97 F.3d 268 (8th Cir. 1996), 95-3710, Stevens v. St. Louis University Medical Center

Docket Nº:95-3710.
Citation:97 F.3d 268
Party Name:Linda STEVENS, Appellant, v. ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, Appellee.
Case Date:October 03, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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97 F.3d 268 (8th Cir. 1996)

Linda STEVENS, Appellant,

v.

ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, Appellee.

No. 95-3710.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

October 3, 1996

Submitted April 9, 1996.

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William E. Moench, St. Louis, MO (Mary Anne Sedey, on the brief), for appellant.

Thomas C. Walsh, St. Louis, MO (Dennis C. Donnelly and Paula Finlay Luepke, on the brief), for appellee.

Before MAGILL, Circuit Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge.

Linda Stevens filed this civil action against her former employer, the St. Louis University Medical Center, alleging sex discrimination and retaliatory discharge in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) and § 215(a)(3), and the Missouri Human Rights Act, R.S.Mo. § 213.010 et seq. The district

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court 1 granted summary judgment for the Medical Center and Stevens appeals. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Appellant Stevens worked for the St. Louis University Medical Center for eighteen and one-half years as a nurse in various positions. Her last position before being fired in November 1990 was as director of the pacemaker lab in the cardiology department. Ms. Stevens says that she learned that a male nurse in a similar position was paid more and so she requested a raise. This request was denied.

On September 5, 1990, Ms. Stevens filed an EEOC charge contending that she was being paid less for comparable work as a result of illegal sex discrimination. On November 26, 1990, Ms. Stevens was fired. Believing that she was fired as a result of the filing of the charge with the EEOC, Ms. Stevens then filed, in December 1990, another EEOC charge alleging retaliatory termination. In January 1991, Ms. Stevens filed this lawsuit.

The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant Medical Center on the sex discrimination claims in 1993 and on the retaliatory termination claim in 1994. On this appeal, Stevens challenges only the judgment on the retaliatory termination claim.

The district court based its judgment on two alternative grounds. First, the court held that Ms. Stevens had failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliatory termination. In particular, the court concluded that Ms. Stevens had failed to prove that there was any causal connection between her filing of the sex discrimination charge and her later dismissal. Alternatively, the court held that even if a prima facie case was established, the Medical Center had come forward with a nondiscriminatory reason for the dismissal, which Stevens failed to rebut with evidence that the nondiscriminatory reason was merely a pretext for sex discrimination.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review a grant of summary judgment de novo and under the same standard which governed the district court's decision. Lenhardt v. Basic Inst. of Technology, 55 F.3d 377, 379 (8th Cir.1995). The question is whether the record, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Maitland v. University of Minnesota, 43 F.3d 357, 360 (8th Cir.1994). Ms. Stevens contends here that she raised sufficient factual issues to defeat summary judgment and take the claim of retaliatory termination to trial.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The legal framework applicable to sex discrimination claims under Title VII is the familiar three-stage, burden-shifting test as set forth by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), and applied in countless later cases. 2 See, e.g., St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 113 S.Ct. 2742, 125 L.Ed.2d 407 (1993); Kobrin v. University of Minnesota, 34 F.3d 698 (8th Cir.1994); Jones v. Frank, 973 F.2d 673 (8th Cir.1992).

(1) Prima Facie Case. The plaintiff has the initial burden to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, i.e., she must introduce probative evidence that (a) she participated in protected activity, (b) an adverse employment action was taken against her, and (c) there was a causal connection between the adverse employment action and the protected activity. See Kobrin, 34 F.3d at 704.

(2) Nondiscriminatory Reason for Employment Action. Second, if the plaintiff

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establishes a prima facie case, the employer must rebut the prima facie case by showing a nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. See White v. McDonnell Douglas, 985 F.2d 434, 435 (8th Cir.1993).

(3) Pretext. Third, if the employer advances such a nondiscriminatory reason, the plaintiff must show that the proffered nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action was really...

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