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Major v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 7, 2018

BARBARA MAJOR, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA and INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 27], filed June 14, 2018. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. Procedural Background

         On January 12, 2017, Plaintiff Barbara Major filed a Complaint alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex, race, and sexual orientation, and suffered retaliation, based on her treatment during her employment and her termination from employment at Indiana Department of Corrections, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. On October 23, 2017, Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings was granted as to Plaintiff's claims of racial discrimination and punitive damages. The remaining claims are that Plaintiff faced a hostile work environment and harassment based on her sex and sexual orientation and was retaliated against through suspension and termination when she complained of the harassing conduct.

         On June 14, 2018, Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment requesting that the Court enter summary judgment on all remaining claims. Plaintiff has not filed a response, and the time to do so has passed. On July 26, 2018, Defendants filed a reply noting the lack of response, although noting that a purported response had been emailed to them by counsel for Plaintiff, and requesting summary ruling on the Motion.

         The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56 further 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) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party may discharge its initial responsibility by simply “‘showing' - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id. at 323, 325; Green v. Whiteco Indus., Inc., 17 F.3d 199, 201 n.3 (7th Cir. 1994); Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990). However, the moving party, if it chooses, may support its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials, and, if the moving party has “produced sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that there are no genuine issues for trial, ” then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue of material fact exists. Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., 914 F.2d 107, 110-111 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted); see also Hong v. Children's Mem'l Hosp., 993 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir. 1993).

         Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the non-moving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). Rule 56(e) provides that “[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2), (3); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original).

         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 in favor of that party. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255; Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Material Facts

         Northern District of Indiana Local Rule 56-1 requires the moving party to include with its motion for summary judgment a “‘Statement of Material Facts' that identifies the facts that the moving party contends are not genuinely disputed.” N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(a). In response, the opposing party is obligated to file a “‘Statement of Genuine Disputes' that identifies the material facts that the party contends are genuinely disputed.” N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(b)(2). In this case, as the moving party, Defendant has submitted a Statement of Material Facts, along with appropriate citations to supporting evidence. Plaintiff has not submitted a response brief, much less a Statement of Genuine Disputes; therefore, the facts referred to below, as asserted by Defendant, are considered to exist without controversy for the purposes of this Motion for Summary Judgment. See Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (noting that the Seventh Circuit has routinely sustained “the entry of summary judgment when the non-movant has failed to submit a factual statement in the form called for by the pertinent rule and thereby conceded the movant's version of the facts”).

         Plaintiff was employed as a correctional officer at the Westville Correctional Facility from March 1, 2013, until she was dismissed on January 23, 2016. On November 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint against another correctional officer alleging that Watson, the other officer, questioned Plaintiff about Plaintiff's sexual orientation, asking her whether she was a “part-time lesbian” and whether she played the role of a female or male in her relationships. The Human Resources Department (“HR”) investigated the allegations and was unable to substantiate them, but moved the other officer to another work assignment. During the course of this investigation, Plaintiff told HR that she and a male employee engaged in a consensual relationship in which he paid her for sexual acts. HR then investigated the report, ultimately determining that the male employee's behavior did not violate the workplace harassment prevention policy because Plaintiff did not receive employment-related benefits in exchange for the sexual acts, the ...


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