United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley Jr., United States District Court Senior Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. [DN 32]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe
for decision. For the following reasons, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
to the Complaint, Ms. Terry Lindsey was terminated from her
employment with Management & Training Corporation
(“MTC”) in May 2016. [DN 1 ¶ 18]. As is
pertinent to the instant Motion, she alleges that she was
terminated because she is an African-American and notes that
she and other African-American employees in management
positions were either removed or encouraged to resign from
management prior to her termination. [Id. ¶
16-18]. MTC maintains that Ms. Lindsey's termination was
the sole result of her failure to lead her team
satisfactorily and her continual violations of company
policy. [DN 32-1 at 1].
Lindsey filed this lawsuit in November 2017 against MTC. [DN
1]. She asserted claims against MTC for violating Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kentucky Civil Rights
Act (“KCRA”) by discriminating against her on the
basis of her race and sex. [DN 1 ¶¶ 21-30]. In
April 2018, MTC filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss seeking
dismissal of Ms. Lindsey's sex discrimination claims,
retaliation, and breach of contract claims. [DN 12]. The
Court granted MTC's Motion [DN 20], leaving only a claim
of race discrimination-under both Title VII and the KCRA-to
be decided. MTC now moves for summary judgment on Ms.
Lindsey's remaining claim. [DN 32]. MTC argues that under
both potential theories of race-based discrimination-
wrongful discharge and hostile work environment-Ms. Lindsey
cannot establish a claim. [DN 32-1 at 10-11].
Standard of Review and Law
the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must
find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the
initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and
identifying the portion of the record that demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the
moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party
thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a
genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
the Court must review the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must
do more than merely show that there is some
“metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to
present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue
exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in
the record” or by “showing that the materials
cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine
dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there
must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for
the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Motion differentiates between Ms. Lindsey's two theories
of race-based discrimination-wrongful discharge and hostile
work environment. [DN 32 at 10]. MTC maintains that under
either theory, Ms. Lindsey fails to offer evidence to support
her claim and summary judgment is appropriate. [Id.
at 11]. The Court will address each in turn.
Lindsey's Complaint alleges that she was wrongfully
discharged from her employment at MTC in violation of Title
VII and the KCRA. [DN 1 ¶ 1]. She explains that
unfounded complaints by co-workers “were used as a
pretextual basis” for her firing. [Id. ¶
18]. MTC moves for summary judgment arguing that Ms. Lindsey
cannot establish a prima facie case of race-based
discrimination premised upon wrongful discharge. DN 32-1 at
12-13]. Additionally, MTC maintains it is entitled to summary
judgment because it had a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason
for terminating Ms. Lindsey's employment, and, further,
Ms. Lindsey cannot prove the given rationale is pretextual.
[Id. at 13-15].
establish an employment discrimination claim, a plaintiff
must either present direct evidence of discrimination or
introduce circumstantial evidence that allows an inference of
discriminatory treatment. Johnson v. Univ. of
Cincinnati, 215 F.3d 561, 572 (6th Cir. 2000). Ms.
Lindsey did not offer any direct evidence of discrimination.
That being the case, the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
approach applies to this case. See McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Under that
framework, Ms. Lindsey faces the initial burden of presenting
a prima facie case of racial discrimination. Vaughn v.
Watkins Motor Lines, Inc., 291 F.3d 900, 906 (6th Cir.
2002). To establish such a claim, Ms. Lindsey must prove
that: (1) she was a member of a protected class; (2) she
suffered an adverse employment action; (3) she was qualified
for the position; and (4) she was replaced by a person
outside the protected class or that relative to the same
conduct, she was treated different than non-minority
employees. Id. If Ms. Lindsey satisfies that
showing, the burden then shifts to MTC to “articulate
some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for Ms.
Lindsey's termination. Id. (quoting Johnson, 215
F.3d at 573) (internal quotation marks omitted). If MTC
satisfies this burden, the burden then shifts back to Ms.
Lindsey to “prove that the proffered reason was
actually a pretext to hide unlawful discrimination.”
Johnson, 215 F.3d at 573. Ms. Lindsey may prove that
MTC's stated rationale is mere pretext by showing by a
preponderance of the evidence “(1) that the proffered
reasons had no basis in fact, (2) that the proffered reasons
did not actually motivate [her] discharge, or (3) that they
were insufficient to motivate discharge.” Manzer v.
Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Co., 29 F.3d 1078, 1084 (6th
Cir. 1994), overruled on other grounds by Gross v. FBL
Fin. Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009) (quoting
McNabola v. Chicago Transit Auth., 10 F.3d 501, 513
(7th Cir. 1993)).
first argues that Ms. Lindsey cannot satisfy the prima facie
showing required for racial discrimination-specifically,
elements three or four. [DN 32-1 at 12-13]. Ms. Lindsey
rebuts MTC's position as to both elements. [DN 33 at
2-3]. Additionally, MTC maintains that it had a legitimate
nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her employment. [DN
32-1 at 13-15]. Even if the Court were to hold that Ms.
Lindsey had established a prima facie case of race
discrimination, MTC proffered a legitimate nondiscriminatory
reason for terminating Ms. Lindsey-namely, “her
well-documented and repeated violations of company
policy.” [Id. at 13]. Ms. Lindsey has not
produced sufficient evidence to suggest that this stated, ...