United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Sylvanus B. McBryde, et al., Plaintiffs,
A Renewed Mind, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge
Sylvanus B. McBryde and Samantha S. Nance sued Defendant A
Renewed Mind (“ARM”), alleging Defendant
discriminated against them on the basis of their race and
retaliated against them for filing charges of discrimination
with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”)
and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). McBryde also alleges ARM discriminated
against him on the basis of his sex. ARM has filed motions
for summary judgment as to McBryde and Nance's claims.
(Doc. No. 15 and Doc. No. 16). McBryde and Nance filed briefs
in opposition to these motions, and ARM filed briefs in
reply. While these motions were pending, Nance and ARM
stipulated to the dismissal of her claims with prejudice.
(Doc. No. 42). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's
motion for summary judgment on McBryde's claims is
began working as a qualified mental health specialist and
chemical dependency counselor with ARM in October 2009.
McBryde helped to develop and expand an ARM mental health and
substance abuse treatment program known as Guided Paths. He
eventually held the titles of Program Manager and later
Program Director for Guided Paths.
and youth-based services were a large component of the Guided
Paths program, though the program also served adults with
substance abuse issues. Guided Paths received some state
funding, as well as funding from grants. McBryde worked as an
independent contractor until June 2014, when he became an ARM
employee. This change in employment status did not change
McBryde's job duties or responsibilities.
began working for ARM as a case manager in April 2010. She
also helped to develop the Guided Paths program, ultimately
becoming a Program Manager in November 2013. Nance worked
directly with at-risk youth at several schools with whom ARM
contracted in connection with Guided Paths.
consistently received high marks on his annual employee
performance evaluations. McBryde received strong reviews for
expanding Guided Paths, exceeding productivity goals, and
forming relationships with community partners. Matthew Rizzo,
who supervised McBryde and later became the CEO of ARM,
repeatedly called McBryde “an asset” to the
agency. (Doc. No. 21-4 at 3; Doc. No. 21-6 at 3).
2014, the board of directors for ARM placed the agency's
then-CEO, Jonathan James, on administrative leave. Rizzo
became the interim CEO; the board of directors selected him
as the permanent CEO in October 2014. In August 2014,
following discussions with other executive officers at ARM,
including Wendy Shaheen, Jennifer Riha, and Rolanda Key,
Rizzo announced changes to the Guided Paths program. The
parties disagree as to the scope of these changes -
alternately referring to these changes as a
“realignment”, (Doc. No. 15-1 at 9), or a
“dismantling”, (Doc. No. 19 at 148) - but agree
that by the fall of 2014, Guided Paths was no longer a
stand-alone program within ARM.
describes the changes as being driven by efficiency concerns
and a need to ensure compliance with the Ohio Administrative
Code. (Doc. No. 15-1 at 9). The OAC requires supervisors of
certain clinical services to maintain a specific level of
licensure in order to supervisor other treatment providers.
McBryde had not obtained these licenses so five other ARM
employees reviewed and approved mental health and clinical
services performed by Guided Paths staff members.
and Nance both strenuously objected to the restructuring.
Nance believed the changes were “unfair.” (Doc.
No. 17 at 142). Nance had “poured [her] everything into
Guided Paths, and to have it torn apart like this [was]
heart-wrenching.” (Doc. No. 17 at 142). McBryde thought
he was having the program “stripped from [him]”
and that the changes “undermine[d]” Guided Paths.
(Doc. No. 19 at 153).
after the changes to Guided Paths were announced, McBryde
received the first disciplinary action in his five years at
ARM. Riha and Shaheen issued McBryde a notice of corrective
action on August 24, 2014, for ignoring ARM procedures on
hiring new employees and inappropriate communications with
present and former ARM staff members. (Doc. No. 19-14).
changes went into effect in September 2014. The portion of
Guided Paths which served students at the Polly Fox Academy,
a charter school for girls in grades 7 through 12 who were
pregnant or raising a young child, was moved into the
School-Based Services division of ARM. Adult addiction and
other drug counseling services were moved to the Alcohol and
Other Drug (“AOD”) division, and mental health
services were moved into ARM's Mental Health Division.
point, McBryde's title changed from Program Director of
Guided Paths to Program Director of Adult AOD, though his pay
and benefits did not change. McBryde began reporting to
Christina Rodriguez, who was the Clinical Director of the AOD
September 12, 2014, McBryde filed an internal grievance
concerning his August 25 notice of corrective action and the
decision to restructure Guided Paths. He sought to escalate
his grievance to the second step of the grievance process on
October 2, 2014, (Doc. No. 19-21), the same day as McBryde
filed a charge of discrimination with the OCRC. (Doc. No.
18-13). Rizzo acknowledged receipt of McBryde's letter
escalating his grievance on October 6, 2014, and indicated he
would contact a member of the board of directors to set up a
meeting pursuant to ARM policy. (Doc. No. 21-30).
received a second notice of corrective action on October 7,
2014. (Doc. No. 21-37). This second notice charged McBryde
with a number of policy violations, including attendance,
professionalism, an ethics violation, insubordination, and
poor quality of work. (Doc. No. 21-37 at 1). ARM also
contends it had received complaints about McBryde from two
separate referral sources. As a result, McBryde was suspended
for three and one-half days.
after McBryde was suspended, Lisa Rioux, ARM's Director
of Administrative Services, reported McBryde reacted poorly
when Rioux approached him to discuss questions concerning
another employee. Rioux believed, based upon McBryde's
tone, body language, and body positioning, that McBryde was
attempting to intimidate her. (Doc. No. 20-28 at 4). A
similar incident took place following McBryde's return
from his suspension, though this incident instead involved
Rodriquez, McBryde's supervisor. (Doc. No. 20-28 at 1-3).
investigated these incidents. Riha spoke with both Rioux and
Rodriquez, as well as several witnesses. (Doc. No. 20 at
182-186). Riha also notified McBryde she was investigating
these allegations and attempted to schedule a meeting with
him. Riha eventually notified McBryde by text message that he
was not to come to work until the investigation was pending.
During the investigation, however, ARM determined it would
eliminate McBryde's position and declined to reassign
McBryde to another position due to his “unacceptable
work performance.” (Doc. No. 20-9). McBryde's
employment with ARM ended on October 27, 2014.
judgment is appropriate if the movant demonstrates there is
no genuine dispute of material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
All evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to
the nonmovant, White v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 533
F.3d 381, 390 (6th Cir. 2008), and all reasonable inferences
are drawn in the nonmovant's favor. Rose v. State
Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 766 F.3d 532, 535 (6th Cir.
2014). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury
could resolve the dispute and return a verdict in the
nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A disputed fact is
material only if its resolution might affect the outcome of
the case under the governing substantive law. Rogers v.
O'Donnell, 737 F.3d 1026, 1030 (6th Cir. 2013).
asserts claims for sex discrimination, race discrimination,
and retaliation under both federal and state
Defendant moves for summary judgment on each of these claims.
McBryde asserts there is a genuine dispute of material fact
as to his race discrimination and retaliation claims, though
he does not oppose Defendant's motion as to his sex
discrimination claims. (See Doc. No. 30 at 69).
Defendant is entitled to summary judgment because McBryde
fails to offer evidence Defendant treated him differently
because of his sex, and accordingly his claim is dismissed
See, e.g., Laney v. Ohio Dep't of Youth Servs.,
719 F.Supp.2d 868, 881 (S.D. Ohio 2010), aff'd, 448
Fed.Appx. 553 (6th Cir. 2011).
may establish a prima facie case of race discrimination by
showing “(1) he is a member of a protected class; (2)
he was subjected to an adverse employment action; (3) he was
qualified for the position; and (4) he was replaced by
someone outside the protected class or was treated
differently than similarly-situated [individuals outside of
the protected class] . . . .” Amos v. McNairy
Cnty., 622 Fed.Appx. 529, 533-34 (6th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Deleon v. Kalamazoo Cnty. Rd. Comm'n,
739 F.3d 914, 918 (6th Cir.2014) cert. denied, --- U.S. ---,
135 S.Ct. 783 (2015)). Defendant contends McBryde cannot
establish either the second or the fourth element of the
prima facie case.