WILLIAMS v. ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 5/8/17. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 15-cv-06366 (ILL) (JAD)
ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM,
LINARES, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment and Plaintiffs cross-motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint with the Court that alleges
Defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
accordance with federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7$, the Court has considered the submissions of
the parties and decides this matter without oral argument.
For the reasons set forth below, the
Court grants Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denies Plaintiffs cross-motion.
The following facts are undisputed by the parties unless noted otherwise.
Plaintiff Doris Williams (“Plaintiff’ or “Ms. Williams”), an African American woman,
completed and signed an Employment Application (“Application”) for a secretary/tech position
with Defendant Atlantic Health System (“Defendant” or “AHS”) on July 23, 2013. Lewis 56.1
19, 23; Harwin 56.1 Answer
The Application included the following
I understand that any misstatement, omission or misleading information given in
my application or interview or in connection with other Atlantic Health System
records may result in the rejection of my application, the withdrawal of any offer
of employment or my dismissal.
I also authorize Atlantic Health System to conduct a check into my criminal
Lewis 56.1 Statement Id.
The Application also prompted an
21; Anders Decl. Ex. 10.
applicant to designate by checking a corresponding box of either “yes” or “no” if the individual
has “ever been convicted of any criminal violation of law or offense or are
now under pending
investigation or charges of violation of criminal law or offense.” Lewis 56.1 Statement
Anders Decl. Ex. 10. Ms. Williams answered the aforementioned question on the Application by
checking the box indicating “no.”
following an interview with Lynne Emond (“Ms.
Emond”), Nurse Manager at AHS, Ms. Williams was offered the position on a per diem basis at
a rate of $17.56 per hour. Id.
Williams met with personally. Id.
23, 24. Ms. Ernond was the only person from AHS that Ms.
Ms. Williams’ new hire orientation date was set for
December 16, 2013. Id.J 25.
Plaintiffs Criminal Background Check
As a health care provider, AHS conducts post-offer criminal background checks on all
individuals who receive a conditional offer of employment. Lewis 56.1 Statement
perform the checks AHS retains the services of TABB, Inc. Id.
27. On December 5, 2013,
TABB completed Ms. Williams’ criminal background check, which indicated that Ms. Williams
had been convicted or pled guilty in a criminal matter. Id.
Ms. Williams’ criminal history includes the following incidents. In 1991, Plaintiff was
arrested in Randolph Township and pled guilty to driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). Lewis 56.1
At that time, Ms. Williams was also charged with the possession of cocaine of
which Ms. Williams ultimately pled guilty to a downgraded offense of drug paraphernalia and
received a conditional discharge. Id.
In 1992, Ms. Williams was arrested and pled guilty to
a DWI in Randolph Township. Due to her 1991 DWI, Ms. Williams’ license was suspended;
thus, as a result of her 1992 DWT, Ms. Williams was also charged with driving with a suspended
Ms. Williams pled guilty to said offense. Id. From 1992 through July 23, 2013,
Williams’ employment application date with AHS, she had been arrested several times for
driving with a suspended license and pled guilty to each offense. Id.
Due to these offenses,
Ms. Williams’ license was further suspended, she served jail time and she also spent time in the
Sheriffs Labor Assistance Program (“SLAP”). Id.
On September 3, 2011, Ms. Williams was arrested by the New Jersey State Police for a
DWI, during which, pursuant to a search incident to arrest, Ms. Williams was found to be in
possession of marijuana. Id.
On October 31, 2011, Ms. Williams pled guilty to this offense,
which required her to pay fines, attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and spend ten
days in SLAP. Id.J 9. That same day, Ms. Williams received a conditional discharge for the
drug possession offense. Id.
10. Thereafter on February 8, 2012, the Montville Municipal
Court received a letter from the Sussex County Probation Division advising that Ms. Williams
“had a previous conditional discharge in 1991 out of Randolph Township Municipal Court. As
such, she is ineligible to be on Conditional Discharge for the instant offense.” Id.
December 18, 2012, Ms. Williams was arrested in the Town of Newton for driving with a
suspended license. Id.
On April 30, 2013, as a result of her guilty plea, Ms. Williams
license was revoked for six months and she was sentenced to ten days in jail Id.
Due to her ineligibility for a second conditional discharge, the Montville Municipal Court
sent Ms. Williams court notices to appear on the following dates: April 8, 2013; June 17, 2013;
July 1, 2013; July 29, 2013; September 9, 2013; and October 7, 2013. Id.
13. Ms. Williams
asserts however that she never received any of the notices since they were mailed to the wrong
address due to an error in the zip code on the envelopes. Harwin 56.1 Statement ¶ 13.
Officer Van Dright and Williams’ Conversation
In light of this finding, Officer John Van Dright (“Officer Van Dright”), Manager of
Protection and Security at AH$, called Ms. Williams in early December 2013. Id. The exact
date’ and contents of the telephone conversation between Officer Van Dright and Ms. Williams
are in dispute. Lewis 56.1 Statement
Harwin 56.1 Answer
The following sets forth
the facts of the phone conversation as provided by the parties:
Telephone C’onversation as provided by Defendant:
• Officer Van Dright explained his role in reviewing
background checks for applicants and indicated to
Williams that something came up on her background
check. Lewis 56.1 Statement ¶ 32.
• In response to Officer Van Dright’s statement,
Williams volunteered that her criminal history could
not indicate any activity because she was never
involved with law enforcement. Id.
• Officer Van Dright then read the question regarding
an applicant’s criminal history from the Application to
Williams verbatim and further indicated to Ms.
Williams that she had responded “no” to this inquiry
on the Application. Id. ¶ 33.
AHS contends that Officer Van Dright called Ms. Williams on December 6, 2013 whereas Ms. Williams claims the
conversation took place on December 9,2013. Lewis 56.1 Statement 31; Harwin 56.1 AnswerJ 32.
• Ms. Williams again represented to Officer Van
Dright that she had no knowledge of any arrests and
that it was only until after Officer Van Dright read the
above referenced question an additional time that Ms.
Williams “came clean and admitted that she might
have been arrested.” Id. ¶ ¶ 33, 34.
• Officer Van Dright informed Ms. Williams that he
had received information from Montville Municipal
Court regarding an incident in which she was involved
with law enforcement and then Ms. Williams
acknowledged that there was an incident involving
marijuana.2 Id. ¶ 35.
Telephone Conversation as provided iw Flaintiff
• Officer Van Dright called Williams and stated that
she had lied on the Application because she did not
disclose that she had been convicted of a crime.
Harwin 56.1 Statement ¶ 32.
• In response to Officer Van Dright’s accusation, Ms.
Williams advised Officer Van Dright that she had not
been convicted of a crime and Officer Van Dright
then stated that Ms. Williams had been arrested. Id.
• Ms. Williams asserts that she told Officer Van
Dright that being arrested and having a criminal
conviction are not the same and that the Application
never asked whether the applicant had been arrested.
• Ms. Williams denies representing to Officer Van
Dright that she had not been arrested, instead Ms.
Williams asserts that she had acknowledged that she
had been arrested, the Application however did not
inquire into whether an applicant had ever been
arrested. Id. ¶F 33, 34.
Plaintiff denies this part of the conversation ever took place. Further, Plaintiff asserts that Officer Van Dright
“never asked Plaintiff if there was an incident that involved drugs or marijuana. If he did, Plaintiff would have told
him yes since by this time the conditional discharge was vacated she had plead guilty to a violation of a municipal
ordinance.” Harwin 56.1 StatementJ 16.
Subsequent to the phone conversation, Officer Van Dright contacted the Montville
Municipal Court during which he spoke with Carmen Calle (“Calle”), Deputy Court
¶ 35, 36.
According to Officer Van Dright, Calle provided that Ms.
Williams had initially received a conditional discharge relating to her September 3, 2011 arrest
for the possession of marijuana however a court date was pending for the possession of
marijuana charge because the conditional discharge had been rescinded by the court after the
court became aware that Williams had lied to the Judge when she said she never received any
prior conditional discharge. Id.
¶ 36, 37.
Williams asserts that she did not lie to the court.
Rather, at the time she entered a plea in the Montville Municipal Court, Williams contends that
she did not remember receiving a prior conditional discharge since it was so long ago. Harwin
Additionally, Williams admits that there was uncertainty about the
conditional discharge entered in the Montville Municipal Court, but she did not learn of the
uncertainty until well after she completed the Application, which was on July 23, 2013. Id.
AHS asserts that as a result of Officer Van Dright’s investigation he did not approve Ms.
Williams for hire because she had not been truthful in the application process3. Lewis 56.1
Statement ¶ 40.
On January 21, 2014, Ms. Williams filed a charge against ARS with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging that AH$ discriminated against her
based on her race. Lewis 56.1 Statement
¶ 1. After conducting an investigation, on July 29,
Ms. Williams denies this statement of fact made by AHS and counters that Officer Van Dright “[k]new the issue of
the revoked conditional discharge occurred after the Plaintiff completed the Application on July 23, 2013. As such,
Officer Van Dright knew that Plaintiff did not lie on her application.” Because Ms. Williams here fails to make any
reference to the record, the Court deems this fact undisputed. See L. Civ. R. 56. 1 (citing Tantillo v. Citifinancial,
2013 U.S. Dist. Lexis 21832 (D.N.J. Feb. 19, 2013) (facts not identified by references to record deemed admitted)).
2015 the EEOC issued a right to sue letter and a detennination concluding that the available
inforniation failed to establish AH$ violated any of the statutes. Anders Decl. Ex 2. Thereafter,
on August 22, 2015, Plaintiff initiated this matter with the Court by filing a one count Complaint
(ECF No. 1, “Compl.”) claiming Defendant’s failure to hire Plaintiff was in contravention of
Title VII. Defendant AHS filed the instant motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 40, “Def.’s
Mot. $umm. J.”) on February 15, 2017. Plaintiff then opposed Defendant’s motion on March 4,
2017 and simultaneously filed its cross motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 41, “P1. ‘s Mot.
On March 20, 2017, Defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 44, “Def.’s Reply”).
Plaintiff subsequently filed a sur-reply (ECF No. 47, “Pl.’s Reply”) on April 1, 2017. For the
reasons that follow, the Court grants Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denies
STANDARD FOR A MOTION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, a Court may grant a party’s motion for
summary judgment when that moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the evidence establishes that the moving party is entitled to judgement as a
matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Orson, Inc. v. Miramax
Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). A dispute is factual if a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the non-movant and a dispute is material, if under the substantive law, it
would affect the outcome of the case.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). When the moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, it must establish the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact on all essential elements of its case that it bears at trial. In re
Bressman, 327 F. 3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003).
Once the moving party fulfills its initial burden, the nonmoving party must establish there
is a material fact for trial by presenting actual evidence rather than mere allegations. Id. at 25657.
A nonmoving party creates a genuine issue of material fact by presenting sufficient
evidence so that a reasonable jury could render a decision in their favor. Marino v. Indus.
Crating Co., 358 F. 3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). “A district
court must not engage in credibility determinations or weighing of the evidence, rather the
nomoving party’s evidence is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its
Since Williams’ race discrimination allegations rely solely on circumstantial evidence,
the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework applies to her Title VII claim. See
McDonnell Douglas Coip. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973); see also Scott v. IBM Corp., 196
F.R.D. 233, 241 (D.N.J. 2000). Under McDonnell Douglas, a plaintiff alleging an employment
discrimination claim under Title VII bears the initial burden of establishing a prima fade case.
McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802.
After such a showing by the plaintiff, the burden of
production then shifts to the defendant to provide a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the
plaintiffs rejection or tenuination from employment. Id.; EEOC v. Metal Serv. Co., 892 F.2d
341, 348 (3d Cir. 1990); Walton v. Mental Health Ass’n, 168 F.3d 661, 667-68 (3d Cir. 1999);
Jones v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia, 198 F.3d 403, 412 (3d Cir. 1999). Once the defendant sets
forth a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, “the aggrieved [plaintiffi employee must then
proffer evidence that is sufficient to allow a reasonable finder of fact to find by a preponderance
of the evidence that the [defendant] employer’s proffered reasons are false or pretextual.”
Fasold v. Jttstice, 409 F. 3d 178. 183 (citing Sarullo v. United States Postal Serv., 352 F.3d 789,
797 (3d Cir. 2003).
“While the burden of production may shifi, ‘the ultimate burden of
persuading the trier of fact that the defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff
remains at all times with the plaintiff.” Jones, 198 f.3d at 410 (quoting Texas Dep’t of
Comniimity Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53 (19$ 1)).
Defendant asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment because Ms. Williams cannot
establish aprimafacie case of employment discrimination under Title VII, AHS had a legitimate
non-retaliatory reason for its employment actions and lastly, Ms. Williams has failed to provide
sufficient evidence to support an inference that the reason AHS rescinded Ms. Williams’
employment offer was based on pretext rather than a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason. See
Def.’s Mot. Summ. J. Plaintiffs cross-motion claims summary judgment on the issue of liability
is appropriate in its favor because Plaintiff has proven a prima fade case of race discrimination,
Defendant had no legitimate reason to terminate the Plaintiff since Officer Van Dright knew Ms.
Williams did not lie on her application, and Plaintiff has proven a prima facie case of disparate
impact discrimination fulfilling her ultimate burden under the last prong of the McDonnell
Additionally, Plaintiff supports her motion claiming that Defendant was
aware that Ms. Williams was African American. F or the reasons set forth below, the Court finds
Defendant is entitled to summary judgment since Defendant has established there are no genuine
issues of fact of which a reasonable jury would find in favor of the Plaintiff.
A. Prima Fade Case of Race Discrimination under Title VII
A prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII requires a showing that: (1) the
plaintiff “belongs to a protected class”; (2) the plaintiff “was qualified for the position”; (3) the
plaintiff “was subject to an adverse employment action despite being qualified”; and (4) the
adverse employment action occurred under circumstances raising an inference of discrimination.
Samulto, 352 F.3d at 78$ (citing McDonnell Dottglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973));
Pivirotto v. Innovative Svs., Inc., 191 F. 3d 344, 34$ n.1, 352, 356 (3d Cir. 1999)). “The central
focus of the prima facie case is always whether the employer is treating some people less
favorably than others because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Sarullo, 352
F.3d at 79$ ((citing Pivirotto, 191 F.3d at 352)(quoting Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United.States,
431 U.S. 324, 335 n.15, 52 L. Ed. 2d 396, 97 S. Ct. 1843 (1977))(intemal quotations omitted)).
AHS moves for summary judgment arguing that Ms. Williams’ discrimination claim fails
because she has not fulfilled her burden in establishing the fourth element of a prima facie case.
Def.’s Mot. Summ. J. 5.
In support of this assertion, AHS sets forth that Ms. Williams, when
asked to provide facts supporting her race discrimination claim, was unable to do so as she made
the following statement:
Regarding Title VII as a minority, and a minority using my motor vehicle record to deny
Because of as a minority it’s
me employment I fell that I was discriminated upon.
illegal to use a criminal record to actually, you know, give or take away employment.
Id. In support of this notion, Defendant relies on Plaintiffs testimony which sets forth that
“Plaintiff admitted that: (1) Officer Van Dnght, who decided not to approve Plaintiff for hire,
never met or saw her; (ii) AHS’s employment application did not inquire about her race; and (iii)
no one at AHS, except Lyn Emond (“Emond”), who did not make the decision to rescind her
employment offer, knew her race.” Id. 6.
Based on the foregoing, Defendant moves for
Summary Judgment asserting that Plaintiff fails to allege a claim for race discrimination under
Title VII because Plaintiff does not set forth sufficient facts in order raise an inference of
discrimination as required by the fourth prong of the primafacie. Def.’s Mot Sumrn. J. 5-6.
Relying on EEOC Enforcement Guideline 9 15.022 which cites Griggs v. Duke Power
Company, 401 U.S. 424, 431-32 (1971), Plaintiff argues that Ms. Williams has established a
prima Icicle case of race discrimination because Griggs “held that Title VII proscribes practices
that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation. [And, also that] [tJhe EEOC noted that in
1991 Congress amended Title VII to codify this analysis of discrimination and its burdens of
Pl.’s Mot. Surnm. J. 16. Plaintiff asserts that because Griggs “held that Title VII
proscribes practices that are fair in fonu, but discriminatory in operation. [And, also that] [t]he
EEOC noted that in 1991 Congress amended Title VII to codify this analysis of discrimination
and its burdens of proof.” Id. Plaintiff asserts that the use of one’s criminal background to deny
employment without proper safeguards is a Title VII Violation. Afier carefully assessing both
arguments, the Court agrees with Defendant and finds that Plaintiff has failed to establish the
fourth prong of the prima facie test.
The Third Circuit, in Saritilo v. United States Postal Serv., 352 F. 3d 789 (3d Cir. 2003),
affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant employer United
States Postal Service (“USPS”) with respect to plaintiff employee Sanillo’s discrimination claim
in violation Title VII finding that Sarullo had not established a prima facie case of race
employment since the record was absent of evidence establishing that the failure to rehire Sarullo
was based on discriminatory anirnus and the reason proffered for not rehiring Sarullo was a
legitimate nondiscriminatory purpose.
Id. at 794. Afier being arrested for selling cocaine,
Sarullo received a Notice of Removal from employer USPS informing him that he was being
terminated as a result of his criminal activity.
Sarullo sent a letter to USPS requesting
reinstatement to his previous position with USPS, which was forwarded to William Brown
(“Brown”), District Manager of Human Resources for the Northern New Jersey District and the
individual responsible for deciding to reinstate previous employees.
Per a USPS policy
prohibiting rehiring individuals removed for cause, Brown denied Sarnllo’s request.
brought a claim against the USPS in the United States District Court for the District of New
Jersey alleging that his tennination was due to his Native Ancestry in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. As it was uncontested that Brown was aware of Sarullo’s race or age,
the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of USPS since Sarullo failed to
demonstrate evidence that the decision to not reinstate Sanillo raised an inference of
discrimination to establish a prima fade claim and also because the reason set forth for not
rehiring Sarullo had a legitimate nondiscriminatory purpose. The Third Circuit affirmed the
District Court’s decision. See generally Sarttllo v. United States Postal Serv., 352 F. 3d 789 (3d
Similar to Sarullo, AHS does not dispute the first three elements of Williams’ prima facie
case; Williams is an African American woman, her qualifications met the requirements of the
position as AHS extended an employment offer, and Williams experienced an adverse
employment action when AHS rescinded her offer. Def.’s Mot. Surnrn. J. 5. Notwithstanding,
Williams does not establish the fourth element of the prima facie test because she fails to
demonstrate AHS’s revocation of her offer raises an inference of discriminatory animus. See
Sarullo, 352 F. 3d at 798. Further similar to Sarullo, Williams’ evidence of race discrimination
rests solely on her own depositions and affidavits that AHS discriminated against her based on
Here though, Williams’ deposition testimony fails to even provide any supporting
events that would create an inference of race discrimination on the part of AHS against the
Plaintiff. For example, in her deposition testimony, Williams provided the following:
What facts support your claim that your race played any role in the decision to
rescind your offer of employment?
Regarding Title VII as a minority, and a minority using my motor vehicle record
to deny me employment I feel that I was discriminated upon.
How did Atlantic Health use your motor vehicle record?
My motor vehicle criminal or my criminal record maybe instead using my
criminal record to discriminate against me, not hiring me.
My question though is what is it about your race. Why do you believe your race,
the fact that you’re African American played a role in their decision to rescind
your employment offer?
Because of as a minority it’s illegal to use a criminal record to actually, you
know, give or take away employment.
I’m not asking about the criminal record. I’m asking about your race specifically.
What do you believe
As a minority, as a black, a minority regarding my race it’s illegal to use that.
Any other facts that you’re aware of to support your position that your race played
a role in their decision to rescind your offer of employment?
No, not at this time.
The record also fails to raise an inference that Officer Van Dright acted with a discriminatory
intent when he decided that Ms. Williams was not approved for hire at AHS. AHS asserts and
Ms. Williams admits that the Application did not inquire as to an applicant’s race, Officer Van
Dright made the decision not to approve Ms. Williams for hire, Officer Van Dright never met or
saw Ms. Williams and lastly that no one at AHS, except for Ms. Emond knew Ms. Williams’
race. Lewis 56.1
¶ 45 —47; Harwin 56.1 Answer ¶ 45 —47. Ms. Williams does not present any
evidence to rebut that Officer Van Dright was aware of Ms. Williams’ race or that Officer Van
Dright took her criminal history into account in deciding to disapprove hiring Ms. Williams.
Additionally, nothing in the record suggests that Officer Van Dright in some way was aware of
or inferred Ms. Williams’ race. See Sarullo, 352 F. 3d 799 (“[N]othing [in the record] supports
an inference Brown [heard] of Sarullo’s Native American heritage through an office
‘grapevine.”) AHS contends that this is a case where Williams’ dishonesty on her Application
and in subsequent conversations caused the revocation of her job offer.
Def.’s Mot. Summ. J.
1 L Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Plaintiff Williams has not set forth a sufficient
basis to infer that the decision to rescind her employment offer was based on a discriminatory
purpose or her race.
B. Legitimate Nondiscriminatory Reason
As set forth by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Coip. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
(1973), if a plaintiff employee demonstrates a prima fade case of discrimination under Title VII,
the burden then shifts to the defendant employer to establish a legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason for its adverse employment decision, before the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to
establish pretext. See Good-Gaillard v. Ni Dep’t of Corr., 625 Fed. App’x 123, 128 n.2 (3d
Cir. 2015)(citing Aman v. Cort furniture Rental Coip., 85 F. 3d 1074, 1087-88 (3d Cir.
1 996)(”applying the same analysis to plaintiffs retaliation claims under Title VII”).
Assuming, argttendo, Plaintiff successfully established a prima fade claim of race
discrimination by proving the four elements discussed above, the burden then shifts to ARS to
demonstrate that a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason exists for its actions. Defendant avers
that “[e]ven if Plaintiff is able to establish a prima facie case of race discrimination, AHS has
articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for rescinding Plaintiffs employment, offer,
namely, AHS’s reasonable belief that Plaintiff was dishonest during the application process.”
Def.’s Mot. Sumrn. J. 7.
As it is uncontested that AH$ provided Williams with a conditional offer contingent upon
a criminal background check conducted on all individuals receiving this type of offer.
November 2013, Williams interviewed with Ms. Emond and was offered a position at ARS. It
was only after the criminal background check was conducted on Ms. Williams that her offer was
furthennore, Williams testified and it is undisputed that she understood the
information in the Application and understood that an employer would withdrawal an offer of
ernployn-ient if an applicant makes a misstatement or provides misleading information, and that
she understood that AHS was to conduct a criminal background check. Lewis 56.1 Statement
22. for these reasons, Defendant has set forth sufficient evidence to demonstrate that due to the
results of her criminal background check and based on the evidence of record, AHS had a
legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for rescinding Ms. Williams’ employment offer.
After the employer fulfills its burden in establishing a legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that the reasons provided by the defendant are
false or a mere pretext for discrimination. Fasold, 409 F. 3d at 184 (“[T]he aggrieved employee
must then proffer evidence that is sufficient to allow a reasonable finder of fact to find by a
preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s proffered reasons
are false or
pretextual.”)(citing $artdlo, 352 F. 3d at 797). At the third stage in the McDonnell Douglas
analysis, in order for a plaintiff to defeat summary judgment “when the defendant answers the
plaintiffs prima facie case with legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its action, the plaintiff
must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a factfinder could reasonably
either (1) disbelieve the employer’s articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an
invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or detenriinative cause of
the employer’s action.” fuentes v. Ferskie, 32 F. 3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994).
To prove pretext,
a plaintiff must set forth evidence from which a court “could either (1) disbelieve the employer’s
articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more
likely than not a motivating deteniiinative cause of the employer’s action.” fuentes, 32 F. 3d at
764 (citing St. Mary’s Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 510 (1993); Ezoid v. Woif Block,
Schorr & Soils-Cohen, 983 F. 2d 509, 523 (3d Cir. 1992).
When determining whether or not a
stated reason is pretext, the Court “must review the record ‘taken as a whole.” Reeves v.
Sanders Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 130, 150 (2000)(quoting Matsushita Flee. Industrial C’o. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).
In support of its motion for summary judgment, AHS argues that Ms. Williams fails to
meet her ultimate burden of proving pretext because she has failed to set forth competent
evidence to raise an inference from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Ms. Williams’
race played a role in AH$’s decision to rescind the offer of employment. Def.’s Mot. Summ. J.
AHS asserts that there is “no competent evidence from which a reasonable juror could
conclude that rescinding Plaintiffs employment offer was more likely motivated by a
discriminatory animus than by AHS’s reasonable belief that Plaintiff was dishonest during the
application process.” Id.
Additionally, AHS contends that Officer Van Dright, who made the
final decision not to hire Ms. Williams, never met nor saw Ms. Williams and the Application did
not inquire about her race. Id. AHS sets forth that this is not a case where AHS determined that
Ms. Williams’ prior criminal history disqualified her for employment, rather this case revolves
around Ms. Williams’ alleged dishonesty on her Application and subsequent conversations that
caused AHS to rescind her job offer. Id. In addition, Defendant asserts that the evidence does
not establish that Officer Van Dright’s decision to not approve Plaintiff for hire was motivated
by discriminatory intent as Officer Van Dright had never met or seen Plaintiff and the
Application did not inquire about an applicant’s race. Id. 11. Defendant asserts that the issue at
hand is whether Plaintiff’s dishonesty on her application and subsequent conversations caused
ARS to rescind the job offer. Id.
Further in support of its motion, AHS argues that its past practice of considering and
hiring individuals with a prior criminal history belies any argument by Ms. Williams that AHS
engaged in discriminatory hiring practices. Def. ‘s Mot. Summ. J. ii. From January 1, 2013
through December 31, 2014, AHS asserts that twenty-six applicants were hired as employees
after post-criminal background checks indicated that each had contact with the criminal justice
system, including convictions. Id. AHS provides the following demographic breakdown of the
twenty-eight successful applicants4:
Based on the foregoing statistics, AHS contends that it is clear that they do not disqualify
applicant based on their criminal background and/or race. Id. 12.
In light of the foregoing, the
Court finds Ms. Williams has failed to fulfill her burden and provide any evidence of pretext
while AHS has provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that AHS does not have a history of
engaging in discriminatory hiring practices nor was there any other reason for not hiring Ms.
Williams other than her dishonesty.
AHS’s maintains that twenty-eight applicants were offered positions after background checks revealed contact
with the criminal justice system however two applicants declined the offer.
Based on the foregoing, the Court grants Defendant ARS’ motion for summary judgment
and denies Plaintiff Williams’ cross-motion for summary judgment.
An appropriate order
accompanies this Opinion.
OSE L. LINARES
ITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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