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Tucker v. Ascension Health Alliance, Inc.

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

November 8, 2019

BARBARA L TUCKER, Plaintiff,
v.
ASCENSION HEALTH ALLIANCE, INC. d/b/a ASCENSION, ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL & HEALTH CENTER, INC. d/b/a ST. VINCENT KOKOMO HOSPITAL, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART ASCENSION HEALTH ALLIANCE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JAMES PATRICK HANLON JUDGE

         Barbara Tucker worked for Ascension Health Alliance, Inc. for eight years. Her position was eliminated due to a company-wide restructuring of the human resources departments. Ms. Tucker applied for 20 other jobs but was not offered any position. Ms. Tucker alleges this was because of her age and sex. Ascension has filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED in part DENIED in part. Dkt. [39].

         I. Facts and Background

         Because Ascension has moved for summary judgment under Rule 56(a), the Court views and recites the evidence “in the light most favorable to the non- moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

         A. Facts

         Ms. Tucker began working for Ascension as its Staff Development Coordinator at St. Vincent Kokomo Hospital in 2008. Dkt. 40-1 at 5 (Tucker Dep. 10:12-16). Her position was within the Human Resource Department's Learning and Development Division. Id. at 15 (50:21-25). As Staff Development Coordinator, Ms. Tucker's job responsibilities included: overseeing licensing and certifications; conducting orientation programs; keeping human resource records for certain workers; and creating online training for staff. Id. at 8-9 (22:15-26:25). In all of Ms. Tucker's performance evaluations, Ascension found that she either met or exceeded expectations in every job category. See dkt. 45-2.

         In September 2015, Ascension informed its human resources employees that it was restructuring the Human Resources Department to centralize functions and outsource recruiting. Dkt. 40-1 at 15 (Tucker Dep. 50:1-14). Ascension notified the employees that, in conjunction with the restructuring, it would be eliminating positions in the Human Resources Department. Id. at 17 (58:9-20). Employees would be given the first opportunity to apply for new positions. Id. (60:1-5). The restructuring lasted from 2015 to 2016. Dkt. 40-5 at 5 (Patrick Decl. ¶ 25).

         Throughout 2016, Ascension posted multiple positions related to human resources under the new structure. See dkt. 40-6. Ascension required each applicant to submit a form application and resume for each position. Dkt. 40-5 at 4 (Patrick Decl. ¶ 20). A recruiter would review the applications, id. (¶ 21), and then provide the hiring decision-makers with the application materials of the candidates best qualified for that position, id. (¶ 22). The hiring decision-makers would then decide which candidates were the most qualified for interviews, id. (¶ 23), conduct interviews, id., and select the most qualified candidate or candidates for each position, id. (¶ 24).

         Ms. Tucker applied for twenty open positions with Ascension during the reorganization. See dkt. 40-6[1]. She was not invited to interview for nor offered any position. Dkt. 40-1 at 22 (Tucker Dep. 80:23-25).

         As part of the company's restructuring, Ascension eliminated Ms. Tucker's position in September 2016. See dkt. 40-4. The week prior, Ascension informed Ms. Tucker that she was being laid off. Dkt. 40-1 at 25 (Tucker Dep. 89:16-17).

         Ms. Tucker was fifty-nine years old. Dkt. 45 at 2. Prior to working for Ascension, Ms. Tucker had experience working in human resources and taught the subject for several years at a college level. Dkt. 40-1 at 12-13 (Tucker Dep. 39:15-44:20). She has a master's degree in Business Administration and a master's degree in Public Administration in Health Care Administration. Id. at 5 (9:13-10:11). When Ascension hired her in 2008, she was working towards her doctorate in business administration. Id.

         B. Procedural

         The complaint brings two claims against Ascension: age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (Count I); and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Count II). Dkt. 1. Ascension has moved for summary judgment on both claims. Dkt. 39.

         In her response, Ms. Tucker concedes the sex discrimination claim (Count II). Dkt. 45 at 2 n.1. When a party fails to delineate a claim in her brief in opposition to summary judgment, that claim is “deemed abandoned.” SeeMaclin v. SBC Ameritech,520 F.3d 781, 788 (7th Cir. 2008). Therefore, Ascension's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to Count II. See Franklin v. Randolph Cty. Comm'rs, 1:18-cv-01340, 2019 WL 3037181, at *4 (S.D. Ind. 2019). The Court's analysis is thus ...


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