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Boone v. Town of Sheridan

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

August 16, 2016

DAVID BOONE, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF SHERIDAN, SHERIDAN POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         We address here Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 34], filed on March 21, 2016, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff David Boone has brought this action against Defendants, the Town of Sheridan (“the Town”) and the Sheridan Police Department, [1] alleging that he was discriminated against based on his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., and that he was subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. For the reasons detailed in this entry, we GRANT Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff’s Employment Status and Benefits Received

         In 2004, Mr. Boone became a Reserve Officer for the Town of Sheridan. Compl. Ex. A at 2. By fall of 2014, he had been named Captain of the Reserve Department[2] and was responsible for scheduling the shifts for all the Reserve Officers within the Sheridan Police Department. Shock Aff. ¶ 9. His immediate supervisor was Major Coy Monroe. Compl. Ex. A at 2. As Reserve Officer, Mr. Boone was a “volunteer” and received neither wages nor health benefits from the Department. Boone Dep. at 48:15-18. See Shock Aff. ¶ 19. During this time, the costs of Mr. Boone’s license plates were borne by Defendant as well as the fuel costs incurred while he was on duty. Boone Aff. ¶ 6. Mr. Boone alleges that Defendant “paid all costs associated with maintaining a life insurance policy on [his life] which would provide payment in the event that [he] died while in the line of duty.” Id. at ¶ 7. Additionally, Defendant underwrote the cost of Mr. Boone’s uniforms. Boone Dep. at 48:6-10.

         During this time, Mr. Boone “was qualified to accept security related contracts and perform work as a sworn and/or uniformed law enforcement officer.” Boone Aff. ¶ 4. His receipt of such contracts was due to his status as a “sworn uniformed officer”, who was “vested with arrest powers.” Id. These contracts were made with third parties and not coordinated through the Town of Sheridan or the Sheridan Police Department. See Id. Mr. Boone alleges that “[a]s a result of losing [his] status as a sworn officer”, the opportunities for third-party contract work were limited because “many jobs require one to be a sworn officer, and those jobs which do not, individuals who are not sworn officers no longer command the same hourly rate.” Id.

         In addition to being a Reserve Officer, Mr. Boone was a certified general instructor, having taken classes to qualify as a Field Training Officer and as a Taser Instructor. Id. at ¶ 5. He “participated in regular training sessions, monthly training sessions, as well as special training sessions” to maintain these certifications and qualifications. Id. The expenses related to this training were covered by the Town during the time he served as Reserve Officer; because he no longer serves in that capacity, these expenses will be personally paid for by him. Id.

         Plaintiff’s status as Reserve Officer entitled him to certain, select benefits related to retail transactions with third parties, such as “as much as [a 20% discount] on firearms and ammunition.” Id. ¶ 8. Without an entitlement to such discounts, Mr. Boone’s “personal and business costs for firearm and ammunition[-]related purchases [have] increased.” Id.

         Plaintiff’s Report of Complaints Regarding Sexual Harassment

         On September 22, 2014, fellow officers complained to Mr. Boone that Chief Shock had been overheard making sexual comments to a female Reserve Officer. Specifically, Mr. Boone alleges that he was told that Chief Shock had said to a female Reserve Officer that she should “crawl under her professor’s desk and earn her grade.” He also reportedly asked the female officer “what type of panties she wore, thongs or boy shorts.” Compl. ¶¶ 11-12. Mr. Boone reported this information to Maj. Monroe, Officer Jeff Weir, and Police Commissioner Si Devaeny shortly after he had received it, but Defendant denies having received any such report from Mr. Boone.

         On October 20, 2014, another Reserve Officer, Jeremy Morris, sent a memorandum to Maj. Monroe indicating that he wished to file a formal sexual harassment complaint against Chief Shock. In that memorandum, Morris stated:

During several occasions, Chief Shock has made inappropriate comments to a newly [sic] female reserve officer, Kelsie Lancaster. During a department meeting, I believe in August, Chief Shock made a statement to Officer Lancaster that she “needed to crawl under her professor’s desk and earn her grade!”
On another occasion, I was coming on shift around 3 PM on the 13th of September. As I was checking my mailbox, I noticed Officer Lancaster sitting in Chief Shock’s office. I overheard a conversation that Chief Shock was having with Officer Lancaster and Chief Shock was asking her about the type of panties she wore. He continued to question her asking if she wore thongs or boy shorts. Then [sic] proceeded to ask her what type of panties she wore under dresses.

Exh. C to Boone Aff. Defendant maintains that Officer Morris’s written complaint was the first notice it received of any alleged complaint of sexual harassment by Chief Shock. Shock Aff. ¶ 11.

         Following Officer Morris’s complaint, Maj. Monroe undertook an investigation of the allegations, during which he and Officer Weir “spoke with several officers and retrieved statements from officers who alleged they heard/did not hear the alleged statements made by Chief Shock.” Those interviewed included Officers Boone, Harber, Fitzgerald, Myers and Lancaster. Monroe Aff. ¶ 9. However, on November 3, 2014, the investigation “was stopped and [the investigating officers] notified the officers who [they] had not received statements from yet that they no longer needed to provide them.” Id. ΒΆ 10. Mr. Boone ...


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