Louisiana Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Former state agency employee loses discrimination lawsuit


By Takesha Thomas | Aug 17, 2018

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has won a discriminatory civil case that was brought against it by a former employee. 

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan of the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled on Aug. 6 in favor of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, et. al,, in a case filed by Deneen Montgomery-Smith. Smith a former employee, claimed that her civil rights were violated and that she was the victim of a hostile work environment, subsequent retaliation and racial discrimination. 

In the filing, attorneys for Montgomery-Smith claim that she was denied several promotions between March 27, 2015 and December 5, 2016. The suit contends that she was "denied promotional opportunities in retaliation for having filed grievances, filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges, and initiated lawsuits against DHH."

However, Morgan ruled that these charges were unfounded, writing in part, "Because the Court concludes Plaintiff has failed to establish the third prong, which requires her to show a causal connection between her filing an EEOC charge and subsequently being denied a promotion, Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation and, therefore, is not entitled to a rebuttable presumption of discrimination."

Montgomery-Smith, who was employed with DHH since 1989, claims that she was denied raises and promotions for 11 years while employed for DHH. According to court documents, there were "seven positions for which she was passed over in favor of individuals she contends were less-qualified candidates and two positions that were canceled after Montgomery-Smith submitted her application." 

Additionally, Mongtomery-Smith claims she was denied a promotion after she filed a third complaint with the EEOC. She claims that “there is no other explanation” for why she was not promoted “other than the fact that she had filed claims against vital records regarding grievances and her prior lawsuits."

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