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Moore v. Ferron-Poole

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 31, 2016

SHARON MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
ASTREAD O. FERRON-POOLE, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Warren W. Eginton Senior U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Sharon Moore alleges that defendant Astread Ferron-Poole denied plaintiff a promotion to Social Work Supervisor in the Connecticut Department of Social Services (“DSS”) due to plaintiff's race and age in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff cannot show an equal protection violation and that qualified immunity shields defendant from liability. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted in defendant's favor.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties have submitted statements of facts with supporting exhibits, which reveal the following factual background.

         Defendant is an African-American woman and the Chief of Staff/Affirmative Action Administrator for DSS. She reports to the Commissioner of DSS.

         Plaintiff is an African-American woman born in 1952. She has worked at DSS since 2006 as a Child Support Investigator. From 1987 to 1999, she worked at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, first as a Social Worker and then as a Social Worker Supervisor.

         DSS is required by state law to develop and implement an affirmative action plan. Goals are established each year through a formula developed by the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) and set forth in its regulations. Goal candidates fall within the race and gender categories determined to be underrepresented in a particular job classification. To comply with CHRO regulations and state law, DSS must demonstrate a good faith effort to meet the hiring and promotional goals in its affirmative action plan. Goal candidates need only meet the minimum requirements of the position.

         In September 2012, plaintiff applied for a promotion to a Social Work Supervisor position in Adult Protective Services in DSS's Hartford regional office. Each candidate was rated by interviews as Superior, Acceptable, Marginal or Unacceptable in the areas of technical competence, motivation, judgment, interpersonal skills, responsiveness to questions, and overall.

         There were three final candidates for the position: Plaintiff; an African--American woman; and a Hispanic woman. All three of the candidates received an overall rating of Acceptable. The hiring managers recommended that plaintiff be offered the position.

         In January 2013, defendant considered the three candidates' information, the hiring managers' recommendation, and the DSS affirmative action goals for the Social Work Supervisor position. At the time, DSS had the following hiring goals relevant to the Social Work Supervisor position: Five Caucasian males, one Hispanic female; one other male.[1]

         On January 26, 2013, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (“OPM”) sent a memorandum to all state agencies announcing a hiring freeze; it instructed state agencies that any approval previously granted by OPM to refill positions was revoked except for positions for which a bona fide offer of employment had been made as of the close of business on January 28, 2013.

         On January 28, 2013, defendant selected the Hispanic candidate. DSS's Human Resources Personnel Officer ...


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