United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
CHARLES D. EASLEY, JR. PLAINTIFF
LOWNDES COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI DEFENDANT
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION
SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles D. Easley, Jr., filed his Complaint  on July 18,
2018, alleging that Lowndes County, Mississippi violated the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act when the County did not
hire him as a part-time public defender because of his age.
Easley was 65 years old at the time he applied for the
position. Presently before the Court is Lowndes County's
Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment . Briefing is complete and the issues are ripe
and Procedural History
Circuit Judge of Lowndes County sought candidates to fill
five part-time public defender positions to serve the
citizens of Lowndes County, Mississippi. Easley submitted his
application for consideration. At that time, Easley was 65
years of age. Although multiple candidates applied and were
selected, Easley focuses on Colleen Hudson. Easley paints a
stark difference between the amount of experience between
himself and Ms. Hudson. He claims that Hudson was unqualified
for the position because she had no trial experience. At the
time, Hudson was 27 years of age and was a practicing
attorney in Mississippi. Easley avers that at the time he
applied, he had 35 years of experience in practice, and had
served as a Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
reviewing the applications, the Senior Circuit Judge of
Lowndes County recommended Hudson for the position, subject
to approval by the Board of Supervisors. The relevant minutes
from the Board of Supervisor's meeting reflected this
recommendation. On December 7, 2015, the three Circuit Judges
in Lowndes County entered a collective order officially
appointing five part-time public defenders, including Hudson.
Easley did not receive an appointment.
alleges that the County discriminated against him based on
his age when the County failed to offer him a position as a
part-time public defender. On June 23, 2015, Easley filed a
Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC citing a violation of
the ADEA. He received a notice of his right to sue on April
24, 2018. Easley later filed this suit in federal court
claiming the County intentionally discriminated against him
because of his age in violation of the ADEA. Now before the
Court is the County's Motion to Dismiss or in the
alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment . The Court notes
that the instant Motion was filed very early in the case, and
as such, no discovery has yet been conducted.
Motion , the County alternatively requests dismissal,
summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, or a more
definite statement. Both parties submitted documents outside
the pleadings intended to support their arguments. Rule 12(d)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: “when
matters outside the pleadings are presented and not excluded
by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary
judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Pursuant
to Rule 12(d), the Court will treat the instant Motion as a
request for Summary Judgment.
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).
described above, Easley filed this case alleging that the
County discriminated against him because of his age. “A
primary purpose of the ADEA is to prohibit arbitrary age
discrimination in employment.” 29 U.S.C. § 621(b).
“To accomplish this purpose, the ADEA prohibits certain
practices by employers, employment agencies, and labor
organizations.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)-(c). Under the
ADEA, “it shall be unlawful for an employer . . . to
discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against
any individual with respect to [their] compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's age.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1).
order to succeed in an age discrimination case, the Plaintiff
must first show that the defendant is an
“employer” within the meaning of the ADEA.
See 29 U.S.C. § 630. “If an entity is not
an employer, employment agency, or labor organization, it is
not subject to the prohibitions of the ADEA against age
discrimination in employment.” Coleman v. New
Orleans and Baton Rouge S.S. Pilots' Ass'n, 437
F.3d 471, 478 (5th Cir. 2006). The County argues in its
Motion  that it is not Easley's
“employer” as contemplated by the ADEA.
“Determining whether the defendant is an
‘employer' within the meaning of . . . the ADEA
involves a two-step process: the defendant must fall within
the statutory definition, and there must be an employment
relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.”
Deal v. State Farm County Mut. Ins. Co. of Texas, 5
F.3d 117, n. 2 (5th Cir. 1993); see also Fields v.
Hallsville Indep. Sch. Dist., 906 F.2d 1017, 1019 (5th
Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1026, 111 S.Ct.
676, 112 L.Ed.2d 668 (1991).
primary issue that the Court must address here is whether an
employment relationship exists between Easley and Lowndes
County. The County argues that it merely handles payroll for
the position and there is no employment relationship. Easley
argues that the County Board of Supervisors is involved in
the creation of the office, approval of candidates, approval
of salary and ...