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Williams v. Housing Opportunities for Persons With Exceptionalities

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

July 31, 2018




         In this employment discrimination action, Plaintiff Khalil Williams claims that his former employer, Defendant Housing Opportunities for Persons with Exceptionalities (“HOPE”), terminated his employment because he is African-American. Mr. Williams asserts Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 race discrimination claims against HOPE.

         Before the court is HOPE's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 16). The parties have fully briefed the motion. (Docs. 17, 19, 20). For the reasons explained below, the court GRANTS the motion.


         “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). “The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” FindWhat Inv'r Grp. v., 658 F.3d 1282, 1307 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         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); see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 (“[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”).

         The court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Baas v. Fewless, 886 F.3d 1088, 1091 (11th Cir. 2018). The court “may not weigh conflicting evidence or make credibility determinations of its own.” FindWhat Inv'r Grp., 658 F.3d at 1307. “If the record presents disputed issues of fact, the court may not decide them; rather, it must deny the motion and proceed to trial.” Id. at 1307.


         Mr. Williams is African-American. (Doc. 18-1, p. 59). He worked for HOPE on two separate occasions. HOPE Executive Director Debra Sokol originally hired Mr. Williams in 2000. (Doc. 18-1, p. 5). Mr. Williams left HOPE in 2006 to pursue other career opportunities. (Doc. 18-1, p. 4). Ms. Sokol hired Mr. Williams again in 2011, and Mr. Williams worked for HOPE until May 2016. (Doc. 18-1, pp. 5-6; Doc. 18-3, p. 6).

         When he returned to HOPE in 2011, Mr. Williams worked as a Direct Care Provider at a group home that HOPE operated for three autistic and mentally challenged adults. (Doc. 18-1, p. 8). As a Direct Care Manager, Mr. Williams assisted the residents with daily activities, including household chores, personal grooming, meal preparation, and transportation to social activities and doctor's appointments. (Doc. 18-1, pp. 8, 26). Mr. Williams also was Medication Administration Certified (MAC) which meant that he could administer medication to the group home residents. (Doc. 18-1, p. 7).

         Mr. Williams was regularly scheduled to work at the group home on Friday evenings from 10:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. and on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. (Doc. 18-1, p. 7). When he was on duty, Mr. Williams was the only HOPE staff person at the group home. (Doc. 18-1, p. 8).

         Ms. Sokol was Mr. Williams's supervisor during both periods of employment. (Doc. 18-1, p. 5). Mr. Williams received positive performance reviews and was not subject to disciplinary action or any kind of adverse performance review. (Doc. 18-1, p. 8). Mr. Williams “had no major issues” with Ms. Sokol before HOPE terminated his employment. (Doc. 18-1, p. 7).

         Mr. Williams believes that his relationship with Ms. Sokol suffered after he performed a side job for Ms. Sokol. (Doc. 18-1, pp. 21, 25). Sometime shortly before his employment with HOPE ended, Ms. Sokol hired Mr. Williams to repaint the deck on her home. (Doc. 18-1, p. 21). According to Mr. Williams, Ms. Sokol told him that he could not use the restroom inside her house while he was working on the deck, but he could go to the bathroom outside. (Doc. 18-1, p. 21). Mr. Williams ended up driving to a nearby McDonald's to use the restroom. (Doc. 18-1, p. 82).

         After Mr. Williams completed the deck project, Ms. Sokol noticed that Mr. Williams had not painted the cracks between the deck boards. (Doc. 18-1, pp. 22-23). Mr. Williams offered to paint between the deck boards for an additional $100.00. (Doc. 18-1, p. 22). Ms. Sokol declined the offer, and she paid Mr. Williams the full amount to which they originally agreed ...

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