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Imbriglio v. State

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

April 23, 2019

CHRISTINE IMBRIGLIO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, STATE OF RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, and PATRICIA A. COYNE-FAGUE in her capacity as DIRECTOR, RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          John J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Christine Imbriglio served as Acting Assistant Administrator of Probation and Parole in the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) for two years. Ms, Imbriglio, a Hispanic female, applied for the permanent appointment to that position, competing during two rounds of interviews along with several other candidates. The RIDOC did not select Ms. Imbriglio for the permanent position and instead chose a white woman. Ms. Imbriglio now brings this suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (RIFEPA), alleging that the RIDOC discriminated against her based on her national origin. Defendants have moved for summary judgment and for reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 27.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. Imbriglio is a Hispanic female. She has worked for the RIDOC for twenty four years, first as a probation officer and then as a probation supervisor. After a decade of being a supervisor in the department, Ms. Imbriglio was appointed to the position of acting Assistant Administrator of Probation and Parole ("Assistant Administrator") when the incumbent retired. A year and a half later, the RIDOC began accepting applications for the position of permanent Assistant Administrator. There were about sixty applicants for the position.

         A four-person interview panel, chosen[1] and chaired by the RIDOC Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services, Barry Weiner, reviewed all the applications and resumes and determined that ten applicants[2] who met the qualifications should be interviewed. Ms. Imbriglio was among the ten qualified applicants chosen to be interviewed.

         The first stage of the interview process consisted of the interview, role-playing, and a skills assessment written assignment. The panel asked all the candidates the same questions. Scoring was based exclusively on the applicant's presentation during the interview, including content, presentation, and demeanor. Each panelist scored the candidate's responses to the interview questions, tallied the scores, and generated a No. total for each candidate. The total scores for each candidate determined who they would select for the second round of interviews.

         When the committee completed the interviews and initial scoring, each panel member ranked the candidates according to their scores. The chairperson of the interview panel then compiled the scores for each candidate given by each panel member. The scores for the candidates were:

1. Applicant #1

331

2. Lisa Blanchette

286

3. Applicant #3

242

4. Christine Imbriglio

237

5. Applicant #5

186

6. Applicant #6

181

7. Applicant #7

173

8. Applicant #8

161

9. Applicant #9

131

         They chose the top four candidates, including Ms. Imbriglio, for a second interview to be conducted by Mr. Weiner and the RIDOC Assistant Director Patricia Coyne-Fague. Mr. Weiner then selected a candidate to recommend to the RIDOC Director, then Ashbel T. Wall. Director Wall testified that, as the director of a large department, he relied on the judgment of the chairperson of the interview panel, whom he had entrusted to give a recommendation.

         Mr. Weiner recommended that the RIDOC director offer Lisa Blanchette, the applicant with the second highest score[3] after the first interview, the Assistant Administrator job. Mr. Weiner testified that this recommendation was based on the performance at the two rounds of interviews and "on the totality of circumstances of the knowledge we got from the first interview and the second interview." ECF No. 27-2 at ¶ 64. Ms. Blanchette accepted the job as Assistant Administrator and Ms. Imbriglio then returned to her probation supervisor position, which she continues to hold.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court can grant summary judgment only when it finds that no genuine dispute as to the material facts of the case exists and that the undisputed issues give rise to an entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Wilson v. Moulison N. Corp., 639 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2011). The Court must and will view evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         The two statutes on which Ms. Imbriglio bases her complaint provide essentially the same protection against discrimination at work based on national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act proscribes employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and national origin; the RIFEPA is nearly identical in its remedial provisions. R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-112-1 (1990); R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-5-7 (2012).[4] The Rhode Island Supreme Court has applied the same analytical ...


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