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Paden v. O'Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

February 19, 2019

CHUMEICA PADEN, Plaintiff,
v.
O'REILLY AUTOMOTIVE STORES, INC. Defendant..

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TERENCE C. KERN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 24) filed by Defendant O'Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc. (“O'Reilly”). O'Reilly seeks summary judgment against Plaintiff Chumeica Paden on Ms. Paden's claims against it for sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.

         I. Material Facts

         On March 6, 2015, Plaintiff was hired by O'Reilly as a parts delivery driver for Store 169 located at 309 E. Main Street, Henryetta, Oklahoma. (Doc. 24, Ex. 1, Pl. Employment Summary). At the time of her hire, Plaintiff lived at 301 W. 6th Street in Dewar, Oklahoma. Id. O'Reilly operates another Store (Store No. 189) in Okmulgee County, located at 220 S. Wood Dr., Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Id. The distance between Plaintiff's residence and Store 189 in Okmulgee is 12.7 miles, resulting in a 16-minute commute. (Def. Ex. 2, Map).[1] The distance between Plaintiff's residence and Store 169 in Henryetta is 3.4 miles and a six-minute commute. Id.

         Plaintiff testified that while employed by O'Reilly, she was scheduled to work three days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for a total of 18 hours, and that she took any other hours O'Reilly would provide. Id., Ex. 4, Pl.'s Dep., 29:38; 30:22-24. She stated that on average, she worked an additional two hours a day, twice a week, when asked. Id., at 29:3-5; 30:22-24. However, Plaintiff's payroll records show that her work hours varied, with no 18-hour guarantee. Doc. 39, Ex. 6. In the five months before her resignation, she worked between approximately 11 hours to 24 hours a week. Id.

         Plaintiff has three children, who were ages ten, eight and four during her employment with O'Reilly. Ex. 4 at 69:18-71:29. The two oldest were in Dewar Public Schools and the youngest was in early development child care. Id. During the school year, the two oldest children were in school from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Id., at 70:20-71:18. In the summer months, the two oldest children stayed with grandparents. Id., at 71:20-22. Plaintiff's mother watched the youngest child during the summer months, if needed. Id., at 72:1-12. On the days Plaintiff worked additional hours beyond her scheduled hours, her children stayed with friends. Id., at 58:19-59-6. Plaintiff testified that “obviously, staying with friends can't happen every day” if she was working. Id., at 59:4-6.

         Plaintiff alleges that in March 2015, she and co-worker Vicky VanMeter delivered parts to O'Reilly customer Greg Henry, of Greg Henry's Auto & Boat Repair. Doc. 5, First Amended Complaint, ¶12. She contends that after Ms. VanMeter introduced Plaintiff, Mr. Henry stated, “I can handle seeing that every day.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Henry continued making similar comments throughout her employment. Id. In June of 2015, he started asking Plaintiff inappropriate questions, including “Does your husband please you?” and “Are you being satisfied at home? Because I'm sure I can do a better job, ” and that he would tell her that she forgot something, only to tell her when she walked back to him that he ‘just wanted to watch [me] walk away again.'” Doc. 34, Ex. 4, Paden Affid. Plaintiff alleges that in November of 2015, Plaintiff made three deliveries to Mr. Henry's shop within a span of a few hours, and that Mr. Henry made sexually inappropriate comments to her, even though she asked him to stop. Doc. 5, ¶14.

         Plaintiff testified that in November of 2015, she told Store Manager Brayden Hackler that Mr. Henry had “ma[d]e comments daily” to her when she made deliveries to his business; however, she never told him that she was uncomfortable making deliveries there or that somebody else needed to take over the driving responsibilities. Doc. 24, Ex. 4 at 26:8-27:6; 33:20-34:3.

         Plaintiff also testified that in December of 2015, Mr. Henry visited the Henryetta store and made inappropriate comments to her, including that she looked sexy and that he would leave parts there so she could bring them to him later. Doc. 5, Complaint, ¶18; Doc. 34, Ex. 3, Paden Dep., 20:25-21:6.

         In response to an interrogatory asking her to state “each date on which you notified O'Reilly of the alleged discrimination that is the subject of this litigation, ” Plaintiff stated:

On February 2, 2016, Plaintiff informed Mary Messer, Assistant Manager[, ] of the sexual harassment. On February 2, 2016, Plaintiff informed Brayden Hackler, Store Manager, of the sexual harassment. They spoke again on February 3rd. On February 9, 2016, Plaintiff informed Scott Mullin, District Manager of the sexual harassment.

Doc. 24, Ex. 5, Response to Interrogatory No. 8.

         Shawn Howell, O'Reilly's Installer Service Specialist, was responsible for drivers and deliveries. Doc. 34, Ex. 5, Shawn Howell Dep. at 5:16-20, 7:1-8. Plaintiff testified that she told Mr. Howell that Greg Henry “ma[de] comments daily that aren't needed.” Doc. 24, Ex. 4, Paden Dep. at 21:14-21. She admitted she did not tell him she didn't want to make deliveries to his business, although she did tell him “if it was preventable while other drivers were there, I would prefer not to.” Id., 22:2-8. However, she said that it “never worked out” in her favor because she “was, basically, the only [delivery person] for most of the day.” Id., 22:10-11.[2]

         Plaintiff testified that a former O'Reilly employee, Tammy Collins, told her Mr. Henry had also made inappropriate comments to her when she made deliveries to his business. Id., 22:23-23:24. However, Ms. Collins testified that although Greg Henry had sexually harassed her when she made a delivery to his business, she never reported the incident to O'Reilly management. Doc. 39, Ex. 2, 15:18-17:23; 19:25-2. She also testified that when she was assistant store manager, none of the female drivers ever complained to her about Greg Henry. Id., 20:3-14.

         The Complaint alleges that on February 2, 2016, while Plaintiff was making a delivery to Mr. Henry's shop, he approached her from behind and grabbed her inner thigh mid-way up her right leg. Doc. 5, ¶21. Plaintiff hit him in the stomach and told him not to touch her. Id. The same day, after returning from Mr. Henry's shop, she reported the incident to O'Reilly Assistant Manager Mary Messer. Doc. 24, Ex. 6, ¶12. After her shift ended that day, Plaintiff texted Manager Brayden Hackler, asking him to call her as soon as possible to discuss something that happened with Mr. Henry, and adding that “It's not something that needed to be over text message.” Id., Ex. 6, ¶13; Ex. 4, 35:10-36:2. According to Plaintiff, Mr. Hackler replied that he was with family and would call the next morning. Id., Ex. 4 at 36:3-11.

         Mr. Hackler called Plaintiff the next morning, and Plaintiff told him about Mr. Henry's conduct the previous day. Id., Ex. 4 at 36:12-37:1; Ex. 7, Feb. 24, 2016 Hackler Statement. The following Monday, after O'Reilly District Manager Scott Mullins returned from a conference, Mr. Hackler called him to discuss Plaintiff's allegations. Id. On Monday, February 8, 2015, Mr. Mullins visited the Henryetta store and spoke with Plaintiff about her allegations. Id., Ex. 4 at 38:6-19; Ex. 8, Feb. 16, 2016 Mullins Statement. Plaintiff admits that after reporting Greg Henry's alleged conduct on February 2, 2016, she experienced no further harassment from him. Id.

         After being advised of Plaintiff's allegations, District Manager Mullins undertook an investigation into her claims, securing written statements from Plaintiff, other O'Reilly employees and Mr. Henry. Id., Exs. 8, 14, 15, 18.

         On February 16, 2016, and February 23, 2016, O'Reilly delivery driver Emma VanMeter submitted written statements stating that Plaintiff had refused to make deliveries to the City of Henryetta since the beginning of her employment because a man who worked there (“Derick”) had made sexual advances toward her several years before she began working at O'Reilly. Id., Ex. 9, Feb. 16, 2016 VanMeter Statement; Ex. 10, Feb. 23, 2106 VanMeter Statement. Ms. VanMeter also stated that Plaintiff had refused to make deliveries to another customer, Mad Image, because she alleged one of the owners had texted her sexual content, and her husband had seen it. Id., Ex. 10. Ms. Vanmeter concluded, “So now there are 3 place[s] she will not deliver[:] City, Mad Image, Greg Henry.” Id., Ex. 9. Ms. VanMeter also wrote that “there are some guys at first street tire that have stated to me and another driver that she wants guys to get the ink p[e]n out of her pocket. They call her a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit.” Id. Additionally, she stated that Plaintiff had complained about Watson Tire and Tow, claiming that when she walked into the business, they were talking about her in some sort of sexual manner. Id.

         On February 24, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a written statement confirming she did not want to make deliveries to the City of Henryetta or Mad Image. Id., Ex. 11. She stated that she was asking not to be sent to the City of Henryetta because a maintenance employee, “Derick, ” had sexually harassed her in 2010, when he worked with her husband at the Dewar Fire Department. Id. Plaintiff stated that Mad Image owner “JR” had made disrespectful comments to her and, after seeing a picture of her on Facebook, had texted her, “Your son has the best looking lunch date in the world.” Id. Plaintiff indicated that her husband had seen the text and asked her not to deliver to JR's shop. Id. She concluded, “So out of respect for my husband I prefer not to but I understand in some circumstances I may be the only driver available.” Id.

         On February 29, 2016, Plaintiff signed another written statement in which she stated that she had given her phone number to Mad Image owner JR so he could contact her husband to work out the financial details and set up a time frame to have the work done. Id., Ex. 12. She also stated:

To be honest I am ok with my position as a driver. I do understand with the shops that I do not deliver to makes it difficult for management and available staff to deliver to those places. But I'm not asking to be moved to a different Position in the store. If its what needs to be done to protect both sides its fine with me. Just know I would like more training to better understand the Job At hand. [I]f I were moved to something more detailed, I'm comfortable working counter but my knowledge is limited on diagnosing a problem with some vehicles. I am willing to learn what ever it takes [t]o make this easier on the company. Because I need this job and I didn't try to make things difficult for any one. ...

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