United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
Lisa Reffett (“Reffett”) is a former employee of
defendants Deere and Company and John Deere Company
(collectively, “Deere” or
“defendants”). (DE # 1 ¶ 9.) The matter is
now before the court on Deere's motion for summary
judgment. (DE # 71.) Additionally, plaintiff has filed a
motion for leave to file a sur-reply and to take additional
discovery. (DE # 81.) For the following reasons, the court
will grant the motion for summary judgment in part, grant the
motion for leave, and defer ruling on the remainder of the
motion for summary judgment.
is a woman and a resident of the state of Indiana. (DE # 17
at 2.) In November of 2008, she was hired by Deere as a
“Grade 11 [M]anager of John Deere Merchandise.”
(DE # 75-10 ¶ 2.) She originally reported to Jeff
Gredvig. (Id.) In 2011, Tommy Morgan
(“Morgan”) replaced Jeff Gredvig as
plaintiff's manager. (Id. ¶ 6.) In 2011,
Plaintiff's position with Deere was changed from
“Grade 11 Manager” to “Supply Manager
IV.” (Id. ¶ 6-7.)
asserts that over the remainder of her time working at Deere,
Morgan made various sexist comments and took actions which
negatively impacted her. Among those actions are the
following. Plaintiff says that Morgan told her she was not
supporting her son's needs by being a working mother and
that she should be at home with her son. (DE # 75-10
¶¶ 8, 16.) She says Morgan excluded her from a
business trip to Australia because she is a woman.
(Id. ¶ 10.) She says Morgan refused to approve
a raise for her productive female secretary. (Id.
¶ 12.) After that secretary left the position, plaintiff
says Morgan did not allow her to hire a replacement
secretary. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 23.) She says that
Morgan told her that her current position required too much
travel for a woman (id. ¶ 18), but that a
transfer into the Construction and Forestry Division was also
a waste of time as it was also not a place for a woman
(id. ¶ 19). Plaintiff says Morgan showed her
Bible passages regarding a woman's role in the home.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff also argues that Morgan
gave her scores on her performance reviews that were below
what she deserved. (See e.g., id. ¶
talked to human resources officers about some of these
concerns, but she says they were not helpful. (See
DE # 75-10 ¶¶ 17, 37-39, 42.) On October 1, 2012,
plaintiff says she told human resources that she wanted
another position in the company due to Morgan's conduct.
(Id. ¶ 42.) Deere says plaintiff told human
resources about her desire for a new position even earlier,
on May 23, 2012. (DE # 72-1 at 8.) It is undisputed that
Deere began to search for a new opportunity for plaintiff in
2012. (See DE ## 73-5 at 3; 75-10 ¶ 13.)
October 16, 2012, while driving, plaintiff received an email
regarding a recent performance evaluation. (DE # 75-20 ¶
45.) She says this caused her to have a severe ocular
migraine headache and to black out, which caused her to hit a
barrier in the road with her truck. (Id. ¶ 46.)
She was placed in the hospital due to vision issues.
(Id.) She then requested and obtained FMLA leave
beginning October 16, 2012, for what she says was
“post-traumatic stress caused by the continuing
harassment of Morgan.” (Id. ¶ 47.) Once
plaintiff exhausted her FMLA leave, she took personal leave
and vacation time. (Id. ¶¶ 49, 56, 59.)
She never returned to work at Deere prior to leaving the
company on February 14, 2014. (See id. at 58-63.)
point after she began taking FMLA leave, Deere chose to stop
looking for other prospective jobs for plaintiff. (DE # 75-6
at 19.) Jeffrey Bell (“Bell”), a member of
Deere's human resources department, says this was because
Deere did not know when plaintiff would be returning to work.
(Id.) In January 2013, Deere backfilled
plaintiff's old Supply Manager IV position, with a male
employee. (DE # 75-10 ¶ 50.) In March 2013, plaintiff
says Bell told her that there were no available positions for
her at Deere. (Id. ¶ 54.) She also says Bell
told her something similar (that “there was not a
position”) in November of 2013. (DE # 75-3 at 80-81.)
Plaintiff was not medically cleared to return to work until
November 2013. (DE # 75-10 ¶ 58.) However in that same
month, she interviewed for a job at another company.
(Id. ¶ 60.) Plaintiff accepted that job in
January 2014, and she started working on February 17, 2014.
on these events, plaintiff filed a complaint in this court on
November 27, 2013. (DE # 1.) On July 28, 2014, she filed an
amended complaint asserting four claims against Deere: (1)
Discrimination Based on Race and Gender under Title VII and
42 U.S.C. § 1981; (2) Retaliation under Title VII; (3)
Hostile Work Environment; and (4) Retaliation under the
Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).
(See DE # 17 at 6-8.)
for this case ended on September 27, 2015. (DE # 30.) On
March 19, 2018, Deere moved for summary judgment on all
claims. (DE # 71.) Plaintiff filed a response to the motion
on April 18, 2018 (DE # 74), and Deere filed its reply on May
9, 2018 (DE # 78). Seven days after the reply, plaintiff
filed a motion seeking additional discovery pertaining to
“new facts” it says were introduced in a
supplement to Deere's reply brief. (DE # 81 at 2.)
Plaintiff also requests leave to file a sur-reply in
opposition to the motion for summary judgment. (Id.
at 1.) Deere opposed plaintiff's motion (DE # 87), and
plaintiff filed a reply brief in support of her motion (DE #
92). These pending motions are now fully briefed-aside from
the possibility of an additional sur-reply- and ripe for
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). “[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) (internal citations and quotation
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that
these requirements have been met. Carmichael v. Village
of Palatine, Ill., 605 F.3d 451, 460 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by
‘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. Once the moving party has met his burden, 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) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324). 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). In viewing
the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, the
court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to
the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of that party. Chmiel v. JC Penney Life Ins.
Co., 158 F.3d 966 (7th Cir. 1998).
court will now address the pending motions. The court will
first address the motion for leave (DE # 81) as it requests,
in part, that the court ...