August 26, 2017

Clark Partington’s Employment Team Secures Another Summary Judgment

Clark Partington’s Employment Litigators and Shareholders, Jeremy Branning and Daniel Harrell, recently prevailed on a motion for summary judgment in a high-stakes gender discrimination suit filed by a vascular surgeon against her former practice, Coastal Vascular and Interventional, PLLC (“Coastal”).   Clark Partington Employment Litigator and Associate, Andrew Spencer, also contributed significantly to the development of strategy for this case, as well as assisting in the preparation of the dispositive motion.

In this case, the plaintiff alleged that our client failed to promote her to partner and ultimately terminated her employment because of her gender.  In response, Harrell and Branning argued that Coastal had numerous reasons for its decision not to elevate the plaintiff to partner and to terminate her employment, including, among other reasons, the fact that the plaintiff had taken an abrupt one-week leave of absence (shortly before Coastal’s decision) during which the plaintiff refused to answer or return calls from Coastal’s president.

Regarding the arguments set forth by Branning and Harrell, the Court determined that “[t]his is not a close case, and it warrants only little discussion.”  The Court then proceeded to adopt Harrell and Branning’s logic and held that “[i]n any industry (let along the medical field), taking a sudden leave of absence, and then refusing the company president’s several phone calls, would provide legitimate grounds for adverse action.  Rather than meeting that proffered reason head on and rebutting it, however, or showing that it is somehow unworthy of credence, [the plaintiff] largely ignored it . . . . [This] is patently insufficient to establish pretext for gender discrimination under the law of this circuit.”  The Court summarized its decision by stating that “[f]or this reason (and for all the other reasons articulated in Coastal’s persuasive memoranda), there are no genuine issues of material fact with respect to the gender discrimination claims, so summary judgment is granted[.]”