Daphne Berry v. Crestwood Healthcare LP, et al, No. 22-11129 (11th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a black female, worked at Crestwood Hospital as an emergency department nurse from 2007 to 2018. Plaintiff repeatedly complained about racial discrimination in the months before Crestwood Healthcare terminated her employment. But, also during that period, Crestwood uncovered evidence that Plaintiff engaged in bullying and other misconduct. After Plaintiff sued Crestwood for retaliating against her complaints of discrimination, she argued that circumstantial evidence created a reasonable inference of retaliation under either the McDonnell Douglas framework or a “convincing mosaic” of proof. The district court disagreed and entered summary judgment in favor of Crestwood.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that although an employee may prove retaliation with whatever circumstantial evidence creates a reasonable inference of retaliation, Plaintiff’s evidence falls short. The court wrote that Plaintiff turned to evidence of systematically better treatment of similarly situated employees. She asserts that two employees engaged in similar misconduct but were not terminated. The court explained that nothing in the record suggests that either of those employees engaged in misconduct comparable in degree or kind to Plaintiff’s misconduct. Neither employee was the subject of multiple reports that they were unprofessional, threatening, intimidating, and abusive. The court explained that because Plaintiff cannot prove that other employees engaged in a similar degree of misconduct, she lacks evidence of better treatment of similarly situated employees.