Golden v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Tennessee
MEMORANDUM OPINION signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 7/14/2017. (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(ab)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
DARRELL L. GOLDEN,
OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON
CHIEF JUDGE CRENSHAW
Plaintiff Darrell L. Golden has sued the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and
Davidson County, Tennessee, (“Metro”) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”), Tenn. Code
Ann. § 4–21–101, et seq. (Doc. No. 1.) Metro filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No.
34), and Golden filed a Response (Doc. No. 40), to which Metro has filed a Reply (Doc. No. 47).
For the reasons discussed below, Metro’s motion will be GRANTED as to Golden’s discrimination
claim and any claims under the THRA, as well as his retaliation claim insofar as it applies to
allegations other than retaliatory discipline and miscalculation of vacation time on or after October
23, 2012. The motion will otherwise be DENIED as to his claim for retaliation under Title VII.
Golden worked for Metro in various capacities for several years, most recently as an
equipment operator for Water Services (“Metro Water”). (Doc. No. 41 at ¶¶ 1, 6.) He resigned in
March of 2015. (Id. at ¶ 2.) At times, Golden, who is African-American, was assigned to work
alongside or under the supervision of another Metro employee, Marty Williams, who is white. (Id.
at ¶ 20; Doc. No. 42 at ¶ 8.) Golden attests that, in November of 2011, a dispute arose between
Williams, on one hand, and Golden and another African-American employee, Greg Hodges, on
the other. The dispute allegedly arose out of Williams’ alleged refusal to perform his share of
driving duties. Golden reported Williams’ refusal to the men’s supervisor, Randy Breedlove,
which led eventually to Williams becoming belligerent with Golden and Hodges in front of
Breedlove at a Taco Bell. During the confrontation, Williams allegedly used a racial slur,
combined with the word “stupid,” to refer to Hodges. (Doc. No. 42 at ¶¶ 15−16.) Golden states
that it is his understanding that Breedlove reported the incident to two of his own supervisors,
Storm Water Supervisor Mickey Jackson and Storm Water Manager Jennifer Hill, who looked
briefly into the matter and did not immediately discipline Williams. (Id. at ¶ 17.)
On December 8, 2011, Golden wrote to Metro Water’s manager of human resources to
complain about Metro’s handling of the incident. Golden wrote that it was “disturbing and
insulting . . . that the supervisory staff went to Marty Williams, interviewed him and took his
written statement” but no one had taken statements from Golden or Hodges. (Doc. No. 42-1 at 1.)
Golden complained, “It is as [though] they only want to hear the Caucasian employee side of the
story.” (Id.) He continued:
Greg is the employee that was racially insulted. I felt the hurt, anger, and
humiliation for Greg as well when this happened. As an African American man I
felt violated as well witnessing this attack on my co-worker. I am also feeling
discriminated against since no one from MWS [has] come to take my statement
knowing that I was present the entire time.
[. . . .]
We don’t know if Marty was discipline[d] for this or not. No one will talk to us, the
two African American men that were insulted. Is this incident being ignored? Are
MWS employees allowed to call the African American employees racial[ly]
Is Marty Williams going to be discipline[d]? If not, is this going to be the norm
[where] Caucasian employees can make racial insults to us?
(Id. at 1−2.) Williams eventually received a five-day suspension that was expanded to a ten-day
suspension when he appealed it—although Golden maintains that this discipline was only meted
out after Golden bypassed his and Williams’ immediate supervisors and went directly to HR. (Doc.
No. 41 at ¶ 10.)
Golden maintains that, prior to the November 2011 incident, he was, for the most part,
treated “fairly well” by Metro Water. (Doc. No. 42 at ¶ 24.) He describes a series of later events,
however, that he attributes to either retaliation for his complaint or discrimination. For example,
Golden alleges that he and Hodges were improperly excluded from a list of employees eligible for
overtime. (Id. at ¶ 25.) He also claims that he was unfairly subjected to heightened scrutiny and
discipline for issues related to the safekeeping and display of his Metro badge. For example,
Golden was written up when he briefly lost and later recovered his badge at a job site in late 2012
or early 2013. (Id. at ¶ 27.) White employees, he asserts, either were not punished or had their
punishments rescinded for similar infractions. (Id. at ¶¶ 27−28.) Golden also claims that, at least
once, he directly observed Hill instructing a security guard to make sure Golden had his badge
when entering the Metro Water premises. (Id. at ¶ 29.) Golden provides other examples of
instances where he believes that he was improperly singled out for discipline or scrutiny that was
not imposed on comparably situated white employees. (Id. at ¶¶ 30, 37−38, 45.)
Golden also claims that Metro Water subjected him to improper calculation and
administration of his available vacation time, in particular with regard to whether or not he was
credited with thirty minutes of non-vacation time for absences that overlapped with a lunch period.
Golden maintains that Metro Water’s miscalculation caused him to exceed his allotted vacation
time for one month in 2013, which triggered Metro Water policies causing him to lose significant
vacation time in the following months. (Doc. No. 41 at ¶ 18; Doc. No. 42 at ¶¶ 31−34.)
At least twice in 2013 or 2014, Golden was assigned to work with an otherwise “all-white”
Metro Water crew, of which Williams was by then a member. On the first instance, Williams was
serving as the crew’s leader, because the usual leader was absent. Golden states that he complained
of having to work under Williams and was told by a manager to “get over it.” The second time that
he was required to work with the all-white crew, Golden was disciplined for causing work to take
too long. He maintains that that discipline was unwarranted. Golden asserts that it is generally
understood at Metro Water that the all-white crew receives better treatment than other crews and
does not like workers from those other crews, in particular African-American workers, to operate
its equipment. (Doc. No. 42 at ¶¶ 40−44.)
Golden also complains about Metro’s 2013 handling of an issue involving what was
referred to as “volunteer” work. Apparently, it was not uncommon for Metro to request volunteers
to come in and work weekends as necessary. In this instance, Metro sought volunteers for Saturday
work following a storm. Golden initially volunteered, but says that he developed a sinus infection.
Golden claims that he was unable to reach his supervisors by phone but sent them text messages
letting them know he was sick and could not attend the Saturday work. Nevertheless, he was
written up the following Monday. Golden attests that these actions were inconsistent with Metro’s
ordinary treatment of employees, including white employees, who missed volunteer duty. (Id. at
On August 19, 2013, Golden filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). (Doc. No. 34-1.) The bulk of the charge involves Golden’s allegation that
he was “harassed, denied over-time, denied lunch breaks, subjected to different terms and
conditions of employment, and denied advancement opportunities” as retaliation for his complaint
about Williams. (Id.) Golden concludes his charge, however, with some general mention of
discrimination as well:
I believe the Respondent has retaliated and discriminated against me in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
I believe that Blacks as a class have been discriminated against in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
The Department of Justice issued a right-to-sue letter to Golden dated July 14, 2014. (Doc.
No. 35.) Golden filed the Complaint in this case on October 14, 2014. He alleges discrimination
under Title VII and the THRA as well as retaliation. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 86−93.) Metro moved for
judgment on the pleadings, which Judge Todd Campbell denied on August 10, 2015. (Doc. No.
24.) After Metro filed its Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 34), Judge Campbell retired
and the case was reassigned to the undersigned (Doc. No. 46).
A. Standard of Review
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Pennington v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The party bringing the summary
judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and
identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material
facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). In deciding a motion for summary
judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts, and inferences in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk W. R.R., Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir.
2007). The Court does not weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the
truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court
determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the material issue of fact a
proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving
party’s position is insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on
which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.
Metro argues that claims based on many of the acts discussed in the Complaint would be
untimely under Title VII and/or the THRA. Under Title VII, an employee seeking to pursue a
discrimination claim against his employer must file a charge with the EEOC within at most 300
days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(e)(1); see
also National R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 110 (2002) (“A discrete retaliatory
or discriminatory act ‘occurred’ on the day that it ‘happened.’ A party, therefore, must file a charge
within either 180 or 300 days of the date of the act or lose the ability to recover for it.”). A cause
of action for discrimination under the THRA must be filed “within one (1) year after the alleged
discriminatory practice ceases.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-311(d).
Golden concedes that claims based on any discrete acts prior to October 23, 2012, are
barred under Title VII’s 300-day rule, and he acknowledges a number of matters raised in his
Complaint that are subject to that bar. However, he identifies four discrete acts that fell within the
period encompassed by the charge of discrimination: (1) discriminatory discipline for issues
related to his badge; (2) discriminatory treatment regarding vacation time; (3) discriminatory
discipline related to “volunteer” work; and (4) discriminatory discipline when being sent to the
“all-white” crew in late 2013 and early 2014. (Doc. No. 40 at 18.) Metro is therefore entitled to
summary judgment with regard to any allegations other than these four.
Golden advances no argument regarding the timeliness of his THRA claims, and more
generally fails to discuss the THRA at all. “[A] plaintiff is deemed to have abandoned a claim
when a plaintiff fails to address it in response to a motion for summary judgment.” Brown v. VHS
of Mich., Inc., 545 F. App’x 368, 372 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing Hicks v. Concorde Career Coll., 449
F. App’x 484, 487 (6th Cir. 2011); Clark v. City of Dublin, 178 F. App’x 522, 524–25 (6th Cir.
2006); Conner v. Hardee's Food Sys., 65 F. App’x 19, 24–25 (6th Cir. 2003); Colston v. Cleveland
Pub. Library, No. 1:12–CV–204, 2012 WL 3309663, at *2 n.2 (N.D. Ohio Aug. 13, 2012)).
Accordingly, the Court will treat his THRA claims as abandoned.
Metro argues next that Golden’s discrimination claims are barred by a failure to exhaust
the administrative process, because his EEOC charge primarily alleged retaliation, with only brief
and general references to discrimination, and did not mention the specific instances of allegedly
discriminatory discipline on which he now relies. Golden argues that his charge was sufficient to
give rise to charges of both retaliation and discrimination and to encompass the facts underlying
his timely claims.
Where a plaintiff has filed a timely EEOC charge, “[a] district court’s jurisdiction is
‘limited to the scope of the EEOC investigation reasonably expected to grow out of the charge of
discrimination.” Johnson v. Cleveland City Sch. Dist., 344 F. App’x 104, 109 (6th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Ang v. Procter & Gamble Co., 932 F.2d 540, 545 (6th Cir. 1991)). This rule, however,
does not impose a categorical bar on consideration of facts or claims that were not explicitly
included in the charge. Rather, “where facts related with respect to the charged claim would prompt
the EEOC to investigate a different, uncharged claim, the plaintiff is not precluded from bringing
suit on that claim.” Davis v. Sodexho, Cumberland Coll. Cafeteria, 157 F.3d 460, 463 (6th Cir.
1998). Rather, “a plaintiff may bring suit on an uncharged claim if it was reasonably within the
scope of the charge filed.” Johnson, 344 F. App’x at 109 (citing Davis, 157 F.3d at 463).
Golden’s alleged discrimination claim arises out of the same events and patterns at issue
in his retaliation claim, such that an investigation into one would naturally lead to and encompass
an investigation into the other—especially where the retaliation claim is inextricably bound up
with the allegation that certain Metro managers had tolerated racially abusive behavior. Although
his charge did not single out the individual disciplinary incidents at issue in this case, Golden
generally alerted the EEOC to his “harassment” by Metro, which, when investigated, would fairly
implicate the more specific issues of discriminatory discipline. Moreover, his allegations about
improper calculation of vacation time are, as he explained, a direct outgrowth of his complaint
about not being credited with lunch breaks—an issue directly mentioned in the charge itself.
Accordingly, a full investigation of Golden’s general allegations would be reasonably expected to
reach all of the acts on which he now relies. The Court can consider discrimination claims premised
on those allegations.
3. Prima facie case
When, as here, an employee attempts to use indirect evidence to prove discrimination, the
Court applies the familiar burden-shifting test announced in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Barrett v. Whirlpool Corp., 556 F.3d 502, 515 (6th Cir. 2009); Geiger
v. Tower Auto., 579 F.3d 614, 622 (6th Cir. 2009). Golden must establish his prima facie case of
discrimination by showing that (1) he is member of a protected class; (2) he suffered an adverse
employment action; (3) he was qualified for the position at issue; and (4) he was treated differently
than similarly-situated non-protected employees. Wright v. Murray Guard, Inc., 455 F.3d 702, 707
(6th Cir. 2006).
Metro argues that Golden’s discriminatory discipline allegations—which make up three of
the four discrete acts that survive Title VII’s timeliness bar—fail to satisfy the second prong of the
prima facie case, an adverse employment action. Golden counters that the disciplinary actions were
sufficiently adverse because a Metro employee’s disciplinary history would be taken into account
for any potential promotions.
Generally speaking, “increased surveillance and discipline, whether warranted or not, do
not constitute a material adverse change in the terms of employment in the discrimination context
because those actions do not ‘constitute[ ] a significant change in employment status, such as
hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a
decision causing a significant change in benefits.’” Lee v. Cleveland Clinic Found., 676 F. App’x
488, 494 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting White v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 533 F.3d 381, 402 (6th Cir.
2008)). Golden has identified no reason, in facts or precedents, to treat this case as a departure
from that rule. Accordingly, Metro is entitled to summary judgment with regard to his
discrimination claims based on discipline.
With regard to Golden’s allegation regarding vacation time, Metro argues that he has failed
to satisfy the fourth prong of the prima facie case by failing to identify a similarly-situated
employee who was treated differently. “[T]o establish a prima facie case using a similarly situated
analysis, it is the Plaintiff’s burden to identify specific employees who were treated more
favorably.” Millner v. Sysco Food Servs. of Cincinnati, LLC, No. 1:08-CV-841, 2010 WL
3467908, at *9 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 1, 2010), report and recommendation adopted, No. C-1-08-841,
2010 WL 3468110 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 31, 2010). The only evidence Golden has produced in this
regard is his own sworn declaration that unnamed white employees were treated differently with
regard to leave. (Doc. No. 42 at ¶ 36.) By failing to offer any identifying details or corroborative
evidence suggesting that specific comparable employees were treated differently, Golden’s
argument that this prong has been satisfied boils down to little more than his own conclusory
assertion that the prima facie case has been met. “If the defendant successfully demonstrates, after
a reasonable period of discovery, that the plaintiff cannot produce sufficient evidence beyond the
bare allegations of the complaint to support an essential element of his or her case, summary
judgment is appropriate.” Combs v. Int’l Ins. Co., 354 F.3d 568, 576 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The Court will accordingly grant summary judgment
to Metro with regard to his discrimination claim based on calculation of vacation time.
Because Golden has failed to establish a disputed issue of material fact with regard to
whether he can satisfy Title VII’s prima facie case for discrimination with regard to the timely
aspects of his claim, Metro is entitled to summary judgment on Count One of the Complaint.
As a preliminary matter, Metro reiterates its timeliness objections with regard to Golden’s
retaliation claims. The 300-day rule regarding charges of discrimination applies to allegations of
retaliatory behavior, as it applies to allegations of discrimination. See Morgan, 536 U.S. at 110.
Accordingly, the Court will limit its consideration to the allegedly unlawful actions that Golden
has identified as timely challenged.
2. Prima facie case
To establish a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, the plaintiff must show that:
(1) he or she engaged in protected activity; (2) the exercise of protected rights was known to the
defendant; (3) the defendant took an adverse employment action against the plaintiff, and (4) there
was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action. Taylor v. Geithner,
703 F.3d 328, 336 (6th Cir. 2013). Metro does not dispute that Golden engaged in protected activity
when he complained about the handling of Williams’ racially abusive outburst and later filed his
EEOC charge. Rather, Metro argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because Golden cannot
establish the third and fourth elements of the prima facie case, adverse employment action and
A plaintiff’s burden of establishing a materially adverse employment action is less onerous
in the retaliation context than in the anti-discrimination context. Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746
F.3d 714, 731 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Michael v. Caterpillar Fin. Servs. Corp., 496 F.3d 584, 594–
95 (6th Cir. 2007)). A materially adverse employment action in the retaliation context consists of
any action that well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making a charge of
discrimination. Id.; see also Lee, 676 F. App’x at 499. The Sixth Circuit has recognized that the
question of whether a particular disciplinary reprimand constitutes an adverse employment action
for the purpose of a retaliation claim requires a situation-specific inquiry. See Taylor, 703 F.3d at
338 (“Although certain written reprimands could rise to the level of an adverse employment action,
the written reprimands given here would not have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making a
claim of discrimination.”).
The Court concludes that, based on Golden’s characterization of the work environment at
Metro Water, disputed issues of fact exist with regard to whether a reasonable worker could be
dissuaded by the discipline to which Golden was subjected. Golden describes a workplace where
shuffling of titles, responsibilities, and assignments appears to have been fairly common. (See,
e.g., Doc. No. 42 at ¶¶ 6, 40−41.) It is reasonable to infer that, in such a setting, workers would be
concerned about accruing formal disciplinary actions that could be held against them in obtaining
favorable treatment in the future. The Court therefore cannot conclude that Metro’s disciplinary
actions categorically would not have dissuaded a reasonable employee from complaining about
the 2011 incident and Metro Water’s handling thereof. Similarly, a reasonable employee may well
have been dissuaded from coming forward if he knew that he would end up losing vacation hours
as a result.
Metro argues next that Golden cannot show a causal connection between his 2011
complaint and the alleged adverse actions. To establish a causal connection, the plaintiff must
establish that his or her protected activity was a “but-for” cause of the alleged adverse action by
the employer. Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, 133 S. Ct. 2517, 2533–34 (2013). Golden
points to the fact that, by his telling, he was treated well by Metro prior to his complaint, after
which he was made subject to repeated instances of being singled out for heightened scrutiny and
particularly harsh treatment.
Although temporal proximity can be sufficient to create a causal connection “[w]here an
adverse employment action occurs very close in time after an employer learns of a protected
activity,” “where some time elapses between when the employer learns of a protected activity and
the subsequent adverse employment action, the employee must couple temporal proximity with
other evidence of retaliatory conduct to establish causality.” Montell v. Diversified Clinical Servs.,
Inc., 757 F.3d 497, 505 (6th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added). The Sixth Circuit has not established a
bright-line rule for temporal connections in retaliation, but it has found a four-month period of
time insufficient to establish a prima facie case of retaliation. Cooper v. City of N. Olmsted, 795
F.2d 1265, 1272–73 (6th Cir. 1986). The negative treatment that Golden has alleged did not begin
so soon after his complaint to HR that temporal proximity alone would give rise to an inference of
causation, and the instances of alleged mistreatment that are not time-barred are even more
attenuated in time from that complaint.
Golden does, however, offer some additional evidence that might convince a jury that
Metro’s actions were a direct result of his complaining about Williams’ behavior. First, there is
the allegedly stark difference in his treatment before and after his complaint. “Causation can be
established by . . . evidence that the plaintiff was subjected to closer disciplinary scrutiny after
engaging in protected activity.” Green v. Cent. Ohio Transit Auth., 647 F. App’x 555, 560 (6th
Cir. 2016) (citing Evans v. Prospect Airport Servs., Inc., 286 F. App’x. 889, 895 (6th Cir.
2008)); see also Banks v. Argos Risk Mgmt. Servs., LLC, 963 F. Supp. 2d 778, 786–87 (M.D.
Tenn. 2013), amended in part, No. 3:12-00596, 2013 WL 5592202 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 10, 2013)
(“[E]vidence that an employee was singled out, or subjected to increased scrutiny can be
considered in the causation equation.”) (citing Hamilton v. Gen. Elec. Co., 556 F.3d 428, 436 (6th
Cir. 2009)). What Golden alleges is not merely one or two instances of isolated discipline, but a
slow, steady accretion of events where he was subjected to harsher, more pervasive scrutiny than
he had been before. This pattern, taken as a whole, provides some corroboration that his complaint
may have been the cause.
Providing further support, Golden attested to facts tending to suggest that Williams was
the beneficiary of a favored workplace status that could explain why a coworker who reported him
would face retaliation. Golden explains that Williams was a friend of a supervisor, Jackson, who
was directly involved in at least some of Metro’s disciplinary actions against Golden. (Doc. No.
42 at ¶¶ 9, 17, 27.) According to Golden, moreover, Williams was placed in leadership positions
despite being ill suited to them and lacking the support of his subordinates. (Id. at ¶¶ 12−13, 23.)
Eventually, Williams was placed on an all-white crew that was allegedly favored over other crews.
(Id. at ¶ 23.) On this crew, he was placed in a leadership position for at least the second time—
despite having faced dissension from his subordinates in his earlier assignment and having been
disciplined earlier for using a racial slur. (Id. at ¶¶ 12−13, 23; Doc. No. 41 at ¶ 10.) A reasonable
fact finder could construe these events as corroborating supervisors’ desire to advance Williams
and to insulate him from racially charged conflict and/or the consequences thereof. Where the
evidence shows that one employee is strongly favored by management, and another employee is
subjected to heightened scrutiny after complaining about his favored peer, a fact finder may
reasonably infer but-for causation.
Finally, Metro generally objects to Golden’s overreliance on his own declaration and his
failure to cite support from additional evidence uncovered in discovery. Golden’s declaration,
however, is well within the boundaries of materials appropriate for establishing a dispute of
material fact for the purpose of summary judgment. See Humphreys & Partners Architects, L.P.
v. Lessard Design, Inc., 790 F.3d 532, 538 (4th Cir. 2015), as amended (June 24, 2015) (“[On
summary judgment, the] court may consider materials that would themselves be admissible at trial,
and the content or substance of otherwise inadmissible materials where the ‘the party submitting
the evidence show[s] that it will be possible to put the information . . . into an admissible form.’”
(quoting 11 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 56.91 (3d ed. 2015))). While
the Court will not deny summary judgment based solely on a plaintiff’s self-serving conclusory
assertions that his case has merit, it also will not disregard Golden’s status as an appropriate fact
witness simply because he is a party to this case. Golden may testify on workplace matters that he
personally experienced or observed, and that testimony is sufficient here to create a fact issue for
trial. The lack of corroboration goes to his testimony’s ultimate weight, not its sufficiency under
If a plaintiff “succeed[s] in making out the elements of a prima facie case of retaliation, the
burden of production shifts to [the defendant] to articulate a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for”
its adverse employment action. Evans v. Prof'l Transp., Inc., 614 F. App'x 297, 300 (6th Cir. 2015)
(citing Dixon v. Gonzales, 481 F.3d 324, 333 (6th Cir. 2007)). It is unclear from the pleadings
whether Metro seeks summary judgment based on such an argument, but insofar as it does, it has
failed. Metro has advanced no plausible rationale that would justify imposing discipline more
harshly on Golden than on ordinary employees. Even if Golden was guilty of all the infractions of
which he was accused, that would explain only some discipline, not heightened discipline. As for
his allegations regarding lunch breaks and overtime, there appear to be disputed issues of fact with
regard to whether Metro’s actions were merely an application of its general policy or not. (See
Doc. No. 41 at ¶ 18.)
Metro advances no other arguments in support of summary judgment related to retaliation.
Accordingly, there are disputed issues of material fact with regard to Golden’s retaliation claim
that preclude the Court from granting summary judgment on Count Two.
For the reasons discussed above, Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 34)
will be GRANTED as to Golden’s discrimination claim and any claims under the THRA, as well
as his retaliation claim insofar as it applies to allegations other than retaliatory discipline and the
miscalculation of vacation time on or after October 23, 2012. The motion will otherwise be
DENIED as to his claim for retaliation under Title VII.
The Court will enter an appropriate order.
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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