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Shaynelle Bordley v. Central Montgomery Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center

April 9, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schiller, J.


Shaynelle Bordley claims that her former employer, Central Montgomery Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center ("Central"), discriminated against her on the basis of race by assigning her predominantly African-American clients, then fired her for complaining about the discrimination. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment which, for the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant.


Central hired Plaintiff on November 2, 2009, as a therapist in Central's family based services ("FBS") division. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts [Def.'s SOF] ¶ 2.) Beginning in January 2010, Plaintiff worked as part of a two-person team with her partner, Deborah Larkin. (Id. ¶ 4.) Of the six teams comprising the FBS division, Plaintiff's team had the least amount of work experience at Central. (Id. ¶ 8.) Bordley was also the only African-American therapist in the FBS division. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts [Pl.'s SOF] at 3.)

In May 2010, Bordley and Larkin became concerned that they were not receiving a racially diverse caseload and raised this issue at a meeting with their supervisor, Lindsay Roznowski. (Def.'s SOF ¶ 9.) Specifically, Bordley believed that Caucasian clients were more likely to live farther from the office, and that by receiving more Caucasian clients she could bill more for travel time, thereby more easily meeting her billable-hour requirements for bonuses. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. A [Pl.'s Dep.] at 43-44, 48-49.) Roznowski informed Plaintiff's team that their assignments had been based on their lack of experience, and she had simply given them less complicated cases because they were the newest team; however, Roznowski said that she would attempt to assign Plaintiff's team more diverse cases in the future. (Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 17-18.) Shortly after Plaintiff's team raised this concern, Roznowski assigned Plaintiff to work on a high crisis case involving a Caucasian family. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Bordley and Larkin experienced difficulties working with each other. (Id. ¶ 28.) For example, Larkin complained about Bordley spending excessive time on the phone and not completing her share of paperwork. (Id. ¶ 29.) Bordley complained that Larkin was too aggressive when interacting with clients and that Bordley performed more work than Larkin because Larkin spent too much time on the phone discussing her daycare issues. (Id.)

On November 2, 2010, the team problems escalated. While Larkin and Bordley were at a movie theater with clients, Bordley became upset with Larkin for not saving her a seat and called Roznowski to complain. (Id. ¶31.) Following the movie, Bordley and Larkin returned to Central's office, where Bordley requested to speak with Roznowski about the movie theater incident. (Id. ¶ 32.) The discussion eventually devolved into Bordley and Larkin arguing loudly in Roznowski's office. (Id.) Despite Roznowski's attempts to calm Bordley and Larkin, they continued to argue and interrupt her repeatedly. (Id.) Roznowski and other witnesses reported Bordley and Larkin to Central's director of outpatient services, Kate Walsh, for fighting. (Id. ¶33.) On November 9, 2010, Roznowski presented Bordley and Larkin with a written warning related to the theater incident, and asked them to sign the warning. (Id. ¶35.) Both parties refused to sign the warning, and instead offered an altered version to Roznowski that omitted details of the incident. (Id. ¶¶36-37.) The next day, Bordley and Larkin requested a meeting with Roznowski to discuss the revised warning. (Id. ¶39.) When Roznowski told them she would discuss the warning next week, Bordley and Larkin became upset and began arguing again in the office. (Id. ¶40.) Following the argument, Bordley tried to meet with Walsh, but Walsh advised Bordley that she would meet with her on November 16. (Id. ¶41.) Central claims that on November 11, after discussing the two fights and the refusal to sign the warning, Roznowski, Walsh, and other Central staff privately decided to terminate Bordley and Larkin. (Id. ¶ 42.) On November 12, Larkin provided Roznowski with a letter of resignation. (Id. ¶ 43.) On November 16, Bordley met with Walsh and reiterated her concerns about the diversity of her caseload. (Pl.'s SOF at 5.) On November 18, Central terminated Bordley. (Def.'s SOF ¶ 46.)

On May 7, 2012, Bordley filed a complaint alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") for discrimination and retaliation. Specifically, Bordley claims that "Central engaged in the practice of assigning to her a caseload that consisted of almost entirely African-American 'consumers'" which was inconsistent with Central's policies and her desire to service a racially diverse set of consumers, and that she was terminated because she complained about her caseload. (Compl. ¶¶ 10-12, 25.) She also outlines two "racially-charged" incidents, which consisted of "references to her style of dress (discussing her being 'blinged out') and smelling of her hair in conjunction with comments about same." (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.)

Regarding Plaintiff's caseload diversity, Central's records reveal that during Plaintiff's employment she provided services to nine African-American consumers, six Caucasian consumers, and two consumers who identified their race as "other." (See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. E [Hunter Aff.].) After May 2010, when Bordley reported she first became concerned about her caseload diversity, Bordley received six cases, two involving Caucasian consumers, three involving African-American consumers, and one involving a client who identified her race as "other." (See Def.'s Reply Ex. 2 [May 2010 Records]; id. Ex. 3 [Bordley Client Notes].)


Summary judgment is appropriate when the admissible evidence fails to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). When the movant does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial, it may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry its burden of persuasion. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

Thereafter, the nonmoving party demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact if it provides evidence sufficient to allow a reasonable finder of fact to find in its favor at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In reviewing the record, a court "must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor." Abramson v. William Paterson Coll. of N.J., 260 F.3d 265, 276 (3d Cir. 2001). The court may not, however, make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in considering motions for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Goodman v. Pa. Tpk. Comm'n,293 F.3d 655, 665 (3d Cir. 2002).


A. Discrimination/Disparate ...

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