United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
4, 2017 LaQuisha Jackson's employment as a Dining Room
Manager at St. Paul's Retirement Community was
terminated. Ms. Jackson, pro se, now sues St.
Paul's Retirement Community and, in a separate action
(3:17-CV-931), Unidine Corporation, for violations of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5), for alleged employment discrimination
because of Ms. Jackson's race and sex. Ms. Jackson also
alleges that she suffered a hostile work environment and that
St. Paul's Retirement Community wrongfully terminated
her. St. Paul's Retirement Community moves for summary
judgment with respect to all claims. For the reasons stated
below, the court grants St. Paul's Retirement
Community's motion for summary judgment.
Jackson began her employment with Trinity Health Corporation,
operator of St. Paul's Retirement Community sometime
between 2002 and 2003. She worked in various capacities,
including as a dining room server. In March 2016 Ms. Jackson
left St. Paul's for a position with Unidine Corporation
as dining room manager. Unidine is a provider of dining
related services and provided such services at St. Paul's
Retirement Community. When Ms. Jackson left St. Paul's
for Unidine, her employment status with St. Paul's was
moved to “contingent.” While Ms. Jackson worked
on the premises of St. Paul's, Unidine was responsible
for her supervision and salary, her bosses were all Unidine
employees, and Unidine had sole control over her hiring,
discipline, and termination.
April 15, 2017 Ms. Jackson was subjected to a sexual innuendo
made by St. Paul's employee Samuel “Keith”
Johnson. She reported the comment to her supervisor two days
later. Since the situation involved both a Unidine employee
(Ms. Jackson) and a St. Paul's employee (Keith Johnson),
the two organizations conducted a joint investigation. Ms.
Jackson and Mr. Johnson were both sent home during the
investigation. Unidine and St. Paul's interviewed Ms.
Jackson, Mr. Johnson, and other witnesses. Residents who had
interacted with both Ms. Jackson and Mr. Johnson were also
joint investigation revealed that as Ms. Jackson bent down to
pick up a piece of paper that she had thrown at Mr. Johnson,
Mr. Johnson asked if Ms. Jackson could “help him while
[she] was down there”. Ms. Jackson reportedly responded
to Mr. Johnson's comment by stating “that is how I
got eight kids.”According to Ms. Jackson, this was the
first time that Keith Johnson had made any sexually
inappropriate comment towards her. Unidine and St. Paul's
decided that both Ms. Jackson and Mr. Johnson bore
responsibility for the situation and both were counseled
about their inappropriate interaction and told to return to
Jackson refused to return despite repeated attempts by
Unidine to bring her back. Ms. Jackson claimed that she
didn't feel safe at work. Two weeks later, while she was
still refusing to come to work, Unidine replaced Ms. Jackson
and terminated her employment. Ms. Jackson filed separate
charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission in May 2017. In October 2017 the EEOC
dismissed Ms. Jackson's charges of discrimination. Ms.
Jackson then sued St. Paul's Retirement Community (and
Unidine Corporation in a concurrent action) alleging
violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5). These allegations include
claims of sex and race discrimination a hostile work
environment, and retaliation.
disputes arose soon after Ms. Jackson filed suit. Ms. Jackson
didn't initially turn over any requested documents or
give responsive answers to written interrogatories. St.
Paul's tried repeatedly to remedy the deficiencies in Ms.
Jackson's discovery but often struggled to receive timely
responses from Ms. Jackson. Ms. Jackson has also refused to
sit for a deposition and has refused St. Paul's requests
to sit in on a deposition scheduled with Unidine Corporation.
Ms. Jackson has said that she is willing to sit for a
deposition during a time that works for her schedule. The
court views all alleged facts and reasonable inferences in
the light most favorable to Ms. Jackson and will address each
of her claims in turn.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, discovery
materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine
issue of material fact.” Protective Life Ins. Co.
v. Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 391-392 (7th Cir. 2011). When
no genuine issue of material fact exists, “the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Dunkin
v. Appriss, Inc., 266 F.Supp.3d 1103, 1106 (N.D. Ind.
July 18, 2017). The movant has the burden of demonstrating to
the court the basis for its motion that there exists no
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In demonstrating this
burden, the evidence must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). When the movant
has met its burden, the opposing party can't rely solely
on the allegations in their 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 Steen v.
Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852,
859 (7th Cir. 2005) (summary judgment is “the put up or
shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what
evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept
its version of the events.”)). The non-moving party
can't rely on conclusory allegations. Smith v.
Shawnee Library System, 60 F.3d 317, 320 (7th Cir.
1995). Failure to prove an essential element of the alleged
activity will render other facts immaterial. Celotex v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323; Filippo v. Lee
Publications, Inc., 485 F.Supp.2d 969, 972 (N.D. Ind.
2007) (the non-moving party “must do more than raise
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts; he must
come forward with specific facts showing a genuine issue for
Jackson argues that St. Paul's Retirement Community
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5). She alleges she
experienced sex and race discrimination while employed at St.
Paul's, that she was subject to a hostile work
environment, and that her termination was retaliatory. St.
Paul's argues that it wasn't Ms. Jackson's
employer at the time of alleged discrimination, that no
evidence of alleged discrimination exists, and that Ms.
Jackson hasn't provided adequate evidence to support her
alleged damages. St. Paul's also argues that, due to Ms.
Jackson's discovery non-compliance, the court should
dismiss the case for failure to prosecute under Fed.R.Civ.P.
41(b) or 37(d).
succeed on a sex or race discrimination claim against St.
Paul's retirement community, Ms. Jackson must first
establish, among other things, that St. Paul's was her
employer at the time of the alleged harassment. Love v.
JP Cullen & Sons, Inc., 779 F.3d 697, 701 (7th Cir.
2015) (“[i]n order to bring a Title VII claim against
[defendant], [plaintiff] must prove the existence of an
employer-employee relationship.”). One cannot hold an
entity other than their employer liable for a Title VII
claim. Love v. JP Cullen & Sons, Inc., 779 F.3d
at 701. The record shows that Unidine Corporation was Ms.
Jackson's actual employer at the time of the ...