United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
GLORIA J. RUSH-MCDONALD PLAINTIFF
DELTA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER d/b/a Delta Regional Health Clinic DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Brown UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
employment discrimination action brought by Gloria
Rush-McDonald is before the Court on the motion for summary
judgment of Delta Regional Medical Center. Doc. #46. Because
Rush-McDonald has not established a prima facie case of
employment discrimination, the motion for summary judgment
will be granted.
judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no
genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv
N' Care Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th
Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence
is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for
the non-moving party and material if its resolution could
affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v.
Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th
Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion
for summary judgment, a court must “consider the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.”
Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363
(5th Cir. 2016).
seeking summary judgment “[t]he 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.” Nola Spice
Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d
527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and
alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this
burden, “the non-moving party must go beyond the
pleadings and by her 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.” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden
of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial
burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v.
James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir.
Rush-McDonald's Education and Work History
J. Rush-McDonald is an African American female who graduated
from the University of Mississippi in 1978 with a bachelor of
science in pharmacy. Doc. #48-1 at 9-10; Doc. #48-11 at 20;
Doc. #1 at ¶ 8. Following graduation, Rush-McDonald
worked at “a little drugstore” in Meridian,
Mississippi, until December 1978. Doc. #48-1 at 10-11. From
December 1978 until 1988, she worked as a pharmacist for
K&B Drugs. Id.; Doc. #48-2. Approximately two
years after leaving K&B, she accepted a position as
Midnight Pharmacy Supervisor at the University of Mississippi
Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Doc. #48-2.
Rush-McDonald left that position in 2000 and began working at
her family's residential construction business.
Id. In 2002, she started a pharmacy consulting
business, which she continues to operate. Id.
2003, Rush-McDonald received a call from a recruiter
regarding an opportunity at King's Daughters Hospital in
Greenville, Mississippi. Doc. #48-1 at 12. Rush-McDonald
traveled to Greenville for an interview and received an offer
during her visit. Id. She accepted the offer and, in
2004, began working as Director of Pharmacy at King's
Daughters. Doc. #48-2.
Sale of King's Daughters and Creation of Assistant
Director of Pharmacy
in 2005, employees at King's Daughters were informed that
the hospital had been sold to Delta Regional Medical Center
(“DRMC”). Doc. #48-1 at 12. DRMC took over
control of the hospital on April 1, 2005. Id.
time of the takeover, Lisa Fratesi, a white woman,
served as DRMC's pharmacy director. Doc. #48-3 at 4.
Alphie Wells, then DRMC's director of human resources,
asked Rush-McDonald to take a “slight increase in pay
to stay and work as Lisa Fratesi's
assistant.”Doc. #46-9 at 4; Doc. #48-1 at 12-13.
Rush-McDonald accepted the offer and continued to work at
King's Daughters, which became known as “Delta
Regional's West Campus, ” as Assistant Director of
Pharmacy. Doc. #48-1 at 12-13, 18; Doc. #48-4. The original
DRMC hospital facility, also located in Greenville, became
known as the Main Campus. See Doc. #46-4 at 58.
Assistant Director of Pharmacy, Rush-McDonald was responsible
for “[a]nything and everything for patient care
… as far as medications go” at the West
Campus. Doc. #48-1 at 24. In addition to her
pharmacist duties, Rush-McDonald served on the joint
commission which “got the hospital ready to maintain
[its] accreditation, ” worked as administrator of
DRMC's automated and dispensing computer system, known as
Pyxis,  and supervised the pharmacy technicians
across both campuses. Id. at 25, 33-36; Doc. 48-3 at
25-26. In her supervisory role, she would address issues
between the pharmacists and technicians. Doc. #48-1 at 49-50.
Normally, this role required her to address issues with the
technicians; however, “maybe one percent of the
time” she would discuss an issue with the pharmacist.
Id. Rush-McDonald “also did a review of
anesthesia and emergency room patient[ records] to capture
revenue for the pharmacy and the hospital at the main
campus.” Id. at 25.
“primarily her roles and duties were at the west
campus, ” “[s]he had authority as assistant
director over both campuses.” Doc. #48-3 at 25-26. All
told, Rush-McDonald spent approximately 85% of her time at
the West Campus and 15% at the Main Campus. Id. at
51-52. As Assistant Director, Rush-McDonald received the
rating of “commendable” for her work performance
at DRMC, the highest of four ratings, which reflects
“results above those expected of the position.”
Doc. #48-6; Doc. #48-7; Doc. #48-8.
Sean Laird Resignation and Hiring of Heather Lewis
November 2013, Sean Laird, a full-time pharmacist at the Main
Campus resigned his position to become a
“PRN.” Doc. #46-1 at 55-56. Rush-McDonald
informed Fratesi that she did not feel DRMC needed to fill
Laird's vacant position. Id. at 57-58. However,
on November 5, 2013, Fratesi completed an Employment
Requisition form for a full-time pharmacist, listing Laird as
the “Employee to be Replaced.” Doc. #48-9.
posted the pharmacist position on the website of the
University of Mississippi's pharmacy school. Doc. #46-6
at 10. “Immediately” after posting the position,
Fratesi was contacted by Heather Lewis. Id. Fratesi
interviewed Lewis, who is white,  on March 4, 2014.
Id.; Doc. #46-8 at ¶ 3. The same day, Fratesi
completed an Applicant Interview form recommending that Lewis
be hired. Doc. #46-8 at Ex. 2. The next day, the Human
Resources Department conducted a reference check on Lewis.
Id. at ¶ 3.
April 25, 2014, Lewis traveled to Greenville to meet with
DRMC's Human Resources Department. Doc. #46-7 at 7.
During her visit, Fratesi took Lewis around the hospital and
Lewis received a written offer. Id. at 7-8. That
day, Lewis “told them that [she] would come to work for
them.” Id. at 8. Lewis received pre-employment
information and, the next day, completed two pre-employment
forms. Id. at 15; Doc. #48-18; Doc.
#48-19. After Lewis accepted the offer, DRMC's
Human Resources Department removed the vacancy announcement
from its website. Doc. #46-8 at ¶ 4. However, Lewis, who
was still a student, was not eligible to begin work at DRMC
until she graduated. Doc. #46-7 at 11.
graduated from pharmacy school on May 14, 2014. Doc. #46-7 at
4. On May 21, 2014, DRMC sent Lewis a “letter …
confirm[ing] our verbal offer and your acceptance of
employment … as a Full Time Pharmacist.” Doc.
Performance Improvement Plan
15, 2014, Insight Health Partners, pursuant to a February
2014 contract with DRMC, presented to DRMC a Performance
Improvement Plan offering recommendations for operations at
the campuses. Doc. #46-5 at ¶¶ 3-4; Doc. #48-14. Of
relevance here, the Performance Improvement Plan included the
West Campus - Staff a full-time pharmacist and Pharmacy tech
at the West Campus during the weekday hours. If the West
Campus does not close within the next couple of months, I
suggested that these positions be eliminated. It would be
acceptable to keep one pharmacist, if utilized as a clinical
pharmacist for ICU, Telemetry, & ED.
time Insight made its suggestion, the West Campus employed
one full-time pharmacist-Rush-McDonald; and one pharmacy