Shoots v. City of Mobile, CIVIL ACTION NO. 11-00673-KD-M

Decision Date28 June 2013
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 11-00673-KD-M
PartiesLAKEISHA SHOOTS, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF MOBILE, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama

CITY OF MOBILE, et al., Defendants.



ORDERED: June 28, 2013


This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 54-57), Plaintiff's Response (Doc. 59), and Defendants' Reply (Doc. 60).

I. Procedural Background

In November 2011 (as amended October 2012), Plaintiff Lakeisha Shoots ("Shoots") initiated this action against Defendants Mayor Samuel Jones ("Jones"), Chief of Police Micheal Williams ("Williams"), Deputy Chief of Police Joseph Kennedy ("Kennedy"), Police Captain Amelia Brown ("Brown"), Police Sergeant Carla Shumock ("Shumock"), and the City of Mobile. (Doc. 1, 16).1 Shoots' Complaint alleges discrimination for failure to promote, based on race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a state law claim for retaliation under Ala. Code §§ 35-9A-501 and 35-9AZ-501.2 (Id.) Shoots seeks $550,000 in

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compensatory damages and $3,500,000 in punitive damages. (Id. at 4).

II. Findings of Fact3

Shoots, an African American, was hired by the City of Mobile Police Department ("MPD") on February 17, 1996, as a Public Safety Dispatcher I (PSD I) in the Communications Unit. (Doc. 55-1; Doc. 55-2 (Dep. L.Shoots at 18)). On January 14, 2011, Shoots initiated a Step One grievance complaint against Radio Communications Officer Dorothy Thomas. (Doc. 55-10 at 14; Doc. 59-9). On March 1, 2011, a vacancy for an MPD position of Public Safety Dispatcher II ("PSD II") was posted; it was open to all PSD I employees. (Doc. 55-4 at 5, 9 (Aff. D.Dees)). On March 2, 2011, Shoots received a "criticism" in her disciplinary record; the result was "no action." (Doc. 55-10 at 14; Doc. 55-11 at 11, Doc. 55-13 at 3, 5 (Aff. S.Little)).

On April 11, 2011, oral interviews were conducted by a five (5) person MPD interview panel (the Promotional Committee) for the March 1, 2011 PSD II vacancy. (Doc. 55-5 (Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶3); Doc. 55-5 at 19-20). The interview panel consisted of five (5) MPD Promotional Committee members: Defendants Kennedy and Shumock, Captain DeWayne Hill, Captain Carla Longmire, and Lieutenant James Wilson. (Id.) The Committee had access to an

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information sheet on each candidate, listing the name, employee number, hiring date, accrued time usage and a disciplinary history summary, if any. (Doc. 55-5, 55-8, 55-9, 55-10, 55-11). Additionally, the Committee was given a copy of each candidate's supervisor's recommendation. (Id.)

In the oral interview, the Committee members had 10 questions to ask each candidate, and an Interview Scoring Sheet for each candidate. (Doc. 55-5 at 19-20 and Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶3; Doc. 55-8 at 5-7 and Aff. D.Hill at ¶5-6; Doc. 55-9 at 5-7 and Aff. C.Longmire at ¶5-6; Doc. 55-10 at 5-7 and Aff. J.Wilson at ¶5-6)). The Committee was tasked with assigning a score (1 for a "poor response" to 5 for an "excellent response") for the candidate's response to each question. (Docs. 55-5, 55-8, 55-9, 55-10). The interview counted for 100% of each candidate's score. (Doc. 55-5 at 18 and Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶11-12).

After the interview process, Shoots (African American) received a score of 50.8, Sheila Walker (Caucasian) received a score of 72.8, Sherry Barnes (African American) received a score of 71.6, and Saundra Norris (Caucasian) received a score of 64.8. (Id. (Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶12)). Walker, Barnes, and Norris had the three (3) highest scores of the 10 eligible candidates. (Id. (Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶16)). On the Certification of Eligibles (the promotional list), Shoots' name was listed second, while Barnes was listed third, Walker was listed fourth, and Norris was listed fifth. (Doc. 55-4 at 6, 9 and Aff. D.Dees at ¶6, 8); Doc. 55-5 (Aff. J.Kennedy at ¶12)).4 On April 23, 2011, Walker received the promotion. (Doc. 55-4 at 9).

On September 15, 2011, Shoots filed an EEOC Charge of Discrimination against the MPD, alleging Title VII discrimination from May 21, 2011-September 14, 2011, specifying that

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has been "denied being promoted" in 2011 due to her race and was retaliated against. (Doc. 55-1; Doc. 55-2 at 8 (Dep. L.Shoots at 31)). The EEOC required no action. (Doc. 55-6).

On September 16, 2011, another PSD II promotional opportunity arose at the MPD (for two (2) anticipated vacancies) and a Certification of Eligibles was issued. (Doc. 55-4 at 6 and Aff. D.Dees at ¶3). Per MPD protocol, the same list of Certificate of Eligibles and same interview scores, see supra, were used. (Doc. 55-4 at 12-13). See also Doc. 56 at 6. On September 24, 2011, the MPD promoted Barnes and Norris. (Doc. 55-4 at 6).

One day prior, on September 23, 2011, the EEOC issued a notice of right to sue to Shoots, stating it was unable to conclude there had been a Title VII violation. (Doc. 55-7).

III. Conclusions of Law

A. Standard of Review

"The court shall grant summary judgment 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) (Dec. 2010). Rule 56(c) provides as follows:

(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.
(3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.

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(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.

FED.R.CIV.P. Rule 56(c) (Dec. 2010). Defendants, as the party seeking summary judgment bear the "initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). If the nonmoving party fails to make "a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof," the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. "In reviewing whether the nonmoving party has met its burden, the court must stop short of weighing the evidence and making credibility determinations of the truth of the matter. Instead, the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBH-Siegen, 965 F.2d 994, 998-999 (11th Cir. 1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted).

B. Title VII Race Discrimination Claim: Failure to Promote5

At the outset, Shoots' discrimination claims as to the individual defendants lack merit. Title VII prohibits an employer 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). To the extent Shoots

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alleges claims against the individual defendants in their individual capacities (Doc. 16 at 4-15), "relief under Title VII is available against only the employer and not against individual employees whose actions would constitute a violation of the Act, regardless of whether the employer is a public company or a private company." Dearth v. Collins, 441 F.3d 931, 933 (11th Cir. 2006) (emphasis in original). See also e.g., Taite v. Alabama Dept. of Personnel, 2012 WL 3631619 (M.D. Ala. Jul. 16, 2012); Hollingshead v. Mobile Cty. Personnel Bd., 2012 WL 1970281, *3 (S.D. Ala. May 10, 2012); Wallace v. UAW Local 1639, 2006 WL 3834272, *2 (S.D. Ala. Dec. 22, 2006). Additionally, to the extent Shoots' alleges claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities (Doc. 16 at 4-15), such claims are redundant as her employer has been named as a defendant. See, e.g., Cross v. Alabama Dep't of Mental Health & Mental Retardation, 49 F.3d 1490, 1504 (11th Cir. 1995); Portera v. State of Ala. Dep't of Fin., 322 F.Supp.2d 1285, 1287 (M.D. Ala. 2004). Accordingly, the City of Mobile's motion for summary judgment as to Shoots' Title VII claim against individual Defendants Jones, Williams, Kennedy, Brown, and Shumock is GRANTED.6

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