United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21) filed by the Defendant,
Seminole County Public Schools (“SCPS”), the
response in opposition (Doc. 38) filed by the Plaintiff,
Carmel Saxon (“Saxon”), and the reply (Doc. 48)
filed by SCPS.
worked in the administrative offices of SCPS for more than 10
years. She was hired as a secretary in the Curriculum
Services Department in 2000. Two years later, she was
promoted to executive secretary, first serving in the
Curriculum Services Department and then in the Department of
Teaching and Learning, which was created as the result of a
merger between the Curriculum Services Department and the
Professional Development Department. After the merger, the
Department of Teaching and Learning had two executive
secretary positions. Throughout her time with SCPS, she was
on an annual contract, which was renewed eleven times.
the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, Dr. Corbett Wilson
(henceforth, “Wilson”) became the director of the
Department of Teaching and Learning. Saxon contends that
shortly after he became the director of her department, he
began making derogatory remarks regarding her age and
transferring some of her job responsibilities to younger
opted not to renew Saxon's annual contract after the
2012-13 school year. Saxon, who was 60 on the date that she
was notified that her contract would not be renewed, contends
that she was discriminated against due to her age. In the
instant suit, she asserts two age discrimination claims: one
under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 (Count
I) and one under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992
(“FCRA”), Fla. Stat. § 760.10 (Count
By way of the instant motion, SCPS seeks summary judgment as
to both counts.
is entitled to summary judgment when the party can show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Which facts are material depends on the
substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party bears the
burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In determining
whether the moving party has satisfied its burden, the court
considers all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in a
light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and
resolves all reasonable doubts against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513.
party moving for summary judgment points out an absence of
evidence on a dispositive issue for which the non-moving
party bears the burden of proof at trial, the nonmoving party
must “go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553.
Thereafter, summary judgment is mandated against the
nonmoving party who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. The
party opposing a motion for summary judgment must rely on
more than conclusory statements or allegations unsupported by
facts. Evers v. Gen. Motors Corp., 770 F.2d 984, 986
(11th Cir. 1985) (“conclusory allegations without
specific supporting facts have no probative value”).
Court must consider all inferences drawn from the underlying
facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion, and resolve all reasonable doubts against the moving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513.
The Court is not, however, required to accept all of the
non-movant's factual characterizations and legal
arguments. Beal v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 20 F.3d
454, 458-59 (11th Cir 1994).
discrimination claims brought under the Florida Civil Rights
Act are considered within the same framework used to decide
actions brought pursuant to the ADEA. Zaben v. Air Prods.
& Chems., Inc., 129 F.3d 1453, 1455 n. 2 (11th Cir.
1997). To establish a prima facie case of age
discrimination under either the FCRA or the ADEA, a plaintiff
must show that she “(1) was a member of the protected
age group, (2) was subject to adverse employment action, (3)
was qualified to do the job, … and (4) was replaced by
a younger individual.” Benson v. Tocco, Inc.,
113 F.3d 1203, 1207-08 (11th Cir. 1997). Where the
plaintiff's position was eliminated, the test is slightly
different. In that situation, the plaintiff must show that
“(1) [s]he was in a protected age group; (2) [s]he was
adversely affected by an employment decision; (3) [s]he was
qualified for [her] current position or to assume another
position at the time of discharge, and (4) the evidence could
lead a factfinder reasonably to conclude that the employer
intended to discriminate on the basis of age.”
Mitchell v. City of LaFayette, 504 Fed.Appx. 867,
870 (11th Cir. 2013). The variant test alters the fourth
prong of the McDonnell Douglas test, that a person
outside the protected class replaced the plaintiff, because,
when a reduction in force occurs, employers rarely seek
replacements for the discharged employee. Id.
(citing Mauter v. Hardy Corp., 825 F.2d 1554, 1557
plaintiff has established a prima facie case of
discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to rebut
the presumption of age discrimination by presenting evidence
that the adverse employment action was based on a legitimate,