United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
CHRISTIANAH O. ADEFILA, Plaintiff,
DAVITA, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THOMAS D. SCHROEDER, District Judge.
Before the court is a motion for summary judgment by Defendant DaVita, Inc. ("DaVita") as to Plaintiff Christianah Adefila's single claim for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (Doc. 26.) For the reasons set forth below, DaVita's motion will be granted and the case will be dismissed.
The undisputed essential facts, viewed in the light most favorable to Adefila, as the non-moving party, are as follows.
Defendant DaVita provides dialysis treatment and support services to patients with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. (Doc. 26-2 (Moore Decl.) ¶ 3.) DaVita does this, at least in part, by running dialysis clinics at the locations of its clients. (Id. ¶ 4.) These clients include Alamance Regional Medical Center ("ARMC") and Select Specialty Hospital ("Select"). (Id.) Both of these clients have the contractual right to refuse to accept any employee that DaVita assigns to work on their premises. (Id.)
Adefila applied to DaVita to work as a nurse and was granted an interview in September 2012 with Shatisha Moore for a position as an acute dialysis nurse. (Id. ¶ 6.) During the interview, Moore told Adefila that the position was for work at ARMC and would report to Moore. (Id. ¶ 7.) She also told Adefila that, if hired, she may be assigned to work at Select for some periods. (Id. ¶ 8.) Although Adefila had previously worked for Select as a registered nurse from May to June 2012, she did not disclose it during the hiring process, nor did she tell Moore that she had been terminated by Select for leaving prescription medicine unattended in a patient's room (a charge Adefila does not deny). (Adefila Dep. at 2, 4-5, 21, Doc. 26-1.) Rather, she deliberately withheld this information because she was fired and thereafter filed an employment discrimination claim against Select with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), claiming discrimination and hostile work environment based upon her national origin and alleged disability. (Adefila Dep. at 6-7, 21 & Ex. 1, Doc. 26-1; Doc. 32 (Adefila Aff.) ¶ 2.) DaVita hired Adefila, who began work on October 15, 2012. (Adefila Dep. at 16, Doc. 26-1.)
As a DaVita employee, Adefila was directed to report to Select for orientation on October 24, 2012. (Adefila Aff. ¶ 3.) An hour after Adefila arrived there, Moore called her and directed that she leave Select's premises immediately; Moore reported that Select had called and said it did not want her treating their patients because she (Adefila) had worked there, been fired, and filed an EEOC charge against Select. (Adefila Dep. at 19, Doc. 26-1.) Adefila went to Moore at ARMC, where Moore repeated the information reported by Select and, according to Adefila, said, "I cannot have you work here anymore. You have a charge out there." (Id. at 20.) Moore was disappointed that Adefila had not disclosed her prior employment with Select in her application or during her interview and told Adefila she had been "dishonest"; Adefila responded that she did not disclose the employment because she "knew" that, if she had been truthful, Moore would not have hired her. (Id. at 21.) Adefila pleaded with Moore not to fire her, and Moore said she would have to talk with her boss but directed Adefila to come back the next day. (Id. at 22-23.) Moore did not fire Adefila, but told her to report for orientation at ARMC. (Id. at 22-24.)
The next day, Adefila reported to ARMC, another DaVita client. (Id. at 22-25.) ARMC's employee, Olivia Rogers, performed a pre-employment assessment on Adefila, which ARMC required of all new workers at ARMC and for employees of businesses like DaVita that assign employees to work at ARMC. (Doc. 26-4 (Rogers Decl.) ¶¶ 3-4.) ARMC does not permit anyone who has failed the assessment to work for it. (Doc. 26-3 (Fitts Decl.) ¶ 3.) During the assessment, Rogers asked Adefila to complete a number of forms, which took Adefila an hour to do even though it should have taken only fifteen minutes. (Rogers Decl. ¶ 5.) Adefila was also given a mask test and, although she had worn respiratory masks for twenty years, she failed three times because she kept touching the mask after the test had begun, contrary to Rogers' express instructions. (Id. ¶ 6; Adefila Dep. at 26, Doc. 26-1.) Adefila was also very slow in responding to questions, failed to follow a simple command to wait in the exam room, and did not understand Rogers' statement that she would take her to the lab for blood work. (Adefila Aff. ¶ 7.) Based on her interactions with Adefila, Rogers recommended against employing Adefila and so informed ARMC Employee Partnership Specialist Sonya Fitts. (Rogers Decl. ¶ 8 & Exs. 1-2; Fitts Decl. ¶ 4.) At the time, Rogers did not know that Adefila had made an employment discrimination charge against Select. (Rogers Decl. ¶ 9.)
On October 30, 2012, not knowing she had failed the health assessment, Adefila reported to a dialysis center in Burlington. (Compl. ¶ 12.) The technician with whom she worked would not explain how to do her work. (Id.) Adefila reports that when she asked why, the technician responded, "I don't have to tell you or show you nothing because there is a reason why you were sent here as against working in the unit you were hired for." (Id.) Adefila worked at that unit for two days before she again met with Moore. (Id. ¶ 13.)
Fitts called Moore and informed her that Adefila had failed her assessment and was not cleared to work at ARMC. (Fitts Decl. ¶ 5.) When Fitts relayed this message, she did not know that Adefila had filed an employment discrimination charge against Select. (Id. ¶ 6.)
On November 5, 2012, Moore met with Adefila and informed her that she was not cleared to work at ARMC because ARMC would not let her work with its patients. (Adefila Dep. at 31, 33, Doc. 26-1.) Adefila reports that Moore told her, "you are not doing well, " "I cannot have you anymore, " and that Moore "was terminating [her] employment, " but Moore advised her that she could apply for a different position with DaVita and gave her two to three weeks to do so. (Id. at 30, 35, and 38; Adefila Dep. at 18-21, Doc. 33-1; Moore Decl. ¶ 17; Adefila Decl. ¶ 7.) According to Adefila, although Moore told her she had two to three weeks to re-apply for a DaVita position,
I didn't understand what [Moore] meant, and I didn't want to sit there, argue with her, and be walked out by a police or security. I wasn't going to go through all that crap. So all I said was, You recommend me? Am I applying? And she said yes, and I just got up, Thank you, and walked out. I didn't have time to be treated like trash.
(Adefila Dep. at 21, Doc. 33-1.) After this meeting, however, Adefila "never" applied for another position with DaVita. (Adefila Dep. at 21, Doc. 33-1; Moore Decl. ¶ 18.) Adefila claims she was terminated "on or about November 5, 2012." (Adefila Decl. ¶ 7.) DaVita claims that it fired Moore effective November 25, 2012, after her period to re-apply for a position had passed, based on four alleged reasons:
 the fact that Select had refused to allow Ms. Adefila to work at its hospital,  the fact that Ms. Adefila had omitted her prior employment by Select on her DaVita employment application,  the fact that Ms. Adefila failed the ARMC assessment and so she would not be permitted to work at that hospital, and  based upon Ms. Adefila's failure to identify any other vacant position at DaVita that she was qualified to perform.
(Moore Decl. ¶¶ 18, 19.)
On December 17, 2012, Adefila filed a charge of discrimination against DaVita with the EEOC, alleging that she was fired for having filed an EEOC charge of discrimination against Select, her former employer. (Adefila Dep. Ex. 8, Doc. 26-1.) On August 9, 2013, the EEOC dismissed the charge, issued Adefila a right to sue letter, and ...