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Hester v. Jackson Public Schools District

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

July 27, 2018

CAROL HESTER PLAINTIFF
v.
JACKSON PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT; GERALD JONES; JERRY LUCKETT; & SAUNDRA LYONS DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The main dispute before the Court is the motion for summary judgment brought by the three individual defendants in this action: Gerald Jones, Jerry Luckett, and Saundra Lyons. Also pending, though, are plaintiff Carol Hester's motion to strike, her alternative motion for leave to file a sur-rebuttal, and the individual defendants' motion for leave to file excess pages. All of these will be addressed below.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         Carol Hester is a security guard for the Jackson Public School District. She says that for 16 years she was paid less than a similarly-situated, but less-experienced male security guard named John Banks. When Hester discovered the disparity, she filed this suit against JPS and the supervisory officials allegedly responsible for the gender discrimination. Her claims arise under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Title VII, and the United States Constitution.

         The pay disparity is not seriously contested. JPS initially paid Banks $0.42 an hour more than it paid Hester. Years later, JPS paid him $4.07 an hour more than her. That was approximately 150% of her hourly wage, for the same work.

         In proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and this Court, JPS has produced a variety of explanations for the pay disparity.

         JPS first told the EEOC that it paid Hester less because she was a part-time employee for a time. But Banks was also a part-time employee for a time—and he kept his regular hourly rate and benefits. (JPS now says that is not evidence of discrimination against Hester, but rather “that Mr. Banks arguably benefitted from a short-term coding error.”)

         JPS then told the EEOC that it paid Hester less because she was not certified. During a deposition, however, JPS's corporate representative admitted that Hester would have made the same amount even if she was certified.

         JPS also told the EEOC that it paid Hester less because Banks worked an overnight shift for a time. Again, though, evidence from deposition testimony indicates that there was no pay differential for different shifts.

         The evidence is not entirely one-sided. JPS contends that several years of the disparity can be justified by an old policy on how prior creditable service was calculated. Banks came to JPS with four years of prior creditable service, while Hester came to JPS with two years of prior creditable service. When these years of prior service are added to their years with JPS, Banks has been working in this field since 1996, and Hester has been working in this field since 1994. In other words, she has more years of relevant experience than he, and (one would think) should be treated with more seniority. Under JPS's old policy, however, each year of prior outside work was treated much more favorably than each year of work with JPS. JPS accordingly says that Banks' additional two years of non-JPS work experience entitled him to more pay than Hester, despite her greater overall years of work experience.

         Notwithstanding the above, JPS contends that there is no evidence that these individual defendants did anything to violate the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, or the United States Constitution.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “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). A party seeking to avoid summary judgment must identify admissible evidence in the record showing a fact dispute. Id. at 56(c)(1). “Once a summary judgment motion is made and properly supported, the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts in the record showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Neither ‘conclusory allegations' nor ‘unsubstantiated assertions' will satisfy the nonmovant's burden.” Wallace v. Tex. Tech Univ., 80 F.3d 1042, 1047 (5th Cir. 1996) (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         The Court views the evidence and draws reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Maddox v. Townsend and Sons, Inc., 639 F.3d 214, 216 (5th Cir. 2011). But the Court will not, “in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.” McCallum Highlands, Ltd. v. Wash. Capital Dus, ...


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