United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment . Plaintiff responded and Defendant
and Procedural History
Paula Harville, a sixty-year-old white female, was hired by
the City of Houston in July 2005 as a deputy clerk. She was
one of four deputy clerks employed by the City Clerk's
Office. Harville worked alongside Barbara Buggs, Kathy Smith,
Margaret Futral, and Shequala Jones. Even though the deputy
clerks were mostly cross-trained, each had primary duties.
Harville's primary duties were to collect ad valorem,
privilege and school taxes, and handle accounts payable.
2015, the City of Houston faced a funding shortfall. Futral,
who was serving as the City Clerk at the time, told Harville
that the City Board had decided to reduce the number of
deputy clerks in the office from four to three. Futral wrote
a letter to the Board, suggesting that the City merely cut
clerk employees' hours in order to keep the office under
budget. She advised the Board to terminate Shaquala Jones if
the Board found it necessary to cut a position. Jones had
recently been on maternity leave, and during that time,
Futrual realized that Jones was not vital to the operations
in the office. Furthermore, Futral felt that Jones was the
least trained of the office staff, and that Harville was the
most essential. Futral felt so strongly that she threatened
to resign if the Board desired to terminate Harville. Futral
suggested that the City promote Harville to replace her if
the situation developed as such.
the City terminated Harville along with four other city
employees on September 15, 2015. The decision was unanimous.
The Board minutes reflect that Alderman Uhiren considered
Harville's work in tax collection to be “seasonal,
” which was the reason the Board determined Harville to
be the best candidate for termination.
March 8, 2016, Futral resigned from her position. The City
placed newspaper advertisements for the City Clerk position
that ran in The Chickasaw Journal in March, May,
August, and September of 2016. Harville applied for the
position of City Clerk each time it was advertised, but the
Board instructed the Mayor to interview for the position only
after the fourth advertisement, coincidentally after Lisa
Sanford applied for the first time. On November 10, 2016, the
Board interviewed Harville and Lisa Sanford for the position.
At the interview, one of the Aldermen asked Harville
“how long did she think she would work.”
Ultimately, the City hired Lisa Sanford to replace Futral as
the new City Clerk.
brings claims of racial discrimination and retaliation under
Title VII and Section 1981, and age discrimination under the
ADEA. She alleges that the Board treated Shequala Jones more
favorably, because she was younger and African American.
Harville argues that the Board did not initially interview
her in retaliation for her EEOC charge, filed on November 3,
2015, and that it acted discriminatory in neglecting to
interview for the position until it had a desired candidate.
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). 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.
alleges that the City of Houston participated in both race
and age discrimination when it decided to terminate her
instead of Shaquala Jones, a younger African American woman.
Furthermore, she claims that the City retaliated against her
after she filed her EEOC charge, because it refused to
interview her for the City Clerk position until it had
another, more preferable applicant.
attempts to establish her Title VII, Section 1981, and ADEA
discrimination claims with circumstantial evidence, and
therefore seeks to navigate the familiar burden-shifting
framework first set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668
(1973). Miller v. Raytheon Co., 716 F.3d 138, 144
(5th Cir. 2013) (ADEA); Nasti v. CIBA Specialty Chems.
Corp., 492 F.3d 589, 593 (5th Cir. 2007) (race
discrimination); Raggs v. Mississippi Power & Light
Co., 278 F.3d 463, 468 (5th Cir. 2002) (“This
Court considers claims of intentional discrimination, which
include racial discrimination and retaliation claims based on
Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, under the same rubric of
analysis”). Under this framework, Plaintiff must first
establish a prima facie case of discrimination, after which
the burden shifts to Defendant to produce a legitimate
non-discriminatory reason for terminating her. Wallace v.
Methodist Hosp. Sys., 271 F.3d 212, 219-20 (5th Cir.
2001). If the Defendant ...