United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment submitted
by Defendant ResCare, Inc. ECF No. 27. Plaintiff alleges, in
his complaint, claims against Defendant under two causes of
action: age discrimination, in violation of the West Virginia
Human Rights Act (“WVHRA”), and sex
discrimination, also in violation of the WVHRA. See
Compl., ECF No. 1-2, at 2-3. Defendant now moves for
summary judgment on both counts for three reasons. Mem.
in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 28, at
10. First, because Plaintiff has failed to state a prima
facia case of age or sex discrimination. See Id. at
10. Second, because, even if Plaintiff has stated a prima
facia case of age or sex discrimination, Defendant had a
legitimate reason for not hiring Plaintiff. See Id.
at 14. Third, because there is no evidence that
Defendant's reasons were pretextual. See Id. at
parties have fully briefed the issues and the motion is now
ripe for adjudication. As explained below, the Court
DENIES Defendant's Motion for Summary
Defendant has moved for summary judgment, the Court will view
the following facts and their inferences in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff. Defendant provides in-home healthcare,
rehabilitation, and other assistance services to
intellectually and cognitively disabled people. See Mem.
in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., at 1-2.
Plaintiff had been in a supervisory position with Defendant
since 1991. See Dep. of Halstead, ECF No. 29-1, at
2-5. Plaintiff became the area program manager in 2000, and
while his job title varied, his duties remained the same for
the next seventeen years. See Id. at 4-5, 15. On
October 8, 2015, while working at Defendant's
Charleston/Dunbar location, Plaintiff received his first and
only written discipline from Defendant. See Id. at
6-9; ECF No. 29-3.
this discipline, Plaintiff applied to transfer to
Defendant's Huntington location at the request of Anna
Beavers, the executive director at that location. See
Dep. of Halstead, at 8- 10. Ms. Beavers knew Plaintiff
because she had previously served as the executive director
at the Charleston/Dunbar location and supervised Plaintiff
there. See Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff then began working
as a program manager at the Huntington location on October
12, 2015. See Id. at 8-9.
March of 2017 Defendant made the decision to combine its
Huntington and Barboursville locations into one office.
Dep. of Riggins, ECF No. 29-2, at 2. Tom Riggins,
Defendant's regional director of the Huntington and
Barboursville locations, oversaw the consolidation. See
Id. at 3. All management-level employees at the
Huntington and Barboursville locations were notified that
their positions were being eliminated, but that they could
apply for a position at the new location if they desired.
See Id. at 6. Mr. Riggins' first decision was to
hire Ms. Beavers as the post-consolidation executive director
at the new location. See Id. at 4. Mr. Riggins and
Ms. Beavers then proceeded to fill the rest of the
post-consolidation management staff. See Id. at 8.
Plaintiff was not hired as part of the management staff, and
each employee hired to the management team was female.
See ECF No. 29-9. Additionally, the three program
managers hired-April Lucas, Megan Ray, and Ashley
Wellman-were 37, 32, and 27 years old, respectively. ECF No.
29-10. Plaintiff, on the other hand, is a male, and was a
59-years-old at the time of the consolidation. See
Compl., at ¶ 11. Further, Plaintiff claims that
during the consolidation, Kathy Myers, the Human Resources
manager, suggested to him that Defendant may fire him because
of his age. See Dep. of Halstead, at 19-20.
Ms. Myers denies this allegation. See ECF No. 27-9.
subsequently filed a complaint against Defendant on March 15,
2018, in the Circuit Court of Cabell County, West Virginia,
alleging age and sex discrimination. See Compl.
Defendant then removed the case to this Court on April 18,
2018, and filed the pending motion for summary judgment on
March 6, 2019. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1;
Def's Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 27.
Standard of Review
obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that no
genuine issue as to any material fact remains and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In considering a motion for summary
judgment, a court will not “weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter[.]” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Instead,
a court will draw any permissible inference from the
underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Any inference,
however, “must fall within the range of reasonable
probability and not be so tenuous as to amount to speculation
or conjecture.” JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports
Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001)
(citation omitted). Therefore, summary judgment will not be
granted if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party on the evidence presented. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.
WVHRA prohibits employers from discriminating against
individuals based upon, among other characteristics, their
and sex. See W.Va. Code § 5-11-2. In
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,  the United States
Supreme Court created a three-step burden-shifting test for
Title VII employment discrimination cases, and the West
Virginia Supreme Court has adopted this three-step test for
cases such as this. See Knotts v. Grafton City
Hosp., 786 S.E.2d 188, 194 ( W.Va. 2016).
first step under McDonnell Douglas is to determine
whether the plaintiff has made a prima facie case of
discrimination.” Knotts, 786 S.E.2d at 194. If
the first step is satisfied then the court moves to the
second step, where “the burden of production shifts to
the employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason for the negative action taken against the
complainant.” Id. Finally, if this second step
is met, the third step requires that the plaintiff
“prove that the employer's reason was
Whether Plaintiff Has Stated a Prima Facia Case for Sex or
first argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's sex and age discrimination claims because
“Plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of
age or sex discrimination.” See Mem. in Supp. of
Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., at 10. Based on the
evidence presented, the Court disagrees with Defendant, and
finds that Plaintiff clearly has stated a prima facia case of
both sex and age discrimination.
state a prima facia case of employment discrimination, a
plaintiff must prove the following three elements: (1) the
plaintiff is a member of a protected class; (2) the employer
made an adverse decision concerning the plaintiff; and (3)
but for the plaintiff's protected status, the adverse
decision would not have been made. See Conaway v. Eastern
Associated Coal Corp., 358 S.E.2d 423, 429 ( W.Va.
1986). The West Virginia Supreme ...