United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 65]. Plaintiff opposes the Motion.
For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.
an employment discrimination case alleging claims under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
Specifically, plaintiff claims that defendant terminated his
employment because of religious discrimination, religious
harassment and in retaliation for claiming he was
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court
may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the
information before the court demonstrates that “there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The burden is on the
moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated
Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir.1988).
After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving
party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to
the facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538
(1986). Instead, the nonmoving party bears the burden of
setting forth affirmative evidence and specific facts by
affidavit and other evidence showing that there is a genuine
dispute of a material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
“A dispute about a material fact is ‘genuine'
only ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.' ”
Herring v. Canada Life Assur. Co., 207 F.3d 1026,
1030 (8th Cir.2000) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248, 106 S.Ct. 2505). A party resisting summary judgment has
the burden to designate the specific facts that create a
triable controversy. See Crossley v. Georgia-Pacific
Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1114 (8th Cir.2004). Self-serving,
conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to
defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co., Inc. v. Inver
Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir.1993).
employment discrimination cases are often fact intensive and
dependent on nuance in the workplace, they are not immune
from summary judgment.” Fercello v. County of
Ramsey, 612 F.3d 1069, 1077 (8th Cir.2010) (citing
Berg v. Norand Corp., 169 F.3d 1140, 1144 (8th
Cir.1999)). There is no separate summary judgment standard
for employment discrimination cases, and “it remains a
useful pretrial tool to determine whether or not any case,
including one alleging discrimination, merits a trial.”
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
review the facts in a light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion and give that party the benefit of any
inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Woods v.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir.2005).
The Court may not “weigh the evidence in the summary
judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine
the truth of any factual issue.” Kampouris v. St.
Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir.2000).
However, the court is required to resolve all conflicts of
evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson
Grain Co. v. Chemical Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210
following facts are taken from Defendant's statement of
uncontroverted facts, Plaintiff's statement of material
facts, and exhibits in the record.
worked for Defendant as a temporary employee in the
maintenance department from approximately January 2010
through July 2010. Defendant laid Plaintiff off in July 2010
because of the low resident census. Plaintiff did not
complain of discrimination or harassment related to his 2010
September 2012, Defendant hired Plaintiff as a temporary
painter. Plaintiff's direct supervisor was Director of
Maintenance, Allen Koonce (“Koonce”). Koonce
supervised all employees in the maintenance department,
including painters and maintenance workers.
March 2013, Defendant changed Plaintiff's employment
status to “full-time, ” and he became eligible
for employee benefits. At that time, Defendant increased
Plaintiff's pay from $10.00 per hour to$11.67 per hour.
fall of 2013, Defendant's corporate office informed
Defendant's Administrator, Judy Deering
(“Deering”), that it had to make lay-offs due to
payroll budget cuts. One of the departments in which
Defendant had to make a lay off was the maintenance
department. Deering also learned that Defendant had to make
lay-offs in another department as well due to payroll budget
cuts. To that end, Deering decided to lay off Emilie
Bradford-Taylor, RN, In-Service Nurse, on October 4, 2013.
Deering decided to lay off Bradford-Taylor because she had
the least seniority, and an employee with more seniority than
her could absorb her job duties. Deering decided to lay off
Plaintiff because he was the last full-time employee hired in
the maintenance department prior to the lay-off directive and
therefore had the least seniority.
informed Koonce about Plaintiff's lay-off, and Koonce
informed Plaintiff of his lay-off on October 3, 2013. His
lay-off was effective October 4, 2013.
his employment, Plaintiff never told Koonce, Deering,
Northview's Human Resources Manager, Ralph Menees
(“Menees”), or anyone at Northview's
corporate office about what his religion was. Moreover,
during his employment, Koonce, Deering, Menees and
Northview's corporate office never asked Plaintiff about
summer 2013, Defendant held a company picnic. Attendance was
not mandatory. When Koonce asked Plaintiff if he was going to
attend the picnic, Plaintiff told him “because of his
religion [he] wouldn't be able to attend because of
certain foods and stuff [he doesn't] deal with and [he
doesn't] like to be around.” Koonce
“didn't inquire into it any further.”
Plaintiff did not attend the picnic, and he did not receive
any discipline for not attending the picnic.
regard to his lay off, Plaintiff asked Koonce “why me,
” and Koonce told him that “they were laying off
people throughout the building, … and it was budget
cuts, that Mark Suissa told him he had to lay off someone in
Maintenance - a painter in Maintenance is what he
said.” During his deposition, Plaintiff admitted that