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Rohler v. Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 25, 2014




This matter is before the Court on several motions. First, Defendant Rolls-Royce North America, Inc. ("RRNA"), filed a Motion for Sanctions (Dkt. 32) seeking dismissal of Plaintiff Pamela Sue Rohler's ("Ms. Rohler") claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Thereafter, Ms. Rohler filed a motion seeking leave to amend her complaint (Dkt. 33) to attempt to cure the deficiencies alleged by RRNA. In the time since the motion for sanctions was filed, RRNA filed, and the parties have fully briefed, a Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 38) on the same issues. The dispute in this case involves Ms. Rohler's claim that she was terminated in retaliation for filing a discrimination lawsuit against her employer. According to her employer, Ms. Rohler was terminated for violation of its Confidentiality of Company Information Policy.

Having reviewed the pending motions, the Court finds that a Rule 11 sanction is not appropriate at this juncture and summary judgment can be decided. For the reasons set forth below, RRNA's Motion for Sanctions is DENIED and RRNA's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Additionally, for the reasons explained below, Ms. Rohler's Motion to Amend is GRANTED.


A. Adherence to Local Rule 56-1

As an initial matter, the Court will address Ms. Rohler's failure to adhere to the Local Rules. On summary judgment, the facts are considered in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Additionally, Local Rule 56-1(b) instructs a non-movant to include a "Statement of Material Facts in Dispute" that "identifies the potentially determinative facts and factual disputes that the party contends demonstrate a dispute of fact precluding summary judgment." Local Rule 56-1(f)(1)(A) states that the Court will assume that the "facts as claimed and supported by admissible evidence by the movant are admitted without controversy except to the extent that... the non-movant specifically controverts the facts in that party's Statement of Material Facts in Dispute' with admissible evidence[.]" Finally, the Court will also assume that facts a non-movant asserts "are true to the extent admissible evidence supports them." L.R. 56-1(f)(2).

RRNA has submitted a properly supported "Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute, " but Ms. Rohler's "Statement of Material Facts in Dispute" does not specifically identify or controvert any of RRNA's facts. Further, some of the facts alleged by Ms. Rohler are not supported by admissible evidence. For example, Ms. Rohler states "facts" about the management structure of RRNA and Rolls-Royce Corporation ("Rolls-Royce"), but cites to her own affidavit for support. Ms. Rohler's affidavit does not contain a sufficient showing of personal knowledge to maintain her statements. Thus, the Court must disregard Ms. Rohler's factual assertions that are not supported by admissible evidence filed with the Court. It further accepts RRNA's "Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute" as true for the purposes of this motion.

B. Factual Background

Ms. Rohler worked for non-party Rolls-Royce from August 1999 until November 2008. Rolls-Royce is a distinct corporate entity and is a subsidiary of RRNA. In September 2008, Ms. Rohler filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against both Rolls-Royce and RRNA. Shortly thereafter, in November 2008, Ms. Rohler transferred from her position at Rolls-Royce to the position of Senior Financial Analyst with RRNA.

Between November 2008 and March 2012, as an employee of RRNA, Ms. Rohler received regular salary increases. Specifically she went from $89, 981.00 to $100, 698.00 in that time frame. She also received an overall performance rating of "meets required performance" on two written reviews.

Also in November 2008, the EEOC dismissed the charge Ms. Rohler had filed against Rolls-Royce and RRNA. Thereafter, in February 2009, Ms. Rohler filed a four-count complaint against RRNA and Rolls-Royce, which alleged that both entities had discriminated and retaliated against her.[1] In March 2012, this Court granted RRNA's and Rolls-Royce's joint motion for summary judgment on Ms. Rohler's claims. The Clerk of Court also issued a $3, 374.25 bill of costs to be paid by Ms. Rohler to RRNA.

After this Court granted summary judgment, Ms. Rohler terminated her attorney, filed an appeal and began representing herself pro se. On July 2, 2012, she filed a Motion to Add Missing Deposition Pages and Discovery Exhibits to Docket ("Motion to Add") to her appellate record. Included in the exhibits were documents that contained confidential RRNA financial information. The documents had not been requested by Ms. Rohler or produced by RRNA during the action's discovery phase. Rather, Ms. Rohler obtained the documents from RRNA's "SAP" centralized database through her position as a Senior Financial Analyst. Importantly, she did not receive permission to publicly file them in the legal action.

After RRNA learned that Ms. Rohler had filed the confidential documents, she was called into a meeting with her supervisor Pamela White ("Ms. White") and Human Resources Business Partner Tracey McCoy ("Ms. McCoy"). During the meeting, Ms. Rohler admitted to taking the documents from RRNA's SAP database. Ms. McCoy told Ms. Rohler that using her position as an RRNA employee to collect RRNA information for her lawsuit was a serious violation of RRNA's Confidentiality of Company Information Policy ("Policy"). The Policy provides in part:

You should not use or disclose to any person or entity any company proprietary information acquired during the course of your employment. Also, you should not, directly or indirectly, copy, take or remove from your work site, any of the company's books, records, customer lists or any other documents or materials.... If you have any questions about what material is considered company proprietary, ask your supervisor or manager. Improper disclosure of company proprietary information will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Dkt. 40-2 at 16-17. Ms. Rohler was then suspended with pay pending an investigation. On July 13, 2012, Ms. Rohler met with Ms. White and Ms. McCoy. Ms. McCoy reiterated that Ms. Rohler had committed a serious violation of the ...

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