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Brown v. PSI Services

September 13, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge


Contending that her former employer, PSI Services, Inc. ("PSI"), fired her because of her gender, Angelina Brown has brought a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Currently before the Court is PSI's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons detailed below, the Court will deny that motion.


PSI provides caretaking services to mentally disabled individuals. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 8. Brown worked as a residential counselor for PSI, providing supervised in-home care to clients who could not otherwise care for themselves. See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem.") [Docket Entry 9], Ex. 3 (PSI's Resp. to Pl.'s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Charge), at R. 100002.

Brown's termination stems from her absence from work on September 6, 2007. Two days earlier, Brown had called her immediate supervisor Monteney Wright to tell him that her daughter was sick and that she could not work her shift that afternoon. See Def.'s Reply in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def's Reply") [Docket Entry 14], Ex. 4 (Dep. of Angelina Brown ("Brown Dep.")), 46:9-47:21*fn2 ; Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") [Docket Entry 12], Decl. of Angelina Brown ("Brown Decl."), ¶ 6. Brown's daughter was still sick the next day, but a friend was able to watch her and Brown went to work on September 5. See Brown Decl. at ¶ 7.

Brown's daughter was still ill on September 6, and Brown was unable to find a babysitter. See id. at ¶ 8. She called Wright to report that she could not make her shift that evening. See id. Wright urged Brown to look again for a babysitter, and to call him back in half an hour. See id.; Brown Dep. at 51:4-19. Thirty minutes later, Brown tried to call Wright back -- a number of times -- but he did not pick up, and his phone's voicemail had not yet been set up. See Brown Decl. at ¶ 8; Brown Dep. at 51:20-52:2.

Brown then called a different supervisor, Garnell Wright (no relation), and explained the situation. See Brown Decl. at ¶ 8; Brown Dep. at 52:3-21. She asked Garnell to tell Monteney that she still could not find a babysitter and would not be coming into work that day. See Brown Decl. at ¶ 8; Brown Dep. at 52:3-11. Garnell told her, "okay. If I see him, I'll tell him." Brown Dep. at 52:20-21.

When Brown arrived for her shift on September 7, Monteney told her that "he was about to write [her] up for the day before but decided against it." Brown Decl. at ¶ 10. A week later, on September 14, Brown's Program Director Anton McClure "handed [Brown her] time sheet for September 6, and asked [her] why [she] was claiming sick leave for that day." Id. at ¶ 11. Brown "responded that [her] daughter was sick and [she] called off." Id. McClure told her that Monteney stated "that he had not given [Brown] permission to call off," and that she was being terminated. Id. Brown subsequently brought this claim for gender discrimination.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings and the evidence demonstrate that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party may successfully support its motion by identifying those portions of "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits" which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

In determining whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to preclude summary judgment, the court must regard the non-movant's statements as true and accept all evidence and make all inferences in the non-movant's favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A non-moving party, however, must establish more than the "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. Thus, the non-moving party cannot rely on mere speculation or compilation of inferences to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Hutchinson v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 393 F.3d 226, 229 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Nor can the non-moving party rely on hearsay statements or conclusory statements with no evidentiary basis to establish a genuine issue of material fact. See Assoc. of Flight Attendants v. Dep't of Transp., 564 F.3d 462, 465 (D.C. Cir. 2009). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). Moreover, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment by pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the non-moving party. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 (summary judgment appropriate if the non-movant fails to offer "evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]").


I. McDonnell Douglas Framework

The Court considers Brown's claims for discrimination under the burden-shifting framework set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Under this framework, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. To show a prima facie case of discrimination, a plaintiff must show that "(1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (3) the unfavorable action gives rise to an inference of ...

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