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Crain v. Metropolitan Security Services, Inc.

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

September 17, 2019




         Jonathan Crain, an African American male and a Court Security Officer in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, filed his Complaint [1] on October 30, 2017. Crain alleges that the Defendant, Metropolitan Security Service, Inc., violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it did not select him for a District Supervisor position. Now before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [77], requesting summary judgment in its favor on all of Crain's claims. The issues are fully briefed and ripe for review.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The United States Marshals Service contracts with private security companies to provide security at federal courthouses. In 2015, the Defendant, Metropolitan Security Services doing business under the name “Walden Security, ” entered into a contract with the United States Marshal Service to provide private security services to the Federal Courthouses in the Fifth Circuit, including the Southern District of Mississippi. At that time, Jonathan Crain was employed as the Senior Lead Court Security Office at the federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi, working directly under the District Supervisor, Galen Knupp.

         In November, District Supervisor Galen Knupp notified Walden Security that he planned to retire. Knupp recommended Prentiss Parker to assume his role as District Supervisor. Based on Knupp's recommendation, Walden Security offered Parker the position, and Parker declined. Consequently, Walden Security posted the open position on its website on November 13, 2015. Crain was interested in the District Supervisor position, having served in the position on a temporary basis from time to time when Knupp was absent.

         By November 20, 2015, Walden Security received thirteen applications for the position and although Crain was aware of the position, he did not submit an application at that point. According to Crain, he went to the website but was unable to access the application. Crain did place several phone calls to Walden Security's Human Resources Department to inquire about the application process. On November 24, 2015, Walden Security offered the District Supervisor position to Steve Renfroe, a white male. Renfroe accepted the offer and appeared for work at the Jackson Courthouse on December 1, 2015. On that day, Renfroe personally informed Crain that he, Renfroe, was the new District Supervisor. Crain attempted to submit his application on December 3, 2015, days after the position had already been offered to and accepted by Steve Renfroe. In his deposition, Crain testified that he never completed an application for the position. According to Crain, when he attempted to apply for the position, the online system would not allow him to submit his application. Crain also testified that he tried to submit his application despite Renfroe's hiring because the position was still marked “open” on the website.

         Crain alleges that Walden Security failed to promote him because of his race. Crain also alleges that Walden Security hired a white person instead of him, and thwarted his attempts to apply, because he is African American. Crain filed his Complaint [1] against Walden Security and the Attorney General of the United States. This Court granted the Government's Motion to Dismiss [37] on November 29, 2018, making Walden Security the sole Defendant. Now before the Court is Walden Security's Motion for Summary Judgment [77]. Walden Security argues that there are no genuine disputes of material fact, and that Crain failed to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination under Title VII.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         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).

         The 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). 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.

         Analysis and Discussion

         i. Failure to Apply

         Walden Security argues that Crain cannot establish a prima facie case because he never applied for the position. In addition, Walden Security argues that even if Crain could establish a prima facie case, he cannot demonstrate that he was qualified for the position. Title VII provides:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such ...

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