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Adams v. University of Indianapolis

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 22, 2019

LINDA M. ADAMS, Plaintiff,



         This cause is before the Court on the Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 55). The motion is fully briefed and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the reasons set forth below. Also before the Court is the Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a surreply (Dkt. No. 97); that motion is DENIED.


         The Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a surreply, asserting that she was entitled to do so because the Defendant's reply brief contained new legal arguments, new evidence, and new objections to evidence cited in the Plaintiff's response brief. However, the Court did not consider any of the new evidence the Defendant attached to its reply brief, as it ultimately was not relevant to the Court's resolution of the instant motion. The things the Plaintiff characterized as “objections to the admissibility of Ms. Adams' evidence, ” Dkt. No. 97 at 4, simply are not; they have nothing to do with admissibility of the evidence in question. Nor do the “new arguments” to which the Plaintiff points justify a surreply, as each of them is simply a response by the Defendant to arguments made in the Plaintiff's response brief. And in any event, the Plaintiff's proposed surreply goes far beyond merely addressing the “new” evidence and arguments she identifies.

         The Plaintiff was given a full and complete opportunity to demonstrate that the Defendant was not entitled to summary judgment; in fact, she sought and was granted an enlargement of the page limit to do so. See Dkt. Nos. 61, 62. Nothing in the Defendant's reply brief warrants the lengthy surreply the Plaintiff wishes to file. Accordingly, the Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a surreply is denied, and the Court has not considered the proposed surreply or accompanying exhibits.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the properly supported facts asserted by the non-moving party must be believed, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). However, a party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on her pleadings, but must show what evidence she has that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). Of particular importance in this case, in which the parties have submitted a very large number of exhibits, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001). Therefore, with regard to each of the Plaintiff's claims, the Court has considered the evidence of record that the Plaintiff, as the non-moving party, points to in her brief as supporting her arguments with regard to that claim. See Draper v. Martin, 664 F.3d 1110, 1114 (7th Cir. 2011) (“It is not this court's responsibility to research and construct the parties' arguments.”); Burton v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Wisconsin Sys., 851 F.3d 690, 695 (7th Cir. 2017) (“‘It is a well-settled rule that a party opposing a summary judgment motion must inform the trial judge of the reasons, legal or factual, why summary judgment should not be entered.'” (quoting Liberles v. Cook Cty., 709 F.2d 1122, 1126 (7th Cir. 1983)).


         The relevant background facts of record, viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, as the non-moving party, are as follows. Additional facts are included in the Discussion section where relevant.

         Plaintiff Linda Adams was hired by Defendant the University of Indianapolis (“UI”) in 1998. She originally worked as a custodian, but was promoted to an administrative assistant position in 2001. Until 2014, she reported to Executive Director of the Physical Plant, Ken Piepenbrink. Piepenbrink consistently rated Adams' performance as “exceeds expectations” or “exceptional performance” on her performance reviews, and Piepenbrink testified that he found her overall performance to be outstanding.

         Adams has several medical conditions that affect her work and personal activities. She has been diagnosed with TMJ, chronic causalgia, [1] and fibromyalgia. These conditions cause Adams to suffer pain, tingling, and throbbing in her left foot and leg; pain on the bottom of both feet; right hip pain; right face and jaw pain; tingling in her arms and hands; stabbing pain in her left elbow; and shoulder and neck pain. She also has had two foot surgeries. In 2011, she was given a permanent impairment rating of 5% relating to pain in her neck, shoulder, and lower back that was caused by a fall.

         During Piepenbrink's supervision, Adams' “daily responsibilities included managing work orders from the campus community, processing invoices from suppliers and contractors, and keeping the entire department informed of campus issues from human resources to social activities and events.” Dkt. No. 73 at 13. She also supervised student assistants who worked for the department.

         In 2014, the University hired a new President and Piepenbrink retired. Koren Vitangeli, Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students, became interim Director of the Physical Plant and Adams' supervisor.

         In the fall of 2014, on the advice of her neurologist, Adams obtained a permanent handicap parking sticker. Adams asked Vitangeli to have an accessible parking space designated as a handicapped space in the parking lot nearest the Physical Plant where she worked. Vitangeli told Adams that Adams “needed to keep track of how often [she] could not find a handicapped parking spot, and then if she felt that was often enough, she would give me a parking spot over in the student parking, which was a building away” from the Physical Plant. Dkt. No. 55-1 at 8-9.[2] Adams had to make several requests and inform Vitangeli that she believed that the ADA required UI to designate a handicapped parking space in the Physical Plant lot before Vitangeli agree to provide the space. Adams does not remember how much time elapsed between her initial request and the space being designated. The space was chosen in consultation with Adams. Some time later a different space was designated because the original space was too close to the receiving area. Adams was not consulted about the location change, and the new location was prone to having ice and snow accumulation during the winter.

         Between June 2014 and May 2015, Adams was the only woman who was assigned to work in the office in the Physical Plant. On October 7, 2014, Adams received an email from an account called “, ” stating:

You should really make sure you do your own job correctly before you try to criticize the others who do their job right Btw way [sic] your students hate thw [sic] way you treat them like shit. Mind your own business, [sic] everyone else's business is not your own. your [sic] students know more about what your job [sic] than you do so treat them right with respect.

Dkt. No. 67-9. Adams forwarded this email to Vitangeli on October 8, 2014. UI's IT department tried to track the email address but was unsuccessful; no further investigation was conducted.

         On February 21, 2015, Adams completed an Employee Complaint and Resoultion [sic] Form in which she complained about incidents that had occurred between her and John Leck on January 27, 2015, and February 17, 2015. The form reads as follows:

Please describe specific details of your complaint-what happen [sic], approximate times/dates, etc: Approximately at 9:30 a.m. John Leck approached my counter, where I work, with his sick day form. It was marked with his current sick time available. He asked me to check his time remaining. Because of a January event, I had already made a copy of his previous sick form. He then stated I messed up on his time and needed to correct it. Both events in question were about the same half sick day he erupted about before. The previous time he found his sick slip and held it up for me to see. He did not apologize for his accusation and behavior. John claimed on both occasions that he did not take the time in question off work. On February 17, 2015, John did not stop accusing me of making a mistake, until I showed him his time sheet he had marked and signed himself. He then said a quick sorry. I told him I appreciated that since he did not apologize the last time. He glared and quickly walked away slamming his door loudly after entering his office. His office is directly across from my desk.
[P]lease describe your efforts to resolve your complaint. I told Human Resources about my problem and concerns. I scheduled a meeting with Kory Vitangeli. I met with her in order to discuss John's behavior toward me in the present and in the past. She already knew of an occasion where I was approached by him and one of his employees. He has been able to behave aggressively without any repercussion.
Please state the resolution you seek to resolve your complaint. John Leck needs to stop falsely accusing me of things that are due to his incompetence. He needs a change of attitude from an unapproachable employee to one that seeks civility and harmony in the work place, instead of a work place that is a hostile environment. I believe he is discriminating me [sic] because of my sex and age. His bullying and aggressive tactics have to stop. Our Title IX workshop reinforces that this is inappropriate behavior. I believe his superior has not taken his aggressive behavior serious [sic]. I back this up because I feel the need to fill this form out. Someone else should keep track of his time off, John's office should be switched with grounds director's office or his door need to [sic] let out to the side hallway like the other directors.
Is there any other information you would like to include? The university has contributed to these events by leaving a key position open for over nine and a half months. After outside charges from OSHA and the EEOC, those in leadership know that bullying takes place in our department. I am proud of the way I have been able to do my job and expect a safe work environment, so my concentration can focus on our students and the campus. Due to wrongful accusations and aggressiveness towards me, I feel nervous, freightened [sic] at work. After this event, I was trembling and felt pressure in my chest way up in to the afternoon. This allowed behavior is effecting [sic] my health. The false accusations and aggressiveness needs [sic] to stop immediately. I now fear retaliation.

Dkt. No. 71-9.[3]

         Outside counsel for UI investigated Adams' complaint against Leck. Leck was interviewed by an attorney and Janet Robinson from UI's Human Resources (“HR”) Department. Leck was aware that it was Adams who had complained about him. Leck testified that he did not recall specifics from the interview, but in general he was asked if he had “problems working with female coworkers” and “problems working with people that were older than [him].” Dkt. No. 71-2 at 2-3. UI's investigation concluded that Adams' claim of discrimination against Leck was unsubstantiated.[4]

         On April 29, 2015, Adams met with Chris Raisovich and Janet Robinson of HR to express her disagreement with the conclusions of the investigation. Raisovich's memo from the meeting reads as follows:

Today I led a follow up meeting between Linda Adams, Admin Asst. Physical Plant and Janet Robinson, HR. The meeting was scheduled because Linda told Janet she disagreed with the conclusion of the 4/9/15 letter given to her following her unsubstantiated 2/23/15 age/gender complaint. She also told Janet she had paperwork ready to go for the EEOC.
I asked Linda how she was doing since the complaint and she said she was waiting for the next incident to occur since three already happened and she proceeded to elaborate on the past events. I had to ask/clarify a total of three times “what has transpired/how was she” “since the Feb 23 complaint”? Eventually she clarified that nothing more has occurred other than she's sending him emails (versus personal interactions), he stays in his office and leaves her alone (except when he came around her desk to get keys “which made her uncomfortable”) and she told him she could do that for him.
She elaborated on feeling uneasy, uncomfortable etc. I asked her if she considered looking for a new job. She immediately said “Why should I look for a new job when he's the one discriminating, bullying me . . .” I reiterated the content of Janet's letter and explained that her claims of age/gender discrimination were thoroughly investigated by HR, our corporate attorney and included review of her details, the other side of the story, witness statements and “what occurred did not rise to the level of actionable harassment.” I agreed that if John Leck slammed doors, yelled at her, etc. it was not appropriate and was rude, maybe frustration/irritation . . . but not discrimination or bullying. She said that Cory [sic] “gave him a pat on the back, let him get away with this” and later made a statement that the area has had 11 months of free for all behavior. I cautioned her about making assumptions that John was not talked to about this.
She went on to say that Kory discriminated against her because she refused a handicap parking spot since she wore a leg brace and had a handicap sticker/paperwork. She went on to explain that she gave Kory her research and proved she was obligated to provide one. She also said she told the EEOC about this but it's since all been resolved and hasn't pursued it. I asked if she considered the possibility that communication difficulties were occurring because she was pushing back on people that were her superior and as an AA she should take direction from superiors (Kory and John[)] and not give direction. I suggested that perhaps they were considering her insubordinate by her tone or manner, which was leading to communication difficulties. She didn't understand the term “pushing back”, she returned to the specific handicap issue in detail and I kept trying to help her see “the bigger picture”. After three or four attempts of trying to explain the bigger picture, I stopped.
I told her I was glad nothing has happened since late February, that there was a new Executive Director starting (this coming Friday) and nothing further should happen but if there is any cause to believe there is retaliation or discrimination (and I asked her not to use those terms lightly) to immediately contact me and her supervisor Kory. She didn't want to contact Kory. I told her I would insure that the situation was properly handled. She agreed.
I told her I heard she was going to the EEOC, and although it was her prerogative, my experience from working with them in the past was that they would put the burden on her to substantiate her claims. I again encouraged her to think about transferring jobs if she remained mentally and physically in caution mode, and while we couldn't force someone to hire her, we could help facilitate her through the process. She said she would think about it and look at the postings.

Dkt. No. 67-15.

         In May 2015, UI hired Pamela Fox as its Executive Director of Facilities, and Fox became Adams' supervisor. Unlike Vitangeli's, Fox's office was located in the Physical Plant. Leck's objectionable behavior did not end after Adams' complaint and resulting investigation or after Fox came on board. Leck continued to make harassing comments and also “butted in” and eavesdropped on Adams' conversations. Adams reported his behavior to Fox on “multiple occasions, ” Dkt. No. 71-10 at 3 ¶ 19; she specifically identifies two. First, on September 4, 2015, during a meeting called by Fox to discuss Fox's concerns about Adams' job performance, Adams reported to Fox that she felt that everyone was “ganging up on her” and that “she [felt] bullied, specifically by John Leck and Mark Adams. Ever since they were promoted they were after her. She thinks they are whispering and laughing about her and that she is the joke of the Physical Plant.” Dkt. No. 70-2. Further, on October 8, 2015, during a meeting with Fox about discipline being imposed on Adams, Adams asked Fox “if the other person (meaning John Leck) who keeps spying on her and turning her in is getting in trouble.” Dkt. No. 70-5 (Fox's notes from the meeting).[5] Fox's notes further state that Adams “claims she is being treated unfairly, she is being picked on and it could even be a person retaliating (John) or upset that he did not get my [Fox's] job.” Id. Fox added these notes to Adams' personnel file but did not share them with Adams. Leck was never asked about these accusations.

         Fox was responsible for overhauling the Facilities Department and looking for more efficient methods of operation. To that end, in her written Operating Plan & Budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Fox outlined several goals she wanted to meet. Among these goals were changing the administrative function of the Physical Plant by “developing the Administrative Assistant role to become the centralized hub of Physical Plant information through a new work order system; submitting distinctive job descriptions; evaluating the best coverage of the administrative function such as appropriately staffing the desk and evaluating use of student employees; evaluating types of paper document storage; initiating an automated timekeeping system; and creating a ‘customer service Facility Coordinator position.'” Dkt. No. 56 at 4 (citing Dkt. No. 55-7 at 2-3, 18-28).

         On June 29, 2015, after Adams learned that she was on a list of employees to be trained to drive a forklift, Adams met with Fox and informed her that she had been directed by a previous HR director not to operate a forklift and that she was concerned about operating a forklift because of her disabilities, a leg brace she was wearing at the time, the medication she was taking, and a previous injury she had sustained at work. Adams was not under any physical restrictions from her physicians at the time; however, she had not sought any such restrictions because her official job duties did not include any type of mechanical work. While Adams had been issued a permanent handicapped parking sticker, she was able to operate a car at the time. Despite Adams' concerns, Fox insisted that Adams train on the forklift and instructed her that she should drive it if no one else was available to do so. Adams successfully completed the forklift training and operated the forklift on approximately two occasions.[6]

         Within weeks of Fox becoming Adams' supervisor, Adams witnessed Fox meeting with other employees whom Fox supervised; those employees told Adams that Fox had provided them with goals.[7] Fox's first one-on-one meeting with Adams did not occur until September 4, 2015. Fox memorialized the meeting in a note that was placed in Adams' personnel file; she did not provide the note to Adams or inform her that it would be included in her file. The note reads as follows:

I met with Linda today from 2:45a to 3:20a [presumably sic] to discuss that Physical Plant needs to be a strong team environment, we need professionals that can work together. I expressed my concern that she was not showing professionalism based on the following:
• I have been hearing comments and complaints about her attitude, which can be sarcastic, smug and too busy to help others in our department
• Specifically she has been sarcastically saying “Whatever you want” when asked to perform a task
• She ignores certain people when they come to the desk to put in a request
• She yelled at Director Mark Adams on the phone over a ticket to reset the timeclock to military time
• She was observed by Dave Mosely in a verbal confrontation with John Leck over sending emails to correctly direct people to HR for key requests Her responses on the following [sic] was basically she was not in the wrong on any of the above. Everyone is ganging up on her, she feels bullied, specifically by John Leck and Mark Adams. Ever since they were promoted they were after her. She thinks they are whispering and laughing about her and that she is the joke of Physical Plant.
She does agree that she reports to me and indirectly reports to others in our department and expresses the desire to be treated professionally by others. I ended this portion of the conversation reiterating that I want a professional environment and respect among team members. I invited her to come to me with specific examples of being bullied or ganged up on so that I may work to resolve her issues.
In the same meeting I again expressed that it is my intention to reduce the amount of hours that we have student employees helping her with her job. Additionally, I expressed that I would like to increase our operating hours from 7am-4:30p. She prefers to start at 7am, I instructed her the intent of a 7am start is to get all contractor keys signed out and get all overnight work order tickets immediately out so the maintenance staff knows what to start on each day. She has agreed to this work. We will start this new time on 9/8 as long as she has student coverage from 3:30p-4:30p each day by a student.

Dkt. No. 70-2. Fox did not inform Adams that this meeting was a verbal warning, the first step in UI's progressive discipline policy, although Fox treated it as such.[8]

         On October 1, 2015, Fox met with Adams again to discuss her performance. In a memo finalized on October 8, 2015, which constituted a written reprimand under UI's progressive discipline policy, Fox stated the following:

Linda, I continue to have concerns about your professionalism and how it is affecting the workflow and respect in our department. We met on 9/4/15 and discussed the comments and complaints that I had received. You had stated you felt ganged up and bullied by other members in our department. I had asked that you come to me with specific examples so that I may address them. To date, you have brought no issues.
Here are some of my recent concerns:
• I was informed that you recently responded “that's not my job” to a customer inquiry. Our customer called a maintenance tech and they were able to provide what was needed. The action I am looking for is one of customer service where you take notes and call our customer's [sic] back with information.
• I have observed you and Chuck communicating about the new NeoPost system. You are involved with the package delivery system, as you accept deliveries to Physical Plant, but I observed you being overbearing in your communication style with Chuck (you are giving direction on how he should arrange his day and the set-up [sic] his area) and not sensitive that he was being made uncomfortable. You are not Chuck's supervisor and he should not be made to feel overwhelmed by your involvement. If he asked for your opinion, please express it one time and let him work your ideas with his supervisor if he sees fit.
• We have discussed the need to back down student employees at the front desk, the deadline was 10/1 to back down on employee hours and I have yet to hear your new plan. You seem very concerned about the amount of students that housekeeping employs and have voiced your opinion to others that you have to back down your student hours and others do not. If you have these concerns, please address them with me, it is spreading negativity to talk to other employees.
Again, your role in our department is critical. You represent our department, you need to be professional at all times, approachable and have a customer service oriented attitude. I am very concerned that your actions that do not exhibit these competencies. These examples above are to show you concerns that I have heard about. I prefer that you talk to me about these issues and not others and expect no retaliation toward others.
If you are unable or unwilling to improve your performance, further action must be taken, up to and including termination. Please take some time to reflect upon the value of your relationship with the University. I trust that you will decide this where [sic] you want to be and that you will recommit to being a fully engaged member of the team.

Dkt. No. 55-7 at 41-42. Adams disputed the allegations in the memo and refused to sign it.

         In addition to the items listed in the memo, at the October 1st meeting Fox also discussed another concern that she had (hereinafter referred to as the “parking space incident”). Another employee had reported to her that Adams had argued with co-worker Lori Gibson about the use of a handicapped parking space. Adams disputed that such an argument had occurred. After the meeting, Fox spoke with Gibson, who told her that “it was not an issue with her, ” so Fox removed all references to the parking space incident from the final version of the memo.[9]

         On October 5, 2015, Fox added a note to Adams' personnel file, which she forwarded to Samantha Karn, an in-house attorney for UI. In the note, she memorialized Adams' comments during the October 1st and October 2nd meetings, her conversation with Gibson regarding the parking space incident, and her conversation with employee Kathy Johnson about another incident included in the memo-Adams' complaining to other employees about having to “back down” student hours. Dkt. No. 68-6. Fox did not share this note with Adams.

         On October 6, 2015, Fox added a note to Adams' personnel file regarding a meeting she had with Lisa Battiato, an employee of UI. Fox recorded that Battiato had reported two interactions with Adams in which she had asked Adams for assistance and Adams had responded “I don't have anything to do with that.” Dkt. No. 70-4. Fox did not share this note with Adams.

         On October 8, 2015, Adams met with attorney Karn regarding Fox's written reprimand. Adams informed Karn of her concerns with Fox's corrective action as well as concerns about Leck. Karn suggested that Adams fill out a formal complaint.

         In response to Fox's memo, Adams filed an Employee Complaint and Resoultion [sic] Form with the HR department. The form read as follows:

Please describe specific details of your complaint-what happen [sic], approximate times/dates, etc.: A Corrective Action created based on ‘hearsay, misunderstandings, and untruths.'
On October 1, 2015, Pam Fox told me she would like us to “get together and talk.” She presented me with a “Performance Needing Corrective Action'” document. This came as a complete surprise to me, because previous to this meeting Pam had never met with me to talk about any of my actions that would require disciplinary action. (And, on [sic] as side note, in the 17 years I have dedicated to the University, my professionalism has never once been called into question. In recent years, I received an outstanding service award from the College of Arts & Sciences. And in 2012-2013, as a student of the University, I was nominated and received the Alpha Sigma Lambda award). Furthermore, every bullet point in this Corrective Action document contained hearsay, misunderstandings, or untruths. When I mentioned the inaccuracies, Pam would just say, “Linda, you're diverting” and move on. In our brief meeting Pam told me that I needed to sign the Corrective Action document.
Because of the false accusations Pam presented, I asked her to meet with me on Friday, October 2, 2015. I explained to her the issue I had with each point including:
(Please read Pam's corrective action and then the points I shared with her below for each one.)
Bullet 1:
I take my job very seriously. I work to provide the highest standard of customer service to all. I work to assist people in any way I can. I always work to satisfy each customer's need whether I complete their request myself or refer them to the proper person who can. To date, Pam has yet to give me any specifics about this incident like date, name, issue, etc. Pam also is presenting this information as a secondary source. The Corrective Action states, “I [Pam] was informed that . . . .” My hope would be that, and I do not foresee this, but should a customer not be completely satisfied with the service I give, then as per the employee handbook, Pam would “work this out on an informal basis, ” and the issue would be solved “fairly.”
Bullet 2:
Thursday, October 1, 2015-I told Pam that this handicap spot issue was completely untrue, I also asked her if she had spoken to Laurie Gipson, the person listed as “other driver” in the Corrective Action document. She said she had not. Pam put in the document that someone had “informed” her about this incident. And in our meeting, I found out that Pam had not sought to understand the facts first before putting this ridiculously false accusation on the Corrective Action document. She also did not believe me when I told her the true story. I told her she was welcome to contact Laurie if she was not going to believe me. When she did, Laurie verified that everything that Pam had accused me of was false. (Finally, after all of this, during our meeting on Friday, October 9th, 2015, Pam did remove this bullet from the Corrective Action document) But, it is discouraging that due to Pam receiving and believing hearsay that not only did my trustworthiness get called into question and I was falsely accused, but an employee dealing with serious health issues, Laurie had to be involved.
Bullet 3:
This is what I shared with Pam on Friday, October 2, 2015:
“In regards to the NeoPost system, you asked to provide my input on the flow of the system. As you stated in this document, “my role in our department is critical.” Chuck asked me to come in and discuss the system and where packages should be placed. Having a professional conversation with a colleague is not something that needs corrective action. The concern is that my involvement has caused Chuck to feel “overwhelmed”; however, the day following this interaction on October 1, 2015, Chuck personally thanked me for my assistance helping him with the NeoPost system in the way he wanted it to flow. Chuck also shared with Pam that I really helped him out especially with two trucks coming in.”
Even with these facts, if in Pam's opinion she thought I was “overbearing” in my communication style with Chuck, ” [sic] then why would she not have verbally addressed that with me in a timely fashion. As the handbook states, “quickly” and fairly”? Under Disputes and Disagreements, the handbook clearly says that issues should be “resolved on an informal basis by discussing the problem and working together to find a solution.” If Pam did not want me to tell Chuck that I felt that small, scattered packages laying on the floor was a safety issue and could lead to someone tripping, then she should have discussed that with me right after the fact. (It should also be noted that myself along with student workers are the ones who walk through this area on a regular basis.) If Pam no longer wants me to collaborate with Chuck, like she had asked me to do previously, she needs to give me that directive first before writing it up in a corrective action.
Bullet 4:
This is what I shared with Pam on Friday, October 2, 2015:
“In regards to backing down student hours, this was done before the deadline and communicated to Pam. At no time was I asked to present a formal plan, I was only casually asked to back down student hours, which I did. I am not concerned about the amount of students that housekeeping employs. My focus is to complete my daily tasks and be professional at all times in representing our department.”
I feel like through all of this, Pam attacked my professionalism and commitment to the University of Indianapolis. She also did not, as the handbook states, provide a “prompt response” after the meeting we had on Friday, October 2, 2015 when I presented my issues to her about the Corrective Action document. She said she would, “digest” what I said and “get back with me on Monday, October 5, 2015. She did not meet with me again until the end of the day on Friday, October 9, 2015. And, even in that meeting Pam was not receptive to what I had to say. The handbook says that “Ongoing, effective communication serves the best interest of both parties and reduces formal grievances.” I do not feel that Pam is allowing productive communication to take place. Furthermore, she does not seem to be on track with the handbook of wanting to reduce formal grievances (especially, when she has created a document with inaccuracies), because at the end of the meeting she still would not take all of the incorrect information off the document. She said, “I cannot do that; I cannot remove anything else.” This is very disturbing and an obvious violation of the handbook and University policies.
Please describe your efforts to resolve your complaint.
On October 2, 2015 I requested Pam meet with me. She suggested we wait until Monday. I then stated the accusations were too serious to wait. She came back to the office towards the end of my shift to meet with me. I rebutted each of her accusations. She wanted to know if she could have my paper. I told her it was my notes and I would go back over the items with her and she was welcome to take notes. She said she had to digest what I discussed over the weekend and we would meet on Monday, October 5, 2015. Because [sic] the serious nature I called her boss, Mike Holstein's office and asked for a meeting with him. He was getting ready for vacation. I was advised to e-mail him, which I did. I received a call from his office that Jennifer Rang would e-mail me to setup an appointment with Sam. I received e-mail from Jennifer Rang with appointment times to speak with Sam the university attorney. I met with her on Thursday, October 9, 2015. She asked questions and I sought her advice on my options at the University to have the Corrective Action removed from my file. She gave me the information to follow up with a formal complaint since meeting with Pam brought no resolution. She also said I should meet with Mike Holstein when he returns from vacation. Sam was going on a cruise but would check e-mail when she could. She encouraged me to e-mail her if there was anything else I felt I needed to discuss with her.
I am now proceeding with a formal complaint, since it is clear that Pam wants no part of working through the accusations. Her mind is made up, and she said she will place the Corrective Action in my permanent file without me signing it. I could attach anything l wanted to the document.
Please state the resolution you seek to resolve your complaint:
I expect the Corrective Action form to be removed from my file immediately. The university and I need to know who told Pam the false accusation concerning the handicap parking story (Bullet Point #2) that Pam wrote into an official corrective action without checking any facts. If the person has ever received a grievance from me then their gossip and untrue statement to Pam should be considered retaliation and appropriate action needs to follow according to the staff handbook.
Pam must stop all attacks on my professionalism and character. She should not encourage employees to not work together when work or events within the department need to be addressed and solved in a professional manner. She should stop micromanaging and attacking everything I do and be a collaborative supervisor while being open to learn what all my duties entail. Each day brings new and different situations that require my attention.
I expect to be treated in a professional manner, and not be subjected to retaliation by anyone involved in this process.
Is there any other information you would like to include?
Pam not only attacked my professionalism, she had my job duties changed. Even with my ankle brace due to an injury, she wanted me to be certified on the forklift with the guys. I told her when a director inquired with Human Resources to ask if I could be trained in the past, they had said no. I made Pam aware of their comments, and she said she would still like me to be trained. I did as she asked regardless of my disability and the medication that I take.
No one should have to work in a hostile work environment with a supervisor that writes a corrective action without any warning or a desire to first communicate with the employee about the concerns. I expect to have a professional supervisor who demonstrates 21st century skills by working collaboratively with employees and seeking first to understand.
Pam asserts that she is being told that I “glare” at my coworkers, which is completely false. Is the anonymous source of that accusation the same as the person who told her the untrue handicap parking story? I think it's clear that Pam's anonymous sources have lost all credibility particularly in the unprofessional way that she believed that gossip and wrote it into a corrective action without asking any of the witnesses.
I don't want to have to take this to the next level. I want this resolved. The stress of this harassment is affecting my health. I have dedicated 17 years to the university and have showed professionalism and commitment throughout this time. I want to be able to work free of harassment and without fear of unwarranted corrective actions or retaliation.

Dkt. No. 67-11.

         As suggested by Karn, Adams met with Mike Holstein, Fox's direct supervisor, who was head of HR at the time, regarding the written reprimand by Fox. Adams attempted to share with Holstein a document she had written refuting each of Fox's criticisms, but he did not want to read it. Adams' impression was that Holstein was not interested in hearing her complaints; he instead advised Adams to “rededicate [herself] to the University” and advised her that she needed to “behave.” Dkt. No. 70-19 at 49, 55. Following the meeting, Holstein spoke with Fox and Leck regarding Adams' concerns. On November 12, 2015, Holstein sent Adams an email that read as follows:

I have reviewed the information provided by you to me at our meeting in October as well as information provided to me by your supervisor, Pam Fox. Based on my review I have determined the performance evaluation feedback provided to you verbally in September and in writing in October is supported by numerous sources and therefore credible.
The purpose of the meeting this afternoon between you, me and Pam Fox is to review with you your Job Description and obtain your signature on the form acknowledging your responsibilities and performance expectations. The provision of excellent customer service is of utmost importance to your job responsibilities.
It is your supervisor's belief that you possess the capability to perform the job requirements and perform in a manner that meets or exceeds expectations. It is the hope of the university that you do so going forward.

Dkt. No. 67-14.

         On November 12, 2015, Adams, Fox, and Holstein met regarding the written reprimand.[10] With the exception of the parking space incident, Fox and Holstein declined to remove statements from the memo despite Adams' disagreement with them. During the meeting, Adams discussed her concerns with her personal safety in operating a forklift and the fact that operating a forklift was not in her job description. The group also discussed the fact that Adams had two separate work email accounts, one of which she monitored constantly and one that she did not check as often. Fox had been using the latter to communicate with Adams; Holstein suggested that Fox text Adams instead. Adams' notes indicate that Holstein “stated several times that [she] had filed with EEOC” and that Adams clarified that she had not filed with the EEOC but had filed an internal complaint against Leck. Dkt. No. 72-6.

         In preparation for the implementation of a new work order submission system, on March 22, 2016, Fox sent to the following email to Adams:

Let's get organized (and maybe you already are!). Please make a list of our “regular” customers who submit work orders. Let's get 2/week converting to the new method. Some will be really easy . . . and some are going to take some face-to-face meetings to work things out . . . . Make you[r] list by Friday is [sic] this week and send [it] to me. Next week lets [sic] start knocking [sic] 2/week.

Dkt. No. 68-8 at 2. On April 25, 2016, Fox sent Adams a follow-up email that read “Linda, I had sent this request to make a list so that we would have a starting point to know who needs to be taught about the button and to map progress. Tomorrow when we meet with Mike Nolot we can discuss. We need a plan in place to get this piloted and announced.” Id. at 1.

         On April 29, 2016, Fox sent a note to Adams' personnel file that read as follows:

Today I sat with Linda about my concern with her performance regarding my request to create a list of customers who frequently put in work orders. I had asked on 3/20/16 via email (see below) for her to make a list. No list was made and Linda did not update me on her progress. I asked in several weekly staff meetings (4/11 and 4/25) for the status of the list.
There was a meeting on 4/26 regarding Timeclocks Plus where we also talked a little bit about the work order system. I again asked if she had created a list, she had not and I asked her to create a list of users by Friday (4/29) for our meeting with Mike Nolot.
Linda had not created list for Mike's meeting regarding the work order system. I asked her why she did not create the list as I had requested
• First she stated it would have been hundreds of people long so she decided to use a copy of the department list and make notes for that. She did not share that list
• The[n] said she didn't understand what I wanted-I asked her to ask for clarification when she does not understand
• Then she said she didn't have enough time, the desk is very busy and she has student limited time at the end of the year. I reminded her my original request was from 3/20/16.
I explained to her that I will be expecting more of her as the work order system becomes automated. I expect her to ask questions, update me and give feedback when she cannot complete an assignment. I also told her I felt like my request for this list went into a black hole.
I changed the subject and asked for status on the certificate of insurance spreadsheet that she said she would begin on 3/11/16. She claimed she was sick and was going to tell me she needed to go home. I asked to see her work to-date before she left, if she was leaving early. She was not able to produce any work, she claims she started one using Mark's subs but can't find it. She said it is an excel spreadsheet.

Id. Fox did not share this note with Adams or inform her that it was going to be added to her personnel file.[11]

         On March 11, 2016, after several emails were exchanged between Fox, Adams, and someone from an outside insurance agency regarding the need to check, log, and track the insurance certificates of various contractors and vendors working on campus, Adams stated that she would “get a spreadsheet started for our department” in order to facilitate the development of a tracking system. Dkt. No. 68-9 at 1. On April 29, 2016, Fox emailed Adams to request a progress update on the project. On May 2, 2016, Fox sent an email to Adams' personnel file that read:

Linda had not started the insurance certificates as she stated she would on 3/11/16. On Friday 4/29 she said she did start and was working with Mark Adams and could not find her excel file.
On Monday a word document was in my inbox, it's the start of a list of vendors who may need insurance certificates. She said she could not find the file of insurance certificates (I took it home to review the file, it is a very old file with insurance certificates dating from 2010-one is dated 2016 but it's not a vendor that we use).
She came to me saying the file was missing, I told her I took it home to review. I also told her that I could see she did not start the project and did not talk to Mark. She said, “oh did I say Mark? I was very dizzy on Friday and needed to leave”, she said she did not remember saying Mark was helping her and that she overdosed on her medication.
I was very clear in my direction and she said that she understood:
• She is to talk to Charlie Vaught or Andy Brown about the specifics needed
• She is to bring up to the group on Monday 5/9 during our staff meeting what she needs from everyone
• She is to update me on how she plans to finish the project on Tuesday 5/10

Id. Fox did not share this note with Adams or inform her that it was going to be added to her personnel file.

         On May 11, 2016, Fox counseled Adams about following up on tasks she had agreed to undertake. Adams had agreed to obtain a menu from a nearby restaurant in order to assist with a lunch event, but she still had not done so by 4:00 p.m. the following day, which was the end of her shift.

         Fox met with Adams on May 20, 2016, the day before Adams was scheduled to leave for vacation, and presented her with a written warning. Prior to the meeting, Fox exchanged emails with Director of Human Resources Erin Farrell about the situation; in one of them she noted that Adams had received verbal counseling on May 10, 2016, and that Fox had “instructed the directors to feed her more tasks with definite deadlines; I have tasks lined up for her when she is back from vacation. As soon as any of these fall short, a final written warning will be issued.” Dkt. No. 68-10. This email was not shared with Adams.

         The May 20, 2016, written warning read as follows:

Linda, I continue to have concerns about your effort and communication. You are a key person in our department, the face-person to the campus and our link to the campus. As the work order system becomes more automated it allows more time for different administrative duties. I need to count on you to support the Facilities' department. When you do not follow direction or communicate it becomes a weakness to our entire department; we lose credibility and reputation.

         The following are examples of two situations, the outcomes.

Situation 1: work order system
We installed our new work order system in July 2015; the goal was for the work order “button” to be on the new facility web page and to conduct a soft roll-out before a campus-wide announcement. The plan was for the IT department to turn on the facility web page with the button over Spring Break (4/4/16). Our soft rollout was to educate users to start using the button until the point that most were converted to our new method. Once we made the campus-wide announcement, most people would already be using it and we would have worked out any issues.

         The following summarizes your failure to meet performance expectations concerning this project:

• On 3/22/16 (Tuesday) I sent via email to a request for you to create a list of our “regular” customers who submit work orders. The deadline was 3/25/16 (Friday). The purpose was to understand the amount of customers and to define easy versus hard transitions. I also set a goal of transitioning 2 customers/week.
• No list was ever created; no questions were asked and no update was given to me . In our weekly staff meetings I regularly asked about the work order system and our need to complete our roll-out and announce the system campus-wide. Your responses were always about who was having trouble and who was using it. I instructed you to make a list because only you know our customer list and I could not follow where we were with the transition.
• In staff meetings on 4/11 and 4/25, I specifically asked the status of your customer list. The response was more conversation about who was or was not using the button. Again, without the customer list I was unable to follow where we are with the transition. I specifically asked for the ...

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