United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Title VII religious discrimination case comes before the
court on Defendant The Bridge Rehab, Inc.'s motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 41).
Chenetha Lindsey contends that The Bridge changed her work
status from part-time to “as needed” and
terminated her because of her religion. She also contends
that The Bridge failed to accommodate her desire to share her
faith with clients.
Bridge tells another story. It asserts that it changed Ms.
Lindsey's work status because she failed to complete
required training and terminated her because she failed to
communicate with her supervisor. Though it counseled Ms.
Lindsey against what it characterizes as
“forcing” her religion on The Bridge's
clients, The Bridge maintains that it did not discriminate
against Ms. Lindsey for being Christian and could not
reasonably accommodate the extent to which Ms. Lindsey
desired to express her faith with its clients.
further explained below, the court will GRANT The
Bridge's motion for summary judgment. No. direct evidence
of religious discrimination exists and Ms. Lindsey has failed
to state a prima facie case of religious
discrimination based on circumstantial evidence. Even if she
had stated a prima face case, her claim fails
because no evidence supports a finding that The Bridge's
reasons for changing her work status and terminating her are
pretext for discrimination. And no genuine issue exists that
The Bridge did not discriminate against Ms. Lindsey by
failing to accommodate the extent to which she desired to
express her religious beliefs.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court can resolve a case on summary judgment only
when the moving party establishes two essential elements: (1)
no genuine disputes of material fact exist; and (2)
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
the first element of the moving party's summary judgment
burden, “‘[g]enuine disputes [of material fact]
are those in which the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the
non-movant.'” Evans v. Books-A-Million,
762 F.3d 1288, 1294 (11th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added)
(quoting Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93
F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996)). And when considering whether
any genuine disputes of material fact exist, the court must
view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party and draw reasonable inferences in
favor of the non-moving party. White v. Beltram Edge Tool
Supply, Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015).
drawn from facts can create genuine issues to defeat
a motion for summary judgment. Carlson v. FedEx Ground
Package Sys., Inc., 787 F.3d 1313, 1318 (11th Cir.
2015). Conclusory allegations cannot. See Harris v.
Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 916 (11th Cir. 1995).
Bridge is an Alabama non-profit corporation founded as a
Christian-based mission that offers residential care and
outpatient treatment for adolescents in need of substance
abuse and behavioral modification treatment programs.
Lindsey, a Christian, worked as a treatment aide at The
Bridge, first from June 2013 to February 2014, and then from
September 2014 to December 1, 2015. As a treatment aide, Ms.
Lindsey supervised clients' safety and conducted basic
living skills group instruction sessions.
court will present the facts of this case in the light most
favorable to Ms. Lindsey under three general categories: (1)
the training requirements at The Bridge; (2) Ms.
Lindsey's expression of her faith with clients; and (3)
the events surrounding Ms. Lindsey's termination on
December 1, 2015.
Training Requirements at The Bridge
Lindsey first worked as a part-time treatment aide at The
Bridge from June 2013 to February 2014. Before beginning her
employment, she completed a mandatory two-week training
course. She voluntarily left The Bridge in February 2014
because she was pregnant.
returned to The Bridge as a part-time treatment aide in
September 2014. This time around, The Bridge required
treatment aides to complete ongoing training sessions during
their employment, not just the initial two-week training
course. (See Doc. 42-2 at 17; Doc. 42-18 at 7; Doc.
42-19 at 19; Doc. 42-20 at 2; Doc. 42-22 at 6, 13).
Lindsey did not attend any training sessions during her
second tenure at The Bridge until March 11, 2015. (Doc. 42-2
at 20). On March 11, 2015, she attended training courses on
managing difficult behaviors and cultural diversity.
(Id. at 103-10). The Bridge offered those courses as
part of the initial two-week training that Ms. Lindsey should
have completed when she began her second employment with The
Bridge in September 2014. (Id. at 19). The
Bridge's program manager, Martell Hall, mistakenly told
her not to complete the two-week training program when she
began her second employment because she had completed it when
she began her first tenure with The Bridge. (Id. at
Lindsey did not participate in any further training after
March 11, 2015. (Doc. 42-2 at 22).
March 16, 2015, The Bridge placed Ms. Lindsey on PRN
status-that is, on an “as needed” basis. (Doc.
42-21). Mr. Hall testified that The Bridge changed her to PRN
so Ms. Lindsey could complete her training requirements.
(Doc. 42-19 at 12).
Lindsey, on the other hand, testified that The Bridge changed
her to PRN because she shared her faith with clients. (Doc.
42-2 at 22-23). So the court turns next to ...