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Darville v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Services

April 2, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James M. Moody United States District Court


Pending before the Court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment to which plaintiff has responded. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted (#14).

Plaintiff, a female, brings her complaint alleging sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act ("ACRA").*fn1 Defendant contends that plaintiff has failed to present a prima facie case of discrimination.

I. Facts

Plaintiff worked at the Pulaski North office of the Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS") as a Family Support Specialist during February through June of 2003. Plaintiff interviewed DHHS clients to determine if they were eligible for various programs administered by DHHS such as the Transitional Employment Assistance program ("TEA program"), Medicaid, and food stamps. Plaintiff's immediate supervisor was Erma Allen and Odell Embry was the direct supervisor of Allen.

Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 4, 2003 alleging Embry sexually harassed her in January or February of 2003 resulting in a hostile work environment. The EEOC made a determination that there was credible witnesses testimony from former and current employees to indicate that plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment on a continuing basis.

The first incident of alleged sexual harassment occurred sometime between January and March of 2003. Prior to January or February of 2003, plaintiff considered Embry's behavior to be "friendly" as opposed to sexual harassment.

In either February or March of 2003, plaintiff after learning from a client that a person could be approved for "diversion" funds to buy furniture, approached Embry and asked if she would qualify for "diversion" funds to purchase furniture.*fn2 Plaintiff testified that she was "kind of joking" when she made the remark to Embry. Plaintiff testified that Embry responded by saying, " No, you can not get a diversion to buy furniture, but if you act right I can buy you some furniture." When asked what he meant, Embry stated that plaintiff "wasn't ready for that yet." Plaintiff was confused by this remark.

After the "diversion" conversation, plaintiff testified that Embry met her at least once a week in the hallway where he would whisper to her, invite her to meet him somewhere after work, to got to lunch, or ask her if he could come to her home. Plaintiff testified that Emby bumped or rubbed against her while passing in the hallway.*fn3 Plaintiff also testified that Embry looked at her over the top of his glasses as if he were seeing her nude and rubbed and licked his lips.

Plaintiff testified that sometime after February or March, Embry approached her as she was getting into her car and commented that but for the fact that plaintiff already had money, she would let him go home with her .

In May, a co-worker talked to plaintiff about Embry's sexually harassing behavior and that they should report him. Plaintiff testified that she first reported Embry to Allen in mid to late-May of 2003, and that Allen gave her a tape recorder to tape any conversation with Embry and told her to go to Mr. Robert Williams the manager of DHHS Pulaski County offices.*fn4 It is also her testimony from late May until June 8, 2003, Embry only spoke to her on two more occasions.

Plaintiff testified that in June of 2003, Embry was at the back entrance of the building smoking and when she approached, he told her that she sexually excited him and asked her to look down at his groin area. Plaintiff testified that when she ignored him and tried to enter the building, Embry grabbed, and held, her arm for an short period of time, before allowing her to enter the building.

Within a day, plaintiff reported this incident to Allen who referred her to Robert Williams. Plaintiff met with Williams on June 10, 2003 to discuss her allegations regarding Embry's behavior. Williams requested that plaintiff draft an incident report regarding her allegations which she completed that same day.

From this date forward, plaintiff testified that Embry did not sexually harass her, but that he did stare at her while she was having conversation with male co-workers, gave her mean looks, ...

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