United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. KEITH WATKINS, Chief District Judge.
Before the court is Defendant Credit Central South, LLC's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 24.) At the court's directive ( see Doc. # 27), Plaintiff Candace Shivers filed a response in opposition. (Doc. # 28.) No reply brief has been submitted. Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, the evidence, and the relevant law, the court concludes that Credit Central's motion is due to be denied.
I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
The court exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Personal jurisdiction and venue are uncontested.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
To succeed on summary judgment, the movant must demonstrate "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court must view the evidence and the inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 2010).
The party moving for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This responsibility includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Or, the movant can assert, without citing the record, that the nonmoving party "cannot produce admissible evidence to support" a material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). If the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish - with evidence beyond the pleadings - that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for relief exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence allowing a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in its favor. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001).
Credit Central is a consumer loan company with branches in several locations in the Southeastern United States. Ms. Shivers was employed by Credit Central at its location in Andalusia, Alabama, from July 9, 2012, until February 26, 2013, but as explained infra, her last day of work was November 12, 2012. Credit Central typically employs three people per office. When an office has opened one thousand accounts, it may hire a part-time employee. The Andalusia branch where Ms. Shivers worked reached that benchmark in June 2012, and hence, its manager, Brennon Peavy, hired Ms. Shivers in July as a part-time customer service representative ("CSR") and assistant manager working approximately twenty-five hours per week. Ms. Shivers had previous experience working in the consumer loan industry and was hired to work at $10.25 per hour.
At the time that Ms. Shivers was hired, the branch was at its appropriate number of employees - three-and-a-half - which included a manager, Mr. Peavy, a full-time assistant manager, Bridgett Mitchell, a full-time CSR, Terri Crenshaw, and Ms. Shivers. Mr. Peavy allegedly anticipated growth in the business and represented to Ms. Shivers that "her hours and duties would increase eventually and that after the tax season she would achieve full-time status in the assistant manager position." (Am. Compl., at 2.) At all relevant times, Ms. Shivers was the only black employee in Andalusia's office; all of her coworkers and managers were white. There is no contention that Ms. Shivers's job performance was less than exemplary.
In August, Ms. Crenshaw needed to take a prolonged absence for a medical condition. Mr. Peavy hired an additional part-time CSR, Trista Walker, who is Ms. Crenshaw's sister. Ms. Walker lacked experience in the consumer loan industry and therefore was paid less than Ms. Shivers ($9.00 per hour). During Ms. Crenshaw's two-month absence, Ms. Shivers saw an increase in her hours and regularly worked forty hours per week. Ms. Walker also worked more hours than a part-time employee normally would have worked during Ms. Crenshaw's medical leave, but she did not receive as many hours as Ms. Shivers. ( Compare Doc. # 24-7, at 2, with Doc. # 24-5, at 3.)
Then, in November 2012, things changed for Ms. Shivers. Ms. Crenshaw returned to work full-time on November 12. Ms. Shivers understood that the increased hours during September and October would end when Ms. Crenshaw came back to work, (Shivers Dep., at 46-47), but Ms. Shivers anticipated returning to part-time status. Instead, she says, she was not given any hours. Ms. Shivers alleges that, when she talked to Mr. Peavy about the situation, he told her that she and Ms. Walker essentially would be splitting a part-time position and that he could offer each of them around ten hours a week. Ms. Shivers said she would work whatever hours the company would give her, but she was never scheduled to work again. She even agreed to a reassignment to another company location in South Alabama, but was not given another position. When she attempted to contact Brandon Sanford, the regional manager, about her situation, he did not return her calls.
Meanwhile, however, Ms. Walker continued to work hours - more than the meager ten hours proposed by Mr. Peavy to Ms. Shivers. And on January 3, 2013, Ms. Walker was promoted and given a pay raise to $9.45 an hour. She received the latter during her part-time status - a benefit that Mr. McCormack says only full-time employees are supposed to receive. (McCormack Dep., at 46.) Ms. Shivers considers herself effectively terminated as of her last day in November that she worked for Credit Central, but she was not technically terminated by Credit Central until February 26, 2013. Ms. Shivers posits that, if Credit Central's office was truly constrained by a lull in business, Mr. Peavy should have either tried to distribute the ...