United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
L. ROSENBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' joint Motion
for Summary Judgment [DE 55]. The motion has been fully
briefed. Plaintiff, a black math teacher and a former math
department chair at Palm Beach Lakes High School, brought
this suit alleging that she was discriminated against based
upon her race and age. Plaintiff was forty-five years of age
at the time she alleges she was discriminated against based
on her age. Plaintiff's supervising vice principal was
black and forty years of age. Plaintiff's supervising
principal-Defendant McKeever-was black and fifty-five years
of age. Plaintiff was not fired or formally demoted by
Defendants. Instead, Plaintiff lost certain duties and
responsibilities (as well as accompanying pay) when school
administrators selected two other teachers to serve as the
math department chair. The two teachers who replaced
Plaintiff as math chair are white; one of the teachers is
younger than Plaintiff (by ten years) and one of the teachers
is older (by seven years). This is the extent of
Plaintiff's evidence of discrimination. When this
scintilla of evidence is placed in the context of all other
(non-discriminatory) evidence in the record, no reasonable
juror could conclude that Plaintiff was discriminated against
on the basis of her race or age. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. 242. 251-52 (1986) (noting that a mere
“scintilla” of evidence is insufficient to resist
a motion for summary judgment). For this reason,
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
Alternatively, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is
granted because Defendants have proffered non-discriminatory
reasons for their actions and Plaintiff has no evidence upon
which a reasonable juror could rely to establish that
Defendants' non-discriminatory reasons were pretextual.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate 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). The existence of a factual dispute is not
by itself sufficient grounds to defeat a motion for summary
judgment; rather, “the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). A dispute is genuine if “a reasonable
trier of fact could return judgment for the non-moving
party.” Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v.
United States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). A fact is
material if “it would affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law.” Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48).
deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court views the facts
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See
Davis v. Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 763 (11th Cir. 2006).
The Court does not weigh conflicting evidence. See Skop
v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir.
2007). Thus, upon discovering a genuine dispute of material
fact, the Court must deny summary judgment. See id.
moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence
of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Shiver v.
Chertoff, 549 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir. 2008). Once the
moving party satisfies this burden, “the nonmoving
party ‘must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'”
Ray v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 327 F. App'x
819, 825 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586 (1986)). Instead, “[t]he non-moving party must make
a sufficient showing on each essential element of the case
for which he has the burden of proof.” Id.
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986)). Accordingly, the non-moving party must produce
evidence, going beyond the pleadings, to show that a
reasonable jury could find in favor of that party. See
Shiver, 549 F.3d at 1343.
Court sets forth below some of the facts in this case for
background purposes. Disputed facts germane to the
Court's decision are discussed in detail in the
Court's analysis section, infra.
began her employment with the Defendant School Board in 1999
as a math teacher. DE 56 at 2. Plaintiff was placed at Palm
Beach Lakes High School, where she continues to work to this
day. Id. In 2006, Plaintiff was selected by school
administrators to serve as the math department chair.
Id. Plaintiff served as the math department chair
until 2013. Id. In 2013, Plaintiff was replaced as
math department chair by a school principal who is not a
named party in this case. In 2014, Defendant McKeever became
the new principal for Palm Beach Lakes High School.
Id. at 3. McKeever immediately selected Plaintiff as
math department chair. Id.
being selected as math department chair, Plaintiff did not
receive the stipend associated with the position.
See DE 61 at 7. Plaintiff ultimately filed a
grievance with her local union pertaining to her failure to
receive her stipend. Id. Plaintiff's grievance
was successful insofar as Plaintiff received her stipend.
See Id. at 7-8. After Plaintiff's grievance
(which did not contain any allegations of discrimination
based upon race or age), Plaintiff alleges that she began to
experience racial and age discrimination from her school
administrators. See Id. The grounds upon which
Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against are varied.
2015, after Plaintiff had served as math chair for one school
year, school administrators replaced Plaintiff. DE 56 at 4.
Plaintiff was not immediately informed that she was being
replaced. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff learned of her
replacement soon after she reported for work for the next
school year. See Id. Soon after the school year
ended, Plaintiff filed the instant suit.
has brought the following claims against Defendants: a claim
for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. §
1981 against Defendant School Board (Count I); a claim for
relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981
against Defendant McKeever (Count II); a racial
discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
against Defendant School Board (Count III); an age
discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act against Defendant School Board (Count IV); a
retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
against Defendant School Board (Count V); and a retaliation
claim under the Florida Civil Rights Act against Defendant
School Board (Count VII). Plaintiff's claims can be grouped
into two categories: racial and age discrimination claims and
retaliation claims. With respect to each of Plaintiff's
racial and age discrimination claims (Count I, Count II,
Count III, and Count IV), these claims necessarily require
evidence that Plaintiff was discriminated against based upon
a protected characteristic-either her race or her age. With
respect to Plaintiff's retaliation claims (Count V and
Count VII), those claims require, inter alia,
evidence that Defendants' non-discriminatory reasons for
their alleged unlawful retaliatory acts were pretextual.
Motion for Summary Judgment is premised upon the contention
that Plaintiff's evidence as to both of these categories
is deficient as a matter of law. The concrete
employment-actions upon which Plaintiff alleges that she
suffered racial and age based discrimination are: (A) the
loss of her stipend, (B) the loss of her position as math
chair, and (C) her inability to transfer to another school
when she sought transfer. The record evidence that Plaintiff
relies upon in support of her contention that she was subject
to harassment in the workplace consists of: (D) a school-wide
meeting held in 2015, (E) Plaintiff's restroom access,
(F) observations conducted by school administrators in
Plaintiff's classroom, (G) Plaintiff's assignment to
teach algebra classes, and (H) Plaintiff's evaluation
scores. The Court first analyzes the record evidence in each
of these categories and then turns to the legal sufficiency
of Plaintiff's claims.
is no dispute in the record that Plaintiff was promised a
stipend, Plaintiff was not paid a stipend, Plaintiff
complained,  and then Plaintiff received her stipend.
Plaintiff attributes the temporary withholding of her stipend
to the discriminatory ...