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Boyle v. Montgomery Country Club

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

November 9, 2018

ANITA BOYLE, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Anita Boyle sues Defendant Montgomery Country Club for discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (“ADEA”). This matter is before the court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16). The parties have had the opportunity to fully brief the matters, and the court has taken the motion under advisement without oral argument. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned Magistrate Judge recommends Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16) be denied.

         I. Jurisdiction

         The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this civil action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1343(a)(4). The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and the court finds sufficient information of record to support both. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391. On May 31, 2017, the above-styled matter was referred to the undersigned for recommendation on all pretrial matters by United States District Chief Judge William K. Watkins. (Doc. 7); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Rule 72, Fed. R. Civ. P.; United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); Jeffrey S. v. State Bd. of Educ. of State of Ga., 896 F.2d 507 (11th Cir. 1990).

         II. Standard of Review

         “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). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). However, when faced with a “properly supported motion for summary judgment, [the nonmoving party] must come forward with specific factual evidence, presenting more than mere allegations.” Gargiulo v. G.M. Sales, Inc., 131 F.3d 995, 999 (11th Cir. 1997).

         Summary judgment is mandated “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “Summary judgment may be granted if the non-moving party's evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative.” Sawyer v. Southwest Airlines Co., 243 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1262 (D. Kan. 2003) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-51 (1986)).

“[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Essentially, the inquiry is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Sawyer, 243 F.Supp.2d at 1263 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

         III. Background and Statement of Facts

         Plaintiff, Anita Boyle, initiated this action in May 2017 against her former employer, Montgomery Country Club, arising out of her termination in November 2015. (Doc. 1). She alleges she was fired because of her age in violation of the ADEA. Id. ¶ 21. She was born in 1951 and was 64 years old when she was terminated. Id. ¶¶ 5, 7, 10; (Doc. 21-2 at 13:5-6).

         Montgomery Country Club (“MCC”) is a private, member-owned club that offers golf, tennis, swimming, social activities, and dining. (Doc. 16 at 6). MCC offers its facilities and services to members and non-members for special events such as weddings, group meetings, formal balls, reunions, professional seminars, and holiday parties. Id. In April 2010, Boyle was hired as MCC's Catering Director which is also referred to as Special Events Director. (Doc. 21-2 at 20:11-15, 80:11- 15). Her responsibilities included promoting, planning, staffing, and executing catered events held at MCC. Id. at 82:10-83:16. She received increases in her salary and commission over her years of employment at MCC as a result of her favorable evaluations. (Doc. 16 at 7).

         Prior to working for MCC, Boyle had extensive experience working for private clubs, primarily in general manager positions. (Doc. 21-2 at 47:8-72:10). She is a Certified Club Manager, a certification conferred by the Club Management Institute that covers training and education in various aspects of private club management, including financial management, accounting, and human resources. Id. at 24:3-30:12. MCC was aware of Boyle's experience. (Doc. 21-3 at 73:15-20).

         In April 2014, Raquel Townsend was appointed to be Boyle's assistant in special events. (Doc. 21-5 at 7:5-8:11). Townsend was initially hired in October 1996 as a server prior to becoming co-manager of the casual dining room in 2010. Id. at 7:5-20. Townsend was moved into the position of Boyle's assistant because she had been struggling as co-manager in the casual dining room. (Doc. 21-3 at 33:25-34:22, 74; Doc. 21-2 at 96:3-19). Townsend is 27 years younger than Boyle. (Doc. 16 at 10, ¶ 11).

         Townsend had never previously worked in special events other than as a server. (Doc. 21-5 at 8:15-21). As Boyle's assistant in special events, Townsend had difficulties. (Doc. 21-1 at 99:20-100:8). While Townsend could handle small events, she was incapable of promoting the club, handling details of events, and effectively communicating with customers. Id. at 99:20-100:8, ...

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