United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. Bolden United States District Judge.
November 14, 2016, Patricia Hurlie-Smith
(“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit against
Quinnipiac University (“Defendant” or
“Quinnipiac”), alleging discrimination on the
bases of sex and age, in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq., and the Connecticut Fair
Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen.
Stat. 46a-60. Compl., ECF No. 1.
has moved for summary judgment. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No.
following reasons, Quinnipiac's motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 2004, Quinnipiac hired Ms. Hurlie-Smith as a part-time
security guard and assigned her to a bus detail that
transported students from Quinnipiac's campus in Hamden
to New Haven from 8:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m. on Thursday,
Friday, and Saturday evenings. Def.'s Stmt. of Material
Facts ¶ 1 (“Def.'s SMF”), ECF No. 30-5.
Hurlie-Smith originally reported to Sergeant Bill Canning.
Hurlie-Smith Dep. at 31:14-16, Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B, ECF No.
or 2008, Quinnipiac eliminated part-time positions, and, as a
result, Ms. Hurlie-Smith had to attain full-time status to
continue working at the university. Def.'s SMF ¶ 2.
Ms. Hurlie-Smith added two overnight shifts per week working
at a security booth from midnight to 8:00 a.m. Id.
Her hourly pay rate was the same for both positions.
Id. Security personnel responsible for the bus
program were known as the “Tactical Unit, ” or
the “TAC Team, ” and they were responsible for
running shuttles, managing the taxi stand area, and
facilitating the flow of traffic on days when students were
moving onto and off of the campus. Id. ¶ 3.
of those days, when students were moving onto campus,
Sergeant Canning “sent [Ms. Hurlie-Smith] over to
another side of campus with nothing to do, with no
explanation as to why this happened.” Pl.'s Stmt.
of Material Facts (“Pl. SMF”) at 10, Obj. to Mot.
for Summ. J. Ex. B, ECF No. 31-2.
2014, Quinnipiac removed Ms. Hurlie-Smith from the TAC Team.
Id. at 10. She asked Chief Dave Barger why, and he
responded that “it was ‘time to pass the
torch.'” Id. Ms. Hurlie-Smith also claims
that, when she asked to stay working on the buses in the fall
of 2014, he told her that “she was not getting any
2014, Ms. Hurlie-Smith filed a complaint with the EEOC. EEOC
Release, Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. B, ECF No. 30-2. The EEOC
found that it was unable to conclude that Ms.
Hurlie-Smith's allegations violated Title VII, and
instructed that she “may file a lawsuit against the
respondent(s) under federal law based on this charge in
federal or state court” but the “lawsuit must be
filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your
receipt of this notice; or your right to sue based on this
charge will be lost.” Id.
January 29, 2015, Nicole Lambusta, who was at the time the
Human Resources Business Partner, called Ms. Hurlie-Smith to
discuss her assignment with the TAC Team. Id. ¶
4. On the call and in a follow-up e-mail, Ms. Lambusta stated
that Ms. Hurlie-Smith would be assigned to the express buses
on the TAC Team, she would perform the functions of the
“Officer in Charge” on Saturday nights and other
nights when no Sergeant was present, she would resume her
former responsibilities of directing all south lot major
staging, that Sergeant Canning would not be working with the
TAC Team, that Quinnipiac would clarify and distribute
information about the TAC Team roles, and offering:
“Chief Barger is happy to send the following email to
the Public Safety Department before you return to the TAC
Team: ‘Pat Hurlie-Smith has decided to return to the
TAC Team and will begin again February 15, 2015.'”
days before receiving Ms. Lambusta's email, Ms.
Hurlie-Smith went on medical leave for an injured knee.
Id. ¶ 5.
April 2015, while on medical leave, Ms. Hurlie-Smith called
Chief Edgar Rodriguez. Id. ¶ 6. He told Ms.
Hurlie-Smith that he had assigned Sergeant Robert Riordan to
run the TAC Team, and that the department would no longer
have an “Officer in Charge.” Id. He
stated that upon her return, she would be assigned to the
South Lot, and he asked her to send him an e-mail
memorializing her request to be assigned to the TAC Team,
which she did. Id.
April 25, 2015, Ms. Hurlie-Smith returned to work.
Id. ¶ 7. She replied to Ms. Lambusta's
January 30, 2015 e-mail, stating that she had spoken with
Chief Rodriguez about returning to the TAC Team and submitted
her bid to return there, and requested confirmation that the
terms of the January 30 e-mail would apply to the 2015-2016
academic year. Id. Ms. Lambusta replied that Chief
Rodriguez could work out the transition to the TAC Team, if
he had not already done so. Id. ¶ 8.
her return, Ms. Hurlie-Smith discovered that the TAC Team no
longer ran buses to New Haven, starting before final exams
would begin in late April. Id. ¶ 9. Instead,
she worked with the TAC Team under Sergeant Riordan's
leadership for the first time in May. Id. ¶ 10.
For the rest of the summer, the TAC Team was inactive, and
Ms. Hurlie-Smith worked five shifts per week at the security
gate and did not interact with Sergeant Riordan. Id.
In August 2015, when the TAC Team resumed its work, Ms.
Hurlie resumed working three nights per week on the TAC Team
and two overnight shifts as a security guard. Id.
September 8, 2015, Ms. Hurlie-Smith attended a meeting with
Chief Rodriguez, Assistant Chief James Nealy, AVP of Human
Resources Anna Spragg, and Ellsworth Evarts. Id.
¶ 12. Mr. Evarts allegedly objected to Sergeant
Riordan's treatment of Ms. Hurlie-Smith, and Ms. Spragg
instructed Ms. Hurlie Smith to submit her complaints against
Sergeant Riordan by email. Id. Ms. Hurlie-Smith
agreed to do so. Id.
September 11, 2015, Sergeant Riordan directed Ms.
Hurlie-Smith to explain in writing why she had been late on a
particular day. Id. ¶ 13. Ms. Hurlie-Smith
complied and was not disciplined. Id.
September 17, 2015, Ms. Hurlie-Smith sent Chief Rodriguez and
Assistant Chief Nealy an e-mail describing her experience
during a moving out day for students in May 2015.
Id. ¶ 14. On that day, she sought Sergeant Jim
Moniello's assistance in asking Sergeant Riordan to move
Officer Rhonda Rinaldi to another location to help with
“staging” vehicles, which meant lining up
vehicles in a parking lot until room was available near
residence halls. Id. ¶ 15. Sergeant Riordan
asked Ms. Hurlie-Smith why Officer Rinaldi needed to be
moved; when she answered, he told her that there was no need
to stage the vehicles and walked away. Id. Later in
the day, Sergeant Riordan asked why cars were not being
permitted to go to the residence halls, and Ms. Hurlie-Smith
responded that they were being restaged in South Lot.
Id. Sergeant Riordan responded that it was his call.
Id. Ms. Hurlie-Smith stated that Sergeant Riordan
had not been in the field in the first place, that she was
implementing the same procedure that she had used in the
past, and that he was “not taking the professional
initiative to understand the process.” Id.;
see also E-mail, Hurlie-Smith Dep. at 194-97, Exh.
September 18, 2015, Ms. Hurlie-Smith sent a second e-mail to
Chief Rodriguez and Assistant Chief Nealy, describing five
additional interactions with Sergeant Riordan, two on Move-In
day, and three on September 5, in downtown New Haven, while
Ms. Hurlie-Smith was managing the shuttle buses. Id.
Hurlie-Smith allegedly began a Move-In day by staging
vehicles at the Hilltop parking lot, until Sergeant Riordan
instructed her to switch with Officer Sandra Colon, who was
assigned to the South Lot, because he needed Officer Colon in
the Hilltop Lot. Id. Ms. Hurlie-Smith did not
understand the basis for this decision. Id. Ms.
Hurlie-Smith also stated that Sergeant Riordan scolded her in
front of two other individuals for how she was staging cars
and instructed her to use a different approach from the one
she had used in the past; she thought the new approach was
not an effective strategy. Id.
Hurlie-Smith also stated that, on September 5, 2015, in
downtown New Haven, she walked away from the bus parking area
because she believed a group of young people on bikes posed a
threat to Quinnipiac students returning to the buses.
Id. She stated that Sergeant Riordan had been too
busy “BS-ing, ” had not asked why she left the
bus boarding area, and that he later asked her to come help
with the bus boarding and mentioned that he did not know why
she had left the area. Id. Ms. Hurlie-Smith returned
to help the students board the buses, and at one point, she
stepped into the street to see whether buses were
approaching. Id. She stated that Sergeant Riordan
then yelled “get out of the street, Pat!”
Id. Later that night, Sergeant Riordan and a New
Haven Police Officer were on one of the buses attending to a
student who appeared to be in distress. Id. Ms.
Hurlie-Smith stood on the step of the bus to prevent students
from attempting to board. Id. Sergeant Riordan twice
told her “We got it, Pat, ” but she remained
standing on the step. Id. He then ordered her to get
off the step. Id.
October 16, 2015, Ms. Hurlie-Smith sent an e-mail to Sergeant
Riordan, copying Chief Rodriguez, Assistant Chief Nealy, and
Mr. Evarts, stating that on a Saturday night three weeks
earlier, Sergeant Riordan had not been on duty and the
following week, he asked other members of the team “how