United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(ECF NO. 44)
R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE.
Latia Tunstall (“Tunstall”) alleges claims
against Defendant DSG Missouri, LLC (“DSG”), for
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Compl.
¶ 17, ECF No. 1.) Specifically, Tunstall alleges that
DSG, by terminating and failing to hire her at its furniture
distribution warehouse, discriminated against her based on
her gender. (Id. ¶¶ 5-15.) Defendant now
moves for summary judgment. (ECF No. 44.) For the following
reasons, Defendant DSG's Motion for Summary Judgment is
denied in part and granted in
all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to Tun-stall, the pertinent, uncontroverted summary
judgment evidence is as follows.
owns and operates an Ashley Furniture Warehouse (the
“warehouse”) in Plainfield, Indiana. (Williams
Dep. Tr. 55:1-7, ECF No. 51-3.) Kelly Services is a temporary
staffing company that hires temporary employees to work at
DSG's warehouse. (Def.'s Resp. to ICRC Compl. at 1,
ECF No. 51-5.) On June 17, 2015, DSG employee Yael Canela
emailed Amy Rector, DSG's contact at Kelly Services, and
requested temporary employees to prepare for their inventory.
(Canela E-mail, ECF No. 46-9.) Rector contacted Tunstall and
her cousin, Kyrin Hill, and assigned them the roles at DSG.
(Tunstall Dep. Tr. 28:1-14, ECF No. 46-6.)
and Hill accepted the offer and reported to the warehouse on
June 23, 2015. (Id. at 30:23; 31:1-7.) They first
met with Canela, who asked them if they had any experience
lifting and moving furniture. (Id. at 31:12-17.)
They replied that they did, and Canela left to obtain
materials for Tunstall and Hill to begin working with.
(Canela Dep. Tr. 31:17-25, ECF No. 51-2.) When Canela
returned, she told Tunstall and Hill that her supervisor,
Jerry Williams, instructed her to send them back to the temp
agency. (Id. at 33:5.) Canela told the women that
Williams stated “it might be too much heavy lifting. If
you look, there's a lot of furniture, and it's a lot
of heavy lifting, so he doesn't feel that it's going
to work out.” (Id. at 34:16-22.)
and Williams have different recollections of what transpired
between them when the decision was made to send Tunstall and
Hill home. Canela testified that Williams approached her as
she was retrieving materials and asked, “are those the
two temps that we requested?” (Id. at
32:24-45.) Canela told him that yes, they were, and Williams
said: “Tell them it's too much heavy lifting.
It's not going to work out for them.” (Id.
at 34:2-4.) Williams, on the other hand, remembers Canela as
the one approaching him regarding Tunstall and Hill's
ability to perform the job. (Williams Dep. Tr. 38:1-4, ECF
No. 51-3) (“I believe when she approached me out on the
floor with this situation, she expressed concerns about them
being able to do the job.”) Williams then “turned
and looked” at the women, (Id. at 39:9-13),
and concluded that they “just didn't look like they
could physically handle the heavy lifting.”
(Id. at 33:6-8.) Williams also noted that
“they seemed to be fairly petite ladies.”
(Id. at 27:22.) Lastly, Williams testified:
“It didn't appear that they were dressed
appropriate to be in a warehouse lifting and wrapping
furniture.” (Id. at 40:14-16.) But when asked
what Tunstall and Hill were wearing, Williams stated that he
did not remember (Id. at 41:10-11.)
testified that Canela also told her and Hill, “This is
men's work. This is a man's job . . . [t]here's
only men working out here. I'm the only supervisor, and
this is men's work.” (Tunstall Dep. Tr. 36:13-17,
ECF No. 46-6.) She further speculated that Williams
“probably said [it's men's work] to [Canela].
That's why he sent her to dismiss the position.”
(Id. at 43:19-20.) Canela was asked in her
deposition if Williams stated that the “two ladies
wouldn't work out because it was man's work.”
(Canela Dep. Tr. 88:21-23, ECF No. 51-2.) Canela replied:
“I don't recall him saying man's work.”
(Id. at 88:24.) Canela did not testify that she told
Tunstall or Hill that the work was for men. Williams was not
asked, nor did he testify that he or Canela referred to the
job as “man's work.”
Tunstall and Hill were dismissed, Tunstall asked Canela if
there was any other work they could do. (Tunstall Dep. Tr.
36:14-15, ECF No. 46-6; Canela Dep. Tr. 34:24-25, ECF No.
51-2.) Canela asked Williams, who stated “No . . .
[j]ust send them back, and we'll let the agency know to
send somebody different.” (Canela Dep. Tr. 35:1-4, ECF
and Hill contacted Kelly Services, who informed them that
they had two other complaints “about that
situation” and would look into it. (Tunstall Dep. Tr.
38:3-6, ECF No. 46-6.) Tunstall also contacted the Human
Resources Department at DSG. (Id. at 45:1-2.) The
first time she contacted HR, the representative told her they
would file a complaint. (Id. at 46:11-12.) However,
Tunstall called back the next day and was told
“don't call back.” (Id. at 46:13.)
being sent home from her assignment at DSG, Tunstall has
received other positions through Kelly Services.
(Id. at 15:12-17.) Tunstall worked at a Stericycle
warehouse and Heartland Suites. (Id. 15:12-13.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that “[t]he
court shall grant summary judgment 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
considering a motion for summary judgment, the district court
“must construe all the facts and reasonable inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, ”
Monroe v. Ind. Dep't of Transp., 871 F.3d 495,
503 (7th Cir. 2017), but the district court must also view
the evidence “through the prism of the substantive
evidentiary burden, ” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). “Where the record
taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the non-moving party, ” summary judgment
should be granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
employment discrimination case, Tunstall bears the
“substantive evidentiary burden, ”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254, of proving by
preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of
discrimination, Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v.
Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53 (1981). Thus, summary
judgment for DSG is warranted if, viewed in the light most
favorable to Tunstall, “the record as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact” to find that
Tunstall's gender caused Defendant to terminate or ...