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Chaney v. Community Hospice of Baldwin County

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

February 7, 2019

TERRY CHANEY, Plaintiff,



         Now pending before the Court is Defendant Jennifer Stewart's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17, filed August 21, 2018). The Court has carefully reviewed the pleadings, motion, and response in this matter, and it is ripe for review. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Jurisdiction

         The Plaintiff, Terry Chaney (“Plaintiff” or “Chaney”) asserts claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction), as she alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.; and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. No. party contests either subject matter or personal jurisdiction and adequate support exists for both.

         II. Background and Procedural History

         Chaney, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in this case asserting claims of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, age, and mental disability by her former employer, Community Hospice of Baldwin County (“CHBC”), and Jennifer Stewart (“Stewart”) (collectively, “Defendants”), a registered nurse and administrator for CHBC[1] (Doc. 1, filed May 22, 2018). She also asserts that Defendants retaliated against her for reporting discrimination and harassment. Specifically, Chaney alleges that she began working for CHBC in October 2008, and that she was harassed and discriminated against by Stewart and another employee referred to as “Dr. Dan.” Id. at 2. She asserts that she reported the discrimination to a superior at CHBC and filed charges alleging discriminatory conduct with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on May 6, 2017, and that Stewart retaliated against her for doing so. Chaney alleges that “she”- presumably Stewart-“remind[ed] me when she started back to work in April or May, 2017 that she [was] going to terminate me from my job, and [would] make sure I will never work again.” Id. at 1. Chaney asserts she was terminated on September 25, 2017, “because of my age and in retaliation for reporting” the discrimination and harassment to a vice president at CHBC. Id. at 3. She alleges Stewart stated that, “because of my age I can't do what I used to do. I could not believe Dr. Dan told me that they [were] firing me for that and some more, I could not believe his words.” Id. Chaney asserts that she received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on March 28, 2018. From this action Chaney seeks, inter alia, back pay and reinstatement to her former job.

         Stewart has moved for summary judgment (Doc. 17, filed August 21, 2018), arguing that Chaney's claims against her are due to be dismissed because Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA do not provide for such causes of action against an individual employee. Stewart asserts that she was not Chaney's employer, but rather, her former supervisor and an agent of CHBC. Stewart argues that, because Chaney has correctly named CHBC in the suit, also naming Stewart as a party is unnecessary and redundant.

         Stewart has attached to her motion an affidavit in which Stewart states that Chaney was a CHBC employee from October 8, 2008, until September 25, 2017. Doc. 18-1 at 2. Stewart avers that, during Chaney's period of employment, Stewart served as CHBC's administrator, a role in which she directed and had oversight of all employees, including Chaney. She asserts, however, that: (1) Chaney directly reported to another supervisor; (2) she did not pay Chaney any wages; (3) there was no contract of employment between Chaney and herself; (4) she did not employ Chaney in any way; and (5) she and Chaney both were employees of CHBC. She also asserts that, as Chaney's superior, she did not make any decisions regarding Chaney's employment on the basis of Chaney's age or in retaliation for Chaney's engaging in any protected activity.

         In a response (Doc. 30, filed 9/11/18), Chaney states that Stewart “made sure that she got her point across to me in front of everyone at our CNA luncheon that she [was] going to terminate me, make sure I would never work again, if she had [anything] to do with it. She used her [p]ower to make my job very difficult.” Id. at 1. Chaney asserts, as an example, that Stewart had hired a part-time employee to cover shifts when workers needed time off, but when Chaney was sick and needed time off, Stewart told her no one could cover her shift. She alleges that, instead, Stewart sent her “a nasty text that I need to speak to her, ” even though Chaney had followed the same procedure as other employees. Id. Chaney states that Stewart “did everything to humiliate me from day one, ” from May 2017 until her firing in September 2017. Id. She alleges that “Dr. Dan” and CHBC went along with Stewart's behavior, and that they discriminated against her based on her race, national origin, and age, made fun of her disability, [2] harassed her, and retaliated against her for trying to protect her rights through complaints to the EEOC. Id. at 1-2. She also asserts that Defendants hacked her phone and destroyed evidence supporting her allegations. Stewart did not file a reply.


         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). A factual dispute alone is not enough to defeat a properly pleaded motion for summary judgment; only the existence of a genuine issue of material fact will preclude a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). “[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material.” Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. At the summary judgment stage, the court does not “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, ” but merely “determine[s] whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2511. An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996) (citation and internal quotations omitted).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). “When a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving party must then ‘go beyond the pleadings,' and by its own affidavits, or by ‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553). The court must view facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Moore v. Reese, 637 F.3d 1220, 1231 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Rosario v. Am. Corrective Counseling Servs., Inc., 506 F.3d 1039, 1043 (11th Cir. 2007)). However, to avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) ...

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