United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
16, 2016, Plaintiff Ray Anthony Wright filed the present
action against Pittsylvania County Schools and Wanda E.
Vaughn under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title
VII”). Plaintiff alleged that he was denied employment
based on a prior criminal charge, his race, and his
“huge frame.” (Compl. ¶¶ 9B-9C, June
16, 2016 [ECF No. 3].) Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment is now before the Court. (Mot. for Summ. J., Nov.
17, 2016 [ECF No. 30].) The matter was fully briefed, and the
parties appeared before me on December 6, 2016. For the
reasons stated below, I will grant Defendants' Motion for
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
around August 7, 2015, Plaintiff submitted an application for
employment with PCS for a substitute bus driver position,
which required completing a Criminal History Record Name
Search Request Form. (Answer ¶ 9F, July 7, 2016 [ECF No.
5].) On or around September 28, 2015, Plaintiff was given a
conditional offer of employment subject to his completion of
a criminal background check. (Compl. ¶ 9B.) When PCS
received a copy of Plaintiff's Virginia Criminal Record,
it listed Plaintiff as having been charged with rape in 2006
though he was later acquitted. (Id. at ¶ 9C.)
Upon receiving this information, Vaughn wrote Plaintiff on
October 15, 2015, asking Plaintiff to “submit a written
statement explaining the charge and disposition.”
(Pl.'s Resp. Ex. A, at 1 [ECF No. 35-2].) After meeting
with Vaughn, Plaintiff refused to provide additional
information and was not hired as a result. (Answer ¶ 9C;
Pl.s Resp. Ex. A, at 3 (showing a notation stating,
“will not be hired failed to comply-no further
filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC through the
Virginia Division of Human Rights (“the EEOC
Charge”), and was issued a Dismissal and Notice of
Rights on March 24, 2016. (Compl. Attach. 1 [ECF No. 3-1].)
On June 16, 2016, Raymond Anthony Wright
(“Plaintiff”) filed this action under Title VII
against Defendants Pittsylvania County Schools
(“PCS”) and Wanda A. Vaughn, Assistant
Superintendent for Administration. Plaintiff alleged that he
was denied employment based on his race, his “huge
frame, ” and the fact that he had previously been
charged with and acquitted of rape. (Compl. ¶¶
9B-9C, June 6, 2016 [ECF No. 3].) Defendants filed a 12(b)(1)
Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies with the EEOC. (Mot. to Dismiss,
Aug. 15, 2016 [ECF No. 16].) On October 4th, this Court
issued an Order and Memorandum Opinion granting-in-part and
denying-in-part Defendants' Motion. (Order, Oct. 4, 2016
[ECF No. 27].) The Court found that Plaintiff had failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to his claims
of racial discrimination and discrimination based on his
size. (Mem. Op. 7, Oct. 4, 2016 [ECF No. 26].)
Court held, however, that Plaintiff had properly exhausted
his administrative remedies with regard to his claim of
discrimination based on his criminal history. (Id.)
Defendants have now filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). (Mot. for Summ. J., Nov. 17,
2016 [ECF No. 30].) Plaintiff has filed a response,
(Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J., Dec. 1, 2016 [ECF No.
35] (hereinafter “Pl.'s Resp.”)), and
Defendants filed their Reply on December 2, 2016. (Reply Br.
in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., December 2, 2016 [ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The court
must view the facts, and the inferences to be drawn from
them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655
(1962). A genuine issue of material fact exists if reasonable
jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the
non-moving party is entitled to a verdict in his favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986). The court must not make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000).
moving party has the initial burden of pointing out to the
court the deficiency in the non-movants' case that would
make it impossible for a reasonable fact-finder to return a
verdict in the non-movants' favor. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A moving party may
show that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law by
demonstrating that the plaintiff would not be able to prove
an essential element of his case. Id. at 322-23. It
is then up to the non-movant to demonstrate to the court that
there are genuine issues of material fact, and that he has
made a sufficient showing on each of the essential elements
of his case. Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297
(4th Cir. 2008); Hinkle v. City of Clarksburg, 81
F.3d 416, 421 (4th Cir. 1996). Accordingly, summary judgment
is appropriate when the moving party demonstrates a lack of
evidence to support an essential element of his or her claim.
See Blair v. Collonas Shipyards Inc., 52 F.Supp.2d
687, 692 (E.D.V.A. 1999), aff'd 203 F.3d 819
(4th Cir. 2000).
VII bars an employer from “fail[ing] or refus[ing] to
hire or to discharge any individual . . . because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1). In order to make a
prima facie showing of discrimination under Title VII,
Plaintiff must establish: (1) he belongs to a protected
class; (2) he applied and was qualified for a job for which
the employer was seeking applicants; (3) he was rejected
despite his qualifications; and (4) after his rejection, the
position remained open and the employer continued to seek
similarly qualified applicants. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973).
alleged that he was denied employment with PCS due to having
previously been arrested for rape in 2007, though he was
found not guilty. Title VII only protects against
discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin.” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII
does not bar employers from denying to hire someone based on
their arrest record, except, as discussed below, in cases
where the hiring policies have a disparate impact on those of
a particular “race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” Id. Simply put, individuals with
arrest records are not a protected class under Title VII.
also not entirely accurate to say that Defendants'
decision not to hire Plaintiff was solely based on his
criminal record. Vaughn simply requested that Plaintiff
explain, his own words, the charge and disposition. If
Plaintiff's arrest had been a total bar to being hired,
it seems unlikely that Vaughn would have bothered to ask for
more information. One copy of Vaughn's letter, produced
by Plaintiff, notes that Plaintiff “will not be
hired” because he “failed to comply.”
Regardless of whether he was not hired because of his record
or failure to submit an explanation to Vaughn, the
discrimination alleged by Plaintiff is simply not covered by
has also alleged a disparate impact claim in his briefs and
at oral arguments. Title VII bars any employment practice
which causes a disparate impact based on race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-2(k)(1)(A). In order for an employment practice to be
deemed unlawful based on disparate impact, a plaintiff must
show that “[an employer] uses a particular employment
practice that causes a disparate impact on the basis of race,
color, religion, sex, or national origin and the respondent
fails to demonstrate that the ...