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Johannes v. Monday Community Correctional Institution

June 21, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Thomas M. Rose


This matter is before the Court for decision on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 32-1). The instant case stems from a complaint filed by Jodi Johannes alleging sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code, §§ 4112.02(A) & 4112.99. (Doc. 14-2). Johannes alleges to have been discriminated against because of her sex when she was not promoted or otherwise re-classified to the position of Shift Coordinator at MonDay Community Correctional Institution following the reorganization of its operations department. (Doc. 14-2). In addition, Johannes claims that she was unlawfully discharged in retaliation for filing a discrimination claim. (Doc. 14-2). MonDay counters stating that Johannes was terminated for wrongfully detaining visitors at the facility without prior authorization from her supervisor or manager and for subjecting residents' families to unwarranted physical, verbal, or mental abuse. (Doc. 14-2, 19). MonDay's motion for summary judgment asserts that Johannes cannot show that she applied for the position in question or that other similarly situated employees were treated differently. MonDay also asserts that Johannes cannot establish that MonDay's stated reasons for not re-classifying her and terminating her were pretextual. Because Johannes has not established a prima facie case for failure to promote and because she has produced no evidence that MonDay's stated reason for not re-classifying her was pretextual or that MonDay's stated reason for terminating her was pretextual, the Court will grant MonDay's motion for summary judgment.

I. Jurisdiction

This case is before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. This case deals with alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq, and of Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code, §§ 4112.02(A) & 4112.99. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the District Courts of the United States have original jurisdiction to hear matters that arise under the laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In addition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367, in any civil action of which the District Courts have original jurisdiction, the District Courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution. 28 U.S.C. § 1367. This case is properly before this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this case deals with federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Finally, this Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the state claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because the state claims arise under the same case and controversy as the federal claims.

II. Background

MonDay is a minimum security correctional facility located in Dayton, Ohio. Prior to her termination, Jodi Johannes was employed by MonDay as a 3rd Shift Team Leader and was responsible for administrative duties, supervision of residents, facility security, operational duties, and transportation. (Doc. 31-2). In the summer of 2003, MonDay reorganized its operations department in order to increase communications and efficiency within the department. (Knowles Depo. at 8; Bell Depo. at 21). Prior to the reorganization, the department had an Operations Manager (Bell), who supervised an Operations Coordinator (Watson), who supervised the three Shift Team Leaders. (Bell Depo. Exhibit S). After the reorganization, the "Operations Coordinator" position was eliminated and the 1st and 2nd "Shift Team Leader" positions were re-classified to "Shift Coordinators" which increased the position from a Grade 15 to a Grade 20 pay rate. (Id.). The 3rd "Shift Team Leader" position was not re-classified because management felt that the 3rd shift position was less demanding in that it was mostly administrative and because the residents primarily sleep during that shift. (Blake Depo. at 15). On the other hand, the 1st and 2nd "Shift Coordinator" positions were responsible for administrative duties similar to those of the 3rd Shift Team Leader as well as for incident investigations and rule violation processing which were not part of the 3rd shift job description. (Doc. 31-2, p. 30). As a result of the reorganization, there was a need to fill the new positions of 1st and 2nd Shift Coordinators.

Prior to and immediately after the reorganization at MonDay, all of the positions at the facility listed an educational requirement in the job description. (Doc. 31-2, p. 4, 20, 23, 31). For example, the Shift Coordinator required a bachelor's degree, the Shift Team Leader required an associate's degree, and the Resident Leader required a high school diploma. (Id.). While the 2003 Shift Coordinator job description required a bachelor's degree, the previous Operations Coordinator, Mike Watson, was offered the position of 1st Shift Coordinator even though he lacked this requirement. (Bell Depo. at 30, 32-33; Doc. 31-2). This decision was made, according to the Operations Manager, Bell, mainly because Watson had previously held a higher position with similar duties to the new Shift Coordinator position, and as a result of the reorganization Watson was demoted to a lower position on the table of organization. (Johannes Depo. at 74; Bell Depo. at 32-33). This left open the 2nd Shift Coordinator position. This position was posted in-house and interviews were held for five candidates. (Bell Depo. at 34). Reily, the 1st Shift Team Leader prior to reorganization, did not wish to apply for the open 2nd Shift Coordinator position and was subsequently downgraded to 1st Shift Resident Leader. (Bell Depo. at 27-28). Plaintiff, Johannes, also chose not to apply for the 2nd shift position because she did not have the required bachelor's degree. (Johannes Depo. at 75, 85). Carlos Morrison, who was a part-time Resident Team Leader prior to reorganization, was interviewed and selected for the 2nd Shift Coordinator position. (Bell Depo. at 35). Morrison met the bachelor's degree requirement. (Id.).

After Morrison was selected, Plaintiff approached her supervisor, Bell, to inquire why the 3rd shift position was not re-classified during reorganization. (Bell Depo. at 36). Bell responded stating that the other shifts performed duties above those required of 3rd shift. (Id.). Subsequent to this discussion, Johannes filed an OCRC/EEOC charge of sex discrimination on January 7, 2004, believing that she was not re-classified because of her sex. (Bell Depo. Ex. E). On July 22, 2004, a finding of no probable cause was issued by the OCRC (Ohio Civil Rights Commission), and a right to sue letter adopting this finding was issued on September 20, 2004 by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). (Summary Judgment Ex. 1; Complaint Ex. B). This suit was then filed by Plaintiff, Jodi Johannes, on December 20, 2004.

At some point between August 2003 and March 2004 MonDay altered their job descriptions to make education one of several ways to meet the qualifications of a position; education was no longer a strict requirement. (Doc. 31-2, p. 2, 18, 27). In March of 2004, Morrison resigned from the 2nd Shift Coordinator position and the job was again posted in-house, this time without the strict B.A. requirement. (Johannes Depo. at 76; Bell Depo. at 48). Johannes again did not apply stating personal reasons. (Johannes Depo. at 76, 85). Brenda Kross, who has a bachelor's degree, was eventually selected for the position. (Bell Depo. at 121-22).

One year later, on March 18, 2005, Mr. Robe, an employee at MonDay, witnessed an encounter between Johannes and Bell at the MonDay facility. (Bell Ex. K). Mr. Robe stated that he witnessed the two talking in the Main Control room and that Bell told Johannes in a mocking and disrespectful tone that it was inappropriate for her to argue with him in front of Mr. Robe. (Id.).

Two days later, on March 20, 2005, Johannes was overseeing the visitation period at MonDay. On that date MonDay received a call stating that an ill juvenile runaway may be at the facility with some of the visitors, specifically with an individual identified as Ms. Williams. (Hodapp Depo. at 11; Johannes Depo. at 12). After receiving the call, Johannes had one of her supervisees call the Dayton Police Department to request an officer to be sent to MonDay to speak with Ms. Williams and her friend Mr. Patterson. (Hodapp Depo. 15-16). During this time, 3:30 p.m., while waiting for the police to arrive, visitation had ended and Johannes, who lacks arresting authority, refused to allow any of the visitors to exit the facility for approximately 20 minutes and detained Williams and Patterson separately in a locked area for approximately 45 minutes. (Bell Depo. at 76, 86, 93). At no time did Johannes contact her superiors to obtain permission for the detention of the visitors. (Johannes Depo. at 63).

Subsequent to this incident, MonDay notified Johannes of a predisciplinary hearing charging her with the mistreatment of the visitors. (Bell Ex. H). At this time, Johannes was placed on paid leave pending the investigation into the incident. (Bell Depo. at 123). On April 15, 2005, Johannes was terminated from MonDay for the unauthorized and impermissible detention of the visitors which was considered a serious infraction by MonDay. (Bell Ex. I).

Following her termination, Johannes filed a retaliation charge with the OCRC and the EEOC. (Complaint Ex. C). Plaintiff subsequently withdrew the charge. A right to sue letter was then issued to Johannes by the EEOC on November 23, 2005. (Complaint Ex. D). Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint on January 23, 2006, adding the retaliation charge to her prior charges of sex discrimination. Defendant subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on April 14, 2006.

III. Standard of Review

The standard of review for motions for summary judgment is established by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and associated case law. Rule 56 provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Alternatively, summary judgment is denied "[i]f there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Hancock v. Dodson, 958 F.2d 1367, 1374 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986)). Thus, summary judgment must be entered "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986).

The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id., at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who "must set forth specific facts showing that there ...

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