United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. MERRYDAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dade County employed Nadia Rodriguez, who is Cuban-American
and Hispanic, as a probationary employee in the Public
Housing and Community Development Department from June 4,
2012, until her termination on January 9, 2013. An
“Assistant Site Manager, ” Rodriguez worked in a
warehouse office with four employees: an administrative
secretary, an accountant, a semi-skilled laborer, and
Rodriguez's immediate supervisor, Leshia Elie. About a
dozen technicians worked elsewhere in the warehouse.
Rodriguez alleges that most of her co-workers, including
Elie, are African-American and that no co-worker is
duties included processing, printing, and distributing work
orders to the technicians and providing Elie with regular
reports. In addition, Rodriguez occasionally received used
appliances, including air conditioners, for disposal. When
Rodriguez reported to Elie that “good appliances were
being thrown away, ” Elie responded, “Hispanic
people are looking where they're not supposed to be
looking.” (Doc. 63-1 at 56-57)
that exchange, Elie purportedly began harassing Rodriguez.
Elie stated that Rodriguez possessed a “language
barrier” and told Rodriguez, “you can't work
here if you have a language barrier.” (Doc. 63-1 at
56-57, 60, 144) Rodriguez alleges that Elie failed to deliver
promised job training, failed to provide office supplies and
an adequate desk, and failed to grant Rodriguez's
vacation requests. Also, Elie assigned other employees'
work to Rodriguez, blamed Rodriguez for other employees'
poor performance, and successfully encouraged other employees
to criticize and sabotage Rodriguez's work.
24, 2012, Elie issued a memorandum to Rodriguez identifying
problems with Rodriguez's performance and stating that a
failure to improve “[w]ill result in additional
corrective actions, up to dismissal.” (Doc. 78-1 at 12)
Rodriguez refused to sign the memorandum.
continued to inform Rodriguez that her work fell below
standard. On December 17, 2012, Elie requested permission
from a senior manager to terminate Rodriguez's employment
because “Rodriguez failed to demonstrate her ability to
work as an Assistant Site Manager.” (Doc. 63-3 at
¶ 14, Doc. 63-4 at 5-8)
January 9, 2013, Elie terminated Rodriguez's probationary
employment due to Rodriguez's “performance
problems.” (Doc. 63-4 at 9) After orally informing
Rodriguez, Elie “ripped” a computer mouse out of
Rodriguez's hand, pushed Rodriguez, and threatened to
call the police. (Doc. 63-1 at 123-126) When Rodriguez
testified by telephone at an unemployment compensation
hearing, Elie called Rodriguez's telephone seventeen
Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 42), Rodriguez alleges claims
for (1) disparate treatment in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count I), (2) retaliation in
violation of Title VII (Count II), (3) retaliation in
violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)
(Count III), and (4) and hostile work environment in
violation of Title VII (Count IV). The defendant moves (Doc.
64) for summary judgment.
Title VII claims
that Rodriguez's Title VII claims are time-barred, the
defendant repeats the argument asserted in the
defendant's September 29, 2016 motion to dismiss. (Doc.
43) But a January 30, 2017 order (Doc. 48) denies the
defendant's motion (Doc. 43) and holds (1) that Rodriguez
“filed (Doc. 1) timely a lawsuit alleging a violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act” and (2) that the
second amended complaint sufficiently states claims under
Title VII for disparate treatment, for retaliation, and for
hostile work environment.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), an employer is prohibited
from “discriminat[ing] against any [person] with
respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges
of employment” because of that person's race or
national origin. A plaintiff can establish a violation of
Title VII by direct evidence of discrimination or by
circumstantial evidence that permits an inference of
discrimination. Hinson v. Clinch Cnty. Bd. of Educ.,
231 F.3d 821, 827 (11th Cir. 2000).
the available inferences in Rodriguez's favor, Count I
survives summary judgment. Even assuming that no direct
evidence of discrimination exists, the record creates a