United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. TRAUGER, United States District Judge
defendant, Publix Super Markets, Inc. (“Publix”),
has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 25), to
which the plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition
(Docket No. 41), and Publix has filed a Reply (Docket No.
48). For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.
plaintiff, Myra Myrick, was employed by the defendant,
Publix, in various capacities for eight years. By all
accounts, Ms. Myrick's work at Publix exceeded
expectations and garnered her good performance reviews.
Moreover, according to Ms. Myrick, she was happy at Publix
and “truly enjoyed [her] job . . . [r]ight up until the
last day [she] worked.” (Docket No. 46-1 (Depo. M.
Myrick), 26:14-21, 46:17-18.) Nevertheless, Ms. Myrick
tendered her resignation to Publix on August 11, 2015,
allegedly because she had been subjected by her manager to
harassment on the basis of her religion and “forced . .
. to work in a hostile environment that no reasonable person
would tolerate.” (Docket No. 1 ¶¶ 16-18.) In
the pending action, Ms. Myrick alleges that Publix created
and permitted the existence of a hostile work environment,
which resulted in her constructive discharge, in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”),
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 et seq. (Id.
¶ 3, p. 5.)
Myrick was initially hired by Publix in March of 2007 and, in
her first four years of employment with the company, held a
variety of positions, including cashier, price scan clerk,
and customer service staff. In 2011, Ms. Myrick was
transferred to a Publix store in Gallatin, Tennessee to work
as a direct store delivery (“DSD”) Inventory
Clerk. As a DSD Inventory Clerk, Ms. Myrick was primarily
responsible for receiving and verifying the quantity of
product delivered by suppliers to, or credited out from, the
store. Her typical duties included tasks such as scanning
product when it arrived at the store, ensuring that counts of
incoming and outgoing product were accurate, and ensuring
that the area where deliveries were made remained clean and
organized. The job description for DSD Inventory Clerk does
not list any minimum physical requirements for the position,
but its day-to-day duties do appear to require some light
Ms. Myrick Is Allegedly Subjected to Harassment on the
Basis of Her Religion.
Myrick alleges that she was subjected to harassment on the
basis of her religion by her manager, Robb Steiner, who
became Grocery Manager at the Publix store in Gallatin,
Tennessee in April of 2013. It appears that Ms. Myrick had no
issues with Mr. Steiner until after November of 2014, when
Mr. Steiner attended a faith-based retreat - called an
“Encounter Training” - in Brentwood, Tennessee.
After Mr. Steiner attended this retreat, Ms. Myrick alleges
that he began to talk about the Encounter Training and
religion “constantly while he was at work.”
(Docket No. 41, pp. 8-9 (citing Docket No. 41-2 (Decl. M.
Myrick) ¶ 3).)Ms. Myrick acknowledges that Mr. Steiner
never said anything to her that was “threatening”
(Docket No. 46-1, 177:22-178:4), but she claims to have been
intimidated by Mr. Steiner's conduct to the point that
she felt that she “could not refuse to attend his
religious seminar, ” (Docket No. 41, pp. 8-9 (citing
Docket No. 46-1, 163:2-17)). Additionally, Ms. Myrick alleges
that she felt that Mr. Steiner “belittled” her
religion because he asked her, “Why do you drive all
the way to Murfreesboro to go to church?” (Docket No.
Myrick herself admits, however, she typically had “very
little interaction” with Mr. Steiner in 2015.
(Id. at 83:5-24 (“Q: In the 2015 time frame,
in a given week of your workweek, . . . how many hours or
minutes a week would you spend actually interacting with your
direct supervisor? . . . A: Very little.”).) Moreover,
Ms. Myrick was asked to identify “everything that Robb
Steiner did or said that [she] fe[lt] created a hostile work
environment based on religion” in her deposition
(id. at 153:23-25), and she identified the following
1. In January or February of 2015, Mr. Steiner shared with
Ms. Myrick how he felt his life had changed after attending
the Encounter Training. (Id. at 153:12-22.)
2. In mid-January of 2015, Mr. Steiner “strongly
encourage[d]” Ms. Myrick to attend the Encounter
Training and told her that he could have the enrollment fee
waived for her. (Id. at 154:1-11, 158:4-14.)
3. In January or February of 2015, Mr. Steiner informed Ms.
Myrick that one of their co-workers would be attending the
Encounter Training and suggested that Ms. Myrick also attend.
He also talked about the training “like it was just the
end all and be all.” Ms. Myrick declined the
invitation. (Id. at 154:12-21, 159:2-20.)
4. In July of 2015, Mr. Steiner strongly encouraged Ms.
Myrick to attend the Encounter Training, because “it
would help [her] better deal with people in [her] everyday
life and at work.” He then encouraged Ms. Myrick to
speak to a co-worker who had attended the training about
“how much it's . . . enlightened her.”
(Id. at 155:3-11; 156:7-11, 159:21-160:7.)
5. In late July of 2015, Mr. Steiner gave Ms. Myrick a
business card for the Encounter Training, once in person and
once by leaving the card on her desk. The business cards
contained the date of the next training and a website
address. At a gathering of Publix employees on July 24, 2015,
Mr. Steiner told Ms. Myrick and others that the Encounter
Training “was a real eye-opener on how to deal with
people in his everyday life.” (Id. at
155:20-25, 156:23-157:7, 161:13-162:2.)
6. On August 8, 2015, Mr. Steiner walked the length of
several aisles of the store with Ms. Myrick while she worked,
asking her whether she attended a church and encouraging her
to attend his church. According to Ms. Myrick, Mr. Steiner
told her that she “needed to get [her] heart right with
God” and asked if she knew “where [she's]
going to go when [she] die[s].” After two or three
minutes of this “religious lecture, ” Ms. Myrick
told Mr. Steiner to “get the hell away” from her.
Mr. Steiner laughed in response and then “left [her]
alone.” (Id. at 160:8-161:12; Docket No. 47
Ms. Myrick described these six incidents in her deposition,
she confirmed that she had recounted “each and every
instance of anyone at Publix creating a hostile work
environment.” (Docket No. 46-1, 162:3-7.)
Mr. Steiner's Conduct Allegedly Interferes with Ms.