United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
[ECF No. 25], filed by Defendant BRC Rubber & Plastics,
Inc. The Plaintiff, Alma Cardona, filed this action against
her former employer asserting that she was harassed
“because of her sex, female, and national origin,
Honduran, ” which created a hostile work environment.
(Compl. ¶¶ 25, 26.)
Defendant submits that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law because there is no evidence that any employment
action the Defendant took against the Plaintiff was motivated
by, or in any way related to, her sex or her national origin.
Rather, the evidence is that the Defendant terminated the
Plaintiff's employment because it found that she violated
the company's Zero Tolerance Policy by making a threat
against another employee. The Defendant also moves for
summary judgment on grounds that there is no evidence from
which a reasonably jury could conclude that the Plaintiff was
subject to a hostile work environment because of her sex or
her national origin.
response, the Plaintiff maintains that the reason the
Defendant cited for terminating her employment was a pretext
for national origin discrimination. She denies making a
threatening comment and submits that the Defendant engaged in
a pattern or practice of treating Hispanic employees less
favorable “than their American co-workers.”
(Pl.'s Br. 7, ECF No. 27.)
reasons stated in this Opinion and Order, the Court grants
the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff is a female of Honduran descent and speaks both
Spanish and English. She worked for the Defendant on second
shift as a Finisher, which required her to inspect processed
parts and to trim the part if necessary.
April 2016, the Plaintiff requested a meeting with the human
resources supervisor, Mary Condon. During the April 5, 2016,
meeting, the Plaintiff and two other female co-workers
complained to Condon about Rickie Westbrook, an
African-American male who was a second shift lead operator.
They complained that Westbrook told them not to wander away
from their workstations or to use their cellphones at work,
and that he kept track of how often they used the restroom.
If they were absent, Westbrook asked them where they were.
Condon informed the women that Westbrook was doing his job by
correcting behavior that the Defendant did not permit in the
BRC employee, Kenneth Ramirez, saw the women talking to
Condon in her office. He informed Condon that a group of four
employees, including those who were in her office, had a long
history of hating Westbrook and wanted to get rid of him.
According to Ramirez, he overhead and understood their
conversations in Spanish. Ramirez provided Condon with
additional background and told her that many of the employees
on second shift were tired of the antics of the discontented
this same time, Westbrook reported to his shift supervisor
and to Condon that the Plaintiff told him nobody liked him,
and later said she was going to have her husband (a former
BRC employee) “get” him. On April 11, Condon
spoke to Travis Riddle, another BRC employee. Riddle informed
Condon about some of the disparaging comments that the
Plaintiff was making about Westbrook. He also reported that
the Plaintiff stated that Westbrook was going to “get
his” one day. Riddle reported that he inquired of the
Plaintiff what that meant, and she stated that it would be a
surprise one day knowing that they both lived in the same
April 12, Westbrook wrote a statement that he was advised by
Riddle that the Plaintiff was making untrue statement about
his sexual orientation and how he behaved during his time in
prison. According to Westbrook, Riddle also told him about
the threat the Plaintiff had made.
April 12, Condon met with the Plaintiff. Because the
Plaintiff wanted an interpreter present, Condon involved a
salaried member of the management team, Noe Cruz, to
interpret their conversation. Condon told the Plaintiff about
her conversation with Riddle. Condon told the Plaintiff that
the drama on the second shift was counterproductive, and that
Condon was determined to get to the source of it. She
explained that the Plaintiff's dislike of Westbrook
appeared to be a contributing factor. Condon also advised
that, based on what Riddle told her, the Plaintiff had stated
a threat against Westbrook. The Plaintiff stated that she did
not know what Condon was talking about and denied making any
threat. Condon suspended the Plaintiff pending her
investigation into the situation.
Cruz left the meeting, the Plaintiff and Condon continued to
talk in English. The Plaintiff claimed that she was not the
person causing all the drama on the second shift. She
asserted that because she could speak English she got pulled
into situations in which she was not directly involved.
Condon advised the Plaintiff not to allow others' issues
to become her own, and that her willingness to become
involved in other people's business could potentially
cost her a job.
April 13, Condon asked Ramirez if he had ever personally
witnessed the Plaintiff make a threatening comment regarding
Westbrook. Ramirez told Condon that he overheard the
Plaintiff tell another employee, in Spanish, that her husband