United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
CURTIS L. WESTBROOK, Plaintiff,
BRIDGES COMMUNITY SERVICES, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
WALTON PRATT, United States District Court Judge Southern
District of Indiana
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by
Defendant Bridges Community Services (“Bridges”)
(Filing No. 69). Pro se plaintiff Curtis L.
Westbrook (“Westbrook”) filed this lawsuit
against Bridges, alleging claims for gender and disability
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title
VII”), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101 (“ADA”), and the Rehabilitation Act,
29 U.S.C. § 701, as well as a claim for breach of
contract. After answering the Complaint and denying
liability, Bridges filed its Motion for Summary Judgment,
asserting that Westbrook was not its employee, and it is not
subject to the federal statutes upon which Westbrook’s
claims are predicated. For the following reasons, the Court
grants Bridges’ Motion for Summary
following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as
required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are
presented in the light most favorable to Westbrook as the
non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d
582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Muncie,
Indiana. Its focus is on providing services to homeless and
low-income individuals. Bridges was a sub-grantee agency of
Senior Service America, Inc. (“Senior Service”),
a federal grant program which administers the Senior
Community Service Employment Program (“SCSEP”).
The SCSEP grant is funded by the United States Department of
Labor as authorized by Title V of the Older Americans Act, 42
U.S.C. § 3056. The purpose of SCSEP is to foster
economic self-sufficiency and promote useful part-time
opportunities in community service assignments for
unemployed, low-income individuals who are 55 years of age or
older. The program specifically focuses on individuals who
have poor employment prospects in order to increase the
number of older individuals who would enjoy the benefits of
unsubsidized employment (Filing No. 71-1 at 2;
Filing No. 71-2 at 2–3).
provides grants to subsidize low-income seniors in job
training and assistance to help them transition into
unsubsidized employment in the public or private sectors.
Senior Service administers SCSEP grant funds by contracting
with and funding a network of local non-profit entities, and
these sub-grantees provide SCSEP participants with
opportunities through part-time assignments for training,
funded by the SCSEP grant, in a wide variety of community
service work activities at non-profit and public facilities.
The community agencies where SCSEP participants are placed
for work assignments are referred to as “host
agencies.” (Filing No. 71-2 at 3.)
was a sub-grantee and part of the Senior Service network when
Westbrook participated in the SCSEP program. Bridges
administered SCSEP as a sub-grantee agency in the Muncie area
pursuant to its contract with Senior Service. Sub-grantee
agencies pay SCSEP participants with SCSEP funds and withhold
their taxes. Participants work an average of twenty hours per
week at their host agency, and they are limited to spending a
maximum of forty-eight months in the program under the SCSEP
individual durational limit. Participation and re-enrollment
in the SCSEP program are discretionary (Filing No. 71-2
Weatherspoon (“Weatherspoon”) was employed by
Bridges as the program director of SCSEP from 2013 to 2017.
She accepted applications from individuals who were
interested in participating in SCSEP, assisted participants
with creating individual employment plans
(“IEP”), and worked with participants to find
placements at a host agency that fit their IEP, skill set,
and education. After participants were placed with a host
agency, the host agency supervised the participants, set the
participants’ job duties and specific work hours, and
provided them with the tools and equipment to complete their
tasks. Bridges did not consider the SCSEP participants to be
employees of Bridges, and Bridges did not supervise, control,
or direct their work tasks or responsibilities at the host
agencies. Bridges simply facilitated placement with host
agencies and receipt of paychecks through the SCSEP program
grant funds (Filing No. 71-2 at 2, 4; Filing No.
71-1 at 3).
applied for the SCSEP program by walking into the Bridges
office, filling out an application, and providing the
requested information. Westbrook believes that his
registration and application for SCSEP occurred in April
2014, and Bridges’ records suggest his application was
submitted in May 2014. Following his application, Westbrook
first interviewed for placement at a host agency in October
2014. He interviewed with Attic Window, which is a resale
facility that sells used clothing and household items. During
the interview with Attic Window, Westbrook informed the
interviewer that he had a bachelor’s degree, and the
interview abruptly ended because he was overqualified for the
position. Westbrook had another interview with a host agency
in October 2014, this time with Habitat Restore, another
second-hand store. He was selected for a position at Habitat
Restore as a receiving clerk/delivery clerk/pick-up clerk.
Westbrook’s assignment with Habitat Restore was
scheduled for October 21, 2014 through June 10, 2015. His
responsibilities included receiving and picking up items that
people donated to Habitat Restore (Filing No. 71-3 at
7–8; Filing No. 71-2 at 5).
working at Habitat Restore, Westbrook either drove himself to
the store or took a bus. He was supervised by
“John”. Bridges did not direct Westbrook’s
work at Habitat Restore, and Habitat Restore set the specific
hours for his work (Filing No. 71-3 at 13). Habitat
Restore was the only host agency to which Westbrook was
assigned during his time in the SCSEP program with Bridges .
Id. at 9. Westbrook never performed any work for
Bridges at the Bridges office. Id. at 13.
January 27, 2015 through February 9, 2015, Westbrook was off
work from Habitat Restore because of a surgery. He was
medically released to return to work on February 10, 2015,
with a “no heavy lifting” restriction until March
10, 2015, after which he could perform his regular duties
without any restrictions. During the time Westbrook had the
lifting restriction, he was unable to work at Habitat Restore
because they could not use him. He eventually worked off and
on at Habitat Restore but then decided he was not going back
because of physical challenges. He asked Weatherspoon to be
reassigned to a different host agency. At that time,
Westbrook agreed to return to Habitat Restore to see if he
could handle the work or until Weatherspoon found something
else for him. When he returned, he realized he could not do
the work because of problems with his shoulders and knees.
Westbrook informed Weatherspoon that he could not do the work
(Filing No. 71-3 at 9–10; Filing No. 71-2
at 5–6, 12).
arranged an interview for Westbrook on March 3, 2015, with
Work One Center. He felt the interview went well, but he was
not offered a position because Work One did not have enough
work for him in the resource area (Filing No. 71-2 at
March 16, 2015, Weatherspoon spoke with personnel at the City
of Muncie to determine if Westbrook could be placed there,
but Weatherspoon was informed that Westbrook was not allowed
on the City’s premises. Westbrook asked multiple times
to be assigned to the Unity Center, a non-profit agency in
Muncie, which would require Westbrook to cover “open
gym” time for children. However, at the time, the Unity
Center was not an approved host agency because it did not
have a director, and Weatherspoon was concerned that
Westbrook would not have appropriate supervision.
Weatherspoon also believed that Westbrook’s degree and
employment goals did not fit with the open gym position
(Filing No. 71-2 at 6–8).
April 1, 2015, Westbrook was scheduled to attend an interview
with the Boys and Girls Club for the position of project and
facility assistant. He did not attend the scheduled
interview, but he did interview a few days later. Bridges was
not notified that Westbrook had interviewed. Westbrook was
not offered the position but was informed that there were
other positions coming available. The Boys and Girls Club