United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
CHANDRA L. PORTER, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, Defendant.
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. 44.) The Clerk has given Plaintiff notice of the
summary judgment motion and the summary judgment rules, of
the right to file affidavits or other materials in
opposition, and the consequences of default. (Doc. 45.)
Therefore, the notice requirements of Griffith v.
Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985) (per
curiam), have been satisfied. The motion has been fully
briefed and is ripe for decision.
is an African-American who works as a Human Resources Analyst
for Defendant City of Savannah, Georgia. Plaintiff alleges
that she was not selected for several promotions due to
Defendant's racial animus in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe, et
seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
began working for Defendant in 1998 as a Communications
Specialist for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police
Department ("SCMPD"). (Porter Dep., Doc. 44-3, at
10.) Between 2001 and 2011, Plaintiff applied for and was
denied several promotions. (Porter Decl., Doc. 48-4,
¶¶ 10-20.) The candidates selected for those
positions were non-African American employees. (Id.)
2001, Plaintiff was transferred from the SCMPD to human
resources. (Porter Dep. at 10.) During her tenure in the
human resources department, Plaintiff received several
reprimands. On May 27, 2005, Plaintiff was scolded for
failing to make eye-contact or greet employees who visited
the human resources department. (Id. at 17; Doc.
44-3, at 56-57.) On September 20, 2006, Plaintiff received
an oral reprimand for insubordination when she refused to
cover the phones when the department was short-staffed.
(Porter Dep. at 22-23; Doc. 44-3, at 58.)
15, 2008, Plaintiff received a written reprimand stemming
from two incidents. (Porter Dep. at 27; Doc. 44-3, at 94-95.)
The first incident involved how Plaintiff dealt with a former
Savannah employee who called Plaintiff to ask about
Defendant's Cobra Health Insurance policy. (Porter Dep.
at 27.) Plaintiff was criticized for failing to obtain the
information the employee sought and instead directing the
employee to call the insurer. (Id.; Doc. 44-3, at
94-95.) The reprimand also involved how Plaintiff handled a
mailing assignment. (Doc. 44-3, at 94-95.) Plaintiff had been
ordered “to determine the best and most
practical method" for distributing a pamphlet involving
long-term disability. (Id.) Instead of delivering
these pamphlets herself, Plaintiff instructed all forty
departments to pick up the pamphlets from the human resources
department. (Id.) Plaintiff's supervisor accused
her of choosing "what was easy and convenient for
[Plaintiff]" instead of what was best for the other
employees had also complained about Plaintiff's customer
service. For example, on June 2, 2011, Laurie McCain, a city
employee, complained that Plaintiff had failed to send the
department any applicants for summer interns. (Doc. 44-3, at
132.) When Ms. McCain asked Plaintiff for help, Plaintiff
refused explaining that she was too busy. (Id.)
November 2011, Plaintiff applied for a promotion as Senior
Human Resources Analyst. (Porter Dep. at 39.) The minimum
qualifications were a bachelor's degree in public
administration, business management, or a related field, with
three years of professional experience or an equivalent
combination of education and experience. (Doc. 44-3, at 121.)
The only other applicant was Heather Hilderbrand, a white
employee who was allegedly less qualified than Plaintiff.
(Robinson Aff., Doc. 44-4, ¶ 4.) Ms. Hilderbrand had her
associate's degree and five years of experience. (Porter
Decl., ¶¶ 20, 23.) Plaintiff, on the other hand,
had her master's degree, eight years of experience with
Defendant, and one and a half years of prior management
experience at Lady Footlocker. (Id. ¶ 23.)
Nevertheless, Ms. Hilderbrand was selected as Senior Human
Resources Analyst. (Robinson Aff. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff was
told that she was not selected for the position due to her
inability to handle difficult employees. (Porter Dep. at 42.)
Mary Elizabeth Robinson, who was part of the committee that
made the decision, testified that Plaintiff's
disciplinary record was also a factor in the decision to hire
Ms. Hilderbrand. (Robinson Aff. ¶ 4.)
December 2011, Plaintiff was selected to serve as a Human
Resources Analyst. (Porter Dep. at 11.) On May 30, 2011,
Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
(Second Amended Complaint, Doc. 23-1, ¶ 29.) On June 16,
2014, Plaintiff was transferred back to the SCMPD. (Doc.
44-3, at 83-84.) Despite the transfer, Plaintiff retained the
title of Human Resources Analyst and continued to receive the
same salary. (Id.)
12, 2016, more than six months after initiating this
litigation, Plaintiff applied for a Human Resources Analyst
position that was presumably different than the position
Plaintiff currently held. (Porter Dep. at 107.) An
African-American employee, Anthony Caston, was selected for
the position. (Id. at 110.)
November 9, 2015, Plaintiff initiated the instant action
alleging multiple incidents of discrimination and
retaliation. Defendant now moves for summary judgment arguing
that no reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff was not
promoted due to a racial animus.
motion for summary judgment will be granted if there is no
disputed 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 results of the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court
must view facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draw all inferences in its favor. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co.,Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp.;
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The movant initially bears the
burden of proof and must demonstrate the absence of a
disputed material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The ...