Castle v. Central Benefits Mut. Ins. Co., No. C2-87-0030.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtManuel Jose Asensio, III, Columbus, Ohio, for defendants
Citation751 F. Supp. 717
PartiesJanice E. CASTLE, Plaintiff, v. CENTRAL BENEFITS MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. C2-87-0030.
Decision Date21 November 1990

751 F. Supp. 717

Janice E. CASTLE, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL BENEFITS MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., et al., Defendants.

No. C2-87-0030.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, E.D.

November 21, 1990.


751 F. Supp. 718

Walter Gene Brooks, Columbus, Ohio, for plaintiff.

Manuel Jose Asensio, III, Columbus, Ohio, for defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

GEORGE C. SMITH, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court pursuant to the motion filed by the defendants on October 17, 1988 for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, Janice E. Castle, initiated this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, on January 15, 1987. Plaintiff further seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985, 1986, and 1988. For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion is hereby GRANTED.

FACTS

Plaintiff, Janice E. Castle, was employed by Central Benefits Mutual Insurance Co. (Central Benefits) as a Health Claims Examiner II in December, 1985. Ms. Castle worked for Central Benefits through December, 1986. During the course of her one year at Central Benefits, she applied for a promotion seven times. Though she was considered for several of the promotions, in each case the promotion was given to another employee of Central Benefits. In December, 1986, Ms. Castle was terminated from her employ at Central Benefits.

Plaintiff alleges inter alia, that she was harassed, denied promotional opportunities, and discharged because of her race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff states that in denying her various promotions, defendants conspired and did intentionally discriminate against her. Accordingly, plaintiff also seeks redress under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986.

751 F. Supp. 719

Defendant, Central Benefits, is an Ohio corporation which provides insurance to Blue Cross Health Care Plan subscribers. According to the complaint, defendants Gerald Morrow, Allen Heilman, Vicki Quraishi, Kathy Moore, Joyce Massie, Mary E. Johnson, and Dennis Kackley are supervisory personnel who were employed by Central Benefits during the time when Ms. Castle was also employed. According to the defendants, the Medical/Surgical Claims Department is composed of four different areas including Technical User Support, Prepayment Activities, Dental and Vision, and Claims Examining. The Claims Examining area was divided into two different units which were headed by a supervisor and a group leader. Plaintiff worked in Unit D of the Medical/Surgical Claims Examining Department. Defendants claim Ms. Castle remained in her Claims Examiner position until her discharge by supervisor Kathy Moore on December 10, 1986.

Defendants do not deny that during her employ at Central Benefits, plaintiff did apply for a number of promotions. However, defendants assert that pursuant to the company's policies and procedures, its promotional opportunities depend solely on ability, performance and contribution to the company's success. Accordingly, defendants assert that plaintiff was denied promotions because of her own inexperience and that in each case the position was filled by a more qualified applicant. Defendants assert that plaintiff was not discharged for any reason based on race or with discriminatory intent. Further, defendants assert that the promotions which plaintiff applied for were filled by both black and white applicants, solely on the basis of their individual qualifications.

In answer to plaintiff's discharge claim, defendants contend that Ms. Castle was discharged for valid reasons. Throughout plaintiff's employ, defendants assert that they maintained an attendance and punctuality policy which requires employees to "return promptly from breaks and lunch breaks and to continue working until their scheduled departure time." (Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 4). Defendants have submitted evidence which shows Ms. Castle experienced numerous problems returning from breaks and lunch throughout the 1986 period. Thus, according to defendants, plaintiff's discharge was in part the result of a written warning for excessive tardiness given to her on November 17, 1986. Under defendants' policy, an employee under written warning may be terminated at her supervisor's discretion if during the warning period the employee obtains a Degree III violation. Defendants contend that Ms. Castle was guilty of a Degree III violation on December 4, 1986, when during a unit meeting she exhibited disrespect toward her unit supervisor by turning her back on the group and facing the door during the entire meeting. As a result of this violation, combined with the written warning of two weeks earlier, Ms. Castle was discharged.

Plaintiff answers that the real reason for her denial of promotional opportunities and discharge is that of racial discrimination by the defendants. Plaintiff argues first, that her qualifications exceed those of the employees chosen for the promotions, and second, that other employees also exhibited excessive tardiness but were not discharged.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering this motion, the Court is mindful that the standard for summary judgment "mirrors the standard for a directed verdict under Rule 50(a), which is that the trial judge must direct a verdict if, under the governing law, there can be but one reasonable conclusion as to the verdict." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) citing Brady v. Southern Ry. Co., 320 U.S. 476, 479-480, 64 S.Ct. 232, 234-235, 88 L.Ed. 239 (1943). Thus, the Supreme Court concluded in Anderson that a judge considering a motion for summary judgment must "ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented." 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

751 F. Supp. 720

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in pertinent part:

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

In essence, the inquiry is whether the evidence presented a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

Such an inquiry necessarily implicates the evidentiary standard of proof that would apply at the trial on the merits. As a result, the Court must view the evidence presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary burden. Rule 56(e) therefore requires that the non-moving party go beyond the pleadings and by their 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552.

In Banks v. Rockwell International N. Am. Aircraft Operations, 666 F.Supp. 1053 (S.D.Ohio 1987) (J. Graham), this district enunciated the importance of granting summary judgments in appropriate situations by stating that: "Although summary judgment should be cautiously invoked, it is an integral part of the Federal Rules which are designed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553, (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

Thus, the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of a plaintiff's claim is insufficient—there must be evidence upon which a jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff. Having discussed the Rule 56 standard of review, the Court now turns to the merits.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

I. Section 1981 denial of promotional opportunities claims.

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which states in pertinent part: "All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts ... as is enjoyed by white citizens...." 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981 (West 1981). In addressing a Section 1981 claim, the United States Supreme Court in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132 (1989), clearly precluded any cause of action under Section 1981 for racial harassment in a hostile work environment. The Court stated: "We hold ... that racial harassment relating to conditions of employment is not actionable under Section 1981 because that provision does not apply to conduct which occurs after the formation of a contract...." Id. at ___, 109 S.Ct. at 2369. In discussing the petitioner's claim of racial harassment from her supervisor, the Court said:

This type of conduct, reprehensible though it be if true, is not actionable under § 1981, which covers only conduct at the initial formation of the contract and conduct which impairs the right to enforce contract obligation through legal process. Rather, such conduct is actionable under the more expansive reach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Patterson, 491 U.S. at ___, 109 S.Ct. at 2374.

In Patterson, the petitioner was a black woman employed by the respondent credit union as a teller and file coordinator for ten years until she was laid off. Thereafter, she brought an action in the district court under Section 1981 alleging that respondent

751 F. Supp. 721
had harassed her, failed to promote her, and then discharged...

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1 practice notes
  • McNeil v. Aguilos, No. 91 Civ. 6938 (SS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 16 September 1993
    ...rights in the workplace is not actionable because it must be brought under Title VII. See Castle v. Central Benefits Mut. Ins. Co., 751 F.Supp. 717 (S.D.Oh.1990), aff'd, 940 F.2d 659 (6th Cir. 1991). In enacting Title VII, Congress established a comprehensive plan for addressing allegations......
1 cases
  • McNeil v. Aguilos, No. 91 Civ. 6938 (SS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 16 September 1993
    ...rights in the workplace is not actionable because it must be brought under Title VII. See Castle v. Central Benefits Mut. Ins. Co., 751 F.Supp. 717 (S.D.Oh.1990), aff'd, 940 F.2d 659 (6th Cir. 1991). In enacting Title VII, Congress established a comprehensive plan for addressing allegations......

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