United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. MULLEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment, filed January 30, 2018. The motion has
been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.
Dannie Montgomery, an African-American woman in her 50s, was
hired by the Defendant Board as a classroom teacher for the
1999-2000 school year. She continued working for Anson County
schools-earning career status in 2009-until her employment
was terminated in June 2017. Beginning in or around 2005, Ms.
Montgomery repeatedly sought a promotion to principal or
assistant principal at a number of Anson County schools.
Plaintiff asserts in sweeping terms that she was passed over
for promotion on more than a dozen occasions, usually in
favor of younger and/or white candidates, despite her
superior qualifications. In this lawsuit, though, Ms
Montgomery has identified only three specific promotions that
she claims she should have been awarded, all of which she
sought in 2014:
• Anson High School Assistant Principal: In February
2014, Plaintiff applied for the position of Assistant
Principal of Anson High School. The position was awarded to
Dionnya Pratt, an African-American female in her 40s.
• Anson County Early College High School Principal: In
June 2014, Plaintiff applied for the position of Principal of
Anson County Early College High School. The position was
awarded to Carri Decker, a white female in her late 20s or
• Anson Middle School Assistant Principal: In July 2014,
Plaintiff applied for the position of Assistant Principal of
Anson Middle School. The position was awarded to Kevin Adams,
a white male in his 30s.
Montgomery contends that she was the better- qualified
candidate in every instance and should have been awarded
those promotions. Plaintiff ultimately admitted, however,
that she was not qualified for the Anson High School position
because she lacked a required qualification: principal
licensure, which she did not obtain until May of 2014. She
contends that she did not get the remaining two promotions
because of her race and/or her age. In June of 2017,
Plaintiff's employment was terminated due to admitted
8, 2016, Ms. Montgomery filed a three-count Complaint against
the Board alleging deprivation of her First Amendment rights
and discrimination on the basis of age and race in violation
of Title VII. In an Order filed October 20, 2016, this Court
granted the Board's Motion to Dismiss the First Amendment
claim but allowed Plaintiff to amend her discrimination
claims to address pleading deficiencies identified by the
Board. On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Amended
Complaint-the operative pleading in this case (Doc. No.
14)-which identified with particularity the three positions
described above, for which she claimed to be qualified, for
which she had applied, and for which another candidate was
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[A] complete
failure of proof concerning an essential element of the
nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323;
see also, e.g., Teamsters Joint Council
No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119 (4th Cir.
1991) (“[W]here the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving
party, disposition by summary judgment is
appropriate.”). “One of the principal purposes of
the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of
factually unsupported claims or defenses.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24.
survive summary judgment on her discriminatory
failure-to-promote claims, Plaintiff must either come forward
with direct evidence of discrimination or, absent such
evidence, make out a claim pursuant to the burden-shifting
framework established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973):
Under that [McDonnell Douglas] three-step framework, the
plaintiff-employee must first prove a prima facie case of
discrimination by a preponderance of the evidence. If she
succeeds, the defendant-employer has an opportunity to
present a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its
employment action. If the employer does so, the presumption
of unlawful discrimination created by the prima facie case
“drops out of the picture” and the burden shifts
back to the employee to show that the given reason was just a
pretext for discrimination.
Evans v. Technologies Applications & Serv. Co.,
80 F.3d 954, 959 (4th Cir. 1996) (citing ...