United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D. JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Hackensack Meridian's
motion for Summary Judgment dismissal of Plaintiff Gloria
McKinney's Complaint. (ECF No. 64). In an earlier order,
the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). (ECF No. 28). Plaintiff's remaining claims
allege: (1) race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964; (2) age discrimination under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); and (3) unlawful
retaliation under Title VII and the ADEA. (Id.). For
the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment will be granted.
Gloria McKinney is a sixty-three year old African American,
who has worked for Bayshore Health Care (hereinafter,
“Bayshore”) as a Nutritional Services Supervisor
(hereinafter, “supervisor”) since October 1999.
(Defendant's Statement of Material Facts [SOMF] at
¶¶ 3, 9). Supervisors work in one of two shifts:
opening and closing. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-18).
Opening shifts begin at 5:30 or 6:30 AM and end at
approximately 2:00 PM, while closing shifts begin at 11:30 AM
and end at approximately 8:00 PM. (Id. at ¶
in April 2013, Bayshore's Director of Nutritional
Services, Laura Perez, and Administrator, William Hamilton,
required all supervisors to rotate between working the
opening and closing shifts (hereinafter, “Operational
Decision”). (Id. at ¶¶ 11-12, 36).
However, prior to this decision, Plaintiff only worked the
morning shift and complained to Perez about working evening
shifts, since the closing supervisors do not do their jobs
and she “has to pick up all the slack.”
(Id. at ¶¶ 39-40). Apparently, Perez
responded, “that's your nature.” That
response offended Plaintiff; however, in a subsequent meeting
between Plaintiff, Perez, and Hamilton, Perez apologized to
Plaintiff for any comment she made that may have offended
her. (Id. at ¶¶ 41, 44).
Plaintiff later filed a complaint with Human Resources in
April 2013 about Perez's “that's your
nature” comment and being required to work closing
shifts. (Id. at ¶ 45; ECF No. 64-14). Claudia
Myers, a Meridian Team Member Relations Specialist, then
investigated the issues raised in Plaintiff's complaint.
(Id. at ¶ 45). After discussing the issues with
Perez and Hamilton, Myers expressed to Plaintiff that
Perez's comments were not meant to insult her and noted
that Perez had apologized to her. In addition, Myers
explained to Plaintiff that, contrary to her assertion, she
was not the only “closing supervisor, ” and
identified two other individuals who were also required to
work closing shifts. (Id. at ¶¶ 53-55).
Finally, although Plaintiff apparently took issue with the
fact that another employee was not required to assume closing
shifts, Myers explained that the other employee was an
“Assistant Director, ” not a
“Supervisor” and, as such, was not required to
work closing shifts. (Id.). Plaintiff does not claim
to have been disciplined or adversely affected in any way.
2015, Plaintiff was summoned to a meeting with Hamilton,
Perez, and Beverly Osbourne, the Director of Nursing.
(Id. at ¶ 66). Apparently, a patient within
Bayshore's Dementia Unit suffered seafood allergies and
was inadvertently served clam chowder soup. (Id. at
¶ 62). This was the second time that a patient was
served food that he was allergic to, and Plaintiff was the
on-duty supervisor for both incidents. (Id. at
¶¶ 63-64). The purpose of the meeting was to
discuss the process of ensuring that patients were served
food consistent with their dietary restrictions and to
prevent future mistakes. (Id. at ¶ 66).
However, Plaintiff denied any wrongdoing or error in her
supervision of the patient's food tray; and claimed that
she felt she was being “picked on” by Hamilton
because she was African American. (Id. at ¶
67). Plaintiff claimed that other non-African American
employees made similar food tray mistakes, but were not
singled out by management. (Id. at ¶ 68).
allegation of discrimination triggered another internal
investigation by Myers and Brad Viola, Bayshore Relations
Manager. (Id. at ¶ 70). In an interview between
Viola and Plaintiff, Plaintiff also claimed that other
“white” supervisors were assigned fewer closing
shifts than she was. (Id. at ¶ 77). This being
said, Viola confirmed that, contrary to Plaintiff's
assertion, another Caucasian employee was confronted by Perez
after inadvertently serving mushroom soup to a patient with
mushroom allergies. (Id. at ¶ 79). Similarly,
Viola and Myers compared Plaintiff's work schedule with
her fellow supervisors and concluded that her claims that she
worked more closing shifts were unsubstantiated.
(Id. at ¶ 80).
August 1, 2015, Bayshore has employed five other supervisors,
all of whom have worked significantly more closing shifts
than Plaintiff. (ECF Nos. 64-23 to 64-29). In addition to
working fewer closing shifts than any other supervisor,
Plaintiff has also earned the highest annual salary than any
other supervisor. (SOMF at ¶¶ 95, 97, 99, 101, and
judgment is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) when the
moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the evidence establishes the moving
party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material
if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of
the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). In considering a motion for summary
judgment, a district court may not make credibility
determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence;
instead, the non-moving party's evidence “is to be
believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor.” Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358
F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255).
the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party
opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to
a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light
Co. v. Lacey Twp., 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985).
The party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot
rest on mere allegations and instead must present actual
evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact
for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Siegel
Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express, Inc., 54 F.3d 1125,
1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995). “[U]nsupported allegations . .
. and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary
judgment.” Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorp., 912
F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990); see also Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(e) (requiring nonmoving party to “set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial”). Moreover, only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing law will
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 247-48. If a court determines, “after
drawing all inferences in favor of [the non-moving party],
and making all credibility determinations in his favor. . .
that no reasonable jury could find for him, summary judgment
is appropriate.” Alevras v. Tacopina, 226 F.
App'x 222, 227 (3d Cir. 2007).
pro se pleadings are “liberally
construed” and “held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted), “a pro se
plaintiff is not exempt from his burden of providing some
affirmative evidence, i.e. not just mere allegations, to
establish a prima facie case, and to show that there is a
genuine dispute for trial.” Niblack v. Murray,
No. 12-6910, ...