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Moore v. Computer Sciences Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

September 5, 2017




         Plaintiff Bonnie Williams Moore is a former employee of defendant Computer Sciences Corporation. Ms. Moore alleges that CSC discriminated against her on the basis of her race, age, and disability. Based on that alleged discrimination, Ms. Moore asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.; and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 791. Ms. Moore also asserts a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2615, on grounds that CSC allegedly interfered with her ability to take medical leave. (Doc. 1). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, CSC has filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 18). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants CSC's motion with respect to Ms. Moore's Title VII, Section 1981, and ADEA claims. The Court also grants summary judgment with respect to Ms. Moore's Rehabilitation Act claim. The Court denies summary judgment on Ms. Moore's ADA claims and on her FMLA interference claim.


         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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). To demonstrate that there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must cite “to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

         When considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See White v. Beltram Edge Tool Supply, Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015). Accordingly, the Court presents the facts in this opinion in the light most favorable to Ms. Moore. See White, 789 F.3d at 1191; see also Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244, 1252 (11th Cir. 2013) (“[W]hen conflicts arise between the facts evidenced by the parties, [courts] must credit the nonmoving party's version.”). “The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).


         Ms. Moore is an African-American female. She was born in 1957. (Doc. 24, ¶ 3-5; Doc. 19-1, p. 9). Ms. Moore worked for CSC for nearly 15 years, from 1999 until March 28, 2014.[1] (Doc. 19-1, p. 21; Doc. 24-6, ¶ 24). Ms. Moore began her career with CSC as an account professional in the company's billing and collections division. (Doc. 24-6, ¶ 6; Doc. 20, ¶¶ 3-4). In 2007, CSC promoted Ms. Moore to the position of senior billing accountant/AR lead. (Doc. 19-1, p. 25; Doc. 19-5, p. 32). Ms. Moore held the position of senior billing lead until her employment with CSC ended in March of 2014. (Doc. 24-6, ¶ 6).

         In 2004, while working full-time for CSC, Ms. Moore obtained a bachelor's degree in business administration. (Doc. 19-1, p. 23). The following year, she earned a master's degree in business administration. (Doc. 19-1, p. 23). Ms. Moore also obtained certifications in contract management and contract acquisitions, and she took college courses in contracts administration as recently as 2012. (See Doc. 19-1, pp. 24-25, 42). In her annual reviews, CSC recognized Ms. Moore's ability to continue her education while maintaining a full workload at CSC. (Doc. 19-5, pp. 24, 30; Doc. 24-9, pp. 21, 37).

         From 2007 until 2012, Ms. Moore reported to James Romine. Mr. Romine was responsible for completing Ms. Moore's performance appraisals at the end of each fiscal year. (See Doc. 24-9, pp. 2, 13, 17, 22, 27; Doc. 19-5, p. 51).[2] For fiscal years 2007 through 2012, Mr. Romine rated Ms. Moore as meeting, exceeding, or far exceeding expectations. (Doc. 24-9, pp. 6, 15, 20, 25; Doc. 19-5, p.51). In fiscal year 2013, Amanda Martin became Ms. Moore's supervisor, and she completed Ms. Moore's 2013 performance appraisal. (Doc. 19-1, pp. 108-109; Doc. 24-9, p. 32). Ms. Martin also rated Ms. Moore's performance as meeting or exceeding expectations. (Doc. 24-9, pp. 32-37).

         Ms. Moore's performance evaluations for fiscal years 2007 through 2013 contain almost entirely positive comments. There are two exceptions. Mr. Romine noted in his 2012 assessment: “[a] single area of improvement would be to become more assertive in her role as Lead not only with billers assigned under her but to the entire Huntsville staff.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 31). Ms. Martin noted in her 2013 appraisal that “[o]ne single area of improvement is that when issues arise, [Ms. Moore] and the biller come see management together.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 36).

         The evaluations otherwise contain glowing reviews. Here are a few examples:

2007: “She is seen as a team player and is very cooperative. Bonnie's natural demeanor allows her to easily gain the trust and support of her peers . . . . She does not become defensive or irritated when challenged.” (Doc. 24-9, pp. 7-8).
2008: “As a Lead, the quality and quantity of work Bonnie produces is consistently among the best and is always within acceptable ranges of accuracy and timeliness.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 16).
2009: “Bonnie continues to be a strong Lead not only to her staff, but to the Huntsville billing department as a whole. She consistently demonstrates an understanding nature and excellent training skills both wrapped around the desire for her team to get things done right the first time, but to understand what they are doing and not just going through a motion.” (Doc. 19-5, p. 55).
2010: “During the past year Bonnie continued to demonstrate exceptional scheduling and time management abilities. . . . As always, her understanding nature and excellent training skills are to be recognized and commended. Bonnie is by far my #1 Lead in Huntsville.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 21).
2011: “FY11 for Bonnie was somewhat full of medical challenges; however, through it all, she continued to demonstrate ‘strong lead' abilities for the entire Huntsville Billing department. . . . Bonnie continues to be the ‘Mainstay' of the Huntsville Billing Department and is by far my #1 Lead.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 26).
2012: “Bonnie is by far the #1 Lead in the Huntsville Billing Office. . . . If CSC had more employees as conscience [sic] of their work, relationships with peers, and that truly exemplified our code of ethics and conduct as does Bonnie, we would be a force to contend with on every front.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 31).
2013: “Bonnie continues to be the #1 Billing Lead in the Huntsville Billing Office.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 36). “Bonnie continues to give 125% daily to the Huntsville Billing office. She often goes over and beyond expectations.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 37).

         Ms. Moore's 2013 appraisal, which Ms. Moore reviewed on May 14, 2013, contains a prescient request from Ms. Moore's mentor, Mr. Romine: “FY2014 is setting up to be a challenging year for NPS Defense Billing so I ask your continued support in helping Huntsville maintain our high quality standards.” (Doc. 24-9, p. 32).

         Fiscal year 2014 was a challenging year indeed for both Mr. Romine and Ms. Moore. The record does not disclose who completed Ms. Moore's performance evaluation in 2014. The performance appraisal identifies James Romine as the appraiser, but Mr. Romine did not acknowledge or approve the fiscal year 2014 evaluation. (Doc. 24-2, p. 2). In the approvals and acknowledgments section of the form, Abbi Malone, identified as the “NLA, ” noted that the review was approved and returned. (Doc. 24-2, p. 2). The space where Mr. Romine would approve the form states only “Administratively Closed: 30 Jun 2014.” (Doc. 24-2, p. 3).

         In contrast to earlier performance reviews, Ms. Moore's fiscal year 2014 review states that Ms. Moore met or only partially met expectations. (Doc. 24-2, pp. 5-6). Of the eleven total performance factors identified on the form, Ms. Moore received seven ratings of partially met expectations and four ratings of met expectations. (Doc. 24-2, pp. 5-6). The comments section of the 2014 appraisal states:

Bonnie is dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers and has the technical knowledge and skills to do the job at a high level of accomplishment but is often viewed by her colleagues as too narrow. She tends to depend upon technical and functional knowledge and skills at the expense of personal, interpersonal and managerial skills. Bonnie does; [sic] however, pursue everything with energy, drive, and a need to finish, seldom giving up before finishing, especially in the face of resistance or setbacks. Too often; [sic] however, this trait, when coupled with invoice submission limits tends to confuse people who observe her across different settings and is misinterpreted as to what she deems most important. Bonnie has a tendency to appear overly wise or close to perfect, as someone who can't, doesn't make, or [who is] unable to acknowledge personal mistakes which leads to being viewed by colleagues as stubborn and not willing to negotiate or compromise. At times, she displays frustration when advice is rejected and an undesirable relationship with less data-based people. As a Lead, Bonnie doesn't pick up on social clues that others would recognize often displaying a sense of tenseness causing less than desirable interactions. Bonnie has a good understanding of CSC's CLEAR values with a deep understanding of who our clients are; she uses facts to support straight talk; embraces a profound sense of comment [sic] to our clients and colleagues, although often times being misinterpreted; she looks for ways to continuously improve our processes; and confronts obstacles and strives to overcome them.

(Doc. 24-2, pp. 5-6).

         Ms. Moore contends that she did not see the fiscal year 2014 performance appraisal because CSC laid her off on March 28, 2014 before the end of the fiscal year. (Doc. 24-6, ¶ 11). The record indicates that Ms. Moore typically received and reviewed her annual appraisals in late April or May of the calendar year in which CSC completed the appraisal. (See Doc. 19-5, p. 31; Doc. 19-5, p. 52; Doc. 24-9, p. 14; Doc. 24-9, p. 18; Doc. 24-9, p. 28; Doc. 24-9, p. 32).

         Ms. Moore received strong annual evaluations in many years in which CSC was trimming its workforce. CSC also reduced the size of its workforce in 2014, the year in which Ms. Moore received her only mediocre annual review. Beginning in fiscal year 2009 and continuing in 2012, 2013 and 2014, CSC implemented budget cuts in all divisions of finance which resulted in reductions in force in CSC's Cash Operations division. (Doc. 21-1, ¶ 3). Kathryn Vadenoff, the Director of Cash Operations for the North American Public Sector, was responsible for deciding which positions to eliminate. (Doc. 21-1, ¶¶ 3, 4; Doc. 21-2, p. 2). CSC's Human Resources Management Policy 213 “Reduction in Force” governed the annual RIFs. That policy provides in relevant part:

1.1. When a reduction in the workforce is necessary due to business reasons (including the discontinuance of a business unit or function within a unit), selection of individuals affected shall be based on a combination of factors, including but not limited to CSC's business needs, as well as employee knowledge, skills and ability, reliability, performance and conduct.
4.1 Selection for a Reduction in Force - As outlined in Section 1.1 above, selection for a reduction in force due to business reasons is based upon a combination of factors. However, when two people, in CSC's judgment, possess equal knowledge, skills and ability, reliability, and substantially similar conduct and performance records, the person with the least length of service shall be selected first for involuntary termination.

(Doc. 21-1, p. 7).

         Ms. Vadenoff testified that in preparation for fiscal year 2015 budget cuts, she determined that Organization 114: Defense (Org 114) “had management and lead resources that could be absorbed by a single supervisor, rather than a supervisor and a manager, and by the remaining leads.” (Doc. 21-1, ¶ 9). Ms. Vadenoff selected Ms. Moore and Mr. Romine for layoff. Ms. Vadenoff stated that she selected Ms. Moore for layoff “because she was the only lead in the organization to be rated Partially Meets Expectations in the upcoming FY 2014 performance appraisals (the others were rated ‘Meets Expectations' or higher).” (Doc. 21-1, ¶ 10). The record does not support this assertion: in her FY 2014 performance evaluation, Dawn Bates, one of the lead billers who CSC retained, received “partially meets expectations” ratings in two categories. (See Doc. 24-4, pp. 4-5).

         Ms. Vadenoff states that she also considered the interpersonal conflict noted in Ms. Moore's 2014 performance appraisal, as well as her own observation and judgment that Ms. Moore “would be the least receptive to the added workload and least effective in the essential team environment of the down-sized group.” (Doc. 21-1, ¶ 10). Ms. Vadenoff testified:

Q: Did you find that Ms. Moore was lacking in employee rapport?
A: Yes.
Q: How did you find that ...

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