United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff is a black female who has worked as a registered
nurse at Osceola Regional Medical Center since 2008. Gloria
Carmona, a Hispanic female, is her supervisor as the manager
of critical care services at Osceola Regional. Lisa Frey, a
white female, is the critical care director and is also in a
supervisory role over the Plaintiff. “[O]n several
occasions, ” the Plaintiff worked as a relief charge
nurse in the critical care unit. Doc. 32 at 2. The relief
charge nurse position was filled by different nurses at
different times, but at the time in question, all of the
relief charge nurses were competing for the full-time charge
nurse position. In October of 2017, after the Plaintiff
refused to accept the care of third patient, Frey informed
the Plaintiff that she would no longer be working as a relief
charge nurse. This removed her from consideration for the
charge nurse position, which was given to a white female
instead. The Plaintiff later filed charges with the EEOC, and
ultimately, a Complaint alleging discrimination (Counts I and
III) and retaliation (Counts II and IV) in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act
party moving for summary judgment points out an absence of
evidence on a dispositive issue for which the nonmoving 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.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986) (internal
quotations and citation omitted). 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. at 322, 324-25. 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”). The Court
must consider all inferences drawn from the underlying facts
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion
and resolve all reasonable doubts against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
Discrimination and Retaliation under Title VII and the
VII forbids employers from discriminating “against any
individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). If there is no
direct evidence of a violation, discrimination under Title
VII can be established under the McDonnell Douglas
burden-shifting framework. A prima facie case is established
when a plaintiff sufficiently alleges that “(1) [he] is
a member of a protected class; (2) [he] was subjected to
adverse employment action; (3) [his] employer treated
similarly situated employees more favorably; and (4) [he] was
qualified to do the job.” McCann v. Tillman,
526 F.3d 1370, 1373 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting EEOC v.
Joe's Stone Crab, Inc., 220 F.3d 1263, 1286 (11th
Cir. 2000)) (internal quotation marks omitted). “If the
plaintiff succeeds in making out a prima facie case, the
burden shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for its actions.” Lewis v.
City of Union City, Georgia, 918 F.3d 1213, 1221 (11th
Cir. 2019). If the defendant successfully articulates a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, “the plaintiff
must then demonstrate that the defendant's proffered
reason was merely a pretext for unlawful discrimination, an
obligation that ‘merges with the [plaintiff's]
ultimate burden of persuading the [factfinder] that she has
been the victim of intentional discrimination.'”
Id. (quoting Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v.
Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 256 (1981).
McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis applies
in cases of retaliation relying on circumstantial evidence.
Bryant v. Jones, 575 F.3d 1281, 1307 (11th Cir.
2009). To establish a prima facie case for retaliation, a
plaintiff must show that “(1) he engaged in statutorily
protected activity, (2) he suffered a materially adverse
action, and (3) there is a causal relationship between the
two.” Schiele v. S. E. Showclubs, LLC, No.
8:16cv-02308-JSM-MAP, 2017 WL 2834779, at *2 (M.D. Fla. June
30, 2017) (citing Brown v. Ala. Dep't of
Transp., 597 F.3d 1160, 1181 (11th Cir. 2010)).
Race Discrimination: Counts I and III
Adverse Employment Action
undisputed that the Plaintiff is a member of a protected
class. Thus, the Court first analyzes whether the Plaintiff
has made a prima facie showing that there was an adverse
employment action. The Plaintiff alleges several adverse
employment actions, including denial of her requests for
lateral transfer and failure to get time off during the
holidays, but only attempts to establish a prima facie case
for one such action: her removal as relief nurse and the
impact of that removal, which she claims prevented her from
being promoted to the charge nurse position.
Plaintiff testified that, while they later had two charge
nurses in her unit, they previously only had one charge
nurse. Doc. 31-1 at 19. At that time, the unit needed the
relief charge nurse position. Id. The Plaintiff
testified that the relief charge had its own job description
that was the same as that of a charge nurse. Doc. 31-1 at 20.
The relief charge nurse essentially functioned as a
substitute for times when the charge nurse was not working.
So, if the charge nurse worked five days out of the week, the
relief charge nurse would work the other two. Id. at
21. Thus, if they had a second charge-the role Stacey Russo
eventually filled-there was no need for a relief charge.
Id. At one point, in the Plaintiff's unit, two
charge nurses were needed. Id. at 22. Gloria Carmona
decided that everyone “interested in that [position]
could act as relief charge.” Id. While acting