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Walker v. Statewide Healthcare Services, LLC

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

June 19, 2019

VERA WALKER PLAINTIFF
v.
STATEWIDE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC a/k/a STATEWIDE HEALTHCARE SERVICES, II LLC d/b/a OXFORD HEALTHCARE/HELP AT HOME DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before this Court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment. Docket No. 39. After considering the evidence, arguments, and applicable law, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         From 2011 until 2016, Vera Walker worked as the Branch Manager for Statewide Healthcare Services at its Newton, Mississippi location. For the first three years, she was supervised by Linda Morrow, who thought Walker was a good worker and never received any complaints about her from the clients.

         In 2014, Walker had conversations with Morrow about “leveling down” from Branch Manager to a Field Supervisor position. Morrow took that request to CEO Ron Ford, who approved of the change and agreed to let Walker keep the higher salary of a Branch Manager. Walker, however, decided to hold off on the change for a little while longer.

         Morrow's position was terminated later that year. Walker was placed under new management. Debbie Garner and Stacy Clark helped to oversee Walker and collectively evaluated her. After some time under their supervision, Walker's performance evaluations changed. Walker went from having no issues under Morrow, to not being a team player with her staff and other offices under Garner and Clark.

         In 2015, Walker penned a letter to Garner and CC'd Clark and CEO Ford. Walker stated, “I have begun to feel lately that there is a ‘Witch Hunt' in process to find anything wrong. . . . I am a sixty year old Black female who does a good job for [Statewide] and I hope that I am not being singled out and harassed simply because of those two facts.” There is no response to the letter in the record.

         Also in 2015, according to her performance evaluations, Walker had conversations with Garner about the Field Supervisor position. The evaluations note that Walker needed additional staff in order to work 40-45 hours per week and still meet all of the branch requirements.

         During the 2016 evaluation, Garner was unhappy with the growth of the branch and told Walker that she had to grow the branch by five new customers every month. Walker did not agree to this new requirement and not long after, the Newton branch was audited.

         In November 2016, Walker penned another letter to CEO Ford, saying: “I would like to respectfully request that you allow me to level down as Branch Manager. . . . Our office is in need of a Field Supervisor. . . . I would respectfully like to ask for that position.” Statewide interpreted the letter as a resignation instead of a request, and directed Walker to pack up her things and leave the office.

         On January 25, 2017, Walker filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asserting a claim against Statewide for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After receiving a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC, Walker commenced this action on November 13, 2017. Walker, who is an African-American female, alleges that Statewide employees Clark and Garner discriminated against her due to her race and that the company terminated her based on racial animus. On April 19, 2019, Statewide filed a motion for summary judgment.

         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 fact issue is ‘material' if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Levy Gardens Partners 2007, L.P. v. Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co., 706 F.3d 622, 628 (5th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). “The substantive law will identify which facts are material.” Gibson v. Collier, 920 F.3d 212, 219 (5th Cir. 2019) (quotation marks, citations, and brackets omitted).

         When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court will “construe all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Levy ...


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