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Doucette v. Morrison County

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 15, 2014

Mary Doucette, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Morrison County, Minnesota, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted March 12, 2014.

Page 979

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Mary Doucette, Plaintiff - Appellant: Susan M. Coler, Clayton Dean Halunen, Halunen & Associates, Minneapolis, MN.

For Morrison County, Minnesota, Defendant - Appellee: Dyan J. Ebert, Melinda M. Sanders, Quinlivan & Hughes, Saint Cloud, MN.

Before COLLOTON, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 980

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Mary Doucette brought suit in Minnesota state court, alleging that her discharge by Morrison County constituted discrimination based on her sex and her age, in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), and that it was in reprisal for filing a discrimination complaint under the MHRA. She also claimed the County retaliated against her after she took leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The County removed the case to federal court and moved for summary judgment on all claims. The district court[1] granted summary judgment to the County on Doucette's FMLA retaliation claim and her two MHRA discrimination claims. The district court denied summary judgment on Doucette's MHRA reprisal claim but, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), remanded this claim to state court. Doucette only appeals the court's grant of summary judgment on her MHRA discrimination claims, not on her FMLA claim. Since Doucette's evidence does not create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether her discharge was motivated by discrimination, we affirm.[2]

I. Background[3]

Doucette worked for Morrison County for thirty years, including seventeen years as the assistant jail administrator. The County fired her in November 2011 for repeated record-keeping errors. Doucette asserts her record-keeping duties comprised just a small part of her job: she maintained the jail's records and accounts, oversaw jail staff and operations, and supervised inmate programming and services. At the times most relevant to her claims, Doucette was supervised by jail administrator Lieutenant Michael Monnier and by Sheriff Michel Wetzel.

For several years as the assistant jail administrator, Doucette had only minor performance issues. In 2007, however, Doucette began to accrue disciplinary citations, the details of which are set out in the district court opinion. She received verbal reprimands in January and March 2007 regarding billing errors. For over two

Page 981

years thereafter, there were no documented incidents. Doucette's employee evaluation in October 2009 rated her as " meet[ing] expectations" in most categories and noted improvement over the previous year in her billing accuracy. In November 2010, Monnier issued a letter of reprimand to Doucette. The letter noted repeated billing errors that had continued even after he met with her in September 2010 to discuss previous errors and the importance of accurate billing. Doucette was placed on a six-month corrective action plan, requiring her to take additional steps ...


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