United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge United States District Court
Rowlands brought suit against her former employer, United
Parcel Service, under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act after
her employment was terminated in July 2012 and January
2013. She alleges that UPS discriminated and/or
retaliated against her based on her sex, age, and/or
disability, and that similarly situated non-protected
employees were treated more favorably with respect to the
enforcement of the company's policies, procedures, and
discipline. UPS's motion for summary judgment
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 pends before the court. For the
following reasons, the court GRANTS the motion.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, discovery
materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine
issue of material fact, such that the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Protective Life Ins. Co. v.
Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 391-392 (7th Cir. 2011). The court
construes the evidence and all inferences that reasonably can
be drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party bears the burden
of informing the court of the basis for its motion, together
with evidence demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden,
the opposing party can't rest upon the allegations in the
pleadings, but must “point to evidence that can be put
in admissible form at trial, and that, if believed by the
fact-finder, could support judgment in his favor.”
Marr v. Bank of America, N, A., 662 F.3d 963, 966
(7th Cir. 2011); see also Hastings Mut. Ins. Co. v.
LaFollette, No. 1:07-cv-1085, 2009 WL 348769, at *2
(S.D. Ind. Feb. 6, 2009) (“It is not the duty of the
court to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a
motion for summary judgment; rather, the nonmoving party
bears the responsibility of identifying the evidence upon
which he relies.”).
Rowlands was 50 years old and had worked for UPS at its Fort
Wayne facility for some 25 years when her employment as a
Quality Control Clerk was terminated for the first time in
July 2012 for falsifying her time card in violation of
UPS's Honesty in Employment policy. The pertinent part of
that policy states:
We expect honesty from our people in all their duties,
including their handling of money, merchandise, and property
with which they are entrusted.
We all expect our people to be honest in their assessment of
themselves, such as the time and commitment they give to
their job performance, the fairness they seek in their
dealings with others, or the objectivity they use in
evaluating their own contributions.
DISHONESTY WILL result in immediate dismissal and possible
[Doc. No. 52-6 at 7].
Rowlands filed a grievance with the union after her
termination and the parties agreed to convert it into a
suspension without pay. Ms. Rowlands returned to work in
September 2012. She was terminated again in January 2013 for
violating the company's Crisis Management and Workplace
Violence Prevention Policy after a coworker reported she
threatened him when she displayed and activated a taser at
work. UPS's violence prevention policy provides in
UPS is committed to a safe working environment, free of
threats, intimidation, and physical harm . . . UPS has
adopted a policy of zero tolerance with respect to violence
in the workplace.
UPS prohibits violence related conduct, including but not
limited to, physical assaults, fighting, threatening
comments, intimidation, and the intentional destruction of
any company property, employee property, or merchandise. Any
comments or behavior that could reasonably be interpreted as
an intent to do harm to employees or property will be
considered a threat. We also prohibit the possession and/or
use of weapons by any employee on UPS property.
[Doc. No. 52-6 at 9].
Rowlands doesn't dispute that she changed the start date
on her time card or that a coworker reported feeling
threatened when she brought a taser to work and activated it
ten to fifteen feet from him, nor does she dispute the other
violations for which she was reprimanded. But she contends
UPS treated other similarly situated employees more favorably
and the stated reasons for the discipline were pretextual,
asserting that UPS really terminated her because she was a
50-year-old woman with a disability for which she had
Title VII and ADEA Claims
Rowlands alleges that she was suspended in July 2012 because
she was a 50 year-old woman, in violation of Title VII and
the ADEA, and that UPS's stated reason for suspending
her-falsifying her time card and not reporting time
correctly-was “a sham to cover up the real
reason” for the suspension.
court of appeals has “tried to move away from the many
multifactored tests in employment discrimination cases,
” and focuses on “whether the evidence would
permit a reasonable factfinder to conclude that the
plaintiff's race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or other
proscribed factor caused the discharge.” Monroe v.
Indiana Dep't of Transportation, __ F.3d __, No.
16-1959, 2017 WL 4103750, at *5 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The “sole question” is
“[w]hether a reasonable juror could conclude that [Ms.
Rowlands] would have kept [her] job if [she wasn't a 50
year-old woman], and everything else had remained the
same.” Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., 834
F.3d 760, 764 (7th Cir. 2016).
Rowlands doesn't deny altering her time records, or
disagree that she violated UPS's Honesty in Employment
policy. She appears to concede that there is no direct
evidence of sex or age discrimination, but contends that she
has “a rather large amount” of circumstantial
evidence from which a reasonable juror could ...