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Robinson v. Loudoun County Public Schools

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 9, 2018


          Hon. Theresa Buchanan Judge


          Liam O'Grady United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 34. The motion is fully briefed and the Court dispensed with oral arguments. For the reasons stated below and for good cause shown, summary judgment for the Defendant is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Anthony Robinson filed this lawsuit against his former employer, Defendant Loudoun County Public Schools, alleging that he was terminated in retaliation for a complaint of racial discrimination. Specifically, he claims that in March 2015 he e-mailed Sully Elementary School principal Colleen O'Neill to thank her for removing a poster from the teachers' lounge that Plaintiff found offensive[1] and to suggest diversity training. On April 6, 2015, Sully's assistant principal Mark Hayden, Plaintiffs immediate supervisor, conducted a routine performance evaluation of Plaintiff, found his performance to be deficient, and recommended Plaintiffs contract not be renewed for the next school year. Now that discovery is complete, Defendant has moved for summary judgment.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment will be granted where, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, there remains no genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c); Marlow v. Chesterfield Cty. Sch. Bd. 749 F.Supp.2d 417, 426 (E.D. Va. 2010). A party opposing a motion for summary judgment must respond with specific facts, supported by proper documentary evidence, showing that a genuine dispute of material fact exists and that summary judgment should not be granted in favor of the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). Conclusory assertions of state of mind or motivation are insufficient. Goldberg v. B. Green & Co., 836 F.2d 845, 848 (4th Cir. 1988). As the Supreme Court has held, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 519 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986)) (emphasis in original).

         II. Undisputed Material Facts

         For purposes of the summary judgment motion, Defendant has listed 82 undisputed material facts. Dkt. 35. In his opposition to the motion, Plaintiff has denied 51 of those facts. However, he has only cited to the record in support of six of those denials. Accordingly, under Local Rule 56 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), the other 45 denied facts are deemed admitted for purposes of this motion and Defendant's list of undisputed material facts is incorporated here with the exceptions of facts 11, 17, 18, 20, 65, and 69.[2] As to those six facts, they are insufficiently disputed by the record to which Plaintiff cites and are deemed admitted for the reasons that follow.

         As to undisputed material fact 11, the fact that Mr. Robinson obtained a negative drug screen the day following the events described in undisputed material fact 11 does not refute the sworn statements from three teachers that they "noticed that Robinson's eyes were red and glossy and they also smelled a strong odor of what may have been marijuana as he walked by." The asserted facts are not mutually exclusive and can both be deemed true for purposes of this motion.

         As to undisputed material fact 17, which asserts that Plaintiff had failed to work a full shift on occasions, Plaintiff cites to his significant accrued leave to deny that there were discrepancies on his timecard. Accrued leave has no bearing on whether he was accurately reporting his time. There is no evidence before the Court that Plaintiff properly utilized his leave on the days he failed to work a full shift. Accordingly, undisputed material fact 17 is deemed admitted.

         As to undisputed material fact 18 asserting that Plaintiff took three Fridays in a row off requiring his supervisor, Mr. Hayden, to address the issue, Plaintiff claims, without evidence, that his timecard has been altered, that he worked either one of the Fridays Defendant claims he did not work, and he had a doctor's note justifying his sick leave for one of the Fridays.[3] Plaintiff cites for his Exhibit 5-1 as evidence that his timecard was altered. No such exhibit exists in the record. Plaintiffs Exhibit E is the evaluations procedure manual for Loudoun County Public Schools. Plaintiff cites to his Exhibit C, pay stubs, as evidence that he took one day of annual leave and one day of sick leave in October and November 2014. The documents do not evidence this. From the October 15, 2014 pay stub to the November 14, 2014 pay stub, Plaintiffs annual leave balance moves from 337.89 to 329.14 and his sick leave balance moves from 112 to 96. The sum reduction in leave totals for the period is 24.75 hours - over three days.[4] Thus, Plaintiffs Exhibit C fails to refute Defendant's assertion that Plaintiff took three Fridays off in a row during that timeframe, requiring disciplinary action.

         For these same reasons, Plaintiff has failed to refute undisputed material fact 20, which asserts that Plaintiff admits to taking three Fridays in a row off. This fact is plainly evidenced by Plaintiffs own statements in his deposition that he took off Friday, October 24, 2014, Friday, October 31, 2014, and Friday, November 7, 2014. See Dkt. 35, Exh. 1, pp. 48-49, 132.

         Undisputed material fact 65 asserts that persons outside the school complained about Plaintiff, specifically Jeannie Kimble, a representative for a local basketball league, who complained to school officials that Plaintiff refused to allow the league and fans inside the building for a Saturday basketball game. Defendant evidences this assertion with the deposition of Jennie Kimble in which she testifies to two occasions when the regular method for accessing the school on a Saturday failed and Plaintiff refused to assist the league. Plaintiff asserts that he was specifically told by his supervisor to not unlock the exterior door because the league had an entry card and cites to two text messages. The first of these text messages does not contain a readable date and time stamp, nor does it reflect sender and receiver of the text message. Even assuming for ...

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