United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. 33.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion
is GRANTED. As a result, Plaintiff's
claims are DISMISSED. The Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to close this case.
case arises from the alleged failure of Defendant Savannah
Airport Commission ("SAC") to promote Plaintiff
Lakisha Mitchell due to her race and gender in violation of
Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff is
an African American female who began her employment with SAC
as a customer service agent in October of 2007. (Doc. 15 at
2.) Prior to her employment with SAC, Plaintiff's work
experience included working in retail, as a childcare
provider, and as a leasing agent. (Doc. 35, Ex. 1. at 15-17.)
Plaintiff had also obtained a high school diploma.
(Id. at 12.) Eventually, Plaintiff began working as
a warehouse specialist/runner at the airport. (Id.
21, 2008, John Rauback, a Caucasian male, began working at
SAC as the director of administration and finance. (Doc. 33,
Ex. 16 at 7.) In December 2008, Rauback hired Roger Hamilton,
a Caucasian male, to begin working as a buyer in SACs
purchasing department. (Doc. 33, Ex. 6.) Plaintiff contends
that Hamilton was hired because he previously worked with
Rauback and Rauback had promised to "bring [Hamilton]
on" in his new position at SAC. (Doc. 33, Ex. 1 at 34.)
Prior to joining SAC, Hamilton had prior supervising and
purchasing experience in the aviation field. (Doc. 33, Ex.
7.) In 2009, Hamilton was promoted to purchasing agent
supervisor. (Doc. 33, Ex. 8.) That same year, Plaintiff was
also promoted as a buyer in the purchasing department. (Doc.
33, Ex. 5.)
013, Hamilton became ill and left SAC on medical leave. (Doc.
33, Ex. 1 at 32.) Benjamin Long, a Caucasian male, was asked
to act as the purchasing agent supervisor until Hamilton
could return. (Doc. 33, Ex. 9 at 2.) Long had been employed
at SAC since 2008, where he worked as an internal auditor in
SAC's accounting department. (Id.) Long had a
bachelor's degree in economics from Armstrong University
and experience working with SAC s purchasing department.
(Id.) Long was officially promoted to purchasing
agent supervisor after Hamilton was unable to recover from
his illness and permanently resigned from SAC. (Id.
at 3.) In his new position, Long retained some of his
previous job duties as an internal auditor. (Id.)
Long's tenure as the purchasing agent supervisor, the
parties disagree ever Plaintiff Mitchell's role in the
purchasing department. Plaintiff contends that she
"performed all the duties and functions necessary to run
the department and keep it afloat." (Doc. 4 4 at 2 .) In
addition, Plaintiff claims that she was required to train
Long for his role in the purchasing department.
(Id.) Plaintiff's position is supported by
several other SAC employees who testified that Plaintiff
acted as the supervisor in the purchasing department because
Long had no relevant experience. (Doc. 44, Ex. 6 at 1; Doc. 4
4, Ex. 7 at 1.) In contrast, Defendant contends that none of
the employees that Plaintiff cited actually worked in the
purchasing department. (Doc. 49 at 6.) Instead, Defendant
argues that Plaintiff did not train Long because Plaintiff
did not have the training or skills to train anyone for the
supervisor position. (Doc. 33, Ex. 9 at 3-4.) Rather,
Defendant purports that Plaintiff had no supervisory
authority in the purchasing department. (Id.)
2015, Long resigned from his role as the purchasing agent
supervisor at SAC. (Doc. 33, Ex. 9 at 4.) Defendant SAC began
seeking a replacement and Plaintiff Mitchell applied for the
position. (Doc. 33, Ex. 1 at 66.) At some point, SAC updated
the job description for the position to require a four-year
bachelor's degree. (Doc, 44, Ex. 11.) Eventually, the
position was given to Fred McCosby, a Caucasian male. (Doc.
33, Ex. 10 at 3.) McCosby had been employed with SAC since
2003. (Id. at 2.) At the time of his promotion,
McCosby was an Accredited Airport Executive with a Master of
Business Administration in Aviation degree from Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University. (Id.) He also had prior
purchasing and management experience. (Id.) Before
becoming the purchasing agent supervisor, McCosby supervised
SAC security and compliance. (Id. at 3.) In his new
role, McCosby retained some of his duties overseeing security
and compliance at SAC. (Id.)
Plaintiffs view, Rauback made the decision not to promote
Plaintiff to the position of purchasing agent supervisor
because of her race. As evidence, Plaintiff alleges that
Rauback never hired any minorities for management positions.
(Doc. 44, Ex. 8 at 17.) In addition, Plaintiff reports that
Rauback once stated that he did not know why Greg Kelly, SAC
s executive director, was "pushing to hire blacks."
(Id. at 20.) On April 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a
charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Doc. 33, Ex. 12.)
In her charge, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant SAC
improperly discriminated against her due to her race and
gender by failing to promote her over McCosby to purchasing
agent supervisor. (Id.) After filing her EEOC charge
of discrimination, Plaintiff continued to work at SAC. (Doc.
33, Ex. 1 at 50.) Eventually, Plaintiff was promoted to a
buyer II position. (Id. at 47.)
her promotion, Plaintiff contends that her EEOC complaint
affected her working environment at SAC. (Id. at 41.
} Plaintiff alleges that a fellow employee told her that
Rauback stated in a meeting that Plaintiff was a
"troublemaker" and that people should be careful
what they said around her. (Id.) Other than
Rauback's comment, Plaintiff does not provide any
specific interactions or conversations where other employees
treated her differently or referenced her EEOC complaint.
(Id. at 50.) Plaintiff, however, contends that her
coworkers began to "look at her different [ly] ."
(Id. at 83.) She even reports that her relationship
with the Airport Director, Lenard Robinson, became generally
"strained and different." (Id. at 45-6.)
October 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court. (Doc.
1.) Plaintiff has since filed an amended complaint and
seconded amended complaint in this action. (Doc. 14; Doc.
15.) In her second amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant SAC improperly discriminated against her due to her
race and gender by failing to promote her for a position for
which she was qualified. (Doc. 15 at 6.) In addition,
Plaintiff contends that she was subject to a hostile work
environment and retaliation after she made complaints about
Defendant SAC's alleged practices of discrimination.
(Id. at 6-7.) As relief, Plaintiff requests a
"retroactive promotion to the GS-15 level, with all
attendant back pay, benefits, and other emoluments of
employment," $1, 500, 000.00 in compensatory damages,
front pay, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Id.
part, Defendant has now filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,
seeking dismissal of the entirety of Plaintiff s complaint.
(Doc. 3 3.) Defendant contends that Plaintiff has failed to
allege sufficient evidence to support her claims that
Defendant SAC discriminated against her by failing to promote
her or retaliated against her after she made an EEOC
complaint. In addition, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has
not offered any evidence to support her hostile work
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a),
"'[a] party may move for summary judgment,
identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim
of defense-on which summary judgment is sought." Such a
motion must be granted "if 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."
Id. The "purpose of summary judgment is to
"pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order
to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'"
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
advisory coiruni11ee notes) .
judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The substantive law governing the action determines whether
an element is ...