Submitted: November 16, 2016
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
BENTON and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and STRAND,  District
STRAND, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sieden appeals the district court's grant of summary
judgment in favor of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (Chipotle),
on his reprisal claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act
(MHRA). The district court found that Sieden failed as a
matter of law to establish that his employer's proffered
reason for discharge was pretextual. We affirm.
operates a national chain of restaurants with multiple
locations in Minnesota. Each restaurant is managed by a
general manger who reports to an area manager. Above the area
managers are team directors. During the relevant time period,
Todd Patet was the area manager in Sieden's area and
Travis Moe was the team director of the Minnesota market.
began working at Chipotle in 2001 as an at-will employee.
During his employment, Sieden rose through the ranks and was
eventually promoted to general manager of a newly-built
restaurant in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. On October 12,
2010, Seiden was promoted again, this time to Restaurateur.
This title indicated that he was among Chipotle's best
general managers and had achieved certain high standards at
the Vadnais Heights location. On March 28, 2011, Sieden
received another promotion, this time to Restaurateur 2,
meaning he was responsible for maintaining the status of his
home restaurant (Vadnais Heights) while also mentoring the
general manager at a restaurant in Crystal, Minnesota, until
that manager reached Restaurateur status. On May 31, 2011,
Sieden was promoted to Restaurateur 3, adding a third
restaurant, in Blaine, Minnesota, to his responsibilities.
March 2012, Moe and Patet visited the Crystal location and
met with Sieden. Ultimately, they removed the Crystal
location from Sieden's responsibilities due to
performance issues. In April 2013, during a managers meeting,
Moe told Sieden that he was hiring "too many Hmong
people." Sieden defended his employment decisions.
Following the meeting, Sieden verbally complained about
Moe's comment but did not file a formal complaint with
Chipotle. In May 2013, Sieden's responsibilities were
further limited to acting manager of one location, North
Maplewood, although he retained his title of Restaurateur. On
June 18, 2013, Moe and Patet met with Sieden and terminated
filed suit in a Minnesota state court asserting claims under
the MHRA of (1) reprisal, (2) age discrimination and (3)
sexual orientation discrimination. Chipotle removed the case
on the basis of diversity jurisdiction and ultimately moved
for summary judgment. On September 3, 2015, the district
court granted Chipotle's motion as to the reprisal and
sexual orientation discrimination claims. The age
discrimination claim proceeded to trial, with the jury
returning a verdict in favor of Chipotle. Sieden's appeal
addresses only the district court's grant of summary
judgment on his reprisal claim.
Standard of Review
review de novo a district court's grant of summary
judgment, viewing the evidence 'in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party.'" Barkley,
Inc. v. Gabriel Brothers, Inc., 829 F.3d 1030, 1038 (8th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Beverly Hills Foodland, Inc. v.
United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 655,
39 F.3d 191, 194 (8th Cir. 1994)). "If there is 'no
dispute of material fact and reasonable fact finders could
not find in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is
appropriate.'" Shrable v. Eaton Corp., 695
F.3d 768, 770-71 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fercello v.
Cnty. of Ramsey, 612 F.3d 1069, 1077 (8th Cir. 2010)).
We may affirm a grant of summary judgment on any basis
supported by ...