United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket No. 35], filed on May 12, 2017,
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff Barry Wilson (“Mr. Wilson”) has brought
this action against his employer, Defendant Blue Sky Casino,
LLC, d/b/a French Lick Resort and Casino (“French
Lick”), alleging that French Lick failed to promote him
because of his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”). For the reasons detailed
below, we GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary
Business and Anti-Discrimination Policies
many years, French Lick has undertaken historic restoration
projects involving various locations, such as the French Lick
Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana, and West Baden Springs
Hotel in West Baden Springs, Indiana, which projects have
included fully renovated guest rooms, a new event center,
retail, shops, and the French Lick Casino. Tate Decl. ¶
3. The French Lick Casino opened on November 3, 2006,
offering slot machines, table games (blackjack, roulette,
craps, and poker), a high limit gaming area, VIP services,
live entertainment, and various dining options. Id.
¶ 4. As of January 1, 2008, French Lick has been owned
by the Blue Sky Trust, a trust organized by CGI Resort
Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cook Group,
Incorporated. Id. ¶ 5.
Lick maintains policies prohibiting discrimination,
harassment, and retaliation, all of which are set forth in
French Lick's employee handbook. Id. ¶ 6.
All employees receive a copy of the handbook when they are
hired, including, we assume, Mr. Wilson. Wilson Dep. at 55.
Position and the Promotion Process
Wilson began his employment with French Lick on November 6,
2006 as a Table Games Floor Supervisor; he still holds this
position. Id. at 6, 41. French Lick's Table
Games Floor Supervisors are supervised by the Table Games
Shift Managers. Id. at 48. There are currently three
managers and four assistant managers in the Table Games
Department. Miller Dep. at 9-10. The Table Games Shift
Managers report to Mike Miller, the Director of Table Games,
who oversees the entire Table Games Department. Id.
at 9; Wilson Dep. at 46-47. Mr. Miller has worked for French
Lick in that capacity since November 2014. Miller Dep. at 9.
2015, approximately seven months after Mr. Miller began
working as the Director of Table Games, an opening arose in
the department for a Table Games Shift Manager and Mr. Wilson
applied for the promotion. Wilson Dep. at 58; Exh. 29 to
Wilson Dep. At the time he applied, he was 55 years old.
Wilson Dep. At 10, 60. Several other French Lick employees
applied as well, including Michael Voegerl (age 55), Mark
Stephenson (age 50), Stacey Steele (age 40), Rollie Cannon
(age 38), and Tyler Whiting (age 35). Id. at 61;
Tate Dep. at 19; Miller Dep. at 16-17.
interviewing each of the candidates, Mr. Miller preferred to
promote Mr. Voegerl. Exh. 4 at 15, 19; Tate Dep. at 20-21;
Wilson Dep. at 63, 71. At that time, however, Mr. Voegerl was
in a romantic relationship with one of the dealers, whom he
would have been responsible for supervising as Table Games
Shift Manager. Miller Dep. at 19; Tate Dep. at 21; Wilson
Dep. at 70. Given this relationship, before officially
selecting Mr. Voegerl for the position, Mr. Miller contacted
French Lick's Director of Human Resources, Tina Tate, to
determine whether he could promote Mr. Voegerl under those
circumstances. Tate Dep. at 10-12. Ms. Tate, who at that time
was a new French Lick employee, investigated and learned that
it was a practice of Cook Group Incorporated, French
Lick's parent company, not to allow an employee to
supervise a family member or an individual with whom the
employee had a romantic relationship. Id. at 11.
consulting with Ms. Tate and learning of this policy, Mr.
Miller determined that Mr. Voegerl was disqualified from the
supervisory position due to his romantic relationship with
the dealer. Miller Dep. at 19-20; Wilson Dep. at 71. Upon
further inquiry, Mr. Miller learned that, like Mr. Voegerl,
Mr. Wilson also could not be considered for the position
because his wife was a dealer and would have been under his
supervision if he were promoted, which would violate the
anti-nepotism policy. Wilson Dep. at 61, 69. Ms. Steele and
Mr. Cannon were also disqualified from the position because
their promotions would have resulted in their having to
supervise family members as well. Tate Dep. at 25-26.
Ultimately, Mr. Whiting, who was the only applicant who did
not have a family member or significant other whom he would
have been required to supervise as a result of the promotion,
awarded the position. Miller Dep. at 21-22; Tate Dep. at 26;
Wilson Dep. at 79; Tate Dep. at 26.
Tate had been hired by French Lick only a few weeks prior to
Mr. Miller's inquiry regarding the company's
anti-nepotism policy. At that time, she was not aware of a
written anti-nepotism policy in place at French Lick, but
after contacting French Lick's parent company, she
learned that it did in fact have a practice of not allowing
family members or those in romantic relationships to
supervise one another. Tate Dep. at 10-11.
to Ms. Tate, she has no knowledge of whether that practice
was enforced prior to her hiring, but once she learned of the
practice, in June 2015, she immediately began enforcing it
from that point forward at French Lick and drafted a written
anti-nepotism policy. Id. at 12-13; Miller Dep. at
26-27. After the written policy was approved and went into
effect in June 2016, Mr. Miller notified Table Games Shift
Managers in his department of the policy and posted a written
memorandum on bulletin boards in the casino to notify the
other employees in the department. Miller Dep. at 11- 13;
Tate Dep. at 16-17, 24-25; Exh. 1 to Tate Dep. French Lick
imposed an internal deadline of June 1, 2017 by which time
all known situations that would violate the ...