United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss or, in
the Alternative, for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant TI
Automotive on April 8, 2019 (ECF 8). Plaintiff Jamaine Brooks
filed a response in opposition on July 16, 2019 (ECF 26), and
TI Automotive filed a reply on August 13, 2019 (ECF 31). The
Court concludes the Defendant's motion is properly
addressed as one for summary judgment and, for the reasons
discussed below, the motion is GRANTED. The Clerk of the
Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of Defendant and
Jamaine Brooks states that he “worked for Defendant TI
Automotive Ligonier Corporation from about November 7, 2017
to about February 6, 2018.” Complaint (ECF 1), p. 1.
Brooks alleges in his Complaint “that he was
discriminated against, harassed, and experienced a hostile
work environment because of and on account of his sex (male),
and he contends that he was retaliated against and discharged
because he reported the sexual harassment/hostile work
environment[.]” Id., p. 2. Brooks alleges that
his supervisor during his time at TI Automotive, Jennifer
Craine, sexually harassed him, creating a hostile work
environment. Brooks filed a charge of discrimination with the
EEOC on March 19, 2018, in which he alleged that he
“worked as an employee” for TI Automotive, that
he experienced harassment and a hostile work environment, and
that he was fired just hours after having complained about
the harassment “to Craine's boss,
‘Matt.'” Charge of Discrimination (ECF 26-1),
p. 1. However, Brooks also acknowledges in his EEOC Charge
that “[h]e was employed [at TI Automotive] by way of a
staffing agency.” Id. He even states that he
“went to the staffing agency and . . . submitted a
written complaint of discrimination and sexual harassment
against Craine.” Id., p. 2. The EEOC issued
Brooks a Notice of Right to Sue letter on November 1, 2018
(ECF 1-2). He filed this lawsuit on January 29, 2019, naming
TI Automotive as the only defendant.
Brooks states in his Complaint that he “worked for
Defendant TI Automotive, ” and states in his EEOC
Charge that he was an “employee of the Respondent at
all time material to this Charge[, ]” TI Automotive
claims that is not true. The Company contends that Brooks was
placed by a staffing agency called Surge Staffing into a
position with another company called ThyssenKrupp, which in
turn had a contract with TI Automotive “for post
manufacturing quality inspection at TI Automotive's
Ligonier facility.” Brief in Support of Motion to
Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF 8), p. 10. The issue
about who employed Brooks is the sole issue presented in TI
Automotive's motion. The Company asserts that
“Plaintiff Jamaine Brooks was never an employee of [TI
Automotive] and Plaintiff has not sufficiently pled that he
was. Therefore, Plaintiff's Title VII claims against the
Company fail to state a claim.” Motion to Dismiss or
for Summary Judgment, p. 1. TI Automotive states that it
“informed Plaintiff of the subject matter of this
Motion, namely that Plaintiff was not its employee either
directly or under a joint employer theory, but Plaintiff has
refused to voluntarily dismiss [his] claims against
Defendant.” Id., p. 2.
stated above, TI Automotive seeks dismissal of Brooks'
Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because he fails to state
a viable claim against the Company, which was not his
employer, did not terminate him, and therefore is not the
proper defendant in this lawsuit. TI Automotive also
submitted affidavits and other documents as evidence to
support its argument that it was not Brooks' employer,
which is why the Company captioned its motion as one under
Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56. In his response in
opposition to the motion, Brooks submitted his own affidavit
as well as many other documents, some of which are relevant
to the present (and dispositive) issue and some of which are
Plaintiff's Response (ECF 26-1 through 26-6).
motion under Rule 12(b)(6) can be based on the complaint
itself, documents attached to the complaint, documents that
are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and
information that is subject to proper judicial
notice.'” St. John's Hosptial of Hosp.
Sisters of Third Order of St. Francis v. Nat'l
Guardian Risk Retention Grp., Inc., 2019 WL 1431224, at
*2 (C.D. Ill. Mar. 29, 2019) (quoting Geinosky v. Cocuity
of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 745 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012)).
“If additional materials are relied upon, the motion
must be converted to one for summary judgment under Rule
56.” Id. As this Court has explained:
“If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters
outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by
the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary
judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Thus,
pursuant to Rule 12(d), the court “may (1)
‘convert the 12[(b)] motion into a motion for summary
judgment under Rule 56 and proceed in accordance with the
latter rule,' or (2) ‘exclude the documents
attached to the motion [for judgment on the pleadings] and
continue under Rule 12.'” Tradewinds Glob.
Logistics, LLC v. Garrett's Transp., LLC, 2015 WL
8362401, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 8, 2015) (alterations in
original) (quoting Levenstein v. Salafsky, 164 F.3d
345, 347 (7th Cir. 1998)). The court has discretion in
determining which option to choose. Id. (citing
Levenstein, 164 F.3d at 347; Hecker v. Deere
& Co., 556 F.3d 575, 583 (7th Cir. 2009)).
Bissonnette v. Podlaski, 2017 WL 3593820, at *4
(N.D. Ind. Aug. 21, 2017).
present case, the Court will assess TI Automotive's
motion under the Rule 56 standard. Summary judgment is
warranted when “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). Disputes concerning material facts are genuine where
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
In deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist,
the court construes all facts in a light most favorable to
the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in
favor of the non-moving party. See Id. at 255.
However, if it is clear that a plaintiff will be unable to
satisfy the legal requirements necessary to establish his or
her case, summary judgment is not only appropriate, but
mandated. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Ziliak
v. AstraZeneca LP, 324 F.3d 518, 520 (7th Cir. 2003).
“[S]peculation and conjecture” also cannot defeat
a motion for summary judgment. Cooney v. Casady, 735
F.3d 514, 519 (7th Cir. 2013). In addition, not all factual
disputes will preclude the entry of summary judgment, only
those that “could affect the outcome of the suit under
governing law.” Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d
833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).
reiterate, TI Automotive argues that Brooks states no claim
against the Company and that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law because it was neither Brooks'
employer nor his joint employer. TI Automotive presents
evidence to support its position. Rather than present
contrary evidence that raises a material fact issue, Brooks
attempts to survive TI Automotive's motion merely by
muddying the waters. Rather than present evidence that TI
Automotive was his employer and therefore a proper defendant,
Brooks offers only conclusory statements “that TI
Automotive . . . was the place where Plaintiff worked, was
the entity for whom Plaintiff engaged in work, and at a
minimum, was a ‘joint employer' of the
Plaintiff[.]” Plaintiff's Response (ECF 26), p. 2.
Brooks also argues that “[t]he final DNR [do not
rehire] communication regarding Plaintiff's placement
with Surge Staffing was made by TI Automotive [personnel] . .
. not [personnel] from any other employer as indicated by the
Defendant[.]” Id., pp. 2-3. But TI Automotive
presents conclusive evidence that this assertion is not
correct and that the decision to terminate Brooks'
employment and to not rehire him came from Surge Staffing
and/or ThyssenKrupp, not from anyone at TI
Automotive. The Company elaborates on its position as
follows: “Neither Plaintiff's Complaint nor any of
its exhibits includes any additional information regarding
which staffing agency employed him, the relationship between
the staffing agency and TI Automotive, whether TI Automotive
had any control over his employment, or any other facts
supporting an employment relationship.” Brief in
Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF 8), p. 8.
support of its argument, TI Automotive presents affidavits
from Norma Sanchez, the Human Resources Manager of the
Company's Ligonier ...