged in an industry affecting
commerce who has fifteen or more employees for each working
day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current
or preceding year." 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe(b).
Similarly, an employer subject to the ADEA is "a person
engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has twenty or
more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more
calendar weeks in the current or preceding year." 29
U.S.C. § 630(b). Lockwood has introduced no evidence
that the Board of Health has the requisite number of
employees. And once again, the Board of Health has introduced
evidence to the contrary. Dkt. No. 25-4.
the Board of Health is neither an employer under the relevant
statutes nor Lockwood's employer, and its Motion for
Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
Dixon's Motion for Summary Judgment
same goes for Dixon. Neither Title VII nor the ADEA provide a
cause of action against individuals employed by the
plaintiff's actual employer. Lockwood's claim for
employment discrimination cannot be stated against an
individual supervisor who is merely acting on behalf of the
corporate employer. Dixon herself has not employed Lockwood,
nor does the evidence show that she has employed anyone.
Thus, she cannot be an employer who has employed at least 15
(for Title VII) or 20 (for the ADEA) employees.
Coastal Health's Motion for ...