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Davis v. Cumberland Container Corp.

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

September 24, 2017

PATTI DAVIS, Plaintiff,



         Patti Davis filed this action against her current employer, Cumberland Container Corporation (“Cumberland Container”), alleging violations of federal and state law arising during the course of her employment. (Doc. No. 26-2.)[1] Before the Court is Cumberland Container's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 19.) For the following reasons, Cumberland Container's Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. FACTS

         In August 1993, Cumberland Container hired Davis to work in the assembly department. (Doc. No. 25 at 1.) It later transferred her to the print room, where Davis prepared documents for operators to use and printed load tags for shipping. (Id.) It is undisputed that Davis has worked forty hours per week since 1993, although it is disputed whether Davis' workload decreased to the point where she could perform her work in twenty-five hours per week by 2013. (Doc. No. 25-1 at 2; Doc. No. 19-1 at 3.)

         In 2013 and 2014, Cumberland Container had layoffs in all areas of its facility. (Doc. No. 25 at 2.) In 2013, Chris Landers, Davis' General Manager, discussed with Davis the possibility of adding the duty of ordering stock sheets to her existing duties. (Doc. No. 26-3 at 3.) Davis asked if the additional duties would come with a pay raise, to which Landers did not respond. (Id.) Nobody at Cumberland Container discussed adding the ordering of stock sheets to her job responsibilities with Davis again. (Id.)

         In 2014, Cumberland Container decided to consolidate the print room job, material ordering responsibilities, and the “rotary dies.” (Doc. No. 25 at 4.) On November 12, 2014, Landers informed Davis that he was transferring her to a different position. (Doc. No. 26-3 at 3-4.) Landers stated that he wanted “a man to do the job” because the rotary dies were heavy. (Id.) Davis told Landers that she was capable of “helping lift the dies.” (Id. at 4.) Cumberland Container ultimately selected Andrew Miller, a male approximately twenty years younger than Davis, to do the consolidated job. (Doc. No. 25 at 5; Doc. No. 26-3 at 3.)

         Cumberland Container transferred Davis to the assembly and labeling department. (Doc. No. 25 at 4.) Davis' pay, benefits, and hours did not change due to her reassignment. (Doc. No. 25 at 5.) It is disputed whether Davis lost overtime pay, as she has produced some evidence to suggest that she lost approximately $4, 000 per year in overtime pay. (Doc. No. 25 at 5; Doc. No. 26-3 at 4.) Cumberland Container contends that it transferred Davis to the assembly and labeling department because it was the department that was least likely to send Davis home for lack of work. (Doc. No. 25 at 6.) Davis states that Cumberland Container sent her home during approximately nine days in 2015. (Doc. No. 26-3 at 4.) Davis also contends that her new position is more strenuous than her previous position because it requires her to lift heavy boxes. (Doc. No. 26-3 at 5.)


         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(a); Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 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). 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 W. R.R., Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not 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 material 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.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Davis brings three claims against Cumberland Container: (1) gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; (2) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 42 U.S.C. § 6101 et seq.; and (3) gender discrimination in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”), Tennessee Code Annotated § 4-21-101 et seq. (Doc. No. 26-2.) Cumberland Container moves for summary judgment on all counts, dismissing the Complaint. (Doc. No. 19.)

         A. Federal Claims

         Cumberland Container moves for summary judgment on Davis' gender and age discrimination claims because it claims Davis has not provided any facts that she suffered an adverse employment action. (Doc. No. 20 at 10.) If Davis did suffer an adverse employment action, Cumberland Container argues that its legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for transferring her was not pretext for gender or age discrimination. (Doc. No. 20 at 13.) Davis argues that she lost overtime pay in her new position, and there is evidence that Cumberland Container's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason is pretextual. (Doc. No. 26 at 7-11.)

         As Davis does not contend that there is direct evidence to support her gender and age discrimination claims, the Court analyzes both claims under the familiar burden-shifting test, first recognized in McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). Grosjean v. First Energy Corp., 349 F.3d 332, 335 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Policastro v. Nw. Airlines, Inc., 297 F.3d 535, 538 (6th Cir. 2002)). Under this test, the plaintiff has the burden ...

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