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FORDHAM v. SALVATION ARMY

August 5, 2004.

HATTIE FORDHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SALVATION ARMY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Hattie Fordham, appearing pro se, brings this action against The Salvation Army ("TSA"). Fordham alleges that TSA unlawfully terminated her employment based upon her national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.*fn1 TSA now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, TSA's motion is granted.

  I. BACKGROUND

  Fordham was born in South Carolina.*fn2 On or about October 4, 1999, Fordham applied for a job at TSA.*fn3 Gloria Saunders, TSA employee in charge of hiring and firing, received Fordham's application.*fn4 After discussing the application with her supervisor, Frankie Hailey, Saunders decided to hire Fordham as a floor clerk in one of TSA's thrift stores.*fn5

  Fordham began her employment at TSA's 536 West 46th Street store in Manhattan in October 1999, at which time she was given the Rules of Conduct for TSA employees (the "Rules").*fn6 The Rules prohibit discourtesy to other TSA employees, repeated tardiness, and the use of obscene or threatening language.*fn7 In December 1999, Fordham was transferred to TSA's 208 Eighth Avenue store in Manhattan.*fn8

  While working at that location, Fordham received three warning notices from Faizool Khan, her supervisor.*fn9 Khan issued the first warning notice on March 25, 2000.*fn10 This notice states that Fordham and other employees were "yelling at each [other] in the store," after being "warned on several occasion[s]."*fn11 Khan issued the second warning notice on May 20, 2000, which states that Fordham was "late three times in one week" despite being "warned before about lateness."*fn12 Khan issued the third warning on June 17, 2000, which states that Fordham was engaged in a "loud argument" and used "obscene language against [a] fellow worker."*fn13 Fordham signed all three of the warning notices.*fn14 On June 19, 2000, Saunders terminated Fordham's employment.*fn15 Before doing so, however, Saunders consulted with Hailey, who approved her decision.*fn16

  Fordham alleges that Saunders terminated her employment because Fordham was born in the United States.*fn17 In support of this proposition, Fordham avers that Saunders was born in the Caribbean.*fn18 Saunders, however, states that she was born in Charleston, South Carolina.*fn19 Saunders further asserts that although she moved to Jamaica when she was "quite young," she returned to the United States in 1965 and has resided here continuously ever since.*fn20

  In support of its motion for summary judgment, TSA offers a list of twenty people hired between October 2000 and April 2003.*fn21 Of these people, sixteen have identify their national origin as the United States, and only one is of Jamaican origin.*fn22

  II. LEGAL STANDARD

  A. Summary Judgment Standard

  Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence of record "show[s] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."*fn23 "An issue of fact is genuine `if the evidence is such that a jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'"*fn24 "A fact is material for these purposes if it `might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'"*fn25

  The movant has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists.*fn26 In turn, to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must raise a genuine issue of material fact. To do so, it "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,"*fn27 and it must "come forward with `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."*fn28 In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor.*fn29

  B. Summary Judgment in the Context of Title VII

  When seeking relief for discrimination under Title VII, a plaintiff has the initial burden of making out a prima facie case of discrimination.*fn30 A plaintiff may do so by showing: "(1) membership in a protected class; (2) satisfactory job performance; (3) termination from employment or other adverse employment action; and (4) the ultimate filling of the position with an individual who is not a member of the protected class."*fn31 "If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, a presumption of discrimination is created and the burden of production shifts to the defendant to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action or termination."*fn32 The defendant need not actually prove ...


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