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Stanley v. Central Kentucky Community Action Council, Inc.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

October 23, 2013

NATHANIEL STANLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL KENTUCKY COMMUNITY ACTION COUNCIL, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend this Court's Judgment of June 27, 2013, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. (Docket No. 36.) Defendants have responded (Docket No. 39), and this matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural underpinnings of this case are more fully described in the Court's Memorandum Opinion of June 27, 2013. (Docket No. 34). Still, the Court recounts the relevant facts in order to address the parties' arguments. Because the Court reviews Plaintiff's legal claims in the context of Defendant's summary judgment motion, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

A. Factual background

Plaintiff, Nathaniel Stanley ("Plaintiff" or "Stanley"), an African-American male, worked as an employment specialist for Defendant, the Central Kentucky Community Action Council, Inc. ("Defendant" or "the Council"). Over the course of Stanley's employment, from March 2008 until his termination in July 2010, he experienced a number of problems with his supervisor, Tracy Dennison. Stanley accused Dennison of making demeaning comments "about her husband and men in general, " although he admitted that the comments were never about him. (Stanley Dep. 18:12, Sept. 10, 2012, Docket No. 14-1: Id. at 22:19-23:5.) Stanley perceived Dennison to be abrasive and disrespectful in her interactions with him. ( Id. at 24:23-26:5.)

Beginning in February 2009, Stanley levied a series of documented complaints about Dennison. In response to an email exchange about the proper procedure for submitting certain information to Dennison, Stanley's initial complaint noted that he felt he was being singled out, as Dennison had said nothing to the other employment specialists. He further accused Dennison of general unpleasantness and a poor management style. (Defs.' Ex. 2, Docket No. 13-3.)

On July 31, 2009, Dennison issued a written reprimand to Stanley for his behavior at a personnel meeting. (Defs.' Ex. 3, Docket No. 13-4.) Stanley was in no way disciplined as a result of the written reprimand, although he was advised that continued disruptions would result in his immediate dismissal. ( Id. ) On August 5, 2009, Stanley emailed Human Resource Director Denise Fogle, indicating that he continued to have problems with Dennison. (Defs.' Ex. 6, Docket No. 13-7.) Stanley reiterated his complaints that Dennison was abrasive and demeaning and inappropriately scrutinized Stanley's work. Fogle shared Stanley's complaints with Community Services Director Lynne Robey and Executive Director Thomas Moorman. ( See Robey Aff. Attach. 1, 2, Docket No. 13-8; Moorman Dep. 25:8-10, Aug. 9, 2012, Docket No. 13-10.) In response, Moorman attempted to schedule a meeting addressing Stanley's concerns. (Defs.' Ex. 8, DN 13-9.) Although the parties "went back and forth" about possible dates to discuss Stanley's complaints, the meeting ultimately never occurred.

From late September 2009 through mid-February 2010, Stanley continued to draft complaints to Fogle. He alleged, for example, that Dennison monitored the time that Stanley left work for the day and asked him to rearrange his office without requiring others to do so. (Defs.' Ex. 11, Docket No 13-12.) After recounting a series of perceived slights by Dennison, Stanley noted that "Tracy does not even seem to have any respect for any employees of color'" and displayed a "total disregard for minority staff members that are in positions of authority." He also told Fogle that he was tired of the constant harassment.

Finally, in a February 13, 2010 communication, Stanley alleged, among other complaints, that Dennison gave him, but not other employment specialists, an annual evaluation. He contended that "[i]f [Dennison] is making an attempt to evaluate her personnel, she needs to... hold all seven employment specialist [sic] accountable for this, and not just the lone black male employee' that she obviously has disdain for." (Defs. Ex. 13, Docket No. 13-14.)

On April 16, 2010, Stanley met with Dennison, Moorman, Robey, and Fogle following his failure to immediately report a client's threat on a case manager's life. (Stanley Dep. 133:13-135:3.) During the meeting, Stanley was informed that his delay was grounds for termination, but because there was no set reporting procedure, he received only a verbal reprimand. (Stanley Dep. 133:13-135:3.) A few days following this meeting, Dennison and Stanley exchanged a series of emails concerning proper procedures for requesting and recording personal leave. (Defs.' Ex. 19, Docket No. 13-20.)

On May 5, 2010, Stanley filed his first EEOC charge, alleging that he was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment, disciplined, denied promotion, and retaliated against because of his sex and his complaints of sex discrimination. (May 5, 2010, EEOC Charge of Discrimination, Docket No. 14-4.) Moorman ordered an investigation upon learning of Stanley's complaint. (Moorman Dep. 31:19-21.) Thereafter, Robey met with Stanley; Dennison; Council employees Cindy Milby and Cheryl Freeman; and Freeman's assistant, Sharron Perry, about "the friction in the Hardin County office." (Robey Aff. Attach. 1, 6.)

Two months later, Stanley's coworker Cindy Milby informed Dennison that Stanley had been making "vulgar" statements about Dennison at work. (Dennison Dep. 18:1-8, Docket No. 14-3.) Because the allegations concerned comments about her, Dennison directed Milby to speak with Robey. ( Id. 26:16-22.) Robey asked Milby to put her allegations in writing. (Robey Aff., Attach. 1, 7.) Milby's written statement alleged that Stanley made a variety of vulgar statements about Dennison and indicated that Cheryl Freeman had also overheard his comments.[1] (Milby Statement, Defs.' Ex. 26, Docket No. 13-27.) On July 23, 2010, Milby's statement was incorporated into a sworn affidavit. (Defs.' Ex. 27, Docket No. 13-28.) Robey presented the affidavit to Executive Director Moorman. On July 23, 2010, Moorman drafted a termination letter that was not executed or provided to Stanley. (Pls.' Ex. 9, Docket No. 14-10.)

On July 27, 2010, Moorman, Fogle, Robey, and Robey's assistant, Ellen Leake, interviewed Cheryl Freeman. Freeman confirmed that, like many in the office, Stanley had called Dennison a "bitch." (Freeman Dep. Aug. 9, 2012, 14:13-17, Docket No. 14-13.) She also confirmed overhearing Stanley comment that Dennison was likely the man of the house and that "if she'd get her some, she'd calm down." ( Id.; Freeman Sworn Statement, July 17, 2011, 27:11-12, Docket No. 13-29.) Based on this confirmation, Moorman ...


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