United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Defendant Honda
Manufacturing of Alabama LLC's (“Honda” or
“HMA”) motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 27).
case, Plaintiff Tangi Stanford asserts that her employer,
Honda, violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”); the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), as amended by the
ADA Amendments Act of 2008; and the Family and Medical Leave
Act (“FMLA”). The court WILL
GRANT Honda's motion for summary judgment and
WILL ENTER SUMMARY JUDGMENT in favor of
Honda and against Ms. Stanford. The court concludes that Ms.
Stanford failed to administratively exhaust her hostile work
environment claim and parts of her sex and disability
discrimination claims because she did not file a timely
charge of discrimination raising those claims with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. As to the claims that she
did administratively exhaust, Honda proffered evidence that
it terminated her because of her poor evaluations two years
in a row and failure to improve her performance, and Ms.
Stanford failed to create a genuine issue of material fact
about whether those reasons for her termination were
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court
“draw[s] all inferences and review[s] all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party.”
Hamilton v. Southland Christian Sch., Inc., 680 F.3d
1316, 1318 (11th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks omitted).
Stanford worked for Honda from 2005 until her employment was
terminated on April 13, 2016. (Doc. 29-1 at 33, 109; Doc.
29-5 at 35). When she began working for Honda, she received
Honda's Associate Handbook, which includes a
“Mutual Respect Policy.” (Doc. 29-1 at 33, Doc.
29-2 at 2, 13). The Mutual Respect Policy explains that Honda
prohibits harassment relating to, among other things, a
person's sex or disability and provides a process for
reporting any harassment. (Doc. 29-2 at 13).
2012, Ms. Stanford became a Business Specialist in
Honda's Staffing and Development Department, a position
she remained in until her termination on April 13, 2016.
(Doc. 28 at 7; Doc. 29-5 at 35; Doc. 29-15 at 2; Doc. 33 at
4). As a Business Specialist, her responsibilities included
“evaluating training needs at HMA, creating third-party
vendor training budgets, serving as a liaison between
training vendors and HMA, and scheduling and conducting
training classes for HMA associates.” (Doc. 28 at 7;
Doc. 33 at 4). When Ms. Stanford began working as a Business
Specialist, her Team Manager was Dave Howell, but Warren
Burbank became her Team Manager in October 2015. (Doc. 28 at
7; Doc. 29-8 at 5; Doc. 29-13 at 5; Doc. 33 at 4).
Stanford alleges that Honda “maintained a ‘good
old boys club' atmosphere.” (Doc. 33 at 9; Doc. 37
at 1). She testified that the male employees would go on
breaks together, take weekend trips, “do things after
work, ” banter and use nicknames like Buddy and Champ
for each other, and conduct “training-related
activities” and “community relations
activities” that the women were not invited to attend.
(Doc. 29-1 at 67-69, 91). When asked how any of these actions
affected her work, she responded that “a lot of times,
they would make decisions at break or lunch of things that
were going to happen. They would come back from break and
lunch and a meeting had been set up, or something had
changed, and so then I had to rearrange my schedule so that I
could go to that or do that.” (Id. at 91).
Stanford testified that her male co-workers, including her
then-Team Manager Mr. Howell, would joke about women being on
their periods, making comments like, “Are you girls
ragging?” or “Is it your time of the
month?” (Id. at 92). On one occasion, during a
meeting with Mr. Howell and a male coworker, the male
coworker refused to speak to Ms. Stanford directly and, when
she spoke to him, said, “What do you know? You're a
girl.” (Id. at 70). After the meeting, when
Ms. Stanford asked Mr. Howell why he did not defend her
during the meeting, he told her: “That's just the
way it is down here, ” and “That's the way
people think.” (Id. at 70-71). On another
occasion, Ms. Stanford was counseled based on a complaint
made by an unidentified coworker against her, and her
then-manager said “it was like two dogs, sometimes they
just don't get along.” (Id. at 36).
Stanford also alleged that she had repeated problems with
another Honda associate, Doug East, with whom she worked in
2013. (See Doc. 29-1 at 57). On one occasion as she
and Mr. East were waiting for another employee to join them,
he got between her and the door and asked her out for a
drink. (Id. at 55-56). She never reported this
incident to anyone at Honda because she did not want to
“ruffle any feathers” and she did not believe
anyone would take it seriously. (Id. at 56). On
another occasion, Mr. East was driving her to a training
center when he “brought up something about liking to
fuck or him fucking” and asked her “So you
don't like to fuck?” (Id. at 59). As with
the first incident, Ms. Stanford did not report this
conversation to anyone at Honda. (Id.).
addition to their in-person conversations, Ms. Stanford and
Mr. East also texted extensively throughout 2013.
(See Docs. 29-3, 29-4). For example, in May 2013,
they exchanged the following texts:
May 24, 2013, 1:56 PM
Mr. East: So where did you eat lunch?
May 24, 2013, 2:34 PM
Mr. East: I ate in cafe. Didnt get invite to dine with you.
Mr. East: I think I would like having a drink with you even
May 24, 2013, 2:53 PM
Ms. Stanford: Lol.. I was waiting on an invite from u.. I
haven't even been to lunch yet..
Ms. Stanford: too bad we can't do drinks for lunch;)
Mr. East: We can if we take lunch at 4:00!:)
Mr. East: At your computer?
Ms. Stanford: Lol no but I will be in a bit if I need to..
Mr. East: IM ME May 24, 2013, 3:19 PM
Ms. Stanford: I'm not at my desk
Ms. Stanford: Or in front of my pc lol
Mr. East: Somewhere around here has a bottle of capt morgan I
Mr. East: so what are you doing? Not working obviously! Lol
May 24, 2013, 5:15 PM
Ms. Stanford: Lol.. I was working.. working very hard at not
being found to have to ...