United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
LISA GODBEY-WOOD, JUDGE
case arose following the August 11, 2015 termination of Ms.
Beleta Lockwood ("Plaintiff"), an African-American
female, from her job as Early Intervention Coordinator for
the Babies Can't Wait program at the Coastal Health
District 9-1 ("Coastal Health District" or
"Defendant"). She sued Defendant for race
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1965, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seg. ("Title
to an agreement by both parties, a bench trial was held on
August 21 and 22, 2018. Dtk. Nos. 63, 64. After hearing the
testimony of eleven witnesses and considering all of the
evidence tendered, the Court makes the following findings of
fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Findings of Fact
Court makes the following findings of fact:
Plaintiff 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 from 2010 until 2015.
Dkt. No. 86 at 66.
was terminated on August 11, 2015 by Dr. Diane Weems, the
Director of the Coastal Health District. Id. at 139.
Weems told Plaintiff that she was no longer a good fit.
Id. at 117.
Plaintiff was supervised first by Matthew Walker, then by Dr.
Saroyi Morris, an African-American woman, and, finally, by
Elizabeth Dixon, a Caucasian woman. Id. at 74.
Plaintiff believes she had no problems or issues working with
Morris and admired Morris. Id. at 82-83, 95.
Plaintiff's complaints are reserved for Dixon, whom she
describes as treating her in an overbearing manner.
Id. at 84-120.
Plaintiff describes multiple incidents she characterizes as
poor treatment by Dixon including Dixon placing a box of red
dishes on Plaintiff's desk, Dixon making a statement at
the office retreat that someone was watching their building,
Dixon asking Plaintiff to move boxes from a closet, Dixon
asking Plaintiff to remove window blinds, Dixon telling
Plaintiff to stop a presentation Plaintiff was giving, Dixon
not asking Plaintiff to be in charge while Dixon was out of
town, Plaintiff's request for additional staff being
denied, and a reimbursement for the taxes on a rental car
being reduced. Plaintiff generally took issue with
Dixon's demeanor. Additionally, Plaintiff believes Dixon
did not value or understand the Babies Can't Wait program
adequately. Id. at 85-122.
Although Plaintiff cannot recall any other African Americans
being treated in such a manner, id. at 93, Plaintiff
testified that on one occasion Dixon remarked that African
Americans do not age as quickly as other races, id.
at 93-94. Additionally, Plaintiff testified that on another
occasion, Dixon asked about Plaintiff's sorority and
whether Dixon could be a member. Id. at 94. The
sorority is an African-American sorority. Id. at
131. Other than those two statements, no one associated with
Defendant made any race-oriented statements. Id. at
Plaintiff testified that she received raises and bonuses and
that she had never been formally or informally reprimanded or
had attendance issues. Id. at 74-78.
When asked what she believes the reason for her termination
was, Plaintiff explained:
I really believe that Betty Dixon did not like me, and I say
that due to the fact that I really believe she was very
jealous of me, my intellect, my skills, my talents, how I
dressed, how I spoke, how I communicated, and I think as a
black person, I'm not supposed to be like that from her
eyes, I'm assuming. So I think those are the reasons.
Id. at 121-22.
When asked "[d]o you believe that you were terminated
■essentially because of your race?" Plaintiff
responded, "I can believe that, yes." Id.
Plaintiff believes Dixon had a role in her termination.
Upon termination, Plaintiff was replaced by Kimberly
McAliley, who is Caucasian. Id. at 118.
bolster her claims about mistreatment by Dixon, Plaintiff
brought witnesses who testified that they, too, felt
mistreated by Dixon. Janis Barrett was an Education
Specialist and Service Coordinator with Defendant.
Id. at 34. Barrett was complimentary of Plaintiff
and critical of Dixon. Barrett felt that Dixon was harsh to
her and the other Babies Can't Wait employees and
"talked down" to them. Id. at 37-38. She
also perceived Dixon as undervaluing the program.
Id. at 42. Barrett is Caucasian. Id. at 47.
Likewise, Ms. Rosemary Hicks,  was an office manager who
supported the Babies Can't ...