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Andriano v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

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

June 28, 2017




         Tracy Andriano brought this action against her former employers, Tyson Foods, Inc., and Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. (collectively “Tyson”), alleging that Tyson violated federal law during her employment. (Doc. No. 1.) Before the Court is Tyson's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 27.) For the following reasons, Tyson's motion is DENIED.


         On October 15, 2013, Andriano began working at Tyson's plant located in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, as an Occupational Health Nurse. (Doc. No. 38 at 1.) She directly reported to Simona Thomas, and overall they had a good relationship. (Id. at 2.) Andriano also worked closely with Audrey Cooper, an employee in Tyson's Human Resources Department. (Id. at 1.)

         A. Tyson's Harassment Policy

         Tyson has a Harassment and Discrimination Policy (the “Harassment Policy”), which Andriano received on October 18, 2013. (Id. at 2; Doc. No. 30-2 at 68.) The policy requires that “[a]ll harassment/discrimination must be reported immediately.” (Doc. No. 30-2 at 64.) It allows a complainant to report harassment or discrimination by contacting her supervisor and/or her local Human Resources Manager, a Senior Location Management Official, the Director of Human Resources Operations, the Employment Compliance Department, or the “Tell Tyson First” telephone line. (Id. at 66.) The person reporting the harassment will be asked to complete a Complaint Form, but the Complaint Form is not required to initiate an investigation. (Id.) A certified “harassment investigator” will investigate the harassment or discrimination complaint. (Id.) Any retaliation against an employee who reports harassment or discrimination is forbidden, and a supervisor who is found to have retaliated against a complainant will be disciplined. (Id. at 65.)

         B. The First Incident

         In November 2013, shortly after beginning work at Tyson, Andriano participated in a meeting with plant personnel to investigate an employee injury. (Doc. No. 37-2 at 12.) During this meeting, James Ewing, a general supervisor (id.), told Andriano that he wanted to “see how far [he] could get with [her].” (Doc. No. 38 at 3.) Steve Ligon, the safety manager (Doc. No. 37-2 at 11), instructed Ewing to stop. (Doc. No. 38 at 3.) Andriano reported the incident to Thomas, who reported it to Cooper. (Id.; Doc. No. 42 at 3.) Andriano was not aware of any subsequent investigation into Ewing's behavior. (Doc. No. 38 at 3.) Cooper does not remember whether there was an investigation, but believes there may have been. (Doc. No. 37-2 at 33.) Ewing apologized to Andriano, and Cooper believes Tyson retrained Ewing on the Harassment Policy, but she cannot remember for certain. (Doc. No. 37-2 at 33; Doc. No. 38 at 3-4.) Ewing did not make any further inappropriate comments. (Doc. No. 38 at 3.)

         C. The Gashi Incident

         Since the start of Andriano's employment, Driton Gashi, a coworker, brought her candy at least twice per week. (Id. at 5.) Gashi would often visit the Health Services office to talk with her. (Id. at 6.) Gashi also frequently stared at Andriano in the hallway. (Id.) Initially, Gashi's behavior did not bother Andriano. (Id. at 5-6.)

         In February 2014, Andriano's perception of Gashi's behavior began to change. Gashi began asking Andriano to dinner whenever he visited Health Services. (Id. at 5.) He also started making “kissy noises” when he entered Health Services. (Id. at 6.) When Gashi shook Andriano's hand, he would hold it for longer than the normal length of a handshake, “maybe a couple of seconds.” (Id.) At this point, Gashi's previous and ongoing behavior of bringing Andriano candy, visiting her frequently, and staring at her in the hallway began to make Andriano uncomfortable. (Id. at 5-6.) Andriano asked Gashi to stop every time he made her uncomfortable, but he did not stop. (Doc. No. 42 at 6.)

         Andriano reported Gashi's behavior to Jetton Gashi, a supervisor and Gashi's brother, at least twice. (Id.) She also reported Gashi's conduct to Thomas at least once per week beginning in February 2014 until Thomas took a leave of absence.[1] (Id. at 7.) Thomas told Andriano that Gashi is “harmless, ” and the office is a “safe space.” (Id.) Thomas advised Andriano not to report her complaints to Human Resources. (Id. at 8.)

         On April 10, 2014, Gashi entered the Health Services office and asked Andriano if she was alone. (Id.) Gashi asked Andriano to go to dinner with him and grabbed her hand. (Id.; Doc. No. 38 at 7.) Andriano protested, but Gashi would not let go of her hand. (Doc. No. 38 at 7.) Andriano ran, and Gashi chased her through the nurses' office. (Doc. No. 42 at 8.) Andriano locked herself in her office and Gashi continually tried to open her door. (Id.) Andriano used her radio to announce to her supervisors that she locked herself in her office “for security reasons.” (Id.) Ewing came to Andriano's office to investigate. (Id.)

         That night, Andriano left a message for Thomas regarding Gashi's conduct, and then reported Gashi's conduct to Thomas in person the next day. (Id. at 10.) Thomas told Andriano that they could not report the incident to Human Resources because Andriano previously had reported Ewing's harassment, and Human Resources would not like a second complaint. (Id.) Rather, Thomas said she would speak to Gashi's supervisor to ensure that Gashi did not return to harass Andriano. (Id. at 11.) Thomas sent Steve Voller, Gashi's supervisor, an email requesting that Gashi avoid socializing with Health Services employees during work ...

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