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Phillips v. Tekpak

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division

July 11, 2017

NAVOLIN PHILLIPS Plaintiff,
v.
TEKPAK Defendant.

          ORDER

          KRISTI K. DuBOSE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Tekpak's (“Tekpak”) Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff Navolin Phillips' (“Phillips”) response, and Tekpak's reply. (Docs. 29, 31, and 32). Upon consideration, Tekpak's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Findings of Fact[1]

         On March 2, 2015, Phillips began working at Tekpak's location in Marion, Alabama. Tekpak is a “manufacturing company which, as part of its services packs various food items for its customers.” (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶5). Phillips was contracted through a temp agency. (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 7).

         On Friday, April 3, 2015, Phillips was working a night shift on the seasoned salt packing line. Her immediate supervisor was Robert Boykin (“Boykin”). During the shift, Phillips and a co-worker had an argument. (Doc. 29-13 at 35; Dep. Phillips at 112). Following the dispute, Boykin moved Phillips to a different section of the workplace, away from the co-worker. (Doc. 29-13 at 33; Dep. Phillips at 131). Phillips was displeased with the co-worker's treatment of her and with Boykin's reaction to the dispute. (Doc. 29-13 at 33-34; Dep. Phillips at 132-133). As a result, Phillips expressed her complaints to Boykin. (Id.)

         During the same shift, just after Phillips complained to Boykin, he “inappropriately touch[ed] her on her rear-end and arm….” (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶10). Specifically, Boykin grabbed Phillips by the rear end, shook her rear end, made a grunting noise, and pushed her into a pallet. (Doc. 29-13 at 38, 39; Dep. Phillips at 149-156). After this incident, Phillips told Boykin she was going to report him to the human resources department. (Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 11; Doc. 29-13 at 34, 39; Dep. Phillips at 135, 149). Phillips remained at work until her shift concluded.

         After this shift, Boykin wrote a note to his supervisor, Robert Askew (“Askew”). The note [2] stated:

I Robert Boykin, 2nd/shift Production Supervisor, would like immediately termination. For employee, Navolin Phillips. She is a Temp, employee will not listen or follow work Procedures. Navolin always got something smart to say, when [quality control] or Supervisor tell her how to do her job properly. Navolin Phillips, work are unsatisfactory work. If I Let Navolin stay I would be gambling with the Quality of my work. Robert Boykin 4/3/15

(Doc. 31-1). Based on Boykin's recommendation, the morning of Monday, April 6, 2015, Askew instructed Tekpak's Assistant Human Resources Coordinator Elsie Essex (“Essex”) to terminate Phillips. That day, Essex called Phillips to tell her not to report back to Tekpak until further notice.

         On April 15, 2015, Phillips filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Doc. 29-4). On April 12, 2016, after she had received a Notice of Right to Sue letter, Phillips filed the instant complaint against Tekpak, alleging a claim of sexual harassment and a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”). (Doc. 1; Doc. 1 at ¶2). Tekpak has moved for summary judgment on both claims.

         II. Standard of Review

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56(c) provides as follows:

(1) Supporting Factual Positions.
A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence.
A party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be ...

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