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Tuggle v. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division at London

April 7, 2015

ICKIE TUGGLE, Plaintiff.
v.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF KENTUCKY, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, Inc.'s Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 34). The relevant facts and procedural history are contained in the Court's December 23, 2014 Memorandum Opinion and Order, in which it granted summary judgment for Goodwill on Tuggle's state and federal age discrimination claims. (Doc. # 33).

Upon granting summary judgment, the Court exercised its discretion to retain jurisdiction over Tuggle's remaining state-law gender discrimination claim. ( Id. at 17). With discovery closed and the Court recognizing no evidence of gender discrimination, it ordered the parties, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f), to file supplemental briefs addressing whether that claim should also be dismissed. ( Id. ). The matter is now fully briefed and ripe for review. (Doc. ## 34, 35). Because there remains no evidence of gender discrimination, Goodwill's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate when "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). The moving party has the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must cite to evidence in the record upon which "a reasonable jury could return a verdict" in its favor; a mere "scintilla of evidence" will not do. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-52 (1986). At summary judgment, a court "views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Slusher v. Carson, 540 F.3d 449, 453 (6th Cir. 2008).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Gender Discrimination

Ky. Rev. Stat. § 344.040 makes it unlawful for an employer: "to fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of the individual's... sex...." Kentucky's civil rights statute is interpreted "consistent with the applicable federal anti-discrimination laws." Williams v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 184 S.W.3d 492, 495 (Ky. 2005).

A plaintiff can prove gender discrimination by producing either direct or circumstantial evidence. White v. Columbus Metro. Hous. Auth., 429 F.3d 232, 238 (6th Cir. 2005). Direct evidence is evidence that "requires the conclusion that unlawful discrimination was at least a motivating factor in the employer's actions." Id. (quoting Jacklyn v. Schering-Plough Healthcare Prods. Sales Corp., 176 F.3d 921, 926 (6th Cir. 1999)). No direct evidence of gender discrimination exists here.

When relying on circumstantial evidence, a plaintiff must first make a prima facie showing of discrimination. Com. v. Solly, 253 S.W.3d 537, 541 (Ky. 2008) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)). If a plaintiff establishes her prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to articulate a "legitimate nondiscriminatory" reason for its action. Id. If the defendant does so, the burden reverts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the stated reason is pretext for unlawful discrimination. Id.

In her Complaint, Tuggle brings gender discrimination claims based on Goodwill (1) terminating her and (2) not promoting her to one of two open Regional Donated Goods Manager (RDGM) positions.

1. Goodwill did not terminate Tuggle because of her gender

To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination based on termination, a plaintiff must show that she (1) is a member of the protected class, (2) was qualified for the job, (3) was discharged, and (4) was replaced by a person outside the protected class. Shazor v. Prof'l Transit Mgmt., Ltd., 744 F.3d 948, 957 (6th Cir. 2014).

In her complaint, Tuggle alleges that Goodwill terminated her from her Center Manager position because of her gender. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 27, 38). Yet, Goodwill replaced her with another woman, Shanda Hall. (Doc. # 27 at 49). Tuggle does not dispute this. Because she offers no ...


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