United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
HOLMES, III, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Defendant Kennam Inc.'s
(“Kennametal”) motion for summary judgment (Doc.
46), brief in support of its motion (Doc. 47), statement of
facts in support of its motion (Doc. 48), and supplement to
its statement of facts. (Doc. 50). Plaintiff Gai Thi Nguyen
filed a response in opposition to summary judgment (Doc. 51),
a brief in support of her response (Doc. 52), a response to
defendant's statement of undisputed facts (Doc. 53), and
a statement of material facts in dispute in support of her
response. (Doc. 54). Kennametal submitted a reply to Ms.
Nguyen's response. (Doc. 55). For the reasons stated
herein, Kennametal's motion for summary judgment will be
February 12, 2001, Kennametal hired Ms. Nguyen as a
Centerless Grinder. (Doc. 48-1, p. 13). Ms. Nguyen's
title later changed to Press Operator B, but her job duties
did not change. (Doc. 48-2, p. 1). Ms. Nguyen remained in
this position until her employment was terminated.
the course of her employment, Ms. Nguyen received multiple
warnings for making false accusations about other employees.
(Doc. 48-6, pp. 14-18). On August 4, 2014, during a shift
safety talk, Ms. Nguyen accused her coworkers of messing with
her lunch. (Id. at p. 14). After the shift safety
talk, Ms. Nguyen's supervisor, George DuMond, and Human
Resources Manager Lynda Young met with her to discuss the
incident. (Id.). Ms. Nguyen was described as being
in a “hysterical state” during the meeting.
(Id.). On August 5, 2014, Kennametal terminated Ms.
Nguyen's employment. (Doc. 48-2, p. 2).
Legal Standard for Summary Judgment
party moves for summary judgment, it must establish both the
absence of a genuine dispute of material fact and that it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Nat'l Bank
of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165
F.3d 602, 606 (8th Cir. 1999). In order for there to be a
genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party must
produce evidence “such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Allison
v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66-67 (8th Cir.
1994) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Only facts “that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law” need
be considered. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
“[T]he non-movant must make a sufficient showing on
every essential element of its claim on which it bears the
burden of proof.” P.H. v. Sch. Dist. of Kan. City,
Mo., 265 F.3d 653, 658 (8th Cir. 2001). Facts asserted
by the nonmoving party “must be properly supported by
the record, ” in which case those “facts and the
inferences to be drawn from them [are viewed] in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. at
plaintiff in an employment discrimination or retaliation case
survives a motion for summary judgment either by providing
direct evidence of discrimination or retaliation or by
creating an inference of unlawful discrimination or
retaliation using circumstantial evidence. Bone v. G4S
Youth Servs., LLC, 686 F.3d 948, 953 (8th Cir. 2012);
Pye v. Nu Aire, Inc., 641 F.3d 1011, 1020 (8th Cir.
2011). When, as is the case here, a plaintiff presents no
direct evidence to support a claim of discrimination or
retaliation, the claim is analyzed under the burden shifting
framework set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under this framework, the
plaintiff must first present a prima facie case of employment
discrimination or retaliation. Pye, 641 F.3d at
1021; Ramlet v. E.F. Johnson Co., 507 F.3d 1149,
1153 (8th Cir. 2007). Once the plaintiff has established a
prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to
articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory or nonretaliatory
reason for its actions. Pye, 641 F.3d at 1021;
Ramlet, 507 F.3d at 1153. The plaintiff must then
demonstrate that the defendant's proffered reason is a
pretext for unlawful discrimination or retaliation.
Pye, 641 F.3d at 1021; Miners v. Cargill Comms.,
Inc., 113 F.3d 820, 823 (8th Cir. 1997). To demonstrate
a material question of fact regarding pretext, the plaintiff
must show that the employer's explanation is unworthy of
credence because it has no basis in fact or persuade the
court that a prohibited reason more likely motivated the
employer's decision. Torgerson v. City of
Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1047 (8th Cir. 2011). Although
the burden of production shifts between the parties, the
burden of persuasion remains on the plaintiff at all times.
Fatemi v. White, 775 F.3d 1022, 1041 (8th Cir.
Nguyen contends that there are genuine issues of material
facts as to (1) whether she was discriminated against based
on her race and national origin, (2) whether she was
terminated in retaliation for reporting incidents and conduct
which she believed to be unlawful, and (3) whether she was
subject to harassment and a hostile work environment based on
her national origin. (Doc. 51, p. 3). The Court will address
each of these arguments in turn. Ms. Nguyen abandons her age
discrimination claim and admits that her failure to promote
claim is time barred. (Doc. 52, p. 10). Accordingly, the
Court will not address these claims.
Race and National Origin Discrimination
establish a prima facie case of unlawful race or national
origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) she is a member
of a protected class, (2) she met [employer's] legitimate
expectations, (3) she suffered an adverse employment action,
and (4) the circumstances give rise to an inference of
discrimination.” Guimaraes v. SuperValu, Inc.,
674 F.3d 962, 974 (8th Cir. 2012). In this case, the parties
disagree about whether the second and fourth requirements of
the prima facie case have been met.
without deciding, that Ms. Nguyen has established a prima
facie case of discrimination, summary judgment is still
proper because Kennametal has articulated a legitimate
nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her employment and
she has not shown ...