United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
KATHLEEN T. WATERBURY, Plaintiff,
CITY OF EAST PROVIDENCE, et al., Defendants.
Kathleen T. Waterbury, Plaintiff, represented by Michael T.
Eskey, Moses Afonso Ryan, Ltd. & Stephen A. Izzi, Moses &
of East Providence, Defendant, represented by Marc DeSisto,
Richard Kirby, Defendant, represented by Marc DeSisto,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief District Judge.
the Court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment filed by
Plaintiff and Defendants. (ECF No. 10 ("Plaintiff's
Motion") and No. 11 ("Defendants'
Motion").) Defendants filed an Opposition to
Plaintiff's Motion (ECF No. 16) and Plaintiff filed a
Reply (ECF No. 20). For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED and Defendants' Motion
alleges that the City of East Providence ("the
City") violated her procedural due process rights when
it terminated her without cause or any opportunity to be
heard. The facts of this case are laid out in detail in the
parties' briefs; the Court will only recount those facts
relevant to this Order. The narrow question at issue is
whether Plaintiff was an at-will employee at the time of her
termination, in which case she would have no constitutionally
protected property interest in her continued employment. See
King v. Town of Hanover, 116 F.3d 965, 969 (1st Cir.
1997) ("An at-will employee, however, has no reasonable
expectation of continued employment.").
was hired as Director of Human Resources by the City Manager
on January 24, 2013. (Ex. 1 to Pl.'s Mot., ECF No. 10-3.)
Plaintiff's letter of appointment clearly states the
Human Resources Director is a "non-union, full-time
position with an at-will employment status." (Id.
(emphasis added).) However, the letter of appointment
further states: "The term and removal of the Human
Resources Director shall be in accordance with Chapter 11,
Personnel, of the Revised Ordinances of the City of East
Providence [("Chapter 11")]." (Id.)
11 defines the "[c]lassified service" as "all
offices and positions of trust or employment in the city
service, whether paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time,
temporary or permanent, existing or hereafter created, except
elected officials, those appointed by the city council and
those appointed or employed by the school committee."
(Ex. 2 to Pl.'s Mot. § 11-1, ECF No. 10-3.) A
"[c]lassified employee means any employee occupying a
position in the classified service." (Id.) Section 11-62
- Status of employees - states:
All employees holding positions in the classified service
(1) Have permanent status if they have held their present
positions or have been employed continuously in a position in
the city service for at least six months immediately
preceding the effective date of this chapter.
(2) Serve a probationary period of six months before
acquiring permanent status if they have held their positions
for less than six months immediately preceding the effective
date of this chapter.
(Id. § 11-62.) With respect to discharge of classified
employees who have completed their six-month probationary
period, Chapter 11 provides:
An employee may be discharged by the appointing authority for
activities prohibited in the Charter and for insubordination,
inefficiency, abuse of sick leave, misconduct, disloyalty or
other similar just cause. No discharge of a permanent
classified employee shall take effect, unless five days prior
to the effective date thereof the appointing authority shall
give to such employee a written statement setting forth in
detail the reasons therefor and shall file a copy of such
statement with the director. Any permanent classified