United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
LASHUNDA R. BORDEN, Plaintiff,
CHEAHA REGIONAL MENTAL HEALTH, INC., Defendant.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Summary of Ms. Borden's Claims
January 29, 2016, Plaintiff LaShunda R. Borden (“Ms.
Borden”), who is representing herself, initiated this
job discrimination lawsuit against Defendant Cheaha Regional
Mental Health, Inc. (“Cheaha”). (Doc. 1). Ms.
Borden filed an amended complaint (doc. 6) on February 23,
2016, that was entered on March 25, 2016. As amended, her
lawsuit asserts violations of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. §
1981. (Id. at 4).
this amended pleading is not organized into consecutively
numbered counts, a broad reading of it confirms that Ms.
Borden is primarily asserting two wrongful discharge claims
against Cheaha-one on the basis of race and the other on the
basis of retaliation for previously filing an EEOC charge.
(See Id. at 3 (“Essentially [Cheaha] was
trying to find a way to fire me because I had filed an EEOC
charge.”); id. at 4 (“[Cheaha] placed me
on suspension and I was subsequently terminated on December
17, 2014.”); id. (“I was targeted due to
my race and because I had filed an EEOC [Charge] of
Summary of Pending Motions
before the Court is Cheaha's Motion for Summary Judgment
(doc. 26) (the “Rule 56 Motion”) filed on May 31,
2017. Cheaha filed its brief (doc. 27) and evidentiary
submission (doc. 28) on this same date. On June 1, 2017, the
Court entered its customary pro se summary judgment
scheduling order (doc. 29) that gave Ms. Borden special
notice of her right to respond to Cheaha's Rule 56 Motion
with affidavits or other opposing evidence and warned her
about the consequences of not adequately responding to it.
Ms. Borden opposed the Rule 56 Motion on June 30, 2017. (Doc.
31). Cheaha followed with its reply brief (doc. 32) on July
24, 2017. Cheaha also moved to strike Ms. Borden's
evidentiary materials (the “Strike Motion”),
including her purported affidavit, as procedurally defective
and for other reasons. (Doc. 33 at 1-2 ¶¶ 2-5).
Court subsequently discovered that Cheaha's brief in
support of its Rule 56 Motion was missing multiple pages.
(Doc. 34 at 1). The Court also agreed with Cheaha that Ms.
Borden had “failed to substantially comply with
Appendix II of its Uniform Initial Order . . . .”
(id. at 2) and that her affidavit was procedurally
deficient. (Id. at 3). In light of these multiple
problems, the Court ordered Cheaha to file a corrected brief
(id. at 1), allowed Ms. Borden to refile her
opposing materials (id. at 3), and granted
Cheaha's Strike Motion to that limited extent.
then filed its corrected brief on November 2, 2017. (Doc.
35). Ms. Borden filed her opposing materials on November 29,
2017. (Docs. 38, 39). Cheaha followed with a second Motion To
Strike (doc. 42) (the “Second Strike Motion”) and
its reply (doc. 43) on December 14, 2017.
reasons explained below, Cheaha's Second Strike Motion is
due to be granted in part and otherwise denied. Further, its
Rule 56 Motion is due to be granted in part and otherwise
termed as moot.
was a public, non-for-profit corporation governed by a
twenty-one member Board of Directors (the
“Board”). AF No. 2.1. The Board was appointed by local
governments under Alabama Act 310 of the 1957 Alabama
Legislature. AF No. 2.2. Cheaha provided a continuum of
services for persons with intellectual disabilities, serious
mental illness, and substance abuse problems in a four-County
area in east Alabama, which included Clay, Coosa, Randolph,
and Talladega Counties. AF No. 2.3. As part of its outpatient
mental health services, Cheaha operated four separate
outpatient clinics located in Sylacauga, Lineville,
Talladega, and Roanoke. AF No. 3.
time of her discharge, Ms. Borden was employed in the
position of Consumer Clerk at Cheaha's Talladega outpatient
clinic. (Doc. 39 at 64). This outpatient clinic provided mental
health services to persons residing in Talladega County and
the surrounding area (referred to as
“consumers”). AF No. 4.2. Many of these consumers
were indigent and had no other available source of treatment.
AF No. 4.3. The Talladega clinic also included a professional
staff consisting of a therapist, part-time psychiatrist, and
a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner. AF No.
listed on the position description for Consumer Clerk, Ms.
Borden's job “DUTIES AND
1. Ensures confidentiality is maintained in
the administrative process.
2. Verbally requests correct payment/co-pay
from each OP consumer.
3. Collects and records consumer payments.
4. Provide[s] receipts to consumers.
5. Drops each collection in the safe as it
6. Prepares/makes a deposit at least once
per week or as needed.
7. Reconciliation of deposits and fees
8. Ensures all accounts receivable processes
follow [Cheaha] policies, maintaining detailed paperwork.
9. Notifies supervisor and Business Manager
of any discrepancies related to accounts receivable process.
10. Notifies supervisor of any issues with
GENERAL OFFICE DUTIES
1. Reports and staffs any concerns and/or
problems as they arise with community relationships.
2. Completes administrative review at 6
months and closes all files following center policy.
3. Copies and prepares and sends out
disability determination paperwork in a timely manner.
4. Copies and prepares claims from Lawyers
and outside sources following the center Release of
5. Completes initial contacts in a timely
manner as needed.
6. Follows schedule related to mail delivery
and pick up.
7. Switchboard operator as needed following
8. Assists in ensuring all cris[e]s are seen
in a timely manner.
11. Assist[s] consumers with
problems/concerns as needed.
12. Assist[s] with checking billing and
taking to business office as directed.
13. Provide[s] administrative Review at 6
month and closure keeping all forms as needed.
14. Provide[s] back up for setting
15. Assist[s] with the doctor schedule as
16. Enures all office duties are performed
17. Serves as a liaison between the Business
Office and the Sylacauga Outpatient Office.
18. Serves as a liaison between the direct
care staff and support staff, ensuring an effective and
smooth office flow.
19. Ensures confidentiality is maintained in
the administrative process.
20. Works with Coordinator/Therapist to
ensure all potential crises are screened and handled
21. Assists doctors and center nurse with
22. In the absence of the Coordinator,
provides non-clinical oversight of office and ensures
services are provided appropriately.
23. Ensures confidentiality is maintained in
the administrative process.
1. Establishes and maintains professional
working relationships with staff, community agencies, and
other professionals in the community. Exemplifies
professional conduct as a representative of [Cheaha],
responding to community needs and requests in a timely
2. Observes and follows all center policies
3. Performs other relevant duties as
39 at 66-67). This job description further indicated that
“Job Duties are subject to change based on office
needs.” (Doc. 39 at 67).
summarized by Ms. Atkinson, Ms. Borden's job duties and
responsibilities at the Talladega location generally
a. Properly and efficiently answering the telephone. There
were occasionally instances where calls seeking emergency
assistance were received from [c]onsumers or others dealing
with issues pertaining to [c]onsumers.
b. Properly and efficiently managing scheduling appointments
including issues that arose due to conflicts and
communicating with the [c]onsumers and professional staff to
make sure that the [c]onsumers understood when their
appointments were set and handling the rescheduling of any
appointments as may have been necessary, so that the
professional staff was utilized to its fullest capacity.
c. Properly and efficiently managing the reception desk at
the clinic, ensuring that [c]onsumers sign in and that the
professional staff were alerted that the [c]onsumer had
arrived for his or her appointment, so that [c]onsumers were
not left waiting for extended periods of time.
d. Collecting and organizing the files for the [c]onsumers to
be seen by the professional staff the day before their
scheduled appointment, so that the professional staff did not
encounter unnecessary delays while looking for files.
e. Maintain the confidentiality of the identity of the
[c]onsumers, consistent with State and Federal law and
f. Supporting the general needs of the professional staff on
a daily basis, and professionally interacting with that
staff, to achieve the common goal of providing much needed
mental health services to the [c]onsumers.
(Doc. 28 at 6-7 ¶¶ 9.a-9.f).
importance of Ms. Borden's ability to properly perform
her job responsibilities was particularly critical given the
nature of the operation at issue. AF No. 6.1. The clinic
provided much needed mental health services to consumers. AF
No. 6.2. These individuals frequently had no
other source of treatment or support. AF No.
6.3. Many of them were highly impaired or
disturbed, and could ...