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Reed v. Court

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 20, 2014

DESHANE REED, Plaintiff,
v.
MARION SUPERIOR COURT, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANT MARION SUPERIOR COURT

SARAH EVANS BARKER, , District Judge.

This matter comes before us on Defendant Marion Superior Court's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff DeShane Reed's Title VII claim. Defendant filed its motion and supporting brief on August 11, 2014. [Dkt. Nos. 48, 50.] Plaintiff filed his response on August 22, 2014. [Dkt. No. 54.] Defendant filed a reply on September 5, 2014. [Dkt. No. 55.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Factual Background and Undisputed Facts

Throughout his "Statement of Material Facts in Dispute", Mr. Reed argues that certain facts are in dispute by citing somewhat related but not contradictory facts. "A proposed fact is not in dispute simply because a party lists that fact as disputed.'" Cuttill v. Potter, No. 08-2199, 2010 WL 3951959, at *5 (C.D. Ill. Oct. 6, 2010). "As a result, many of Plaintiff's responses do not adequately challenge the proposed fact." Id. The Court has construed the facts and drawn all inferences in favor of Plaintiff; however, where Plaintiff did not dispute Defendant's proposed fact, the Court considers that fact to be undisputed. The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

Mr. Reed's Position, Job Requirements and Guidelines.

Mr. Reed is an African American male. [Dkt. No. 50 at 3.] He began working for Defendant's Marion County Juvenile Detention Center ("MCJDC") on January 5, 2009 in the position of Superintendent of Detention Center. [ Id. ; Pltf. Depo. at 10.] Mr. Reed was provided a two-page job description for his position, titled "Marion County Classification Specification, " which he signed on January 7, 2009. [Dkt. No. 50 at 3; Def. Ex. C-1.] The Classification Specification for Mr. Reed's position includes over twenty required tasks. [Dkt. No. 50 at 3; Def. Ex. C-1.] Those tasks include, but are not limited to, maintaining fair and ethical standards of discipline, working collaboratively and responsibly with Probation and other agencies, timely and accurately communicating with supervisors, and effectively communicating the Detention Center policies and procedures. [ Id. ]

Mr. Reed also received an employee manual and the Ethics Code contained in the Marion Superior Court Handbook. [Dkt. No. 50 at 3; Pltf. Depo. at 11.] On January 25, 2012, Mr. Reed electronically signed an Employee Handbook Acceptance for the Marion Circuit and Superior Courts Employee Resources Manual (2012 update). [Dkt. No. 50 at 3; Def. Ex. C-2.] No dispute exists as to the contents of the Employee Resources Manual, submitted by Defendant as Exhibit C-9, or that Mr. Reed received the Manual.

MCJDC Investigation.

In October 2012 MCJDC employee, Brandon Randall complained to Human Resources about conditions at the Juvenile Detention Center and accused his supervisor of discriminating against him on the basis of sexual orientation. [Dkt. No. 50 at 8 (citing Bova Dep. at 41).][1] In response, the Marion Superior Courts' Human Resources Director, Paige Bova Kervan, approached the presiding judge of the MCJDC, Judge Marc Rothenberg, to discuss the matter. [ Id. ] Judge Rothenberg consulted the Marion Superior Court Executive Committee ("Executive Committee"), who instructed Ms. Bova to undertake an investigation. [ Id. ; Bova Dep. at 44-45; Bova Aff. ¶ 6.]

Ms. Bova's investigation did not initially focus on Mr. Reed, but on another employee, Serena Thompson. [Dkt. No. 50 at 8; Bova Dep. at 45.] After interviewing numerous people, including current and former MCJDC employees, Ms. Bova discovered problems with Mr. Reed's job performance. [Dkt. No. 50 at 8-9.] Specifically, Ms. Bova discovered a poor working environment at the MCJDC, consisting of poor morale, high employee turnover and ethical conduct violations by Mr. Reed. [Dkt. No. 50 at 8-9 (reporting "high employee turnover rates of 100% at MCJDC and poor morale despite multiple reorganizations implemented by Plaintiff" as well as employee complaints of "bullying, a punitive management style, intimidating treatment by Plaintiff and his administration and a lack of consistency with discipline, promotions and demotions which affected morale") (citing Def. Ex. C-4).][2]

A general lack of trust of Mr. Reed and his management team was expressed by a large number of employees who recounted incidents where they believed Mr. Reed was not truthful with them. [Dkt. No. 50 at 9 (citing Def. Ex. C-5 (interview notes), Def. Ex. C-4 (Corrective Action Record; Bova Dep.)).] Mr. Reed created a poor working relationship with Juvenile Probation by implementing visitation and dress code policy changes without engaging Probation in the formulation of those policies, which caused problems with the Juvenile Probation Officers' ability to identify their clients in detention. [ Id. at 9-10.] Mr. Reed also unilaterally implemented an Emergency Response policy which caused operational issues between Receiving, Screening and Release and Detention. [ Id. at 10.] Mr. Reed has not disputed these proposed facts.

In addition to Mr. Reed's communication and management shortcomings, Defendant alleges that Ms. Bova's investigation revealed three occurrences of employee misconduct by Mr. Reed - all of which may have involved Ghost employment in violation of Indianapolis, IN Rev. Code §§ 291-231 (2003). First, Mr. Reed allegedly had Jonathan Jordan cut both residents' hair and Mr. Reed's hair while "on the clock" as a Youth Manager. Second, Youth Manager Corey Smith allegedly changed the headlight on a personal vehicle while "on the clock" and Mr. Reed granted Mr. Smith four hours of compensatory time in return. And, third, Mr. Reed allegedly received a discounted hotel rate of $33 per night for a Jacuzzi suite at the Wyndham Hotel from former employee Ralph Island's wife. [Dkt. No. 50 at 9; Def. Ex. C-5 (interview notes); Ex. C-4 (Corrective Action Record); Bova Dep.] Mr. Reed disputes these facts, pointing to his deposition testimony and an unauthenticated statement from Mr. Jordan. [Dkt. No. 54 at 3-4.] Although Mr. Reed disputes the veracity of these allegations, he does not dispute that they were discovered by Ms. Bova during her investigation and that the Executive Committee believed them to be true.

Ms. Bova presented her investigative findings to the Executive Committee of the Court during its regularly scheduled meeting on November 16, 2012. [Dkt. No. 50 at 10 (citing Bova Aff. ¶ 8; Rothenberg Aff. ¶ 7).] After deliberating during a closed session, the Executive Committee determined that ample evidence established that Mr. Reed had extremely poor work performance issues, had violated the ethical standards of conduct, had violated various provisions of the Human Resource Manual and may have committed Ghost Employment. [ Id. ][3] The Executive Committee instructed Ms. Bova to prepare a Corrective Action Record terminating Mr. Reed's employment by January 18, 2013, or in the alternative, allowing Mr. Reed to resign by that date. [ Id. (citing Rothenberg Aff. at ¶ 7).] Ms. Bova prepared the Corrective Action Record, which was signed by Judge Rothenberg on December 5, 2012. [Dkt. No. 50 at 10; Def. Ex. C-4; Bova Dep. at 92-93; Rothenberg Aff. ¶ 10.] Ms. Bova and Judge Rothenberg met with Mr. Reed on December 5, 2012, read the Correction Action Record and provided Mr. Reed the option to resign or be terminated. [Dkt. No. 50 at 11; Def. Ex. C-4; Pltf. Dep. at 18-20.] Mr. Reed refused to resign and his employment was terminated. [Dkt. No. 50 at 1; Pltf. Dep. at 8; Compl. ¶ 12.] Mr. Reed does not dispute these facts.

Defendant asserts that "[t]he Executive Committee did not factor race into their determination to terminate Plaintiff's employment, nor did Judge Rothenberg or Director Bova make any statements or comments to that effect." [Dkt. No. 50 at 11; Rothenberg Aff. ¶¶ 9, 11, 13; Bova Aff. ¶¶ 7, 9, 12; Pltf. Dep. at 20-21.] Specifically, Judge Rothenberg provided in his affidavit that:

9. At no time during Director Bova's presentation and at no time during deliberations did any Executive Committee judge make any statement or comment regarding Reed's race or race in general.
...
11. I did not factor race into my determination to terminate Reed's employment, nor did Judges John Hanley, David Certo or Becky Pierson-Treacy make any ...

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