United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 41). The parties have fully briefed
the Motion (Docs. # 42, 47, 50), and it is under submission.
After careful review, and for the reasons explained below,
the court concludes that Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is due to be denied.
Hoover City Board of Education contracts with a staffing
company, Appleton Plus People Corporation, to provide
instructional aides who assist the Board's teachers in
classrooms at Hoover City schools. Plaintiff Delilah Williams
was an instructional aide employed by Appleton who worked in
Hoover City schools. In October 2015, about half way through
her first semester at Green Valley Elementary School,
Principal Jeffrey Singer had Plaintiff removed from her
placement at Green Valley. Plaintiff contends his decision to
remove her was motivated in part by her sex and her
began employment with Appleton in the spring of 2015.
(Plaintiff's Deposition at 15-18). After she applied
for several positions through Appleton's website, an
Appleton representative notified her that she would have an
interview at Trace Crossings Elementary. (Id. at
15-17). Plaintiff interviewed at Trace Crossings with the
school principal and the teacher she would be working under,
and was subsequently offered a position as a special
education instructional aide. (Id. at 17-18). She
began work at Trace Crossings in March 2015. (Id. at
was assigned to provide one-on-one assistance to a particular
student, J.H., at Trace Crossings. (Id. at 18).
Plaintiff provided assistance to J.H. for the remainder of
the spring 2015 semester. (Id. at 19). Once the
school year ended, Plaintiff expected to receive an email
from Appleton telling her whether she would be returning to
Trace Crossings for the following school year or instead
moving to another school. (Id. at 20).
the school year ended, Plaintiff received an email from
Appleton representative Theresa Hundley telling her that she
would start the 2015-16 school year at Green Valley
Elementary, another Hoover City elementary school.
(Id. at 21). Hundley was Appleton's program
manager for the Hoover City Board of Education. (Hundley
Deposition at 11). In that role, Hundley was responsible for
managing Appleton's contract with Hoover City Schools and
for placing Appleton employees in Hoover schools as both
instructional aides and substitute teachers. (Id. at
11-13). Plaintiff was reassigned from Trace Crossings to
Green Valley because J.H., the student Plaintiff had been
assisting at Trace Crossings, was moving to Green Valley.
(Goodwin Deposition at 23-24). The Hoover officials who
requested that Plaintiff be moved to Green Valley with J.H.
thought the move would be beneficial because Plaintiff
already knew J.H. and had an established relationship with
him. (Id. at 24; Singer Deposition at
began working at Green Valley in August 2015, the beginning
of the school year. (Plaintiff's Deposition at 22). While
at Green Valley, Plaintiff worked in a behavioral assessment
classroom designed for students with academic, behavioral, or
emotional needs. (Singer Deposition at 35, 38). The primary
teacher in that classroom was Leigh Windsor, who was assisted
by two instructional aides-Plaintiff and another female aide
named Tameka Lewis. (Id. at 37-38; Plaintiff's
Deposition at 28). Initially, only two students (including
J.H.) were assigned to the behavior assessment class at Green
Valley. (Plaintiff's Deposition at 26). Plaintiff and
Lewis shared responsibility for meeting the needs of each
student. (Id. at 28-29).
parties dispute what happened next. The Board claims that
Plaintiff's performance in the classroom suffered as the
semester progressed, which ultimately led Green Valley
Principal Jeffrey Singer to remove Plaintiff from her
position. Teashia Goodwin, a clinical psychologist who
occasionally worked in Plaintiff's classroom, testified
that Plaintiff would sometimes sit at the back of the
classroom on her phone instead of actively engaging her
students. (Goodwin Deposition at 7, 26-27, 33). Goodwin also
testified, however, that she did not communicate her concerns
about Plaintiff to Principal Singer. (Id. at 34-35).
Singer testified that Windsor had come to him with concerns
about Plaintiff's classroom performance and that he had
noticed that J.H. was not responding well to Plaintiff in the
classroom. (Singer Deposition at 74-75, 82-84). Singer also
testified that Windsor may have told him that Plaintiff
sometimes napped and worked on her college coursework in the
classroom, and that Plaintiff questioned some of the things
Windsor would ask her to do. (Id. at 85-86,
110-111). In particular, Singer said that Plaintiff
questioned some of the de-escalation practices Windsor would
use when dealing with students. (Id. at 111). Based
on these concerns, Singer asked Appleton program manager
Theresa Hundley to remove Plaintiff from Green Valley in
October 2015. (Singer Deposition at 127; Hundley Deposition
at 38, 40- 42, 55-56).
tells a very different story and points to different evidence
in the Rule 56 record. Near the end of August, Plaintiff went
to Singer and told him she was pregnant. (Plaintiff's
Deposition at 48-49; Singer Deposition at 63-68). Singer
responded by saying something along the lines of “you
and your husband didn't waste any time, did
y'all.” (Plaintiff's Deposition at 49; Singer
Deposition at 66). After Windsor learned of Plaintiff's
pregnancy, she also had a conversation with Singer,
apparently because she (Windsor) had some concern about
Plaintiff's pregnancy. (Plaintiff's Deposition at
39-40, 45). The following day, Plaintiff told Singer she was
unsure why Windsor had approached him about her pregnancy,
since he already knew she was pregnant. (Id. at 48).
Singer responded that “he felt that [Windsor] was just
being concerned and he was concerned as well.”
later, on October 5, 2015, Singer sent Hundley an email
concerning Plaintiff. (Doc. # 43-4 at 49). Singer wrote that
the student Plaintiff had been working with was not
responding to her and that Plaintiff had expressed
displeasure about her current working environment.
(Id.). He explained that, “[i]f [Plaintiff] is
not happy about the working environment, I understand.
Originally, I wanted the class to have both a [male] and
female aide.” (Id.). Singer asked Hundley about
the possibility of transferring a specific male aide (David
Palmer) to Green Valley: “I know of an aide who is
interested. . . . Currently, I believe he is working at
another site. If there is a possibility of a transfer,
however, I would like to meet with the candidate, Mr. David
Palmer, first.” (Id.).
October 15, 2015, Singer met with Hundley to tell her that he
did not want Plaintiff to continue working at Green Valley.
(Singer Deposition at 121-27). Four days later, on October
19, 2015, Hundley called Plaintiff to tell her she would no
longer be working at Green Valley. (Plaintiff's
Deposition at 52; Hundley Deposition at 40-42). Sometime
after this phone call, Plaintiff drafted a transcript of her
conversation with Hundley from memory. (Plaintiff's
Deposition at 69-70). Plaintiff's account of her
conversation with Hundley reads as follows:
[Hundley]: I was calling to let you know due to your
situation, and do you have a situation.
[Plaintiff]: What situation?
[Hundley]: Are you expecting?
[Hundley]: Ok well due to your pregnancy the principal (Jeff
Singer) at Green Valley Elementary has saw fit that you be
replaced and no longer be employed with Green Valley
Elementary School because of your situation he doesn't
see fit for you to hold your position as a Special Ed. Aide.
I was told to let you know that this is your last day of work
with Green Valley Elementary School.
[Plaintiff]: Say what now…Are you saying that I was
let go due to my pregnancy or due to me not doing my job.
[Hundley]: No. they never said you weren't doing your
job, I'm saying you were let go due to your situation of
[Plaintiff]: What am I supposed to do? I need a full time
job, well I just had a full time job and work all day and you
mean to tell me I am let go due to being pregnant. I just
[Hundley]: There is always subbing but there might be a full
time position at another school, give me until Friday of this
week and if you don't hear from me by 12:00 pm give me a
call and we can go from there.
[Plaintiff]: Ok thanks…
(Doc. # 43-2 at 31-32). Hundley denies ever making these
statements to Plaintiff. (Hundley Deposition at 52-53).
According to Hundley, she simply told Plaintiff that Green
Valley had requested her removal and never said anything
about Plaintiff's pregnancy. (Id. at 41-42).
weeks after Plaintiff's phone call with Hundley, on
November 2, 2015, David Palmer began working at Green Valley.
(Hundley Deposition at 54-55; Doc. # 43-3 at 37). On November
4, 2015, a Hoover City Schools administrator emailed Hundley
to find out whether there had been “a change in
personnel at Green Valley, ” and specifically whether
there were “changes for [Plaintiff] at [Green
Valley].” (Doc. # 43-3 at 37). Hundley responded:
“[Plaintiff] has been switched with David Palmer [who]
started on Monday.” ...