Lauren M. Hales Plaintiff- Appellant
Casey's Marketing Company Defendant-Appellee
Submitted: October 19, 2017
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Davenport .
WOLLMAN and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and GOLDBERG, Judge.
WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.
Hales sued her former employer, Casey's Marketing Company
(Casey's), for hostile work environment sexual harassment
(hostile work environment) and retaliatory termination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII) and the
Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA), Iowa Code § 216.1, et
seq. The district court dismissed the ICRA claim as
time-barred and rejected the Title VII claims on summary
judgment. It also excluded evidence of previous sexual
assaults and expert testimony. We affirm.
Hales was employed at Casey's Summer Street store in
Burlington, Iowa, from April 9, 2013, through May 31, 2013.
On May 28-29, 2013, Hales worked the 9:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m.
shift at Casey's West Avenue store, also located in
Burlington, Iowa. This was her second time working at this
approximately 1:44 a.m. on May 29, a male customer entered
Casey's West Avenue store, where he stayed for
approximately twenty-two minutes. Hales had never met this
customer before. The customer purchased some items and began
speaking with Hales, asking her if she had a boyfriend and if
she worked at the West Avenue location often. He also made
comments about her appearance. The customer told Hales about
where he lived, where he worked, what kind of vehicle he
drove, that there was a dashboard camera on his vehicle, and,
using a sexually suggestive tone, that he liked to film
attempt to "elude" the customer, Hales decided that
she was going to go outside to smoke a cigarette. She asked a
co-worker to keep an eye on her because a customer had been
"hitting on her." The co-worker asked Hales why she
was going outside if the customer was still in the store and
suggested that Hales should just ask him to leave. Hales
responded that she could take care of herself.
customer followed Hales outside and blocked the entrance to
the store. Hales asserts that after the customer said that
"his girlfriend calls him when it's raining outside
to tell [him] how wet she is, [but that] that's his job,
" Hales told him to "back off." The customer
replied, "What are you going to do about it?" In
response, Hales extended her cigarette towards the customer
in an attempt to make him move away. The customer instead
stepped toward Hales and burned his left arm on her
cigarette. The customer recoiled and then reentered the
store, followed by Hales.
customer returned to the Casey's West Avenue store the
next day and reported that Hales had burned him with a
cigarette. The West Avenue manager thereafter reviewed the
surveillance tapes, and informed the Summer Street location
manager about the incident between Hales and the customer.
Hales reported for her next shift at Casey's Summer
Street store on May 31, 2013, her manager asked her if
"anything out of the ordinary had happened" while
working at the West Avenue store. Hales acknowledged that she
had burned a customer with her cigarette, but stated that she
did so in order to defend herself. The manager thereupon
terminated Hales's employment.
27, 2013, and February 10, 2014, Hales filed a complaint with
the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), arguing that her
termination was based on discrimination and in retaliation
for resisting sexual harassment. The complaint was
cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC). On June 1, 2014, Hales requested separate
administrative releases from the ICRC and the EEOC. The ICRC
issued Hales an administrative release letter on her ICRA
complaint on June 4, 2014. The EEOC mailed Hales a Dismissal
and Notice of Rights on her retaliation claim on September
24, 2014. It mailed Hales a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on
her hostile work environment claim on October 8, 2014, which
she received on October 13, 2014. The EEOC's letters
stated that a lawsuit "must be filed WITHIN 90
DAYS of your receipt of this notice, or your right to
sue based on this charge will be lost." (emphasis in
original). The EEOC sent copies of the letter to James Hales
(Mr. Hales), who is Hales's father as well as her
attorney. Both sets of letters were sent to the same
residential address, because Hales lived there with her
father from June 2014 to September 2014.
filed suit in federal district court on January 7, 2015.
Casey's moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) arguing that
Hales's ICRA claim was time-barred because it was filed
outside the statutory filing period. See Iowa Code
§ 216.16(4) (stating that "an action . . . is
barred unless commenced within ninety days after issuance by
the commission of a release"). Hales argued that the
limitation period should apply only to parties who wish to
have their claim resolved in state court. She also argued
that her claim should not be time-barred because the EEOC did
not issue its letter until after the state court filing
deadline had expired. The district court disagreed and
granted Casey's motion to dismiss on the ICRA claim.
sought to introduce evidence that she had previously been
sexually assaulted, along with testimony from her counselor
that Hales had been undergoing therapy in order to learn to
have a voice and be "empowered" to resist sexual
assaults. The district court granted Casey's motion in
limine and motion to exclude expert opinion and testimony,
concluding that evidence of Hales's ...