United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Vaughan has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit
against Anderson Regional Medical Center
(“ARMC”). Before the Court is ARMC's motion
for summary judgment. For the reasons below, the motion is
Factual and Procedural History
February 3, 2014, Matt Edwards, Vice President of Nursing at
ARMC, hired Vaughan, a 54-year-old nurse, as a supervisor.
She began a 90-day introductory period.
day, Vaughan signed and completed the “Human Resources
Policy Test.” The test reviewed the hospital's
non-discrimination policy, which provides that
“harassment of any kind will not be tolerated in the
workplace” and that employees should report any
incidents to Human Resources.
the course of her employment, Vaughan was one of 10
supervisors, all of whom were over the age of 40. Four
supervisors were older than Vaughan, and of the five who were
younger than her, three were within five years of her age.
Smith, the head nursing supervisor, oversaw Vaughan's
progress. During their first shift together, Vaughan says
that Smith made the following age-related comments:
1. Just how old are you?
2. We need someone who isn't as old as you are, you
weren't interviewed by us and they couldn't ask you
during the interview.
3. Just because you have experience doesn't mean you can
do this job. It is pretty physical. Hope you can keep up.
4. I don't know why Matt hired you. You're pretty old
to be a part of this team, and we needed someone younger.
the next month, Vaughan says, Smith consistently made
similar, age-related comments. For example, on her March 19,
2014 shift, Smith and another nurse berated Vaughan for being
“kinda old and gray headed.”
next day, Vaughan met with Ryan McMillan, a clinical director
who supervised Smith. Vaughan complained to McMillan about
Smith's comments. McMillan responded, “You just
have to get to know Vicki, but I will talk to her. She
probably doesn't mean anything by it.”
did not work with Smith again. When she was scheduled to work
with Smith, Vaughan would swap shifts with another supervisor
or call in absent.
April 9, 2014, Vaughan met with Edwards and Smith for a
60-day evaluation. Edwards gave Vaughan positive feedback on
her job performance and reviewed general expectations of
nursing supervisors. The parties disagree about what was
discussed at this meeting. ARMC alleges that Edwards
explained to Vaughan that she should not “stir the
pot” or “degrade or bad mouth
Administration” because supervisors are an extension of
Nursing Administration and they need to set the example for
the staff as leaders. ARMC also states that Edwards
encouraged Vaughan to be open to guidance from other
supervisors and that Vaughan verbalized understanding. At the
conclusion of the meeting, ARMC alleges that Vaughan shared a
form, a Supervisor's report sheet, used by her previous
employer that she thought was beneficial. Edwards said it was
duplicative of a form already used at ARMC, but thanked
Vaughan for the suggestion and told her it looked like a very
good tracking tool.
end of Vaughan's introductory period, on April 30, 2014,
Edwards terminated her. Sharon Futch, the Director of Human
Resources, says that Vaughan was fired because of her
“continued refusal to work with other nursing
supervisors in a cooperative manner, her persistent attempts
to impose her former employer's nursing practices . . .
and her inability to accept constructive criticism and
suggestions from other nursing supervisors during the
her termination, Vaughan filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging
that ARMC violated her rights under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”). See 29 U.S.C.
§§ 621 et seq. After the EEOC issued a
Right to Sue Letter, Vaughan filed this action on December
19, 2014, and asserted two claims under the ADEA: age
discrimination and retaliation. She asked for compensatory
damages, punitive damages, liquidated damages, back pay
(including interest), reinstatement or front pay in lieu of
reinstatement, attorney's fees, and costs.
ARMC's motion, the Court dismissed Vaughan's claims
for compensatory and punitive damages on December 7, 2015.
2015 WL 10663140 (S.D.Miss. Dec. 7, 2015). The Court
certified its ruling for interlocutory review and stayed
these proceedings. A year later, the Fifth Circuit affirmed
this Court's ...