Gipson v. Mobile County Sheriff's Office et al

Filing 67

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 54 Motion for Summary Judgment. It is denied as to Gipson's claim of sex discrimination under Title VII based upon her termination. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 3/3/2015. (cmj)

Download PDF
IN  THE  UNITED  STATES  DISTRICT  COURT   FOR  THE  SOUTHERN  DISTRICT  OF  ALABAMA   SOUTHERN  DIVISION     DOROTHY  M.  GIPSON,     )     )   Plaintiff,     )     )   v.     )   CIVIL  ACTION  NO.  13-­‐0532-­‐KD-­‐M     )   SHERIFF  SAM  COCHRAN,     )       )   Defendant.   )     ORDER     This  action  is  before  the  Court  on  the  motion  for  summary  judgment  and  supporting   documents  filed  by  defendant  Sheriff  Sam  Cochran  (docs.  54-­‐57),  the  response  in   opposition  filed  by  plaintiff  Dorothy  M.  Gipson  and  supporting  documents  (docs.  62,  63),   and  Sheriff  Cochran’s  reply  and  supporting  documents  (doc.  65,  66).    Upon  consideration,   the  motion  is  DENIED  in  part  and  GRANTED  in  part  as  set  forth  herein.     I.  Procedural  History     On  October  30,  2013,  Plaintiff  Dorothy  M.  Gipson  filed  her  complaint  against  Sheriff   Sam  Cochran  alleging  violations  of  Title  VII  of  the  Civil  Rights  Act  of  1991,  and  the   Uniformed  Services  Employment  and  Reemployment  Rights  Act  of  1994  (USERRA)  (doc.  1).     Gipson  alleges  that  Sheriff  Cochran  violated  USERRA  by  extending  her  probationary  period   due  to  absences  for  military  training  and  refusing  to  provide  the  same  training  as  other   deputies,  and  by  terminating  her  employment.  (Count  1)    Gipson  also  alleges  that  Sheriff   Cochran  discriminated  against  her  on  basis  of  sex  by  treating  similarly  situated  male   officers  differently  in  the  terms  and  conditions  of  employment,  application  of  work  rules,   extension  of  probation  and  termination  (Count  2).  1    As  relief,  Gipson  seeks  declaratory  and   injunctive  relief  as  to  the  alleged  sex  discrimination  and  violation  of  USERRA,   reinstatement  to  the  position  of  deputy,  back-­‐pay  plus  interest,  compensatory  and   liquidated  damages,  costs,  attorney’s  fees,  and  expenses.     II.    Findings  of  Fact       Dorothy  Gipson,  a  female,  was  hired  as  a  Deputy  Sheriff  on  March  19,  2011.  Gipson   was  a  member  of  the  United  States  Air  Force  Reserve  during  her  employment  with   defendant  Sheriff  Cochran.    Before  she  was  hired,  Gipson  had  been  a  police  officer  with  the   City  of  Prichard,  Alabama.         Gipson  was  required  to  go  through  a  “Working  Test  Period”  or  probation  for  one   year.    A  deputy  initially  goes  through  Field  Training  and  is  assigned  a  Field  Training  Officer   (FTO).  The  FTO  documents  the  deputy’s  work  performance  and  training  on  a  daily  and   weekly  basis.  Field  Training  is  scheduled  to  last  8  weeks  and  at  such  time  the  new  deputy  is   deemed  able  to  perform  the  job  solo  and  is  assigned  to  a  squad.  Once  assigned  to  a  squad,   the  new  deputy  is  evaluated  quarterly  with  the  expectation  of  completing  the  Working  Test   Period  within  a  year  of  being  hired.    If  the  Working  Test  Period  is  successfully  completed,   the  deputy  then  becomes  a  permanent  deputy.     Gipson’s  first  FTO  Sergeant’s  Weekly  Report  is  dated  March  21,  2011  through  March   27,  2011.  (Doc.  63-­‐12,  p.  1)  During  her  eight  weeks  of  field  training  her  performance  was   generally  rated  as  “Acceptable”  and  during  the  last  four  weeks  her  performance  was   “Acceptable”  but  for  driving  skills  which  were  marked  as  “Unacceptable”  (Doc.  63-­‐12,  p.  7-­‐                                                                                                                 1    In  the  response  to  the  motion  for  summary  judgment,  Gipson  conceded  Count  3  for   retaliation  under  Title  VII  and  42  U.S.C.  §  1981.         2   10).    Most  of  the  “Comments”  indicated  that  Gipson’s  work  was  “Good”  but  for  driving   skills.  (Id.)    At  the  8th  week,  Sergeant  Lori  O’Farrell  indicated  that  Gipson  was  performing   at  “solo  deputy  level”  but  recommended  “one  week  of  extended  training  with  being   assigned  to  the  north  side  to  assure  she  is  ready  to  be  released  from  FTO  training.”  (Doc.   63-­‐12,  p.  10)2                                                                                                                     2    The  Daily  Observation  Reports  from  March  24,  2011  through  June  19,  2011,  indicate  that   Gipson’s  performance  was  rated  “o.k.”  or  “acceptable”  or  “not  observed”  (Doc.  63-­‐10;  63-­‐ 11).    She  was  marked  “not  acceptable”  for  driving  skills  on  two  occasions  occasion,  which   were  related  to  use  of  maps.  (Id.,  p.  61;  Doc.  63-­‐11,  p.  36)    She  was  marked  “not  acceptable”   for  radio.  (Doc.  63-­‐11,  p.  36)    The  Daily  Observation  Reports  question  the  FTO  for  “The   most  satisfactory  area  of  performance”  and  “The  least  satisfactory”.  (Doc.  63-­‐10)    During   June  2011,  as  to  least  satisfactory,  the  FTO  noted  on  three  days  that  Gipson  was  still   learning  the  area  of  the  Sheriff’s  jurisdiction  (on  three  days),  that  she  needed  to  use  her   map  book  instead  of  GPS  to  learn  the  area  so  that  she  could  ‘arrange  meeting  points  for  her   back  up  units  before  responding  to  calls”  (once),  and  that  she  was  “still  learning  the   M.C.S.O.  procedures”  (on  two  days)    (Doc.  63-­‐11).         Throughout  the  observation  period,  under  the  “most  satisfactory”  section,  the  FTO   observed  that  Gipson  used  proper  safety  skills  in  arresting  suspects  on  warrants  or  making   traffic  stops;  got  along  well  with  the  other  officers;  obtained  information  from  a  minor   victim  of  a  sex  crime  and  the  family  and  “was  professional  and  very  sympathetic  with  the   family”;  investigated  a  domestic  violence  call,  determined  that  a  subject  should  be  arrested,   “completed  the  proper  paperwork  and  transported  the  subject  to  jail”;  made  a  traffic  stop   for  improper  tag,  ascertained  on  the  NCIC  that  the  driver  had  a  suspended  license  and  no   insurance,  issued  two  citations  and  a  warning  ticket,  and  “was  very  professional  and  fair  to   the  citizen”;  that  she  responded  to  a  house  fire  call,  spoke  with  complainant  and  the  fire   department,  determined  the  house  was  set  on  fire  by  a  known  subject,  and  “applied  the   proper  charge  and  completed  the  proper  paperwork”;    that  she  made  several  traffic  stops   during  one  shift,  used  proper  safety,  issued  a  warning  ticket,  and  “was  very  professional   and  fair  with  the  citizens”;  that  Gipson  investigated  a  domestic  incident  in  a  bar  and  “was   able  to  maintain  control  of  all  parties  who  had  been  drinking”  and  “remained  calm  and  was   able  to  handle  the  situation”;  that  Gipson  was  on  her  own  for  a  shift    and  shadowed,  during   which  time  she  “did  a  good  job  paying  attention  to  the  radio  traffic  and  knowing  what  was   going  on  with  other  units  that  she  worked  with”;  and  that  Gipson  served  a  warrant  on  a   female  felony  suspect,  used  proper  safety  skills  in  dealing  with  the  subject,  arrested  her,   and  took  her  to  jail.    (Doc.  63-­‐10,  63-­‐11)       The  FTO  also  made  at  least  three  specific  observations  that  Gipson  wrote  several  reports   and  completed  the  proper  paperwork  with  correct  grammar  and  spelling.    The  FTO  made  at     3     During  this  time,  Gipson  was  absent  from  duty  with  the  Sheriff’s  Department  for   military  training.  (Doc.  63-­‐3)    There  are  no  FTO  Weekly  Reports  for  the  four-­‐week  time   period  between  April  11,  2011  and  May  8,  2011,  so  it  appears  this  is  when  Gipson  was  at   military  training.  (Doc.  63-­‐12)    Her  field  training  was  extended  to  ensure  that  she  received   eight  weeks  of  field  training.  (Doc.  63-­‐3)         Gipson  returned  from  her  April  2011  military  leadership  training  in  May  2011.   Gipson  testified  that  during  a  combined  roll  call  for  both  shifts:  “I  basically  just  remember   [Lt.  Roderick  Bonner]  directing  his  attention  to  me  and  saying  that  I  needed  to  be  there.”     Gipson  refers  to  this  incident  as  blurting  out  for  no  reason,    “Deputy  Gipson,  you  need  to  be   here.”    (Doc.  63-­‐27,  p.  5)     At  the  completion  of  field  training  in  May  2011,  Gipson  was  first  assigned  to  “the   Alpha  part  of  100  squad.”  (Doc.  57-­‐1,  p.  21,  Bonner  deposition)  The  Alpha  squad  Sergeants   were  O’Farrell  and  Sergeant  Robert  Miller.  (Id.,  p.  21-­‐22).    Lt.  Bonner,  Captain  Carlos   Thompson,  Deputy  Chief  David  Wilhelm  and  Sheriff  Cochran  were  her  chain  of  command.     During  Gipson’s  term  with  Alpha  Squad,  Lt.  Bonner  was  not  aware  of  any  deficiencies   documented  by  Sgt.  Miller  as  to  Gipson.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  9)    During  this  time,  Gipson  went  on   military  leave.  3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       least  two  specific  observations  that  Gipson’s  appearance  was  good,  her  equipment  was  in   order,  and  she  was  neat  and  professional  in  appearance.    On  June  11,  the  FTO  wrote  that   Gipson  “was  able  to  make  her  own  decisions  without  assistance  while  handling  complaints   today”  and  on  June  7,  that  “Gipson  was  able  to  handle  herself  and  make  decisions  on  calls.”   (Doc.  63-­‐11,  p.  27,  35)     3    Gipson  provided  the  Court  with  a  copy  of  Lt.  Bonner’s  letter  to  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm   wherein  Bonner  requests  an  extension  of  the  Working  Test  Period.  (Doc.  63-­‐3)    In  the   letter,  Lt.  Bonner  states  that  Gipson  has  missed  time  on  duty  for  attending  drills,  and   references  a  copy  of  her  military  schedule  for  2011.  However,  the  schedule  is  not  attached     4     In  September  2011,  Gipson  was  assigned  to  the  Bravo  part  of  100  squad  and  her   Sergeants  were  Steven  Hale  and  Todd  Friend  (Id.,  p.  23).    Lt.  Bonner,  Capt.  Thompson,   Deputy  Chief  Wilhelm  and  Sheriff  Cochran  remained  her  chain  of  command.    During  this   time  Gipson  went  on  military  leave.       Gipson  testified  that  Deputies  Pettway,  Watson,  and  Cooper  told  her  that  Lt.  Bonner   did  not  like  females  working  in  law  enforcement  and  would  do  whatever  it  took  to  get  them   terminated.  (Doc.  63-­‐27,  p.  6)4    In  her  answers  to  interrogatories,  Gipson  states  that  while   she  was  assigned  to  work  with  Deputy  Cooper,  Lt.  Bonner  called  her  to  the  Northside  Office   and  told  her  that  she  was  “progressing  well”,  that  he  then  asked  her  “numerous  personal   questions  and  then  commented  that  ‘[she]  would  decide  if  [she]  would  be  treated  as  a  slut   within  the  department.”  (Doc.  63-­‐28,  p.  4)      At  her  deposition,  Gipson  testified  that  at  the   station,  in  the  roll  call  room,  with  Sgt.  Hale  present,  Lt.  Bonner  asked  Gipson  where  she   lived  and  “then  he  said  I  didn't  have  to  answer  the  question.  He  asked  who  did  I  live  with   and  he  said  oh,  your  son.  Then  I  think  that's  when  he  went  into  saying  that  I  was  black  and   female.”    (Doc.  63-­‐27,  p  7)    (Gipson’s  testimony  is  unclear  as  to  whether  there  were  two   conversations  with  Lt.  Bonner  wherein  he  asked  personal  questions.)     On  November  9,  2011,  Gipson  injured  her  back  while  getting  into  her  patrol  car  and   was  on  injured  with  pay  status  until  December  16,  2011,  when  she  returned  to  full  duty   status.    Gipson  was  off  duty  for  sixteen  12-­‐hour  days.  (Doc.  63-­‐3,  Lt.  Bonner’s  request  for   extension)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         to  the  letter.  Thus,  the  Court  does  not  have  information  as  to  how  many  days  Gipson  missed   for  military  service  before  Lt.  Bonner  wrote  the  letter  (Doc.  63-­‐3).         4    Gipson  did  not  provide  the  Court  with  an  affidavit  or  deposition  testimony  of  Deputies   Pettway,  Watson  or  Cooper  to  support  this  statement.     5     On  December  28,  2011,  Lt.  Bonner  wrote  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm  to  request  a  ninety-­‐ day  extension  of  Gipson’s  Working  Test  Period,  which  was  scheduled  to  end  March  2012.   (Doc.  63-­‐3)    Lt.  Bonner  stated  as  follows:     After  reviewing  the  work  performance  of  Deputy  Dorothy  Gipson,  as  well  as   her  availability  for  duty  since  her  hiring  date  of  March  21,  2011,  I  am   requesting  her  probationary  period  be  extended  of  a  period  of  90  days.   Deputy  Gipson  has  the  potential  to  be  an  asset  to  the  Mobile  County  Sheriff's   Office  however,  due  to  circumstances  which  may  be  beyond  her  control,  she   has  missed  a  great  deal  of  duty  time.     When  Deputy  Gipson  was  hired  by  the  Mobile  County  Sheriff's  Office,  she  was   already  a  member  of  the  United  States  Air  Force  Reserve.  Her  military  drill   dates  have  required  that  she  be  absent  from  duty  with  the  Mobile  County   Sheriff's  Office.  Also,  due  to  her  military  training  dates,  I  was  forced  to  extend   her  field  training  four  additional  weeks  to  ensure  she  was  trained  the  eight   required  weeks.  Deputy  Gipson  completed  field  training,  however,  there  was   a  delay  of  her  release  from  training  status.  I  have  enclosed  a  copy  of  Deputy   Gipson's  military  training  schedule  for  2011  which  reflects  the  dates  she  had   to  report  to  the  Air  Force  Reserve  for  military  drills  and  training.  Deputy   Gipson  is  still  in  the  Reserve  and  will  continue  to  attend  drills  and  be  forced   to  miss  time  on  duty  with  the  Mobile  County  Sheriff's  office.  Using  the  2011   schedule  as  a  reference,  Deputy  Gipson  will  miss  at  least  six  more  working   days  prior  to  completing  her  now  scheduled  Probationary  period  of  March   2012.  We  are  fully  supportive  of  her  mission  with  the  Air  Force  Reserve   however,  when  time  is  missed  with  the  Sheriff's  Office  her  duty  performance   can  not  be  evaluated.     On  November  09,  2011,  Deputy  Gipson  reported  that  she  injured  her  back   while  getting  into  her  patrol  car  prior  to  going  on  patrol.    As  a  result  of  this   reported  injury,  Deputy  Gipson  was  placed  on  Injured  With  Pay  (IWP)  status   from  November  09,  2011  until  she  was  released  to  full  duty  status  on   December  16,  2011.  During  this  time,  Deputy  Gipson  was  absent  from  duty   sixteen  12  hour  days.  Again,  this  was  time  that  her  duty  performance  could   not  be  evaluated  by  me  or  her  first  line  supervisor.     When  evaluating  Deputy  Gipson's  performance,  based  on  the  time  she  has   been  employed  by  the  Mobile  County  Sheriff's  Office  and  been  present  for   duty,  it  becomes  apparent  that  Deputy  Gipson  has  a  lack  in  job  knowledge  or   lacks  the  necessary  confidence  to  complete  some  of  her  assigned  tasks.   Sergeant  Steve  Hale  has  observed  that  Deputy  Gipson  will  call  him  on  nearly   all  of  her  calls  for  service  before  she  takes  any  action.  While  it  is  sometimes   necessary  to  contact  a  supervisor,  her  repeated  calls  tend  to  show  a  lack  of     6   the  basic  working  knowledge  of  the  laws,  rules  and  regulations  needed  by  a   Deputy  Sheriff  in  performance  of  his/her  duties.  It  is  also  an  indication  of  a   lack  of  confidence  needed  to  make  a  decision.     A  few  recent  examples  of  Deputy  Gipson's  lack  of  job  knowledge,  lack  of   confidence  or  reluctance  to  make  a  decision,  occurred  during  the  month  of   December  2011:     I.  12/22/2011  -­‐  A  citizen  met  Deputy  Gipson  at  the  substation   in  Semmes  and  requested  that  she  inspect  his  car  and  sign  off   on  a  Uniform  Traffic  Citation  he  received  for  No  Tag  Light   Deputy  Gipson  contacted  Sergeant  Hale  to  determine  what   action  to  take.  The  action  she  took  was  to  advise  the  citizen  to   return  to  the  location  where  he  received  the  citation  and  then   call  the  sheriff's  office.  Signing  off  on  an  equipment  violation   citations  is  [a]  common  task  within  law  enforcement.  When   Deputy  Gipson  was  asked  why  she  took  the  action  she  took,  her   reply  was  that  she  did  not  feel  comfortable  signing  off  on  the   citation.     2.  12/30/2011-­‐  Deputy  Gipson  issued  a  warrant  slip  to  Mr.   Michael  Pond  for  the  arrest  of  Terry  Burdett  charging  his  (sic)   with  Theft  of  Services  (Case#  Slll20847).  The  facts  of  the  case   did  not  support  the  charge.  Deputy  Gipson  indicated  that  Mr.   Pond  told  her  that  he  had  contacted  his  lawyer  concerning  the   matter.  It  appears  that  Deputy  Gipson  issued  the  warrant  slip   because  of  the  mention  of  the  lawyer's  involvement,  not  based   on  the  elements  of  the  allegation.  Deputy  Gipson's  action  could   have  caused  Mr.  Burdett  to  be  wrongly  arrested.       Deputy  Gipson's  absence  from  duty  has  impeded  my  ability  to  evaluate  her   performance  and  her  merit  as  a  permanent  employee.  It  can  be  assumed  that   most  of  her  noted  shortcomings  can  be  directed  (sic)  attributed  to  her  lack  of   experience.  I  believe  that  extending  her  probationary  status  an  additional  90   days  from  March  21,  2012  to  June  21,  2012  would  afford  me  and  her  first  line   supervisor  a  better  opportunity  to  judge  the  merit  of  Deputy  Gipson  and  then   make  a  recommendation  for  her  future  employment  with  the  Mobile  County   Sheriff's  Office.       (Doc.  63-­‐3)       On  January  12,  2012,  Sheriff  Cochran  made  a  formal  request  to  the  Mobile  County   Personnel  Board  stating  as  follows:       7   I  am  requesting  an  extension  for  Deputy  Dorothy  Gipson’s  Working  Test   Period.  Deputy  Gipson  has  failed  to  master  basic  job  skills  necessary  to  be  a   successful  Deputy  Sheriff.    With  further  training,  it  may  be  possible  to  assist   Deputy  Gipson  in  becoming  a  fully  successful  Deputy  Sheriff.    Therefore,  I   request  her  Working  Test  Period  be  extended  for  six  months  commencing  on   March  17,  2012  and  ending  on  September  17,  2012.      (Doc.  63-­‐4)       Sheriff  Cochran  testified  that  the  length  of  the  extension  is  “three  months,  six   months,  depending  on  .  .  .  whatever  is  recommended  or  just  whatever  my  thoughts  are  at   the  time.”  (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  5).    Lt.  Bonner  and  Deputy  Chief  Wilhelm  were  unaware  of  other   deputies  that  were  given  a  six-­‐month  extension.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  17-­‐18,  Bonner  deposition;   Doc.  63-­‐24,  p.  5,  Wilhelm  deposition)     After  the  Working  Test  Period  was  extended,  Gipson  was  placed  with  Deputy   Cooper,  an  experienced  senior  deputy  with  knowledge  of  policy,  procedures  and  Alabama   law  to  “train  her  and  answer  all  the  questions  -­‐  -­‐  not  formal  training,  …  but  just  answer  all   the  questions,  show  her  how  to  do  it  on  the  job.”  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p,  22-­‐23,  Bonner  deposition)5     Lt.  Bonner  described  Deputy  Cooper  as  Gipson’s  “de  facto  Training  Officer.”  (Id,  p.  23)       No  other  deputies  were  assigned  to  work  with  Gipson  as  a  “pseudo-­‐training  Officer   or  to  assist  her  during  this  working  period.”  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  119,  Bonner  deposition)    Sgt.   Hale  testified  that  he  believed  that  the  extension  was  to  provide  the  additional  training  that   Gipson  needed  to  catch-­‐up  for  her  absences.  (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  7)    Capt.  Thompson  testified   Gipson’s  lieutenant  would  have  been  the  person  to  recommend  remedial  training  and  that   the  extension  was  to  provide  the  remedial  training.  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  16)                                                                                                                     5    Gipson  stated  that  the  placement  with  Deputy  Cooper  lasted  two  weeks,  and  cited  to  page   60  of  her  deposition  in  support.  However,  that  page  was  not  included  in  her  exhibits.         8     On  March  1,  2012,  Gipson  met  with  Sgt.  Hale  and  Lt.  Bonner  to  discuss  her  job   performance.  Two  minor  issues  were  discussed.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  25,  Bonner  deposition;  Doc.   63-­‐5,  Sgt.  Hale’s  Memorandum)  (“I  spoke  with  Deputy  Gipson  in  reference  to  two  minor   problems  that  needed  to  be  addressed.”)    Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  Gipson  was  “doing  a  little   bit  better”  at  that  time  and  that  he  made  clear  with  Lt.  Bonner  that  he  believed  Gipson  was   improving.  (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  46)    Lt.  Bonner  testified  that  he  was  “not  aware  of  any  major   problems  or  any  deficiencies”  in  Gipson’s  “work  from  January  through  March.”  (Doc.  63-­‐25,   p.  25)       On  May  18,  2012,  Gipson  met  again  with  Sgt.  Hale  and  Lt.  Bonner  to  discuss  her  job   performance.    Gipson  was  told  that  there  were  no  problems  with  her  work  product  at  that   time.  (Doc.  63-­‐6,  p.  1;  “We  asked  Deputy  Gipson  if  she  had  any  problems  she  wanted  to   discuss  with  us  and  she  stated  no.    We  advised  Deputy  Gipson  that  we  did  not  have  any   problems  with  her  work  product  at  this  time.”)    Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  from  March  to  May   2012,  he  “didn’t  find  any  problems”  with  her  work.    (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  11)       On  June  16,  2012,  Gipson  responded  to  a  call  for  back-­‐up  from  Senior  Deputy   Pitzulo.  (Doc  63-­‐41,  Memorandum  from  Sgt.  Hale  to  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm)    Deputy  Pitzulo   was  investigating  a  suspicious  vehicle.    He  had  asked  the  driver  for  consent  to  search,   which  was  given,  and  had  placed  the  driver  in  the  rear  of  his  patrol  car.    He  asked  the   female  passenger  to  exit  the  car.    When  she  did,  she  placed  a  backpack  on  her  shoulder.     Deputy  Pitzulo  asked  her  to  place  the  backpack  on  the  front  seat,  which  she  did.    He  then   placed  her  in  front  of  the  vehicle.    Deputy  Pitzulo  searched  the  car  for  weapons  and  then   when  he  searched  the  backpack  he  found  a  small  amount  of  methamphetamine  and  some   loaded  syringes.    (Doc.  63-­‐41,  p.1)         9     Gipson  arrived  at  the  scene  and  walked  up  to  the  vehicle.    Deputy  Pitzulo  placed  the   female  under  arrest.    When  he  attempted  to  place  handcuffs  on  her,  she  turned  but  he   regained  control  and  handcuffed  her  behind  her  back.    He  then  asked  Gipson  to  place  the   female  in  her  patrol  car.  Gipson  was  walking  the  female  to  the  patrol  car  while  holding  her   by  her  right  arm.    As  Gipson  reached  to  unlock  the  patrol  car  door,  the  female  snatched   away  and  ran  into  the  woods.    (Doc.  63-­‐41,  p.  2)         As  a  result  of  this  incident,  Sgt.  Hale  found  that  Gipson  was  careless  in  the   performance  of  her  duties  and  recommended  a  Letter  of  Reprimand.  (Id.)    Sgt.  Hale   testified  that  he  did  not  recommend  termination  because  he  believed  a  Letter  of  Reprimand   was  appropriate.  (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  12)    Lt.  Bonner  concurred  with  issuing  a  Letter  of   Reprimand.  (Id.,  p.13)    Lt.  Bonner  testified  that  neither  he  nor  Sgt.  Hale,  Capt.  Thompson,   nor  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm  recommended  that  Gipson  be  terminated  based  on  the  escape.   (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  33).    Deputy  Pitzulo  was  not  counseled  or  reprimanded.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  34)     On  June  27,  2012,  Capt.  Thompson  and  Lt.  Bonner  met  with  Gipson  and  presented   the  June  21,  2012,  Letter  of  Reprimand.    Capt.  Thompson  also  told  Gipson  that  he  had   “recommended  termination  .  .  .  or  he  was  going  to  terminate  [her],  something  to  that   effect.”  (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  14-­‐15,  Gipson  deposition)    Gipson  and  Capt.  Thompson  discussed   the  option  of  her  resigning  in  lieu  of  termination.    Capt.  Thompson  told  Gipson  “that  the   Sheriff  had  offered  him  to  offer  to  [her]  the  opportunity  to  resign  in  lieu  of  termination”   and  that  he  made  that  offer  to  her.  (Id.,  p.  14-­‐15)    Gipson  responded  that  she  wanted  to  take   the  decision  to  terminate  her  employment  up  the  chain  of  command,  but  Capt.  Thompson   told  her  that  she  did  not  have  appeal  rights.  (Id.,  p.  15)       10     Capt.  Thompson  testified  that  the  “subject  of  termination  probably  started  with”   him  and  grew  out  of  a  conversation  with  Lt.  Bonner  wherein  he  was  telling  Sheriff  Cochran   and  Capt.  Thompson  about  Gipson’s  deficiencies.  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  31,  Thompson  deposition)     Capt.  Thompson  stated  that  Gipson  was  not  terminated  because  of  the  incident  resulting  in   the  Letter  of  Reprimand,  but  instead  was  terminated  because  “[s]he  didn’t  know  her  area.     She  didn’t  have  a  working  knowledge  to  do  the  job.    She  contacted  her  Supervisor  or   another  Deputy  on  every  call  she  went  on.    She  utilized  her  GPS  to  get  around  the  County.     She  didn’t  have  a  working  knowledge  of  the  job.”  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  11,  13-­‐14)       When  Capt.  Thompson  was  asked  for  documentation  to  support  the  stated  reasons   for  the  termination,  he  answered  that  he  did  not  have  any  documentation  or  any   memorandum  up  the  chain  to  recommend  termination.    (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  12,  20)    When   pressed  for  other  reasons,  Capt.  Thompson  stated:    “She  didn’t  know  the  job”  because  “she   struggled”,  referencing  the  “ticket  incident”,  and  also  stated  that  “her  job  knowledge  was   severely  lacking  for  someone  who  should  have  policed  somewhere.”  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  14)     However,  Capt.  Thompson  admitted  that  this  conduct  occurred  prior  to  the  decision  to   extend  her  Working  Test  Period.  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  14)    When  questioned  as  to  “any  other   reasons,  other  than  the  four  areas,”  that  lead  to  termination,  Capt.  Thompson  stated  that:   “We  didn’t  see  any  improvement  in  her  performance.    There  was  no  improvement.”  (Doc.   63-­‐30,  p.  15)    But,  Capt.  Thompson  agreed  that  this  reason  was  contrary  to  the  May  2012   memorandum  indicating  that  Sgt.  Hale  and  Lt.  Bonner  had  told  Gipson  that  there  were  no   problems  with  her  work  product.  (Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  15)       Sgt.  Hale  observed  Gipson  when  she  was  working,  he  reviewed  her  reports,   monitored  where  she  was  on  calls,  and  reviewed  her  work  progress  and  logs.    In  his     11   opinion,  “she  was  doing  her  job.”    (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  19)    He  testified  that  in  the  two-­‐month   period  between  March  and  May  2012,  he  did  not  find  any  problems  with  her  work.  (Doc.   63-­‐29,  p.  11)    He  also  testified  that  after  she  was  assigned  to  work  with  Deputy  Cooper   during  the  extension,  he  saw  improvement  with  her  report-­‐writing  and  problems  related  to   paperwork.  (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  2-­‐3).    Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  Lt.  Bonner  discussed  his  concerns   about  Gipson  after  Capt.  Thompson  brought  up  the  escape  at  a  staff  meeting.    (Doc.  63-­‐29,   p.  15-­‐16)    Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  Lt.  Bonner’s  concerns  were  the  escape  and  “some  other   problems  .  .  .  with  the  paperwork  and  things  like  that.”  (Id.,  p.  16)    Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  he   was  talking  to  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm  about  the  paperwork  issues  and  that  he  believed  that   Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm  recommended  termination,  but  did  not  discuss  the  matter  with  Lt.   Bonner  or  Sgt.  Hale.  (Id).    Sgt.  Hale  did  not  recommend  termination  but  only  recommended   a  Letter  of  Reprimand  as  to  the  escape.  (Id.).         Lt.  Bonner  testified  that  he  met  with  Capt.  Thompson,  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm  and  Sgt.   Hale  sometime  prior  to  June  27,  2012  and  that  the  “reason  for  the  termination”  was  that  he   “expressed  to  them  it  was  of  [his]  opinion  that  she  was  marginal  at  best,  and  [he]  didn’t  see   any  upside,  based  on  what  he  had  been  told  by  Sgt.  Hale  and  the  documented  reports   leading  up  to  the  extension  of  the  Working  Test  Period.  (Doc.  57-­‐1,  p.  25)    Lt.  Bonner   explained  that  Gipson  “hadn’t  gotten  any  better,  hadn’t  gotten  any  worse”  and  that    “This   was  the  best  we’re  going  to  get,  so  I  consider  that  marginal.”  (Id.,  p.  26)         Sheriff  Cochran  testified  that  Gipson  was  not  terminated  because  of  the  escape  and   that  the  decision  to  terminate  was  made  separately.  (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  7)    Sheriff  Cochran   testified  that  the  reason  for  termination  was  that  Gipson  was  not  performing  up  to   standards  and  that  her  probation  had  already  been  extended.  (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  9)    Sheriff     12   Cochran  testified  that  it  was  his  understanding  that  Lt.  Bonner  and  Sgt.  Hale,  as  her   supervisors,  had  recommended  termination.  (Id.)       When  she  was  terminated,  Gipson  asked  to  go  up  the  chain  of  command,  but  Capt.   Thompson  told  her  that  she  did  not  have  any  appeal  rights.    (Doc.  63-­‐27,  p.  14)    Gipson  filed   an  appeal  with  the  Mobile  County  Personnel  Board  on  July  6,  2012.  (Doc.  63-­‐27,  p.  11)    Lt.   Bonner  testified  that  Gipson  had  the  right  to  request  to  speak  up  the  chain  to  Chief  Deputy   Wilhelm  or  Sheriff  Cochran,  and  that  it  would  be  his  responsibility  to  forward  that   information  up  the  chain.    However,  he  could  not  speak  as  to  whether  her  request  for  a   meeting  would  be  granted.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  30-­‐32)    As  to  the  delay  between  when  she  was   terminated  and  filing  the  appeal,  Gipson  testified  that  she  “was  awaiting  the  opportunity  to   appeal  to  the  sheriff,  and  .  .  .  was  advised  to  file  the  appeal.”  (Id.,  p.  12)    Gipson  sent  a  letter   to  Sheriff  Cochran  dated  June  28,  2012,  outlining  the  discrimination  that  she  perceived  she   had  encountered  at  the  Sheriff’s  Department  (Doc.  63-­‐36).    Sheriff  Cochran  did  not  meet   with  Gipson,  rather  Deputy  Chief  Wilhelm  met  with  her  (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  2).      Sheriff  Cochran   also  indicated  that  by  the  time  he  received  Gipson’s  letter,  he  had  learned  that  she  filed  a   charge  of  discrimination  with  the  Equal  Employment  Opportunity  Commission  and  turned   the  letter  over  to  the  legal  department  (Id.  p.  2-­‐3).       III.    Conclusions  of  law     A.  Summary  Judgment  Standard       “The  court  shall  grant  summary  judgment  if  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)  (Dec.  2010).  Rule  56(c)  provides  as  follows:     13   (1)  Supporting  Factual  Positions.  A  party  asserting  that  a  fact  cannot  be   or  is  genuinely  disputed  must  support  the  assertion  by:       (A)  citing  to  particular  parts  of  materials  in  the  record,  including   depositions,  documents,  electronically  stored  information,  affidavits  or   declarations,  stipulations  (including  those  made  for  purposes  of  the   motion  only),  admissions,  interrogatory  answers,  or  other  materials;  or       (B)  showing  that  the  materials  cited  do  not  establish  the  absence  or   presence  of  a  genuine  dispute,  or  that  an  adverse  party  cannot  produce   admissible  evidence  to  support  the  fact.     (2)  Objection  That  a  Fact  Is  Not  Supported  by  Admissible  Evidence.  A   party  may  object  that  the  material  cited  to  support  or  dispute  a  fact  cannot   be  presented  in  a  form  that  would  be  admissible  in  evidence.     (3)  Materials  Not  Cited.  The  court  need  consider  only  the  cited  materials,   but  it  may  consider  other  materials  in  the  record.     (4)  Affidavits  or  Declarations.  An  affidavit  or  declaration  used  to  support   or  oppose  a  motion  must  be  made  on  personal  knowledge,  set  out  facts   that  would  be  admissible  in  evidence,  and  show  that  the  affiant  or   declarant  is  competent  to  testify  on  the  matters  stated.       Fed.R.Civ.P.  Rule  56(c)  (Dec.  2010).         Sheriff  Cochran,  as  the  party  seeking  summary  judgment  bears  “the  initial  burden  to   show  the  district  court,  by  reference  to  materials  on  file,  that  there  are  no  genuine  issues  of   material  fact  that  should  be  decided  at  trial.”  Clark  v.  Coats  &  Clark,  Inc.,  929  F.2d  604,  608   (11th  Cir.  1991).    The  party  seeking  summary  judgment  “always  bears  the  initial   responsibility  of  informing  the  district  court  of  the  basis  for  its  motion,  and  identifying   those  portions  of  ‘the  pleadings,  depositions,  answers  to  interrogatories,  and  admissions  on   file,  together  with  the  affidavits,  if  any,’  which  it  believes  demonstrate  the  absence  of  a   genuine  issue  of  material  fact.”  Clark,  929  F.2d  at  608  (quoting  Celotex  Corp.  v.  Catrett,  477   U.S.  317,  323,  106  S.  Ct.  2548,  2553  (1986)).       14     Once  Sheriff  Cochran  has  satisfied  his  responsibility,  the  burden  shifts  to  Gipson,  as   the  non-­‐movant,  to  show  the  existence  of  a  genuine  issue  of  material  fact.  Id.  “In  reviewing   whether  the  nonmoving  party  has  met  its  burden,  the  court  must  stop  short  of  weighing  the   evidence  and  making  credibility  determination  of  the  truth  of  the  matter.  Instead,  the   evidence  of  the  non-­‐movant  is  to  be  believed,  and  all  justifiable  inferences  are  to  be  drawn   in  his  favor.”  Tipton  v.  Bergrohr  GMBH-­‐Siegen,  965  F.2d  994,  999  (11th  Cir.  1992)  (citing   Anderson  v.  Liberty  Lobby,  477  U.S.  242,  255,  106  S.  Ct.  2505  (1986));  Adickes  v.  S.H.  Kress  &   Co.,  398  U.S.  144,  158-­‐159,  90  S.  Ct.  1598,  1608-­‐1609  (1970).       However,  “[a]  moving  party  is  entitled  to  summary  judgment  if  the  nonmoving  party   has  ‘failed  to  make  a  sufficient  showing  on  an  essential  element  of  her  case  with  respect  to   which  she  has  the  burden  of  proof.’”  In  re  Walker,  48  F.  3d  1161,  1163  (11th  Cir.  1995)   (quoting  Celotex  Corp.,  477  U.S.  at  323,  106  S.  Ct.  at  2552).  Overall,  the  court  must  “resolve   all  issues  of  material  fact  in  favor  of  the  [non-­‐movant],  and  then  determine  the  legal   question  of  whether  the  [movant]  is  entitled  to  judgment  as  a  matter  of  law  under  that   version  of  the  facts.”  McDowell  v.  Brown,  392  F.3d  1283,  1288  (11th  Cir.  2004)  (citing   Durruthy  v.  Pastor,  351  F.3d  1080,  1084  (11th  Cir.  2003)).       However,  the  mere  existence  of  any  factual  dispute  will  not  automatically   necessitate  denial  of  a  motion  for  summary  judgment;  rather,  only  factual  disputes  that  are   material  preclude  entry  of  summary  judgment.  Lofton  v.  Secretary  of  Dept.  of  Children  and   Family  Services,  358  F.3d  804,  809  (11th  Cir.  2004).    “An  issue  of  fact  is  material  if  it  is  a   legal  element  of  the  claim  under  the  applicable  substantive  law  which  might  affect  the   outcome  of  the  case.  It  is  genuine  if  the  record  taken  as  a  whole  could  lead  a  rational  trier  of     15   fact  to  find  for  the  nonmoving  party.”  Reeves  v.  C.H.  Robinson  Worldwide,  Inc.,  594  F.3d  798,   807  (11th  Cir.  2010)  (citation  omitted).       B.  Analysis       1.  Count  I  –  Violation  of  the  Uniformed  Services  Employment  and  Re-­‐Employment   Rights  Act  of  1994  (USERRA)         In  Count  I,  Gipson  alleges  that  Sheriff  Cochran  violated  USERRA  because  he   extended  her  Working  Test  Period  because  of  the  absences  and  then  terminated  her   employment  during  the  extended  Period.    Gipson  also  contends  that  Sheriff  Cochran  failed   to  provide  her  with  additional  training  to  qualify  her  for  the  position.     USERRA  prohibits  discrimination  against  employees  on  basis  of  their  military   service.  The  statute  sets  forth,  in  relevant  part,  as  follows:     A  person  who  is  a  member  of,  applies  to  be  a  member  of,  performs,  has   performed,  applies  to  perform,  or  has  an  obligation  to  perform  service  in  a   uniformed  service  shall  not  be  denied  initial  employment,  reemployment,   retention  in  employment,  promotion,  or  any  benefit  of  employment  by  an   employer  on  the  basis  of  that  membership,  application  for  membership,   performance  of  service,  application  for  service,  or  obligation.     38  U.S.C.  §  4311(a).             An  employer  violates  the  USERRA  if  the  employee's  “membership,  …  service,  …  or   obligation  for  service  in  the  uniformed  services  is  a  motivating  factor  in  the  employer's   action  unless  the  employer  can  prove  that  the  action  would  have  been  taken  in  the  absence   of  such  membership,  …  service,  …  or  obligation  for  service[.]”  38  U.S.C.  §  4311(c)(1).   “Section  4311  requires  proof  of  a  discriminatory  motive”,  and  the  Eleventh  Circuit  Court  of   Appeals  employs  the  “but  for”  test.  Landolphi  v.  City  of  Melbourne,  Fla.,  515  Fed.  Appx.  832,   834  (11th  Cir.  2013)  (quoting  Coffman  v.  Chugach  Support  Services,  Inc.,  411  F.3d  1231,   1238  (11th  Cir.2005)  (“the  standard  of  proof  is  the  ‘but  for’  test”)).       16     “In  order  to  establish  a  prima  facie  case  of  discrimination,  the  plaintiff  must   demonstrate  by  a  preponderance  of  the  evidence  that  his  military  membership  or   obligation  was  a  motivating  factor  in  the  employer's  decision.”  Landolphi,  515  Fed.  Appx.  at   834;  (citing  Coffman,  411  F.3d  at  1238));  Ward  v.  United  Parcel  Service,  580  Fed.  Appx.  735,   738  (11th  Cir.  2014).  “A  motivating  factor  does  not  necessarily  have  to  be  the  sole  cause  for   the  employer's  decision,  but  is  defined  as  one  of  the  factors  that  a  truthful  employer  would   list  as  its  reasons  for  its  decision.”  Id.  “A  court  can  infer  a  discriminatory  motivation  from  a   variety  of  considerations,  such  as:  (1)  the  temporal  proximity  between  the  plaintiff's   military  activity  and  the  adverse  employment  action;  (2)  inconsistencies  between  the   proffered  reason  for  the  employer's  decision  and  other  actions  of  the  employer;  (3)  an   employer's  expressed  hostility  toward  members  of  the  protected  class  combined  with  its   knowledge  of  the  plaintiff's  military  activity;  and  (4)  disparate  treatment  of  similarly   situated  employees.”  Id.         Once  Gipson  meets  her  prima  facie  burden,  the  burden  shifts  to  Sheriff  Cochran  to   “establish  an  affirmative  defense  by  proving  by  a  preponderance  of  the  evidence  that   legitimate  reasons,  standing  alone,  would  have  induced  [him]  to  take  the  same  adverse   action.  Id.  at  834-­‐835  (citing  Coffman,  411  F.3d  at  1238-­‐1239)).    Sheriff  Cochran  “does  not   violate  USERRA  if  [he]  can  prove  that  the  action  would  have  been  taken  in  the  absence  of   the  military  service.”  Preacely,  588  Fed.Appx.  at  997.6    This  burden-­‐shifting  framework                                                                                                                   6    “The  procedural  framework  and  evidentiary  burdens  set  out  in  §  4311,  as  explained  in   Transportation  Management  for  NLRB  rulings,  are  different  from  those  in  discrimination   cases  under  Title  VII  of  the  Civil  Rights  Act  of  1964,  42  U.S.C.  §  2000e–2(a)(1),  as  described   in  McDonnell  Douglas  Corp.  v.  Green,  411  U.S.  792,  93  S.Ct.  1817,  36  L.Ed.2d  668  (1973),  and   subsequent  decisions.  McDonnell  Douglas,  while  allocating  the  burden  of  production  of   evidence,  does  not  shift  the  burden  of  persuasion  to  the  employer.  See  Nat'l  Labor  Relations     17   “applies  to  both  so-­‐called  ‘dual  motive’  cases  and  so-­‐called  ‘pretext’  cases.”  Coffman,  411   F.3d  at  1238.       To  rebut  the  proffered  reasons,  Gipson  “may  establish  pretext  indirectly  by   showing”  that  Sheriff  Cochran’s  proffered  reasons  for  his  decision  are  “unworthy  of   credence.”  Landolphi,  515  Fed.  Appx.  at  835.    “Under  this  analysis,  courts  must  evaluate   whether  [Gipson]  demonstrated  such  weaknesses,  implausibilities,  inconsistencies,   incoherencies,  or  contradictions  in  the  proffered  reason  so  that  a  reasonable  factfinder   could  conclude  that  it  is  unworthy  of  credit.”  Id.    Proof  that  Sheriff  Cochran’s  “justification  is   unworthy  of  credence  may  be  probative  of  discrimination,  and  may  therefore,  permit  a   factfinder  to  reasonably  find  discrimination.”  Id.  (citing  Reeves  v.  Sanderson  Plumbing   Products,  Inc.,  530  U.S.  133,  147–48,  120  S.Ct.  2097,  147  L.Ed.2d  105  (2000)).     a.  Extension  of  Gipson’s  Working  Test  Period     Sheriff  Cochran  does  not  dispute  that  Gipson’s  military  status  was  a  factor  in   extending  her  Working  Test  Period,  but  argues  that  it  was  not  a  “motivating  factor.”    (Doc.   56,  p.  8)    He  explains  that  the  extension  was  requested  because  of  absences  from  both   Gipson’s  military  leave  and  her  injured  with  pay  status  which  prevented  her  from  gaining   the  necessary  experience  to  become  a  Deputy  Sheriff  and  allowing  her  supervisors  time  to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Bd.  v.  Weiss  Memorial  Hospital,  172  F.3d  432,  442  (7th  Cir.1999)  (contrasting  Wright  Line   with  “the  shifting  burdens  of  production  under  the  ubiquitous  McDonnell  Douglas  analysis,   which  is  merely  a  method  for  ordering  the  proof”);  Walker  v.  Mortham,  158  F.3d  1177,   1184–85  n.  10  (11th  Cir.1998),  cert.  denied  528  U.S.  809,  120  S.Ct.  39,  145  L.Ed.2d  36   (1999)  (distinguishing  the  employer's  burden  to  prove  its  affirmative  defense  under  the   NLRA  from  the  McDonnell  Douglas  prima  facie  case,  which  shifts  the  burden  of  production   but  not  the  risk  of  nonpersuasion).    Thus  in  USERRA  actions  there  must  be  an  initial   showing  by  the  employee  that  military  status  was  at  least  a  motivating  or  substantial  factor   in  the  agency  action,  upon  which  the  agency  must  prove,  by  a  preponderance  of  evidence,   that  the  action  would  have  been  taken  despite  the  protected  status.  “    Sheehan  v.   Department  of  Navy,  240  F.3d  1009,  1014  (Fed.  Cir.  2001).     18   evaluate  her  performance.    His  position  is  supported  by  the  information  contained  in  Lt.   Bonner’s  letter  requesting  an  extension.  (Doc.  63-­‐3)    However,    Sheriff  Cochran  argues  that   the  extension  was  not  an  adverse  action.             Gipson  responds  that  the  extension  was  adverse.  She  proffers  that  had  her  Working   Test  Period  not  been  extended  for  six  months,  she  would  have  become  a  permanent   employee  before  she  was  terminated  in  June.7    Thus,  Gipson  argues  that  she  would  have   had  certain  property  rights  in  her  employment  at  that  time  including  the  right  to  a  pre-­‐ disciplinary  hearing  before  her  termination  and  an  appeal,  and  that  Sheriff  Cochran  would   have  had  the  heightened  burden  to  support  her  termination  by  a  preponderance  of  the   evidence.8      She  also  argues  that  the  extension  resulted  in  a  lack  of  prestige  and  a  lack  of   stability.                                                                                                                       7    Gipson  relies  upon  the  ratings  of  acceptable  and  comments  of  good  performance  and,  the   satisfactory  observations  noted  by  her  Training  Officers  from  March  2011  through  June   2011,  the  absence  of  any  significant  deficiencies  in  performance  noted  in  her  record  for  the   ten  months  between  hiring  in  March  2011  and  December  2011  but  for  those  identified  in   the  request  for  extension,  and  the  absence  of  any  significant  deficiencies  between   December  2011  and  March  2012  –  the  time  when  her  one-­‐year  Working  Test  Period  would   have  ended  -­‐  but  for  the  two  minor  items  discussed  in  the  March  2012  memorandum  from   Lt.  Bonner  and  Sgt.  Hale  to  Gipson.       Gipson  also  relies  on  Chief  Deputy  Wilhelm’s  testimony  and  argues  that  he  stated  Gipson   would  have  been  a  permanent  employee  in  June  2012  had  her  Working  Test  Period  not   been  extended.    (See  Doc.  63-­‐24,  p.  167-­‐168)    It  is  too  far  of  a  stretch  to  say  that  this   testimony  supports  this  conclusion.    The  question  began  with  “if”,  was  compound  and   ended  like  the  previous  question,  with  a  query  whether  a  permanent  employee  would  have   been  due  a  disciplinary  hearing.           8    Gipson  references  Personnel  Board  Rule  XI,  which  states  that  during  a  working  test   period,  an  employee  does  not  have  the  right  to  a  pre-­‐disciplinary  hearing,  the  right  to  file  a   grievance  or  appeal  a  dismissal  and  does  not  have  a  property  interest  in  the  position.  (Doc.   63-­‐35)    She  also  asserts  that  probationary  employees  may  be  terminated  on  lesser  grounds   and  without  any  supporting  evidence.           19     The  Court  finds  that  Gipson’s  extension  of  her  Working  Test  Period  was  not  an   adverse  employment  action.    Specifically,  the  extension  did  not  alter  in  any  way  Gipson’s   employment  status.    It  is  too  speculative  to  assume  that  she  would  have  become  a   permanent  employee  at  the  conclusion  of  her  Working  Test  Period  in  March  2012.       Moreover,  USERRA  was  certainly  never  intended  to  allow  a  person  to  be  exempt  from   necessary  and  important  training  for  a  job.    Thus,  extending  a  training  period,  in  part,  to   make  up  for  absences  due  to  military  leave,  does  not  violate  USERRA,  and  in  fact  is   contemplated  by  USERRA.  See  38  U.S.C.  §  4313(a)(1)(B)  (requiring  an  employer  to  make   reasonable  efforts  to  qualify  an  employee  that  has  been  absent  for  military  service).         b.  Termination       Sheriff  Cochran  argues  that  there  is  no  evidence  that  Gipson’s  military  leave   factored  in  to  her  termination  and  that  even  if  it  did,  she  would  have  been  terminated   anyway.    Sheriff  Cochran  states  that  Gipson  had  three  years  prior  experience  as  a  police   office  and  was  given  over  a  year  to  develop  the  experience  and  expertise  to  be  a  Deputy   Sheriff,  but  the  “consensus  was  that  she  was  just  not  cutting  it”  (doc.  56,  p.  9).      Sheriff   Cochran  stated  that  Gipson  was  a  “marginal  employee”  and  there  was  no  reason  to   continue  her  employment.  (Id.)       Gipson  responds  that  this  assertion  is  false  and  not  supported  by  the  evidence.  She   argues  that  the  reasons  for  termination  are  contrary  to  the  evidence,  because  in  May  2012,   a  month  before  her  termination  in  June  2012,  Sgt.  Hale  and  Lt.  Bonner  stated  that  she  had   no  work-­‐related  problems.    Gipson  argues  that  the  reasons  Capt.  Thompson  gave  to   support  his  opinion  that  she  could  not  do  the  job  were  reasons  alleged  in  support  of   extending  her  Working  Test  Period  in  December  2011.    Then,  when  Capt.  Thompson  stated     20   that  she  had  shown  no  improvement  since  that  time,  Gipson  pointed  out  that  in  May  2012,   just  a  month  before  her  termination,  Lt.  Bonner  and  Sgt.  Hale  informed  her  that  they  had  no   problems  with  her  work.    Gipson  also  argues  that  Capt.  Thompson  never  personally   observed  her  work  whereas  her  immediate  supervisor  Sgt.  Hale  testified  that  she  was   improving.    Gipson  also  points  out  the  absence  of  any  written  documentation  to  support   Capt.  Thompson’s  decision.    Gipson  also  argues  that  Deputy  Chief  Wilhelm  testified  that  the   only  documentation  between  January  2012  and  June  2012,  are  the  March  2012  and  May   2012  memoranda,  and  neither  indicate  that  Gipson  was  below  standard  and  needed  to  be   terminated.     The  Court  finds  that  Gipson  has  failed  to  show  by  a  preponderance  of  the  evidence   that  her  military  service  was  a  factor  in  the  decision  to  terminate  her  employment,  and   therefore,  she  has  failed  to  make  her  prima  face  case.  Landolphi,  515  Fed.  Appx.  at  834  (“In   order  to  establish  a  prima  facie  case  of  discrimination,  the  plaintiff  must  demonstrate  by  a   preponderance  of  the  evidence  that  his  military  membership  or  obligation  was  a   motivating  factor  in  the  employer's  decision.”)      There  is  simply  no  evidence  that  Gipson’s   military  service  factored  in  to  Capt.  Thompson’s  decision,  such  as  was  shown  in  Lt.   Bonner’s  request  for  an  extension  of  the  Working  Test  Period.    Nor  can  the  Court  infer  a   discriminatory  motivation  based  on  the  temporal  proximity  between  Gipson’s  military   activity  and  the  adverse  employment  action.    Gipson  has  failed  to  present  any  evidence  as   to  whether  she  may  have  been  on  military  leave  in  close  temporal  proximity  to  June  27,   2012.    Moreover,  although  “an  employer's  expressed  hostility  toward  members  of  the   protected  class  combined  with  its  knowledge  of  the  plaintiff's  military  activity”,  id.,  may   give  rise  to  an  inference,  Gipson  presents  only  Lt.  Bonner’s  one  statement  at  roll  call  in  May     21   2011  –  “Deputy  Gipson,  you  need  to  be  here”.    This  statement  alone,  made  over  a  year   before  termination  is  not  sufficiently  hostile  to  support  an  inference  that  Gipson’s  military   service  was  a  factor  in  her  termination.         Lastly,  “disparate  treatment  of  similarly  situated  employees”,  id.,  may  give  rise  to  an   inference  that  military  service  was  a  factor  in  the  decision.    In  this  regard,  Gipson   references  the  Court  to  her  argument  in  support  of  her  sex  discrimination  claim  under  Title   VII,  that  male  patrol  officers  were  treated  more  favorably  although  they  had  similar   deficiencies  in  performance.    However,  Gipson  fails  to  explain  how  these  are  similar   comparators  under  her  USERRA  claim;  that  is  that  other  probationers  had  periods  of   absence,  and  had  deficiencies  in  performance,  but  their  Working  Test  Period  was  not   extended.      The  Court  sees  no  reason  to  do  that  for  her.           c.  Additional  training  required  under  USERRA       Gipson  alleges  that  Sheriff  Cochran  violated  USERRA  because  after  her  military   service,  he  failed  to  provide  her  with  additional  training  necessary  to  qualify  her  as  a   permanent  deputy.  (Doc.  1)    Sheriff  Cochran  argues  that  Gipson  received  the  additional   training  in  that  her  Working  Test  Period  was  extended  for  six  months  in  lieu  of  terminating   her  and  to  provide  her  the  opportunity  to  gain  the  necessary  experience;  and  thus  the   extension  was  a  reasonable  effort  to  qualify  her.    He  also  argues  that  assigning  Gipson  to   work  with  a  more  experienced  Deputy  was  a  reasonable  effort.  (Doc.  56,  p.  9)       Gipson  disagrees  with  Sheriff  Cochran.  She  argues  that  a  permanent  deputy  position   is  the  position  she  would  have  had  at  the  end  of  Working  Test  Period  in  March  2012,  if  she   had  not  taken  military  leave.    Thus,  if  Sheriff  Cochran  thought  she  was  not  qualified  for  a   permanent  position,  he  should  have  provided  her  with  additional  or  specific  training  in     22   addition  to  the  extension  and  assignment.  She  argues  summary  judgment  should  be  denied   because  there  is  an  issue  of  fact  as  to  whether  his  actions  were  reasonable.            If  the  period  of  service  was  91  days  or  less,  USERRA  requires  that  the  service   member  be  “reemployed”  in  “the  position  of  employment  in  which  the  person  would  have   been  employed  if  the  continuous  employment  of  such  person  with  the  employer  had  not   been  interrupted  by  such  service,  the  duties  of  which  the  person  is  qualified  to  perform[.]”   38  U.S.C.  §  4313(a)(1)(A).      But  if  the  employer  finds  the  person  is  not  qualified  for  the   position,  then  USERRA  requires  the  employer  to  make  “reasonable  efforts”  to  qualify  the   employee.  Id.  at  (B);  20  C.F.R.  §  1002.198;  20  C.F.R.  1002.196(a).  20  C.F.R.  1002.5(I)     “Reasonable  efforts,  in  the  case  of  actions  required  of  an  employer,  means  actions,   including  training  provided  by  an  employer  that  do  not  place  an  undue  hardship  on  the   employer.”    20  CFR  §  1002.5(i).           Viewing  the  evidence  in  the  light  most  favorable  to  Gipson,  the  Court  finds  that  there   is  no  material  dispute  of  fact  that  Sheriff  Cochran  made  reasonable  efforts  to  qualify  Gipson   for  the  permanent  deputy  position  and  therefore,  summary  judgment  is  granted  in  favor  of   Sheriff  Cochran  as  to  this  claim.    Lt.  Bonner  noted  in  his  request  for  extension  that  Gipson   when  evaluating  Gipson's  performance,  “based  on  the  time  she  has  been  employed  .  .  .  by   and  been  present  for  duty”  he  found  that  she  “has  a  lack  in  job  knowledge  or  lacks  the   necessary  confidence  to  complete  some  of  her  assigned  tasks.”  (Doc.  63-­‐3)  In  response,  her   Working  Test  Period  was  extended  to  allow  her  more  time  to  gain  the  necessary   experience9  and  she  was  assigned  to  work  with  a  more  senior  deputy  who  could  function                                                                                                                   9    Sgt.  Hale  and  Capt.  Thompson  both  testified  that  the  extension  was  to  provide  the   additional  or  remedial  training  that  Gipson  needed.  (Doc.  63-­‐29,  p.  7;  Doc.  63-­‐30,  p.  16)       23   as  her  Training  Officer  and  answer  her  questions.10  Gipson  has  not  sufficiently  rebutted  this   evidence.       2.  Count  II  –  Gipson’s  claim  of  sex  discrimination  pursuant  to  Title  VII     Gipson  alleges  that  she  was  subjected  to  disparate  treatment  on  basis  of  her  sex.     She  alleges  that  similarly  situated  male  deputy  sheriffs  were  treated  differently  in  regard  to   the  terms  and  conditions  of  employments,  application  of  work  rules,  extension  of   probation,  and  termination.  (Doc.  1)       Under  Title  VII,  it  is  unlawful  for  Sheriff  Cochran,  an  employer,  “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  individual’s   …  sex.”  42  U.S.C.  §  2000e–2(a)(1)).      “In  order  to  establish  a  case  under  Title  VII,  a  plaintiff   may  use  three  different  kinds  of  evidence  of  discriminatory  intent:  direct  evidence,   circumstantial  evidence  or  statistical  evidence.”  Standard  v.  A.B.E.L.  Services,  Inc.,  161  F.3d   1318,  1330  (11th  Cir.1998).    Gipson  relies  upon  circumstantial  evidence.       In  Title  VII  disparate  treatment  actions  based  upon  circumstantial  evidence,  the   burden  lies  first  with  Gipson  to  establish  a  prima  facie  case.    Wilson  v.  B/E  Aerospace,  Inc.,   376  F.3d  1079,  1087  (11th  Cir.  2004)  (citing  McDonnell  Douglas  Corp.  v.  Green,  411  U.S.   792,  93  S.Ct.  1817  (1973)  and  Texas  Department  of  Community  Affairs  v.  Burdine,  450  U.S.   248,  101  S.Ct.  1089  (1981).    Gipson  may  establish  a  prima  facie  case  of  sex  discrimination   by  showing  that:  (1)  she  was  a  member  of  a  protected  class;  (2)  she  was  qualified  to  do  the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         10    Lt.  Bonner  testified  that  Deputy  Cooper  was  an  experienced  senior  deputy  with   knowledge  of  policy,  procedures  and  Alabama  law  and  could  train  Gipson  “and  answer  all   the  questions  -­‐  -­‐  not  formal  training,  …  but  just  answer  all  the  questions,  show  her  how  to   do  it  on  the  job.”  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p,  22-­‐23,  Bonner  deposition)       24   job;  (3)  she  was  subjected  to  an  adverse  employment  action  by  her  employer;  and  (4)   similarly  situated  employees  outside  of  the  protected  class  were  treated  more  favorably.   Wilson,  376  F.  3d  at  1091.          As  to  the  third  element,  an  “adverse  employment  action  is  not  only  an  element  of   the  prima  facie  case,  but  an  element  of  the  claim  itself.”    McCone  v.  Pitney  Bowes,  Inc.,  582   Fed.Appx.  798,  800  (11th  Cir.  2014)  (quoting  Holland  v.  Gee,  677  F.3d  1047,  1056  (11th  Cir.   2012).  An  adverse  employment  action  is  “a  serious  and  material  change  in  the  terms,   conditions,  or  privileges  of  employment.”  Id.  (internal  citation  and  emphasis  omitted).    “The   employee's  subjective  view  of  the  significance  and  adversity  of  the  employer's  action  is  not   controlling.  Rather,  the  employment  action  must  be  materially  adverse  as  viewed  by  a   reasonable  person  under  the  same  circumstances.”  Id.  (internal  citation  omitted).       Generally,  firing  an  employee  is  a  significant  change  in  employment  status  that  is  an   adverse  employment  action.    See  Davis  v.  Town  of  Lake  Park,  Fla.,  245  F.3d  1232,  1239   (11th  Cir.2001).    However,  “[c]riticisms,  negative  evaluations  and  temporary  and  non-­‐ substantial  changes  in  work  assignments  are  not  actions  that  have  a  ‘serious  and  material   effect’  on  the  terms  and  conditions  of  employment.”  White  v.  Hall,  389  Fed.  Appx.  956,  960   (11th  Cir.  2010)  (citation  omitted).       Additionally,  “memoranda  of  reprimand  or  counseling  that  amount  to  no  more  than   a  mere  scolding,  without  any  following  disciplinary  action,  do  not  rise  to  the  level  of   adverse  employment  actions  sufficient  to  satisfy  the  requirements  of  Title  VII.”    Barnett  v.   Athens  Regional  Medical  Center  Inc.    550  Fed.  Appx.  711,  713-­‐714  (11th  Cir.  2013)  (citing   Davis,  245  F.  3d  at  1236).    “The  negative  evaluation  must  actually  lead  to  a  material  change   in  the  terms  or  conditions  of  employment[.]”  Id.  “Although  proof  of  direct  economic     25   consequences  is  not  required  in  all  cases,  ‘the  asserted  impact  cannot  be  speculative  and   must  at  least  have  a  tangible  adverse  effect”  on  the  employment.  Id.       As  to  the  fourth  element,  Gipson  and  the  similarly  situated  employees  she  identifies   as  her  comparators,  “must  be  similarly  situated  ‘in  all  relevant  respects.’”  Wilson,  376  F.  3d   at  1091.    “The  comparator  must  be  nearly  identical  to  the  plaintiff  to  prevent  courts  from   second-­‐guessing  a  reasonable  decision  by  the  employer.”  Id.  (citation  omitted).    Where   there  are  allegations  of  discriminatory  discipline,  establishing  the  fourth  element  “requires   showing  a  similarly  situated  employee,  who  was  engaged  in  the  same  or  similar   misconduct  but  did  not  receive  similar  discipline.”  Archie  v.  Frank  Cockrell  Body  Shop,  Inc.,   581  Fed.  Appx.  795,  798  (11th  Cir.  2014)  (citation  omitted).    The  “quantity  and  quality  of   the  comparator's  misconduct”  must  be  “  ‘nearly  identical’  ”  to  prevent  judges  from  second-­‐ guessing  employers'  reasonable  decisions.”    Archie,  581  Fed.  Appx.  at  798.     If  Gipson  establishes  her  prima  facie  case,  then  she  creates  a  rebuttable   presumption  of  unlawful  sex  discrimination  and  the  burden  of  production  shifts  to  Sheriff   Cochran  to  articulate  legitimate,  nondiscriminatory  reasons  for  his  actions.  Wilson,  376   F.3d  at  1087.    If  Sheriff  Cochran  meets  this  burden,  then  the  presumption  of  discrimination   is  rebutted,  and  the  burden  shifts  back  to  Gipson  to  show  that  the  Sheriff’s  proffered   reasons  are  a  pretext  for  illegal  discrimination.  Id.     To  do  so,  Gipson  must  show  both  that  the  reasons  were  false,  and  that   discrimination  was  the  real  reason.    “A  ‘new  level  of  specificity’  applies  to  the  inquiry  at  this   step,  in  which  the  plaintiff  must  demonstrate  ‘such  weaknesses,  implausibilities,   inconsistencies,  incoherencies,  or  contradictions  in  the  employer's  proffered  legitimate   reasons  for  its  action  that  a  reasonable  factfinder  could  find  them  unworthy  of  credence.’”     26   Archie,  581  Fed.  Appx.  at  798.    “If  the  proffered  reason  might  motivate  a  reasonable   employer,  a  plaintiff  cannot  merely  recast  the  reason,  but  must  ‘meet  the  reason  head  on   and  rebut  it.’”  Id,  at  798-­‐799  (quoting  Chapman  v.  AI  Transp.,  229  F.3d  1012,  1030  (11th   Cir.2000)  (en  banc).       If  Gipson  makes  her  prima  facie  case,  and  a  reasonable  jury  could  disbelieve  Sheriff   Cochran’s  proffered  legitimate  reasons  for  the  alleged  discriminatory  actions,  the  “court   cannot  grant  summary  judgment  to  the  defendants.”  Keene  v.  Prine,  477  Fed.  Appx.  575,   581  (11th  Cir.  2012)  (citing  Reeves  v.  Sanderson  Plumbing  Products,  Inc.,  530  U.S.  133,  148,   120  S.Ct.  2097,  2109  (2000)  (“[A]  plaintiff's  prima  facie  case,  combined  with  sufficient   evidence  to  find  that  the  employer's  asserted  justification  is  false,  may  permit  the  trier  of   fact  to  conclude  that  the  employer  unlawfully  discriminated.”).       a.  Extension  of  the  Working  Test  Period     Sheriff  Cochran  argues  that  the  extension  was  not  an  adverse  employment  action;   therefore,  Gipson  cannot  meet  the  third  element  of  her  prima  facie  case.  He  argues  that  in   the  face  of  the  absences  caused  not  only  by  military  leave  but  also  due  to  Gipson’s  Injured-­‐ with-­‐Pay  status  resulting  from  her  back  injury,  his  options  were  to  extend  the  Working  Test   Period  or  terminate  her,  based  upon  the  opinions  of  her  Supervisors  that  she  was  not   satisfactorily  performing  her  duties  at  that  time.         Alternatively,  assuming  the  extension  was  an  adverse  employment  action,  Cochran   argues  that  there  were  legitimate,  non-­‐discriminatory  reasons  for  the  extension.   Specifically,  Gipson  had  not  had  a  sufficient  training  period  as  evidenced  by  Lt.  Bonner’s   request  for  an  extension  and  documentation  of  two  instances  of  lack  of  job  skills.    Sheriff   Cochran  also  argues  that  Gipson  had  no  right  to  permanent  status  at  the  end  of  the  Working     27   Test  Period  and  that  it  is  only  speculation  on  her  part  that  she  would  have  achieved  that   status  at  the  end  of  one  year  or  at  the  end  of  any  extension.         Gipson  argues  that  the  6-­‐month  extension  is  an  adverse  employment  action  and   thus  she  meets  the  third  element  of  her  prima  facie  case.    Gipson  argues  that  if  her  Working   Test  Period  had  not  been  extended  for  six  months  or  extended  for  only  90  days,  then  based   on  her  record    she  would  have  become  a  permanent  deputy  June  21,  2012.    Gipson  argues   that  because  she  was  not  made  permanent,  she  was  precluded  from  receiving  a  property   interest  in  her  job  and  certain  rights  and  benefits.  Specifically  that  she  would  have  been   entitled  to  a  pre-­‐disciplinary  hearing  before  she  was  terminated  on  June  27,  2012,  Sheriff   Cochran  would  have  to  meet  a  higher  burden  to  terminate  her,  and  she  could  have   appealed  that  decision.    She  also  argues  that  the  extension  and  denial  of  a  permanent   position  resulted  in  a  lack  of  stability  and  loss  of  prestige.       Overall,  Gipson’s  adverse  component  is  based  on  the  premise  that  she  would  have   been  a  permanent  employee  in  June  2012  when  she  was  terminated  and  would  have  had  a   property  interest  in  her  position  and  certain  rights  and  protections.    Under  the  Mobile   County  Personnel  Board  Rule  XI,  an  employee  in  a  working  test  period  does  not  have  a   right  to  a  pre-­‐disciplinary  hearing  and  does  not  have  a  property  interest  in  his  or  her   position  until  the  working  test  period  “has  been  successfully  completed.”  (Doc.  63-­‐35,  Rule   XI  “Working  Test  Period”)    The  Rule  also  provides  that  “The  [Personnel  Board]  Director   may  extend  the  working  test  period  of  any  appointee  upon  the  request  of  the  Appointing   Authority.    .  .  .    If  not  removed  during  the  working  test  period  or  any  extension  thereof,  the   employee  shall  be  deemed  to  have  earned  permanent  status.”  (Id.)    The  Rule  contemplates     28   a  successful  completion  of  the  Working  Test  Period  and  “if  not  removed,”  the  employee  will   earn  permanent  status.       For  reason  previously  stated,  the  Court  finds  that  the  extension  of  Gipson’s  Working   Test  Period  was  not  an  adverse  employment  action.      Accordingly,  Gipson  fails  to  establish   her  prima  facie  case  of  discrimination.         However,  assuming  for  purpose  of  this  summary  judgment  that  Gipson  could  make  a   prima  facie  case,  the  burden  of  production  shifts  to  Sheriff  Cochran  to  articulate  legitimate,   nondiscriminatory  reasons  for  his  actions.  Wilson,  376  F.3d  at  1087.      If  Sheriff  Cochran   meets  this  burden,  then  the  presumption  of  discrimination  is  rebutted,  and  the  burden   shifts  back  to  Gipson  to  show  that  the  Sheriff’s  proffered  reasons  are  a  pretext  for  illegal   discrimination.  Wilson,  376  F.3d  at  1087.    Gipson  must  show  both  that  the  reasons  were   false,  and  that  discrimination  was  the  real  reason  for  the  decision  to  terminate  her   employment.    She  must  “demonstrate  ‘such  weaknesses,  implausibilities,  inconsistencies,   incoherencies,  or  contradictions  in  the  employer's  proffered  legitimate  reasons  for  its   action  that  a  reasonable  factfinder  could  find  them  unworthy  of  credence.’”  Archie,  581  Fed.   Appx.  at  798.    If  Sheriff  Cochran’s  “proffered  reason  might  motivate  a  reasonable   employer”,  Gipson  “cannot  merely  recast  the  reason,  but  must  ‘meet  the  reason  head  on   and  rebut  it.’”  Id.,  at  798-­‐799.           In  that  regard,  Sheriff  Cochran  states  that  the  extension  was  necessary  for  Gipson  to   have  time  on  duty  to  gain  more  experience  and  to  allow  her  Supervisors  an  appropriate   amount  of  time  to  observe  and  evaluate  her  work.    Sheriff  Cochran  states  that  Gipson  was   not  performing  as  evidenced  by  Lt.  Bonner’s  statements  in  the  request  for  extension  that   Gipson  lacked  knowledge  of  the  procedures  and  lacked  confidence.      He  points  out  that  Sgt.     29   Hale  and  Lt.  Bonner  both  believed  that  part  of  the  reason  Gipson  was  not  performing  was   because  of  the  time  away  from  work.         In  rebuttal,  Gipson  argues  that  there  is  no  factual  basis  for  the  extension  because  she   had  no  documented  deficiencies  during  the  ten-­‐month  period  between  her  employment  in   March  2011  and  the  request  in  December  2011,  that  the  two  December  incidents  outlined   in  the  request  for  extension  were  minor,  and  that  she  had  been  rated  as  acceptable  and  had   good  comments  during  her  initial  training  period.    Gipson  also  argues  that  the  fact  that  her   extension  was  for  six-­‐months  as  opposed  to  the  customary  90  days  coupled  with  the  lack  of   an  explanation11  as  to  why  she  was  extended  for  6  months  is  evidence  that  Sheriff   Cochran’s  reasons  are  false.       The  Court  finds  that  Gipson  has  failed  to  proffer  sufficient  evidence  from  which  a   reasonable  jury  could  find  that  Sheriff  Cochran’s  reasons  were  false  and  his  real  reason  for   the  extension  was  sex  discrimination.    Although  Gipson  argues  that  there  are  no   documented  deficiencies,  Lt.  Bonner’s  request  for  the  extension  contains  sufficient   documentation  of  two  specific  issues  –  lack  of  knowledge  and  lack  of  confidence  -­‐  that  he   and  Sgt.  Hale  observed  that  may  motivate  a  reasonable  employer  to  extend  the  Working   Test  Period  in  order  to  further  evaluate  a  probationary  employee.      Accordingly,  summary   judgment  is  granted  in  favor  of  Sheriff  Cochran  as  to  Gipson’s  claim  of  sex  discrimination   under  Title  VII  as  to  the  extension  of  her  Working  Test  Period.       b.  Termination                                                                                                                     11    Sheriff  Cochran  testified  that  the  length  of  the  extension  is  “three  months,  six  months,   depending  on  .  .  .  whatever  is  recommended  or  just  whatever  my  thoughts  are  at  the  time.”   (Doc.  63-­‐26,  p.  5)       30     Sheriff  Cochran  acknowledges  that  Gipson  is  a  member  of  a  protected  class  and  that   she  was  subject  to  an  adverse  employment  action,  i.e.,  a  termination.    Sheriff  Cochran   argues  that  Gipson  cannot  meet  the  fourth  element  of  her  prima  facie  case  that  she  was   terminated  on  basis  of  her  sex,  because  she  cannot  identify  any  comparators  that  are   similar  situated  who  were  treated  differently.    He  argues  that  because  the  deputies   identified  were  not  similarly  situated  or  did  not  engage  in  similar  conduct,  the  application   of  different  work  place  rules  does  not  constitute  discrimination.  12         The  Court  finds  that  Gipson  has  presented  sufficient  evidence  to  create  an  issue  of   material  fact  as  to  whether  she  was  terminated  based  on  her  sex.    Accordingly,  Sheriff                                                                                                                   12      Gipson  proffered  Officer  Pitzulo,  but  he  is  not  similarly  situated  in  that  he  was  a   permanent  Deputy  and  did  not  engage  in  substantially  the  same  conduct  as  Gipson.    Also,   there  is  no  evidence  that  he  had  problems  with  decision-­‐making  or  general  knowledge  of   the  criminal  code  or  was  a  marginal  employee.         Gipson  proffers  Deputy  William  Pines.  However,  Sheriff  Cochran  states  that  Deputy  Pines   did  not  make  permanent  status  and  was  terminated.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  62-­‐63,  Bonner   deposition)    Thus,  Pines  was  not  treated  more  favorably  than  Gipson.       Gipson  proffers  Deputy  Wesley  Barnett.    However,  Deputy  Barnett  was  offered  the  option   of  either  resigning  or  being  terminated  and  he  resigned.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  62-­‐63,  Bonner   deposition)  Thus,  Barnett  was  not  treated  more  favorably  than  Gipson.         Gipson  proffers  Deputy  Demetrius  Watts  who  was  hired  on  October  3,  2011,  and  was  also   subject  to  a  Working  Test  Period  and  the  same  chain  of  command.    Deputy  Watts  received   reprimands  for  reckless  driving,  failure  to  report  to  work,  a  citizen  complaint,  failure  to   write  a  report  and  a  suspension  for  unauthorized  leave.    However,  despite  his  issues,   Deputy  Watts  resigned  in  lieu  of  termination,  before  his  Period  ended.    Thus,  Watts  was  not   treated  more  favorably  than  Gipson.  (Doc.  63-­‐25,  p.  67-­‐68;  Doc.  66,  Exhibit  9,  excerpts  from   Watts’  personnel  file)         Gipson  proffers  Deputy  Darryl  Gomien.    However,  the  deposition  testimony  to  which  she   cites,  page  223  of  Lt.  Bonner’s  deposition  is  not  in  the  record  and  the  Court  cannot  verify   whether  Gomien  was  terminated  for  his  infractions  or  insufficiencies.           31   Cochran’s  motion  for  summary  judgment  is  denied  as  to  Gipson’s  claim  of  sex   discrimination  based  on  her  termination.       IV.  Conclusion     Upon  consideration  of  the  evidence  and  for  the  reasons  set  forth  herein,  Sheriff   Cochran’s  motion  for  summary  judgment  is  GRANTED  in  part,  but  DENIED,  as  to  Gipson’s   claim  of  sex  discrimination  under  Title  VII  based  upon  her  termination.                 DONE  and  ORDERED  this  3rd  day  of  March  2015.     s/  Kristi  K.  DuBose       KRISTI  K.  DuBOSE   UNITED  STATES  DISTRICT  JUDGE   32  

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?