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Miller v. Powell

December 27, 2005

CYNTHIA MILLER PLAINTIFF
v.
GLORIA POWELL, ODELL EMBRY, HILDA CANADA, AND ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANTS



OPINION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendants move for summary judgment on all of the plaintiff's claims. The plaintiff resists the Motion. As articulated below, the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. #45) is GRANTED.

II. Background

The plaintiff is a former employee of the Arkansas Department of Human Services ("ADHS"). She began her employment with ADHS in July 1999. Although the Court is not certain where the plaintiff was initially stationed, she was transferred, at her request, to a position located in the Pulaski North Office on January 21, 2003.

During her employment at the North Office, the plaintiff took hand-written notes describing various interactions between her and others at the North Office. In those notes, the plaintiff described being put in a "storage room" and being made to clean it up. She also described feeling "depressed" and "uncomfortable" at work.

On February 18, 2003, the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against the ADHS. The EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on February 24, 2003. The plaintiff resigned her position with the ADHS on April 4, 2003.

The plaintiff then filed this action, pro se, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for employment discrimination. The plaintiff claims that the defendants discriminated against her because of her race and for filing a previous charge of discrimination. She contends that the defendants made her use annual leave time to attend her son's court appearance, put her in a "storage room" and made her clean it up, and tried to get her to falsify requested leave time. The defendants now move for summary judgment, claiming that the defendant cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII.

III. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." A fact is "material" if it might affect the outcome of a case, and a dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Churchill Bus. Credit, Inc. v. Pacific Mut. Door Co., 49 F.3d 1334, 1336 (8th Cir. 1995).

All evidence and inferences are to be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 255. The moving party bears the initial responsibility to demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. at 324. Thus, the "basic inquiry" for purposes of summary judgment is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Quick v. Donaldson Co., Inc., 90 F.3d 1372, 1376 (8th Cir. 1996)(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52 (1986). With this standard in mind, the Court begins its analysis.

B. Individual Defendants

The plaintiff has brought this case against Gloria Powell, Odell Embry, Hilda Canada, and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Powell, Embry, and Canada were either supervisors or co-workers of the plaintiff. The individual defendants argue that the they are not proper defendants in this action because they are not "employers" as defined under Title VII. The Court agrees.

Title VII prohibits an "employer" from discriminating against any individual with respect to her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race, sex, nationality, or religion. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII defines "employer" as "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such a person." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). It is well established that ...


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