United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Kristine G. Baker, United States District Judge
the Court is defendant Arkansas Department of Workforce
Services' (“ADWS”) motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 10). In his complaint, plaintiff Lee
Reddix alleges that ADWS subjected him to unlawful
discrimination on the basis of race and gender in violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq., as amended by the omnibus
Civil Rights Act of 1991 (“Title
VII”); 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. §
1983; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
to the Constitution of the United States; and the Arkansas
Civil Rights Act, Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123-101, et
seq., (“ACRA”) (Dkt. No. 1, at 1). ADWS
moves for summary judgment on each of these claims. Mr.
Reddix has responded to the motion (Dkt. No. 17). Also before
the Court is ADWS's motion to deem admitted and for
dismissal (Dkt. No. 13) and Mr. Reddix's response in
opposition. For the following reasons, the Court denies
ADWS's motion to deem admitted and for dismissal and
grants ADWS's motion for summary judgment.
Factual And Procedural Background
filed a statement of undisputed material facts (Dkt. No. 11).
The Court notes that Mr. Reddix did not file a separate
statement of material facts, which is required by Local Rule
56.1(b) of the Local Rules of the United States District
Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas. Mr.
Reddix's response to ADWS's motion to dismiss appears
to be a response to ADWS's statement of undisputed
material facts (Dkt. No. 19), but that response appears to
deny all of ADWS's statements of undisputed material
facts with little to no explanation for the denials and with
no cites to record evidence in support of the denials
(Id.). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, all material
facts set forth in the statement filed by the moving party
shall be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement
filed by the non-moving party. Further, failure to support or
address properly the moving party's assertion of fact can
result in the fact being considered as undisputed for
purposes of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). Unless
otherwise noted, the following facts are taken from
ADWS's statement of undisputed material facts.
Reddix was at the time ADWS filed its motion employed at ADWS
(Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 1). He was initially hired in March 2012
as a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(“TANF”) supervisor (Id., ¶ 2; Dkt.
No. 10-5, at 1). According to the affidavit of Judy Duncan, a
Caucasian female, she was the Area Operations Chief at that
time (Dkt. No. 10, Ex. B, ¶ 3).
relevant times, Ms. Duncan has been employed at ADWS (Dkt.
No. 11, ¶ 7). She has worked for ADWS for 38 years
(Id.). Presently, she is employed as the Area
Operations Chief for Area III (Id.). She has held
that position for 10 years (Id., ¶ 8). Prior to
that, Ms. Duncan worked as a Local Office Manager in the
Walnut Ridge/Newport office for four years (Id.).
She also served in a supervisory capacity for several years
(Id.). Ms. Duncan served on Mr. Reddix's
interview panel (Id., ¶ 3). She hired Mr.
Reddix as a TANF supervisor and, on January 20, 2013,
promoted Mr. Reddix to the position of Local Office Manager
(Dkt. No. 10, Ex. B, ¶ 3; Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E, at 1).
Artee Williams is the former Director of ADWS and an
African-American male; Mr. Reddix's promotion to Local
Office Manager was approved by Mr. Williams (Dkt. No. 11,
¶¶ 10, 11).
Reddix was subject to probationary periods during his
employment as both a TANF supervisor and Local Office Manager
(Id., ¶ 14). During this time, Mr. Reddix had
difficulty with work performance, and his six-month
probationary period had to be extended by three additional
months (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 15). During his probationary
performance reviews, it was documented that Mr. Reddix needed
improvement in the areas of: (1) job knowledge and skill and
(2) decision making (Id.). His performance review
also demonstrated that he struggled in the area of
interpersonal relations (Id.). He was advised that
he needed to improve his knowledge of ADWS's three major
programs: TANF, Unemployment Insurance, and Job Services
(Id.). Ms. Duncan encouraged Mr. Reddix to improve
his skills in these areas (Id., ¶ 16). Mr.
Reddix did improve his work performance somewhat
(Id., ¶ 17).
during his time at ADWS, Ms. Duncan received complaints from
staff and clients about Mr. Reddix (Dkt. No. 10, Ex. B,
¶ 4). For example, TANF clients reported that Mr. Reddix
threatened to terminate their benefits if they did not
perform favors for him (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 18). Staff
members also reported that they were uncomfortable being
alone with Mr. Reddix (Id.). While employed with
ADWS, Mr. Reddix worked part-time as a police officer
(Id.). He was counseled several times about
performing his part-time job duties during his ADWS work
Reddix only filed one complaint during his time as the Local
Area Manager (Id., ¶ 24). He complained that
Ms. Duncan was not permitting him to do his job because Ms.
Duncan encouraged employees to report directly to her when
things were not going well in the Helena ADWS office
(Id.). Mr. Reddix characterized this conduct as
“hostile work environment” harassment (Dkt. No.
10, Ex. A, at 118).
January 2014, Mr. Williams made the decision to terminate Mr.
Reddix from his position as a Local Area Manager (Dkt. No.
11, ¶ 19). Ms. Duncan did not make the decision to
terminate Mr. Reddix (Id.). She merely communicated
the decision to Mr. Reddix (Id., ¶ 21).
working at ADWS, Mr. Reddix filed an employment
discrimination lawsuit against a former employer
(Id., ¶ 22; Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E). Mr.
Reddix's prior lawsuit was not a factor in his
termination from ADWS in 2014 (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 23). ADWS
was aware of Mr. Reddix's prior lawsuit before he was
hired at ADWS because someone sent a copy of paperwork
regarding the lawsuit to the agency anonymously
Reddix believed that his termination from ADWS was improper
and filed a grievance concerning his termination
(Id., ¶ 26). ADWS has explained in regard to
this grievance process that, subsequent to Mr. Reddix's
termination on January 20, 2014, Mr. Reddix filed a grievance
“alleging that he had been unjustly terminated based on
lack of due process and false accusations against him.”
(Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E, at 1-2). According to ADWS, “[a]t
no point in the grievance process did [Mr. Reddix] file any
complaint, formal or informal, within ADWS, nor to the
knowledge of ADWS to the [EEOC] alleging any Title VII or
Civil Rights violations.” (Id., at 2).
April 24, 2014, ADWS and Mr. Reddix entered into a settlement
agreement regarding the grievance (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 27).
ADWS denied that Mr. Reddix's termination was unlawful or
improper (Id.). According to the settlement
agreement, Mr. Reddix was rehired at a grade level equivalent
to the position he held prior to his promotion as a Local
Office Manager, among other stipulations (Id.,
¶ 28). In exchange, Mr. Reddix agreed that he would not
file a complaint or initiate any action in state or federal
court in connection with his January 2014 termination
(Id., ¶ 29).
reinstatement, Mr. Reddix was classified as a Program Field
Audit Specialist (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 30; Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E,
at 2). Mr. Reddix believes it was Mr. Williams's decision
to reinstate him (Id., ¶ 31). ADWS's
current director, Darryl Bassett, was not involved in Mr.
Reddix's termination or reinstatement and was not
employed at the agency at the time Mr. Reddix was terminated
and reinstated (Id., ¶ 32). Following his
reinstatement, Mr. Reddix did not have any contact with Ms.
Duncan (Id., ¶ 34). Mr. Reddix started off with
a clean slate with Ms. Duncan and Ronald Snead, Deputy
Director of the ADWS (Id., ¶ 35). Mr. Reddix
admits that he harbored no ill feelings about Ms. Duncan or
Mr. Snead (Id.).
around September 2015, the Helena office had a vacant Field
Manager II position (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 36). Ms. Duncan was
the hiring official and received three applications for the
position (Id.). Only the most qualified applicants
were interviewed (Id., ¶ 37). Based on Ms.
Duncan's past experience with Mr. Reddix in a
manager's position, she determined that he was not the
best qualified for the position (Id.). Mr.
Reddix's struggles with job performance and previous
complaints from clients and staff were also factors
Duncan interviewed only Delois Hare, an African-American
female, for the position (Id., ¶ 38). Ms. Hare
was subsequently hired (Id.). Ms. Hare was the best
qualified applicant (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 39). She had worked
for ADWS for approximately 36 years and had worked her way up
through the agency (Id.). Of that time, she had at
least six years of experience as a Local Office Manager in
the Helena office-the exact position for which Ms. Duncan was
interviewing (Id.). Mr. Reddix only had one-year of
experience as a Local Office Manager at ADWS, from January
20, 2013, until January 10, 2014 (Id., ¶ 40;
Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E, at 1).
to the affidavit of Ms. Duncan, “[n]ot all applicants
are selected for interviews.” (Dkt. No. 10, Ex. B,
¶ 6). The decision not to interview Mr. Reddix was not
related to his gender, as a male, or race, as an
Africa-American (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 42). A female candidate
was also not selected for an interview, and the applicant who
was hired for the position is an African-American
to ADWS, during this period of employment, Mr. Reddix
“raised concerns about being asked to perform home
visits by himself.” (Dkt. No. 10, Ex. E, at 3). In
response, Ms. Duncan “explained to [Mr. Reddix] that
this was done to protect him from similar situations
occurring that in the past led to harassment allegations
against him.” (Id.). “[ADWS]
[m]anagement felt that given his physical stature and
capabilities and training as a certified law enforcement
officer, he could accomplish visits alone.”
(Id.). On November 12, 2015, “[ADWS]
[m]anagement considered his concerns and rescinded the
decision that he was to conduct home visits by himself in an
email from [Ms.] Duncan.” (Id.).
his employment with ADWS and prior to initiating this
lawsuit, Mr. Reddix filed only one Charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
against ADWS (Dkt. No. 10-4; Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 44). Mr.
Reddix filed that Charge on February 13, 2016 (Dkt. No. 1,
Ex. A). On the Charge, Mr. Reddix checked the boxes for
discrimination based on sex and retaliation only
Reddix stated the following under the section on the Charge
for the particulars of the discrimination:
I was rehired by the above named employer in May 2014 in the
position of Program Field Audit Specialist. I was reinstated
with my former pay after being discharged from the position
of Local Office Manager in January 2014. On or about
September 24, 2015 I was denied the opportunity to interview
for the position of Field Manager II despite having
previously worked in the job and being qualified for it.
Since my reinstatement I have been and continue to be
subjected to harassment and a difference in the terms of my
I was not given a reason why I was denied an opportunity to
interview for the Field Manger II position.
I believe I have been and continue to be harassed and treated
differently because of my sex (male) and denied the
opportunity to be properly classified in my job in
retaliation for filing a previous complaint and opposing
practices made unlawful in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Charge (493-2016-00377), Mr. Reddix only complains of gender
discrimination and retaliation (Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 45). He
does not mention or complain of race discrimination
(Id.). The alleged employment action that Mr. Reddix
references is the September 24, 2015, failure to interview
allegation (Id., ¶ 46). On November 30, 2016,
the EEOC mailed to Mr. Reddix a dismissal and notice of
rights letter, which gave him 90 days to file a lawsuit under
Title VII (Dkt. No. 1-2, Ex. B).
Reddix alleges in his complaint filed in this action
“that on or around June 2016, [Ms.] Duncan retired from
the agency as Area Operations Chief.” (Dkt. No. 1-2,
¶ 22). Once the position became open, Mr. Reddix
contends that he “and three other African-American male
agency employees applied for [Ms.] Duncan's position of
Area Operations Chief.” (Id.). Mr. Reddix
further alleges that he “was not selected for an
interview and the other African-American males were not hired
for the position.” (Id.). Mr. Reddix claims
that “[Ms.] Duncan reapplied for the position and was
Reddix also alleges that, at an unspecified time, he
“was instructed to use his personal vehicle for agency
business and subsequently written up for refusal to use his
personal vehicle to conduct agency business.” (Dkt. No.
1-2, ¶ 23). Mr. Reddix claims that a “female
employee used an agency vehicle for personal business and
received no write-ups.” (Id.).
Reddix filed his lawsuit on February 28, 2017 (Dkt. No. 1).
On June 1, 2018, ADWS filed a motion for summary judgment,
with a separate statement of facts and brief in support (Dkt.
Nos. 10, 11, 12). On June 3, 2018, ADWS filed a motion to
deem admitted and for dismissal (Dkt. No. 13). The Court
communicated informally with counsel regarding the status of
Mr. Reddix's response to ADWS's motion for summary
judgment and motion to deem admitted and for dismissal. In
response, counsel for Mr. Reddix filed a motion for extension
of time, which this Court granted (Dkt. Nos. 14, 16). On July
31, 2018, Mr. Reddix responded to the motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 17). On August 1, 2018, Mr. Reddix
responded to the motion to deem admitted and for dismissal
(Dkt. No. 19). The Court has considered Mr. Reddix's
response and filings when evaluating ADWS's pending
motion for summary judgment.
Standard Of Review
judgment is proper if the evidence, when viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no
genuine issue of material fact and that the defendant is
entitled to entry of judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence
could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either
party. Miner v. Local 373, 513 F.3d 854, 860 (8th
Cir. 2008). “The mere existence of a factual dispute is
insufficient alone to bar summary judgment; rather, the
dispute must be outcome determinative under the prevailing
law.” Holloway v. Pigman, 884 F.2d 365, 366
(8th Cir. 1989). However, parties opposing a summary judgment
motion may not rest merely upon the allegations in their
pleadings. Buford v. Tremayne, 747 F.2d 445, 447
(8th Cir. 1984). The initial burden is on the moving party to
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party to establish that there is a
genuine issue to be determined at trial. Prudential Ins.
Co. v. Hinkel, 121 F.3d 364, 366 (8th Cir. 2008).
“The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Reddix alleges claims under several state and federal
statutes. ADWS moves for summary judgment on all of Mr.
Reddix's claims. Mr. Reddix alleges that ADWS subjected
him to unlawful discrimination on the basis of race and
gender in violation of Title VII, § 1981, § 1983,
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and
the ACRA. ADWS asserts that Mr. Reddix's claims under the
Fourteenth Amendment and the ACRA pursuant to § 1983 and
his § 1981 claims are barred by sovereign immunity. ADWS
also asserts that several of Mr. Reddix's claims under
Title VII should be dismissed based on a failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. Finally, ADWS contends that there is
no genuine issue of material fact with respect to Mr.
Reddix's remaining claims under Title VII. For the
following reasons, the Court grants ADWS's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 10).
Court will first address ADWS's arguments concerning
sovereign immunity. “Sovereign immunity is
jurisdictional in nature.” F.D.I.C. v. Meyer,
510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). ADWS moves for summary judgment
against Mr. Reddix's claims under the Fourteenth
Amendment and the ACRA filed pursuant to § 1981 and
§ 1983 based on sovereign immunity. For the following
reasons, the Court concludes that Mr. Reddix's claims
under the Fourteenth Amendment and the ACRA pursuant to
§ 1981 and § 1983 are barred by sovereign immunity.
Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1983
contends that Mr. Reddix's claims under §1981 and
§ 1983 are barred by sovereign immunity pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. ADWS
argues that, as an instrumentality of the State of Arkansas,
it is immune from claims brought pursuant to § 1981 and
§ 1983. Based on his claims under the ACRA, § 1981,
and § 1983, Mr. Reddix seeks monetary damages in the
form of back pay and benefits that he would have attained
absent unlawful discrimination (Dkt. No. 1-2, at 8). Mr.
Reddix also seeks this Court to enjoin ...