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Wolf v. Linatex Corp. of America

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 29, 2014



TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 14). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED, and this action is DISMISSED.


Plaintiff Angela Wolf has sued her former employer, Defendant Linatex Corporation of America, for employment discrimination in violation of Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5), based upon alleged gender discrimination and retaliation.

In her Complaint (Docket No. 1), Plaintiff claims that she had never been the subject of any disciplinary actions at work until after she brought her female partner to the company picnic. Plaintiff also alleges that her supervisor treated her differently from male employees, made demeaning comments about her, talked to co-workers about her, and gave her written warnings about alleged misconduct when he did not give such warnings to her male and female co-workers. Plaintiff avers that she complained to Defendant's human resources department about how she was treated by her supervisor and that Defendant fired her in retaliation for her complaints. She contends she was targeted for termination because of her gender, gender stereotyping and retaliation.

Defendant argues in its Motion for Summary Judgment that Plaintiff's claim is for discrimination based upon sexual orientation, not based upon gender, an allegation which Plaintiff denies. Defendant also maintains that Plaintiff cannot show she was treated differently from similarly-situated male employees and she cannot show that she engaged in protected activity, because she did not complain about gender discrimination or discrimination based upon sexual orientation.


Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the non-moving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id.

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not, however, weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.


To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination, Plaintiff must show that (1) she is a member of a protected group; (2) she was subjected to an adverse employment action; (3) she was qualified for the position; and (4) she was replaced by a person outside the protected class or similarly situated non-protected employees were treated more favorably. Vincent v. Brewer Co., 514 F.3d 489, 494 (6th Cir. 2007).

If Plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Defendant to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. If it does so, the burden returns to Plaintiff to show that Defendant's reason was a pretext for discrimination. Sybrandt v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 560 F.3d 553, 557-58 (6th Cir. 2009). Throughout this burden-shifting approach, Plaintiff bears the ultimate burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the intent to discriminate. Id.

Here, there is no dispute that Plaintiff is a member of a protected class and was subjected to an adverse employment action by Defendant. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that she was treated differently from similarly-situated male employees.

Plaintiff's Complaint makes the following allegations specifically related to gender: (1) After the company picnic where she brought her female partner, Plaintiff became the subject of disciplinary actions for the first time and was treated differently from male employees by her supervisor, Jerry Holmes. Docket No. 1, ¶¶ 1-3; and (2) Holmes gave Plaintiff a written warning for taking too long on jobs when he did not give ...

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