United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is presently before the Court on Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment . Plaintiff responded, and
and Procedural Background
Gilleylen has been a police officer with the Tupelo Police
Department since 1999. In 2005, Gilleylen transferred from
patrol officer to the position of school resource officer
(SRO), but moved back to patrol after she was promoted to
corporal. Gilleylen's record is not spotless; she has
received at least two counseling sessions, has been suspended
and has been placed on probation at least once. However, she
maintains that she was a dedicated officer who has an
excellent record, considering the amount of time that she has
been employed by the Tupelo Police Department.
February 2015, Gilleylen interviewed for the Sergeant's
position. A panel consisting of the four patrol lieutenants
conducted the interviews of seven candidates. Each of the
lieutenants on the interview panel scored each applicant in
ten areas, and they gave their interview sheets to the
moderator, Captain Tim Clouse, who totaled each score sheet.
Purportedly, the applicant with the highest average score was
nominated to the Chief of Police, Bart Aguirre for hire.
While Chief Aguirre had full authority to reject the
interview panel rankings, the uncontradicted testimony is
that in each instance during his tenure as TPD chief he has
accepted the rankings of the interview panel and awarded the
promotion to the highest ranked candidate.
practice of the Tupelo Police Department is to retain
interview scores for one year. The Department then fills open
spots on a rolling basis according to the applicants'
interview scores on file. Furthermore, three out of the four
panel members testified that they only considered interview
performance in their calculations, and not their previous
knowledge or experience with the candidates in making their
choices. In the February interview, Plaintiff ranked third of
seven, with Lee Miller being ranked first and Clay Hassel
being ranked second. Therefore, Miller was placed in the
immediately available position.
of 2015, new interviews were conducted in order to fill an
open position as school resource officer sergeant, but again,
Gilleylen did not rank first and was not given the position.
The interview panel ranked Jon Bramble as the highest
applicant, and he was promoted. In September 2015, the second
ranked officer from the February interviews, Clay Hassell,
filled the next patrol sergeant position.
alleges that both Miller and Hassell's records indicated
that they were far less qualified for the position of
sergeant. For example, Miller was purportedly involved in
some unreported verbal incident involving an African American
Municipal Court Judge two weeks before the interviews. Other
previous supervisors testified that it was difficult to
provide Miller with criticism, and that he had issues with
documentation and poor attitude. Furthermore, Clay Hassell
had been demoted just before receiving the corporal position,
and had a history of tardiness, purportedly.
filed her original EEOC charge on July 6, 2015 alleging that
TPD had discriminated against her because she is an African
American female. However, she was promoted to the patrol
sergeant position in October, 2015. Gilleylen argues that
this promotion was merely in response to her EEOC charge, and
that TPD was attempting to hide its discriminatory motive.
TPD counters that the promotion was due, as she was the third
ranking officer, and this was the third available position
for patrol sergeant. Gilleylen believes that she was not
promoted because of a discriminatory policy allowing
interviewers to conduct subjective interviews, which results
in the inability for black police officers to become
promoted. Furthermore, she alleges that though she was more
qualified, other white men were given the promotions unfairly
even though they were very recently reprimanded for
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). Conclusory allegations,
speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic
arguments are not an adequate substitute for specific facts
showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v.
Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir.
2002); SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir.
1997); Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
succeed on a claim for racial discrimination under Title VII
or Section 1981, a plaintiff may show a prima facie
case either through direct evidence of discriminatory motive,
or circumstantial evidence under the McDonnell
Douglas burden-shifting framework. Larry v.
White, 929 F.2d 206, 209 (5th Cir. 1991) (plaintiff must
prove racially discriminatory purpose of act to demonstrate
Section 1981 or Section 1983 violation), cert.
denied, 507 U.S. 1051, 113 S.Ct. 1946, 123 L.Ed.2d 651
(1993); see also Lee v. Conecuh Cty. Bd. of Ed., 634
F.2d 959, 961- 62 (5th Cir. 1981); McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36
L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). If a plaintiff establishes a presumption
of discrimination by establishing a prima facie
case, the burden then shifts to the employer to articulate a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions.
Reeves, 530 U.S. at 142, 120 S.Ct. 2097; Tex.
Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248,
254-56, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981). The burden ...