Employment Retaliation Discrimination Reassignment.


Byline: R.I. Lawyers Weekly Staff

Where a plaintiff school principal has alleged that her transfer was retaliatory and discriminatory, the defendants should be awarded summary judgment because of the plaintiff's failure to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation.

"This matter is before the Court on the Objection of Nadine E. Lima to the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan (ECF No. 28). The Magistrate Judge, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), has recommended that Count I of the Complaint (ECF No. 1-1) be dismissed and the defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 13) be granted.

"Separate from the breach of contract claim of Count I, Ms. Lima's claims invoke 42 U.S.C. 1981 (Civil Rights Act of 1866), 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(2) (Family Medical Leave Act), and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, R.I.G.L. 42-112-1, et seq, all of which protect her from discrimination and retaliation for the exercise of protected rights. The dispute arose from Ms. Lima's employment as a school principal in East Providence, at the Whiteknact Elementary School and subsequently as the principal of a newly-founded pre-K program, established with the help of a special grant obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Education. Ms. Lima contends that her involuntary transfer to the pre-K program was a 'demotion,' undertaken in retaliation for her previous exercise of rights in suing East Providence some years before, for her obtaining a settlement in that action, and for her having taken family medical leave. She alleges a series of other retaliatory actions pre-dating the transfer and, ultimately, the creation of a hostile work environment that, she maintains, caused her constructive termination when she resigned her position on August 2, 2016.

" The Court has read the filings carefully, considered the Statements of Disputed and Undisputed Facts (ECF Nos. 14, 21, 22, 24), and the Exhibits, and applied the burden-shifting paradigm of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Ms. Lima falters at the first step of her first burden in that analysis: establishing a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation. The evidence that she offers hardly supports a finding of adverse employment action that 'impair[ed] or potentially impair[ed] the plaintiff's employment in some cognizable manner.' Even if one assumes arguendo that her re-assignment was adverse, she has not...

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