PARISH-CARTER v. Avossa et al
ORDER granting 55 Motion for Summary Judgment. Closing Case. Signed by Judge Robin L. Rosenberg on 9/15/2017. (bkd) NOTICE: If there are sealed documents in this case, they may be unsealed after 1 year or as directed by Court Order, unless they have been designated to be permanently sealed. See Local Rule 5.4 and Administrative Order 2014-69.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 9:16-CV-81623-ROSENBERG/HOPKINS
CHERYL MCKEEVER & THE
SCHOOL BOARD OF PALM
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ joint Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 55].
The motion has been fully briefed. Plaintiff, a black math teacher and a former math department
chair at Palm Beach Lakes High School, brought this suit alleging that she was discriminated against
based upon her race and age. Plaintiff was forty-five years of age at the time she alleges she was
discriminated against based on her age. Plaintiff’s supervising vice principal was black and forty
years of age.1 Plaintiff’s supervising principal—Defendant McKeever—was black and fifty-five
years of age. Plaintiff was not fired or formally demoted by Defendants. Instead, Plaintiff lost
certain duties and responsibilities (as well as accompanying pay) when school administrators
selected two other teachers to serve as the math department chair. The two teachers who replaced
Plaintiff as math chair are white; one of the teachers is younger than Plaintiff (by ten years) and one
of the teachers is older (by seven years). This is the extent of Plaintiff’s evidence of discrimination.
When this scintilla of evidence is placed in the context of all other (non-discriminatory) evidence in
the record, no reasonable juror could conclude that Plaintiff was discriminated against on the basis
1 For the sake of clarity, the Court has endeavored to reference the ages of all persons as the age they were at the time of
the events in this case.
of her race or age. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242. 251-52 (1986) (noting that a mere
“scintilla” of evidence is insufficient to resist a motion for summary judgment). For this reason,
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is granted. Alternatively, Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment is granted because Defendants have proffered non-discriminatory reasons for
their actions and Plaintiff has no evidence upon which a reasonable juror could rely to establish that
Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons were pretextual.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate 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).
The existence of a factual dispute is not by itself sufficient grounds to defeat a motion for summary
judgment; rather, “the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A dispute is genuine if “a reasonable trier of fact
could return judgment for the non-moving party.” Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. United
States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). A fact is
material if “it would affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. (citing Anderson,
477 U.S. at 247-48).
In deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court views the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.
See Davis v. Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 763 (11th Cir. 2006). The Court does not weigh conflicting
evidence. See Skop v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir. 2007). Thus, upon
discovering a genuine dispute of material fact, the Court must deny summary judgment. See id.
The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of
material fact. See Shiver v. Chertoff, 549 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir. 2008). Once the moving party
satisfies this burden, “the nonmoving party ‘must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.’” Ray v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 327 F. App’x 819,
825 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586 (1986)). Instead, “[t]he non-moving party must make a sufficient showing on each essential
element of the case for which he has the burden of proof.” Id. (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). Accordingly, the non-moving party must produce evidence, going beyond
the pleadings, to show that a reasonable jury could find in favor of that party. See Shiver, 549 F.3d at
The Court sets forth below some of the facts in this case for background purposes. Disputed
facts germane to the Court’s decision are discussed in detail in the Court’s analysis section, infra.
Plaintiff began her employment with the Defendant School Board in 1999 as a math teacher.
DE 56 at 2. Plaintiff was placed at Palm Beach Lakes High School, where she continues to work to
this day. Id. In 2006, Plaintiff was selected by school administrators to serve as the math
department chair. Id. Plaintiff served as the math department chair until 2013. Id. In 2013, Plaintiff
was replaced as math department chair by a school principal who is not a named party in this case.
In 2014, Defendant McKeever became the new principal for Palm Beach Lakes High School. Id. at
3. McKeever immediately selected Plaintiff as math department chair. Id.
Despite being selected as math department chair, Plaintiff did not receive the stipend
associated with the position. See DE 61 at 7. Plaintiff ultimately filed a grievance with her local
union pertaining to her failure to receive her stipend. Id. Plaintiff’s grievance was successful insofar
as Plaintiff received her stipend. See id. at 7-8. After Plaintiff’s grievance (which did not contain
any allegations of discrimination based upon race or age), Plaintiff alleges that she began to
experience racial and age discrimination from her school administrators. See id. The grounds upon
which Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against are varied.
In 2015, after Plaintiff had served as math chair for one school year, school administrators
replaced Plaintiff. DE 56 at 4. Plaintiff was not immediately informed that she was being replaced.
Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff learned of her replacement soon after she reported for work for the next school
year. See id. Soon after the school year ended, Plaintiff filed the instant suit.
Plaintiff has brought the following claims against Defendants: a claim for relief under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against Defendant School Board (Count I); a claim for relief
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against Defendant McKeever (Count II); a racial
discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against Defendant School Board (Count
III); an age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act against
Defendant School Board (Count IV); a retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
against Defendant School Board (Count V); and a retaliation claim under the Florida Civil Rights
Act against Defendant School Board (Count VII).2 Plaintiff’s claims can be grouped into two
categories: racial and age discrimination claims and retaliation claims. With respect to each of
Plaintiff’s racial and age discrimination claims (Count I, Count II, Count III, and Count IV), these
claims necessarily require evidence that Plaintiff was discriminated against based upon a protected
characteristic—either her race or her age. With respect to Plaintiff’s retaliation claims (Count V and
Count VII), those claims require, inter alia, evidence that Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons
for their alleged unlawful retaliatory acts were pretextual.
2 The Court previously dismissed with prejudice Count VI, a claim for due process violations. DE 53.
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is premised upon the contention that Plaintiff’s
evidence as to both of these categories is deficient as a matter of law.
employment-actions upon which Plaintiff alleges that she suffered racial and age based
discrimination are: (A) the loss of her stipend, (B) the loss of her position as math chair, and (C) her
inability to transfer to another school when she sought transfer. The record evidence that Plaintiff
relies upon in support of her contention that she was subject to harassment in the workplace consists
of: (D) a school-wide meeting held in 2015, (E) Plaintiff’s restroom access, (F) observations
conducted by school administrators in Plaintiff’s classroom, (G) Plaintiff’s assignment to teach
algebra classes, and (H) Plaintiff’s evaluation scores. The Court first analyzes the record evidence in
each of these categories and then turns to the legal sufficiency of Plaintiff’s claims.
A. PLAINTIFF’S STIPEND
There is no dispute in the record that Plaintiff was promised a stipend, Plaintiff was not paid
a stipend, Plaintiff complained,3 and then Plaintiff received her stipend. Plaintiff attributes the
temporary withholding of her stipend to the discriminatory practices of the Defendants. There is no
support for this contention in the record.
Plaintiff has no direct evidence that her stipend was withheld for discriminatory reasons; the
burden, therefore, is on Plaintiff to produce a comparator who “must be similarly situated in all
relevant respects” and who was treated differently than Plaintiff. Trask v. Sec’y, Dep’t of Veterans
Affairs, 822 F.3d 1179, 1192 (11th Cir. 2016). Plaintiff has no comparator. Instead, Plaintiff’s
record evidence shows that there were multiple unspecified employees at Plaintiff’s school who
3 At the time that Plaintiff officially complained, she made no allegations that she had been denied her stipend for
discriminatory reasons. DE 61 at 1.
experienced paycheck issues. DE 62-11 at 6, 9, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25. Plaintiff’s claims premised upon
the loss of her stipend fail due to her lack of a comparator.
Even if Plaintiff did possess a comparator, Defendants have provided a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason for Plaintiff’s failure to receive her stipend. Defendant McKeever
testified that the stipend issue was caused by an error by another administrator in connection with
payroll processes. DE 56-9 at 375. Defendants’ explanation is plausible for two reasons. First,
Plaintiff was undisputedly selected by Defendant McKeever to be awarded the stipend; it is,
therefore, unbelievable that soon after Plaintiff was selected by McKeever to receive a stipend,
McKeever then withheld the stipend for discriminatory reasons. Second, once Plaintiff complained,
her stipend was restored.
Plaintiff argues Defendants’ non-discriminatory explanation is
implausible because the parameters of Plaintiff’s position (a single department chair was to receive
the stipend) were clear and any confusion regarding how the stipend was to be apportioned
(incorrectly divided between two persons) is not a credible explanation. DE 62 at 9. The Court does
not agree. Plaintiff has provided no evidence that Defendants’ payroll-error explanation was
pretextual and, instead, the record evidence supports Defendants’ explanation. The burden is on
Plaintiff to demonstrate “such weaknesses, implausabilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or
contradictions . . . that a reasonable factfinder could find them unworthy of credence.” Flournoy v.
CML-GA WB, LLC, 851 F.3d 1335, 1339 (11th Cir. 2017) (quoting Vessels v. Atl. Indep. Sch. Sys.,
408 F.3d 763, 771 (11th Cir. 2005)). Plaintiff has not carried this burden as to this issue.
B. PLAINTIFF’S POSITION AS MATH CHAIR
Plaintiff, in her capacity as math department chair, was replaced by two individuals. At that
time, Plaintiff was forty-five years of age. DE 56-5 at 13. One of Plaintiff’s replacements was white
and thirty-five years of age. DE 56-6 at 2. The other individual was white and older than
Plaintiff—approximately fifty-two years of age. See DE 56-8 at 1. When these isolated facts are
examined in the context of the entire record, the Court concludes that no reasonable juror could find
that Plaintiff was replaced due to improper racial or age-based discriminatory reasons.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242. 251-52 (1986) (noting that a mere “scintilla” of evidence
is insufficient to resist a motion for summary judgment).
Furthermore, Defendants have provided non-discriminatory reasons, supported by evidence
in the record, for Plaintiff’s removal from her position as math department chair. First, Defendants
state that algebra scores were stagnant and had not increased during that school year or the three
years prior. DE 56-7 at 2. Second, Defendants state that there were “morale issues” and some math
teachers had complained about Plaintiff’s style and lack of approachability. Id. Plaintiff offers no
counterevidence to Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons for removing her as math chair.
Plaintiff merely states that she “can neither confirm nor deny, the validity of the Statement and
therefore, denies.” DE 61 at 3. Plaintiff asserts, without a citation to any evidence, that she had no
control over the performance issues of students. Local Rule 56.1(a) requires statements of material
fact submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment to be supported by evidence.
Plaintiff has not complied with this requirement and therefore the Court deems Plaintiff’s deficient
response to be an admission, a conclusion compelled by Local Rule 56.1(b).
Alternatively, even if the Court considers Plaintiff’s statement in opposition to be a facially
sufficient denial of Defendants’ contention, Plaintiff still has not taken Defendants’
non-discriminatory reasons “head on” and “rebutted” those reasons. See Chapman v. Al Transp.,
229 F.3d 1012, 1030 (11th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff’s contention that she had no control over the
performance issues of math students is not supported by any citation to evidence. See DE 61 at 3.
Moreover, the germane question is not whether Plaintiff was at fault for stagnant algebra scores, but
whether Defendants were dissatisfied with Plaintiff for any non-discriminatory reason, “even if
mistakenly or unfairly so,” instead of using the reason as a cover for a discriminatory motive.
Alvarez v. Royal Atlantic Dev., Inc., 610 F.3d 1253, 1266 (11th Cir. 2010). Also, Defendants have
provided evidence that employees considered for Plaintiff’s position (alternatives to the white
employees who replaced Plaintiff) were black, but those candidates were not interested in the math
department chair position. DE 56-7 at 3. Plaintiff attempts to tangentially deny that Defendants
considered two black employees for her position as math chair, but her citation to evidence in
support of her denial is limited to her own testimony that her supervisor stated he “wanted to try
something different” and her own opinion that by “something different” he meant someone who was
not black. See DE 61 at 8. The Court is only required to construe reasonable inferences in favor of
Plaintiff; Plaintiff’s contention here is unreasonable in light of the fact that the ultimate
decision-maker at Plaintiff’s school was black and older than Plaintiff, prior math department chairs
were black and older than Plaintiff, and subsequent math department chairs were black and older
than Plaintiff. DE 56-7. In summary, there is no argument or evidence before this Court sufficient
for Plaintiff to show “such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or
contradictions. . . that a reasonable fact finder could find all of those [non-discriminatory] reasons
unworthy of credence” as to this issue.
C. PLAINTIFF’S INABILITY TO TRANSFER
Plaintiff alleges that she was “black-balled” by Defendant McKeever (on the basis of her
race and age) and, as a result, she was not permitted to transfer to a position at another school. DE 62
at 10. Plaintiff asserts that she applied for three different types of teaching positions. DE 56-5 at 78.
Some of those positions were at Jupiter High School. Id. Although Plaintiff applied for those
positions, she did not get an interview. Id. She did not investigate why she did not get an interview.
Id. Then, Plaintiff applied for a position at Palm Beach Gardens High School. Id. Plaintiff was
interviewed but not selected, and she inquired as to the reason she was not selected. Id. She was told
that the principal at that high school was looking for someone who could double as a baseball
coach—something Plaintiff could not do. Id. Then, Plaintiff applied for jobs “outside of the
classroom” at her school district. Id. at 79-80. A school district employee informed Plaintiff that she
could not be interviewed because no teacher was permitted to transfer out of her school4 during the
time period at issue. Id.
Defendants persuasively point out that Plaintiff has no evidence to support her claim of
discrimination based on her inability to transfer. In Plaintiff’s own deposition, she acknowledges
that she did not investigate why she was not hired at Jupiter High School. Plaintiff simply cannot
establish that the position “remained open or was filled by another person outside of her protected
class” as the law requires. Trask, 822 F.3d at 1191. Similarly, Plaintiff has no evidence that the
position at Palm Beach Gardens High School “remained open or was filled by another person
outside of her protected class.” Id. Plaintiff also lacks evidence that the principal at Palm Beach
Gardens High School lied about seeking an applicant who had baseball-coaching experience.
Finally, Plaintiff has no evidence that the school district’s proffered reason for electing not to hire a
math teacher (or possibly any teacher) from her school was pretextual or false—a condition that was
race and age neutral on its face. Plaintiff offers no specifics as to what “outside of the classroom”
positions she applied for and whether she satisfied the employer’s objective qualifications for those
positions—another legal requirement for a refusal to hire claim. Vessels, 408 F.3d at 769. Nor has
Plaintiff shown that the school district positions remained open or were filled by another person
4 There is implicit evidence in the record that Plaintiff’s school was struggling to staff math courses. DE 56-9 at 234.
Plaintiff contends that her school struggled to staff math courses in her response, albeit without a citation to the record.
DE 62 at 11.
outside of her protected class; Plaintiff in fact testified that she knew of at least one black teacher at
her school who did successfully transfer to another school. DE 56-5 at 186. That teacher transferred
to Jupiter High School, the same school that Plaintiff contends she was prevented from transferring
to on the basis of her race. DE 56-10 at 7-9. In conclusion, Plaintiff’s claims premised on her
inability to transfer fail for all for all of the reasons set forth above.
D. A SCHOOL-WIDE MEETING ON DECEMBER 10, 2015
Plaintiff’s remaining allegations relate to a hostile work environment. To establish a hostile
work environment claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that “the workplace is permeated
with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter
the conditions of . . . employment and create an abusive working environment.” Gowski v. Peake,
682 F.3d 1299, 1311 (11th Cir. 2012). To prove a prima facie case of hostile work environment, a
plaintiff must establish that: (1) he or she belonged to a protected group, (2) he or she was subjected
to unwelcome harassment, (3) the harassment was based on a protected characteristic, (4) the
harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of his or her
employment and create an abusive working environment, and (5) a basis exists for holding the
employer liable. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1245 (11th Cir. 1999). Defendants argue
that Plaintiff cannot establish the third and fourth elements.
On December 10, 2015, Defendant McKeever held a staff meeting. The record evidence
supports Plaintiff’s contention that, at that meeting, McKeever’s demeanor was rude, angry, and
confrontational. However, there is no record evidence that McKeever made comments based upon
race, age, sex, or any other protected classification and thus the Court concludes that any harassment
by McKeever was not based upon a protected characteristic. Failure to establish the third element of
a hostile work environment claim is dispositive of the claim. Nevertheless, the Court considers
whether Plaintiff can establish the fourth element—that the alleged harassment was sufficiently
severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create an abusive working
Courts must consider alleged hostile work environment conduct in context and cumulatively,
looking at the totality of the circumstances. Id. at 1242. The environment must be one that a
reasonable person would find hostile or abusive. Id. Four factors are important in analyzing
whether harassment objectively altered the terms and conditions of the employment: (1) the
frequency of the conduct; (2) the severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct was physically
threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether the conduct unreasonably
interfered with the employee's job performance. Id. Here, there is no evidence of physical threats or
evidence that a meeting resembling the December meeting ever reoccurred. Federal law does not
require civility. Id. at 1245. In an age or race-based case, harassing statements and conduct must be
of a racial nature before they can be considered in determining whether the severe or pervasive
requirement is met. See Gupta v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 212 F.3d 571, 583 (11th Cir. 2000); Mendoza,
195 F.3d at 1242; see also Laosebikan v. Coca-Cola Co., 167 F. App’x 758, 765-66 (11th Cir. 2006).
As there is no evidence of race or age-based harassment at the meeting, the Court concludes that
there was insufficient age or race-based harassment for the meeting to qualify—from the perspective
of a reasonable person—as a basis for Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims.
E. PLAINTIFF’S RESTROOM ACCESS
Plaintiff testifies that she “buzzed the office” twice and no one came to relieve her so she
could use the restroom. DE 56-5 at 138. Plaintiff therefore asked another teacher to watch her
classroom while she went to the restroom. Id. As Plaintiff left for the restroom, an employee from
the school’s central office arrived to relieve Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that she was made to wait to
access the restroom because of her race and age; again, as with other of Plaintiff’s claims, there is no
evidence in the record to support this contention that Plaintiff’s delayed access to the restroom was
due to her race or age. Plaintiff confirmed that she was unaware of any white teacher being
permitted rapid access to a restroom. Id. at 139. Indeed, Plaintiff’s own testimony would seem to
establish just the opposite. Plaintiff testified that she was informed by relief personnel that “teachers
do not get restroom breaks” which, if true, would facially appear to apply to teachers of all races
and all ages. Id. In conclusion, there is no evidence in the record that Plaintiff’s delayed access to
the restroom had any nexus to her race or age.
F. OBSERVATIONS OF PLAINTIFF’S CLASSROOM
Plaintiff contends that, after she filed a grievance pertaining to the loss of her stipend, she
was subjected to racial and age-based harassment in the form of frequent observations of her
classroom. These observations were called “cruise-throughs” and were a unique creation of
Defendant McKeever. Plaintiff admits that (1) Defendant McKeever created the cruise-throughs in
response to complaints by school staff that school administration was never present in classrooms,
(2) the purpose of cruise-throughs was for school officials to be present in classrooms with greater
frequency, (3) cruise-throughs did not involve or replace formal evaluations, and (4) all school
administrators were required to cruise-through classrooms at least five times per day. See DE 61 at
5-6. Plaintiff contends that the observations of her classroom were harassment because the observer
would “sometimes [be] standing, just standing at the door staring.” DE 56-5 at 39. She testified that
sometimes the observations were once per week and sometimes they were multiple days per week.
Id. It is unclear from Plaintiff’s testimony how she knew she was subjected to more cruise-throughs
than other teachers in the school (outside of the math department). Even viewing Plaintiff’s
testimony in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, she cannot establish that the cruise-throughs
qualify as racial or age-based harassment.
It is undisputed that the cruise-throughs were a school-wide policy. Every teacher was
subjected to cruise-throughs. To the extent Plaintiff believes that she was subjected to more
cruise-throughs and that the cruise-throughs were intimidating and harassing, she has not connected
that belief to any evidence of racial or age-based harassment or discrimination. For example, it is
undisputed that Plaintiff’s classroom was in the largest building on campus with which school
administration had the greatest access. DE 61 at 6. Plaintiff admits that teachers in her building
were more likely to receive cruise-throughs.5 Id. There is evidence in the record that a white
teacher, older than Plaintiff, received so many cruise-throughs “it would be impossible . . . to even
try to count them.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same teacher attested that the
cruise-throughs were “un-nerving.” Id. But even if cruise-throughs were unnerving and harassing
in the abstract, Plaintiff is afforded a legal remedy for a hostile workplace environment only if the
harassment was based upon a protected characteristic. There is no evidence in the record that a
reasonable juror could rely upon to conclude that cruise-throughs were conducted on Plaintiff’s
classroom because she was black and forty-five years of age.
At least a portion of the
cruise-throughs were conducted by Plaintiff’s vice principal—who is black and forty years of
age—as well as Defendant McKeever—who is black and fifty-five years of age. See DE 56-5.
Plaintiff herself connects the increase in cruise-throughs in her classroom to her decision to file a
grievance pertaining to her lost stipend, but Plaintiff’s grievance contained no allegations of race or
age discrimination. DE 61 at 4. In summary, the record evidence establishes that cruise-throughs
5 Plaintiff states that she can neither “confirm nor deny” the evidence on this matter and that she therefore denies it. DE
61 at 6. A denial must be supported by evidence. Plaintiff has not provided any evidence that teachers in her building
were not subjected to more cruise-throughs than she was.
were conducted for every teacher—regardless of their race or age—and, to the extent that Plaintiff
contends she was subjected to an unusually high amount of cruise-throughs, (i) she has no evidence
to connect the frequency of her cruise-throughs to her race or age, and (ii) she has no evidence to
rebut Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons for a higher concentration of cruise-throughs (the
location of her classroom) as pretextual.
G. PLAINTIFF’S ASSIGNMENT TO TEACH ALGEBRA
Plaintiff—who taught mathematics for approximately fifteen years—was assigned by
Defendant McKeever to teach algebra. DE 62 at 20. Plaintiff argues that this was an act of
discrimination based upon her race and her age. Id. Plaintiff has not cited to any evidence that
requiring an experienced mathematics teacher to teach algebra is “harmful to the point that [it] could
well dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”
Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 57 (2006). Instead, the record evidence
establishes the opposite—algebra scores were stagnant at Plaintiff’s high school and, as a result, a
reasonable inference from that evidence is that an experienced teacher like Plaintiff would be
assigned to directly handle that division. Plaintiff has no evidence that she was assigned to teach
algebra because of her race or age.
H. PLAINTIFF’S EVALUATION SCORES
Plaintiff argues that there is evidence of discrimination in the form of lower evaluation
scores that she received after she complained about the loss of her stipend. DE 62 at 20. Plaintiff
points to the “Student Growth” rating in her evaluation which, after she complained about her
stipend, dropped from the level of the rating in prior years. In her deposition, however, Plaintiff
conceded that this metric is an objective—not subjective—measurement that is based upon various
tests and derived from a formula; Plaintiff admitted that this metric was not subjectively assigned to
her by anyone, including Defendant McKeever. DE 56-5 at 119.
I. APPLICATION OF RECORD EVIDENCE
With respect to each of Plaintiff’s claims that require evidence of discrimination and pertain
to discrete actions by her employer (Count I, Count II, Count III, and Count IV), Plaintiff lacks
sufficient evidence such that a reasonable juror could conclude that Plaintiff was discriminated
against on the basis of her race or age. Alternatively, as to each of Defendants’ non-discriminatory
reasons substantiating their actions, Plaintiff has no evidence upon which a reasonable juror could
rely to conclude that Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons were pretextual.
With respect to each of Plaintiff’s claims that require evidence of discrimination and pertain
to Plaintiff’s allegations of a hostile workplace environment (Count I, Count II, Count III, and Count
IV), Plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence such that a reasonable juror could conclude that the alleged
harassment was based on a protected characteristic of Plaintiff or that the alleged harassment was
sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Plaintiff’s employment.
With respect to each of Plaintiff’s claims that require evidence of retaliation (Count V and
Count VII), as a threshold matter, the Court is unpersuaded that Plaintiff has established a prima
facie case. 6 However, even if Plaintiff has established a prima facie case for retaliation, her
retaliation claims are subject to the burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Furcon v. Mail Ctrs. Plus, LLC, 843 F.3d 1295, 1310 (11th Cir. 2016).
Accordingly, Plaintiff must have evidence that rebuts the legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons
6 The Court concludes that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of retaliation for three reasons. First, most of
the adverse actions that Plaintiff alleges occurred before she engaged in statutorily protected activity. Second, Plaintiff
cannot show that her protected activity caused the alleged harassment. Third, while Plaintiff alleges some interference
with her ability to transfer to a different school after she engaged in protected activity, that is not a materially adverse
action for the purposes of a retaliation claim. See Hart v. U.S. Atty. Gen., 433 F. App’x 779 (11th Cir. 2011).
cited by Defendants by showing those reasons were pretextual. Id. at 1313-14. As discussed above,
Plaintiff has no evidence of pretext.
Plaintiff has marshalled evidence, at a minimum, that her relationship with her school
administration was strained. Plaintiff has evidence that she was harassed, generally. Plaintiff has
evidence that Defendant McKeever personally disliked Plaintiff because Plaintiff “challenged”
McKeever’s authority. But Plaintiff has no evidence that any action taken against her was a result of
her race or age and Plaintiff has no evidence to rebut Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons for
Defendants’ actions. The record is devoid of evidence of discrimination and evidence that the
Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons were pretextual that a reasonable juror could rely upon.
Each of Plaintiff’s claims fail as a matter of law. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is
granted in full.
It is therefore ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ joint Motion for Summary
Judgment [DE 55] is GRANTED and the Clerk of the Court shall CLOSE THIS CASE.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, Fort Pierce, Florida, this 15th day of September,
ROBIN L. ROSENBERG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Copies furnished to Counsel of Record
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