12 second there was also evidence to support the

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Unformatted text preview: ion; and (3) a causal connection between the participation in the protected expression and the adverse action. See Gupta v. Florida Board of Regents, 212 F.3d 571, 587 (11th Cir.2000) (citing Farley v. Nationwide Mut. Ins., 197 F.3d 1322, 1336 (11th Cir.1999)); Raney v. Vinson Guard Service, Inc., 120 F.3d 1192, 1196 (11th Cir.1997) (citing Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publishing Co., 9 F.3d 913, 918 (11th Cir.1993)). [9][10] In order to satisfy the "causal connection" prong of a prima facie retaliation case, a plaintiff must, at a minimum, generally establish that the defendant was actually aware of the protected expression at the time the defendant took the adverse employment action. See Raney, 120 F.3d at 1197 (citing Goldsmith v. City of Atmore, 996 F.2d 1155, 1163 (11th Cir.1993)). Moreover, while awareness of protected expression may be premised upon circumstantial evidence, the plaintiff must show a defendant's awareness with more evidence than mere curious timing coupled with speculative possibilities. See id. at 1197. Once a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case by proving only that the protected activity and the negative employment action are not completely unrelated, the burden then shifts to the defendant to proffer a legitimate reason for the adverse employment *380 action. The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the "legitimate reason" was merely a pretext for the prohibited, retaliatory conduct. See Sierminski v. Transouth Financial Corporation, 216 F.3d 945, 950 (11th Cir.2000). On the retaliatory discharge counts, the trial court granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict for Doral because (1) on the sexual harassment count, given that Mrs. Russell did not inform anyone other than McDaniel (who the trial court believed not to be a decisionmaker) of any conduct of a sexual nature, there was not sufficient evidence to support the "causal connection" element of the prima facie case for sexual harassment; and (2) on both counts, there was not sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict that the reason g...
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