Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wright v. Pittsylvania County Schools

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division

December 22, 2016

RAY ANTHONY WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY SCHOOLS and WANDA E. VAUGHAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On June 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 Summary Judgment.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On or 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 action”).)

         Plaintiff 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].)

         The 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. 36].)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary 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).

         The 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Title 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.[1] McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973).

         Plaintiff 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.

         It is 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 Title VII.

         Plaintiff 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.