United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action that was removed from the Circuit Court for Sumner
County, Tennessee, Melissa Gregory (“Gregory”)
brings claims against her employer Lowe's Home Centers,
LLC (Lowe's), for gender discrimination, retaliation, and
harassment in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act
(“THRA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-101.
Lowe's has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No.
35), to which Gregory has filed a response in opposition
(Doc. No. 54), and Lowe's has replied (Doc. No. 56). For
the reasons that follow, summary judgment will be granted.
to reaching the facts surrounding Lowe's Motion for
Summary Judgment, a preliminary observation is necessary. As
required by this Court's Local Rule 56.01(b), Lowe's
submitted a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in support
of its Motion, and, in accordance with Local Rule 56.01(c),
Gregory submitted a response to that statement. However, in
her Reply Memorandum, Gregory sets forth additional facts
that do not appear in either Lowe's statement or her
response. Those facts should have been presented as
“additional facts that the non-movant contends are
material and as to which the non-movant contends there exists
a genuine issue to be tried, ” L.R. 56.01(c), so that
Lowe's could have directly responded to them. Despite
Gregory's failure to comply with the requirements of the
Local Rules, the Court will consider her additional
“facts” where relevant to the legal discussion.
For purposes of setting forth the following factual
background, however, the Court will confine itself to
Lowe's statement and Gregory's response thereto (Doc.
No. 55) (collectively cited as “SOF”), together
with the deposition testimony, affidavits, and exhibits on
which the statement and response rely.
2014, Gregory worked in an hourly position as a Return to
Manufacturer (“RTM”) Clerk at Lowe's
Gallatin, Tennessee store. (SOF ¶ 17). An RTM clerk
handles returned merchandise from customers and deals with
vendors in order to secure credit for, or replacement of,
damaged or defective goods. (Doc. No. 54-1, Gregory Dep. at
all of its locations, Lowe's has several managers at the
Gallatin store. At the top is the Store Manager who is in
charge of overall operations. (SOF ¶ 2). Underneath the
Store Manager are Assistant Store Managers
(“ASMs”). Each ASM reports to the Store Manager
and is assigned responsibility over certain areas of the
store, such as electrical, plumbing, or paint. (Id.
¶ 3). Next in the descending hierarchy are the
Department Managers, who report to the ASMs, but who are
hourly employees that do not have the authority to discipline
or terminate employees, even in their own departments.
(Id. ¶¶ 4, 5).
has a “No Harassment Policy, ” the terms of which
require store employees to report any harassment concerns to
the Store Manager, Store Human Resources Manager, Area Human
Resources Manager, Human Resources Director, or Employee
Relations, but not to Department Managers. (Id.
¶ 6). Even so, that policy does not appear to prohibit
complaints directly to Department Managers and, in fact,
“Lowe's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy”
requires managers to report discrimination and harassment
claims up the chain-of-command, by providing that a
“member of management, who has been informed of a
complaint of discrimination, must immediately report it to
Employee Relations, who is responsible for conducting an
investigation.” (Doc. No. 38-1 at 37). Further,
Lowe's “Open Door Program Policy” provides
that “[e]mployees should contact Store management . . .
to resolve work-related questions or concerns, ”
(id. at 28), without distinguishing between the
levels of management.
2, 2014, Gregory complained to Lisa Roberts, the Gallatin
store Human Resources Manager, about Bobby Beasley, an hourly
Product Service Associate. (SOF ¶¶ 7, 8). According
to Gregory, Beasley entered her office earlier that morning
and, while she was sitting on the edge of her chair, slapped
her on the buttocks with a handful of zip ties and said
something to the effect of, “bend over and take
it.” Gregory told Beasley not to touch her like that
and to leave her office, which he did. (Id.
¶¶ 9, 10).
thereafter, Steve Gasaway, a Department Manager and
Beasley's supervisor, entered Gregory's office and
asked her to page Beasley. Gregory refused, and told Gasaway
what had just transpired between her and Beasley. Gasaway
told Gregory that she should report the incident to Roberts.
(Id. ¶¶ 11, 13).
Gregory was upset, she worked for a period longer and then
took her lunch break when she told her husband about the
incident. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14). Upon returning
from lunch, Gregory reported the incident to her supervisor,
Darryl Hartley, who was an ASM, and to her Department
Manager, Amanda Hladd. (Id. ¶ 13).
point that same afternoon, Roberts asked Gregory to come to
the Human Resources office to discuss the Beasley incident.
(Id. ¶ 15). Gregory complied with that request
and also provided a written statement that Roberts asked for.
Roberts then told Gregory that she would investigate the
matter. (Id. ¶ 17). Because Gregory
voiced concerns about being around Beasley, Roberts told her
that she would instruct Beasley not to have any direct
contact with Gregory until the investigation was
complete. (Id. ¶ 19).
Beasley incident occurred on a Friday. By the time Gregory
reported the incident to Roberts, Beasley had already left
for the day, and neither he, Gregory, or Roberts was