United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WEBBER WRIGHT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robin Rhodes (“Rhodes”), who is black, brings
this employment discrimination action against her former
employer, Central Arkansas Rehabilitation Associates, L.P.,
doing business as St. Vincent Rehabilitation Hospital
(“SVR”). Rhodes charges that SVR terminated her
employment because of her race and gender and in retaliation
for complaining about racial and sexual harassment. Before
the Court is SVR'S motion for summary judgment [ECF Nos.
15, 16, 17], Rhodes's response in opposition [ECF Nos.
20, 21, 22], and SVR's reply [ECF No. 26]. After careful
consideration, and for reasons that follow, the motion is
Summary Judgment Standard
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). As a prerequisite to summary judgment, a
moving party must demonstrate “an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
Once the moving party has properly supported its motion for
summary judgment, the non-moving party must “do more
than simply show there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
non-moving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials
of his pleading but must come forward with ‘specific
facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 587.
“[A] genuine issue of material fact exists if: (1)
there is a dispute of fact; (2) the disputed fact is material
to the outcome of the case; and (3) the dispute is genuine,
that is, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either
party.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins.
Co., 49 F.3d 399, 401 (8th Cir. 1995).
following facts are undisputed and taken largely from the
parties' statements of undisputed material
facts. In October 2014, SVR hired Rhodes to work
as a rehabilitation nursing technician (“RNT”).
Rhodes's job duties included tasks related to patient
care, such as taking vital signs, assisting patients to the
bathroom, and transferring patients from a wheelchair to a
bed, or to a toilet.
November 23, 2014, a patient complained that Rhodes was rude
to him when he requested assistance going to the bathroom. A
nursing supervisor named Nathan Haley (“Haley”)
counseled Rhodes about the patient's complaint and proper
patient care and then assigned another RNT to care for the
patient. In an email message to SVR's Chief Nursing
Officer (“CNO”), Shannon Moreno-Cook, Haley
opined that he did not think the incident warranted a write
up but that he “wanted it on the record [that] Robin
was educated [about] our . . .
February 2015, Vanessa Barnett (“Barnett”)
assumed the position of CNO, which gave her supervisory
authority over Rhodes. In deposition, Barnett recalled that
on March 12, 2015, she counseled Rhodes regarding complaints
submitted by two patients, who claimed that Rhodes had
mistreated them. Barnett acknowledges that she did not
document a March 12, 2015 meeting with Rhodes,  and Rhodes denies
that the aforementioned patient complaints and counseling
meeting occurred. Rhodes does however acknowledge that on a
date she does not recall, Barnett talked to her about a
patient who had complained that Rhodes rushed her in getting
April 6, 2015, Rhodes called Barnett and complained about the
conduct of a white, male nurse named Michael Davis
(“Davis”), who was working for a staffing agency
that had assigned him SVR. Rhodes told Barnett that Davis had
slapped her buttocks with a clipboard, and when he noticed
that Rhodes had been eating milk duds, Davis stated,
“Oh, I see you like chocolate balls in your
mouth.” Pursuant to Barnett's instructions,
Rhodes recorded her complaint in writing and delivered it to
Barnett and the human resource director, Jeanne Roon
(“Roon”). On Roon's advice, Barnett called the
staffing agency that employed Davis and instructed that Davis
should not return to SVR.
April 9, 2015, Barnett received an email message titled
“Robin Rhodes” from SVR nursing supervisor Jamie
Clark (“Clark”). Clark's message stated that
an RN named Kelli reported that she found a crying patient,
who said that Rhodes had been rough with her. According to
Clark's message, Kelli also stated that Rhodes had
neglected her job duties and had quarreled with a coworker.
Clark told Barnett that she met with Rhodes about Kelli's
report and that Rhodes denied that she had mistreated a
patient and opined that Kelli was young, dumb, and gossiped
letter dated April 15, 2015, RN Tracie Brown, an staffing
agency nurse assigned to work at SVR, wrote Barnett the
At 2130 [patient] complained to me about Robin when I came
into her room to give her medication. Her night shirt was
under her breast and the sheets were all off her and pulled
below her feet. She had Attends [diapers] on that [were] very
large and not closed. She was so upset that even before I
could fully enter her opened door[, ] she begged and pleaded
saying, “Please help me. Please, I would rather lay
here all night in pee than to put my call light on again and
call Robin. Well look at me. Look how she left me. My diaper
is all in shambles.” She said Robin was very rude and
bossy to her. She then told me after asking my name that if I
said anything she would deny it. I told her that I had to
report what she said. I went and got Jamie RN and explained
what was said. [Patient] denied it to Jamie saying just agree
not to say anything and come see her at the end of the shift.
“Maybe she was just having a bad day.” Patient
said she didn't want to get [anyone] fired.
April 16, 2015, Barnett gave Rhodes written notice that she
was on probationary status for a period not to exceed 90 days
and that unsatisfactory progress during the probationary
period could result in her termination. The written
notice set forth the reasons for Rhodes's probation as
Patient complaint received reporting Robin was rude to her
when she asked [for] assistance turning in bed due to
discomfort. Patient reports [that] Robin stated[, ] “I
just turned you over five minutes ago.” Two patient
complaints were received previously regarding Robin being
rude to patients[, ] and she and I spoke about this in a
the heading “Corrective Action Plan, ” the notice
reads: “Robin will be courteous to patients when caring
for them and ...