United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
Sharion Aycock UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Watt filed her Complaint  in this Court on June 14, 2016
against her former employer, the City of Columbus,
Mississippi. The City filed a Motion for Summary Judgment 
requesting judgment in its favor on all of the
Plaintiff's claims. The Plaintiff responded  and the
City replied , making this motion ripe for review.
and Procedural Background
Watt was a Deputy Municipal Clerk for the City of Columbus,
Mississippi for approximately four years. After Watt was
indicted by a grand jury and arrested at her workplace for
selling narcotics, the City placed her on paid leave for
approximately five months. The City terminated the Plaintiff's
employment on June 18, 2013. The charges against the
Plaintiff were ultimately dismissed on September 15, 2015.
complaint, the Plaintiff alleges that the City failed to
provide her with the requisite Civil Service System
procedures and protections, terminated her because she is a
black female, and violated her due process rights. The City
responds that the Plaintiff was not a civil service employee,
that her race discrimination claim is time barred, and that
she failed to state a claim for a due process violation.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The rule “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 the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
moving party “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The
nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). In
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory
facts exist, the Court may “not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120
S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
Plaintiff alleges that the City had a Civil Service System in
effect at the time she was employed, that as a civil service
employee she could not be terminated without good cause, and
that she was entitled to notice and a hearing before being
fired. The City responds that although it did have a Civil
Service System, the Plaintiff was not a member of the system,
and thus not covered by civil service protections. The City
also argues that the Plaintiff was an at-will employee and
that she signed a notice explicitly recognizing her at-will
employment status upon hiring. Said notice bearing the
undisputed Plaintiff's signature is a part of the record.
City concedes that it is required by law to adopt a Civil
Service System. See Miss. Code. Ann. § 21-31-1.
However, the City argues that as a municipal court employee
the Plaintiff was not included in the Civil Service System,
and was instead an at-will employee. See Miss. Code.
Ann. § 21-31-13. The Plaintiff did not respond to these
arguments. The Court finds that based on the evidence in the
record, the Plaintiff was not covered by the City's Civil
Service System, and that she was instead, an at-will
employee. Because there is no evidence in the record to
support the Plaintiff's claim that she was covered or
entitled to civil service protections, summary judgment is
appropriate in the City's favor on this claim.
the Plaintiff claims that she was terminated because she is a
black female in violation of her right to be free from race
discrimination as guaranteed by 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The
Plaintiff further alleges that her claim against the City is
authorized under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The City responds by
arguing that the Plaintiff's Title VII race
discrimination claim is time barred because she did not file
the requisite charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, and the time limit for filing such a charge has
long since expired. The Court notes that the Plaintiff does
not mention Title VII in any of her pleadings.
are substantive differences between claims brought under
Title VII and § 1981. See Jones v. Robinson Prop.
Grp., L.P., 427 F.3d 987, 992 (5th Cir. 2005) (stating
that although “the analysis of employment
discrimination claims under Title VII and § 1981 is
“identical, ” [. . .] “the only substantive
differences” between the two statutes are “their
respective statutes of limitations and the requirement under
Title VII that the employee exhaust administrative
remedies.”) see also Chen v. Ochsner Clinic
Found., 630 F. App'x 218, 227 (5th Cir. 2015);
Fonteneaux v. Shell Oil Co., 289 F. App'x 695,
698 (5th Cir. 2008). Because the Plaintiff has clearly
brought her claim under §1981 and §1983, and not
under Title VII, the statute of limitations and exhaustion
arguments raised by the City are not applicable. The parties
have not briefed or argued the applicable statute of
limitations, nor have they briefed the substance of the
Plaintiff's discrimination claim. Because as the moving
party, the City “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of ...