United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY, JUDGE
Lavonya Rollins was an employee at the Carson Pirie Scott
store in Merrillville, Indiana, in November and December of
2015. During her employment, she was pregnant. One day,
Rollins wore a shirt that made her pregnancy visible. The
Assistant Store Manager, Angel Scott, said to Rollins:
“Wow, you're ready to go. When are you due.”
(Pl. Dep. 69:1-18.) Later that same day, Scott refused to
allow Rollins to take a break. She also changed Rollins'
schedule from mornings to nights. On another occasion, Scott
approached a register where Rollins was working and asked who
was working the other register; when Rollins said she did not
know, Scott moved her to the cosmetics department. Rollins
felt uncomfortable after these events occurred.
claims that on November 14, 2015, she purchased a hat and
scarf set from the store. (Pl. Dep. 83:20-23.) Defendant
claims that it observed on security footage that another
associate named Richelle Bellman rang up the sale for
Rollins, giving her discounts, and that Rollins used a debit
card to make the purchase, in violation of company policies.
(DE # 23 at 9.) Defendant also claims that, on November 16,
2015, it observed Rollins and Bellman scanning items and
inputting changes into the register so that Bellman could
take certain items without paying. (Id.)
November 24, 2015, Rollins was told to go into a room with
Scott and another man, whom defendant identifies in its
briefing as Regional Investigations and Support Coordinator
Armando Martinez. (DE # 23 at 9.) Rollins claims she was
questioned about the hat and scarf purchase. Rollins asked
Scott to use the washroom several times, and was denied each
time. Rollins claims she was convinced to write an inaccurate
statement about her purchase. Scott informed Rollins that she
was being suspended pending a final determination. At some
point, Rollins was granted permission to use the washroom,
and when she stood up, she urinated on herself. (Pl. Dep.
106:22-25; DE # 1 ¶ 11.) Rollins was allowed to leave
and proceeded to the emergency room, where it was determined
she had gone into labor.
forwarded her notes from the meeting to Human Resources
Director Steve Shimp. Shimp determined that termination of
both Bellman and Rollins was appropriate, in light of company
policy violations, and terminated plaintiff on December 3,
2015. Plaintiff claims that, after the incident, Shimp
offered (presumably on the company's behalf) to pay
Rollins' hospital bills and some additional money. (Pl.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging
discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and one of its
amendments, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
(“PDA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
(DE # 1 ¶ 3.) The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on
June 30, 2016. Rollins filed the present lawsuit on September
26, 2016, alleging that her termination amounted to
discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. (DE # 1.)
moved for summary judgment on Rollins' complaint. (DE #
23.) Rollins responded (DE # 24), defendant replied (DE #
25), and the motion is ripe for ruling.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires the entry of summary
judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party
“who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party's
case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof
at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). In responding to a motion for summary
judgment, the non-moving party must identify specific facts
establishing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986); Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 595
(7th Cir. 2003). In doing so, the non-moving party cannot
rest on the pleadings alone, but must present fresh proof in
support of its position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248;
Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th
Cir. 1994). A dispute about a material fact is genuine only
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If no reasonable jury
could find for the non-moving party, then there is no
“genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550
U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
court's role in deciding a summary judgment motion is not
to evaluate the truth of the matter, but instead to determine
whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Doe v. R.R.
Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir.
1994). In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary
judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate
inferences and resolve all doubts in favor of that party.
NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234
(7th Cir. 1995).
case, plaintiff claims that defendant discriminated against
her on the basis of her pregnancy in violation of Title VII
and the PDA. The PDA “made clear that, for all Title
VII purposes, discrimination based on a woman's pregnancy
is, on its face, discrimination because of her sex.”
Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v.
EEOC, 462 U.S. 669, 684 (1983). Thus, plaintiff's
claim for pregnancy discrimination is a claim for gender
discrimination, warranting the same analysis as any gender
discrimination claim. Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare,
LLC, 656 F.3d 540, 547 (7th Cir. 2011).
parties rely on the well-known burden-shifting method of
proof outlined in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,411 U.S. 792 (1973), so the court does the same in this
opinion. This method involves a three-phase analysis,
beginning with the prima facie case. During this phase, the
burden is on plaintiff to demonstrate that: (1) she was
pregnant and her employer knew she was pregnant; (2) she was
performing her duties satisfactorily; (3) she suffered an
adverse employment action; and (4) similarly situated
non-pregnant employees were treated more favorably.
Silverman v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 637 F.3d
729, 736 (7th Cir. 2011). Next, defendant must ...