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Hyland v. Smyrna School District

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 30, 2014



LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Dianne Hyland (D.I. 111) and Defendant Smyrna School District (D.I. 112).


On October 13, 2010, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant based on Defendant's allegedly discriminatory employment practices. (D.I. 2) Plaintiff had previously filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on April 15, 2009, alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ( Id. ) In her complaint, Plaintiff asserts violations of her rights protected under Title VII and under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act ("DDEA"), 19 Del.C. ยง 711. ( Id. ) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that: (1) Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff by promoting lesser qualified white employees over Plaintiff, an African-American female; and (2) Defendant retaliated in response to Plaintiffs attempt to protest its employment practices. (D.I. 111 at 9)

Defendant hired Plaintiff as a cafeteria monitor in September 1990. (D.I. 114 at 75-76) From 1990 to 1992, Plaintiff worked two hours per day at this position. ( Id. at 76) In 1992, Plaintiff was approached by Patricia Conley and asked to consider a position in child nutrition, an offer Plaintiff accepted. ( Id. at 76-77) As a result, Plaintiff worked in child nutrition, part-time without benefits, from 1992 to 2007. ( Id. at 77-78) During this period, Grace Gray, Lisa Outten, Donna Stanley, and Dawn Fox were promoted by Defendant to positions with benefits, allegedly because of their race. (D.I. 113 at 7-8)

In 2007, Plaintiff provided Conley with a Letter of Intent to obtain a job with benefits. (D.I. 114 at 79-80) Shortly after submitting the Letter, Plaintiff rejected a training offer proposed by Conley. ( Id. at 80) In April and May 2007, Plaintiff worked temporarily as a cook's assistant and in a training position for the cook position. (D.I. 111; D.I. 129)

In August 2008, Defendant hired Kristen Kahl for a six-hour per day baker position with benefits and Alan Voshell for a six-and-a-half-hour per day general worker position with benefits. (D.I. 114 at 51, 58-59) Neither of the positions were posted in advance of the hires. In addition, both employees are white and had shorter tenures with Defendant than Plaintiff. (D.I. 114 at 48-49, 61-62)

In December 2008, Plaintiff applied and interviewed for a six-hour general worker position with Defendant. (D.I. 114 at 84) She was not hired for the position; instead, Defendant I selected Ethel Bogia. (D.I. 113) Then, on April 15, 2009, Plaintiff filed her Charge of Discrimination with the Delaware Department of Labor and sent a Letter of Concern to Conley, identifying alleged race-based discrimination with regard to Defendant's hiring practices. (D.I. 114 at 1, 30) Defendant's employee, Deborah Wicks, responded to Plaintiff on May 11, 2009, explaining why Bogia had been hired for the position instead of Plaintiff. ( Id. at 31)

In May 2009, Plaintiff applied to Defendant to become a baker, which was a full-time position with benefits. ( Id. at 32, 89-90) The hiring process required each applicant to take a skills test involving problems relevant to baking, measurements, and portions. ( Id. at 34-41) Wicks and Buddy Lloyd notified Plaintiff of the required skills test, but she refused to take the test. ( Id. at 89-91) Due to her refusal, Plaintiff was informed by Melissa Sayers that she would not be considered for the baker position. ( Id. at 33, 91-92; D.I.118) Defendant ultimately hired Pam Messick for the position, an applicant who successfully completed the test. (D.I. 114 at 34-42; D.I. 113)

In March 2010, Lloyd and Sayers met with Plaintiff to discuss two complaints allegedly filed by two employees regarding Plaintiffs actions at work. (D.I. 114 at 104-106) The meeting was memorialized by a Letter of Record, which was placed in Plaintiffs employment record. ( Id. at 42) Defendant decided not to take disciplinary action against Plaintiff in response to the complaints. ( Id. at 107-09) Based on the complaints and meeting, Plaintiff filed another Charge of Discrimination with the Delaware Department of Labor on June 9, 2010, alleging retaliation and race-based employment discrimination. ( Id. at 3)


"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 415 U.S. 574, 586 n.10 (1986). Material facts are those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the moving party meets its burden, then the non-moving party must produce enough evidence to support its claim or rebut the moving party's claims in order to create a genuine issue of material fact. See Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1103 (9th Cir. 2000). This factual dispute must be more than speculative; a genuine issue of material fact exists only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).


I. Time-Barred ...

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