United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. 30.) The present action concerns allegations by
Plaintiff of sexual discrimination and retaliation by
Defendant in violation of Title VII. Because Plaintiff has
failed to present sufficient evidence to support her claims,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.
is a private higher education institution with campuses
located throughout the country. In February 2014, Defendant
hired Plaintiff as a part-time Academic Assistant for its
Augusta, Georgia campus location. As an Academic Assistant,
Plaintiff would report directly to the campus dean, Dr.
Culver. Plaintiff began work on March 3, 2014.
9, 2014, Plaintiff emailed Stacy Reeder-Decker,
Defendant's Employee Relations Specialist, to complain
that Dr. Culver was harassing her and discriminating against
her. Plaintiff claimed that "Dr. Culver: 1) expected her
to perform her job duties without proper training and
reprimanded her in front of staff and students; 2) waited for
her outside of the restroom; 3) told her that she looked nice
one day; 4) discussed her private life with other staff
members; 5) counseled her on following the dress code and 6)
asked her to look him in the eyes when he spoke to her."
(Doc. 30-2, ¶ 14.) Ms. Reeder-Decker investigated
Plaintiff's allegations but ultimately could not
August 12, 2014, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's
employment. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant terminated her
in retaliation for her complaints to Ms. Reeder-Decker. But
Defendant counters that Plaintiff's termination was part
of a 2013 company-wide restructuring plan developed prior to
Plaintiff's employment. As part of this plan "the
Academic Assistant and the Admissions Coordinator positions
would be consolidated into a new Campus Coordinator position,
" and "[t]he Academic Assistant position was to be
phased out." (Doc. 30-2, ¶ 4.) Defendant notes that
"[b]etween January 2014 and March 2015, each of
[Defendant's] 52 Academic Assistant positions were
eliminated." (Id. ¶ 5.) According to
Defendant, "[i]n Georgia, the Part-Time Academic
Assistant position was eliminated on August 12, 2014"
and "[t]he Full-Time Academic Assistant position was
eliminated on . . . January 9, 2015." (Id.
December 14, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this
Court asserting claims of hostile work environment and
retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. Defendant challenges both claims.
Standard of Review
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., 477 U.S. 317). 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 v. City of
Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1116 (11th Cir. 1993) . 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. See 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 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. 31.) 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