United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
M Moody Jr., United States District Judge
filed suit against Defendants North Little Rock School
District (the “District”), Robert Donaldson, and
Michael Stone alleging sexual harassment under Title VII and
the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (“ACRA”) and the
tort of outrage. She filed a Charge of Discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) and received a Notice of Right to Sue.
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of
Plaintiff's claims arguing that she cannot make a prima
facie case of harassment because (1) the conduct alleged does
not rise to the level of sexual harassment; (2) there was no
adverse employment action; (3) the District took remedial
action; and (4) her supervisors are not liable under Title
VII. Defendants also contend that the undisputed facts of the
case are insufficient to prove a tort of outrage claim under
Nina Rodgers responded to the motion and has filed a motion
to dismiss her claims against Defendants Donaldson and Stone
and her tort of outrage claim. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, and
Plaintiff's motion is denied as moot.
Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue
of material fact, so that the dispute may be decided solely
on legal grounds. Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874
(8th Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Supreme Court has
established guidelines to assist trial courts in determining
whether this standard has been met:
The inquiry is the threshold inquiry of determining whether
there is a need for trial -- whether, in other words, there
are genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only
by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved
in favor of either party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has cautioned that summary
judgment should be invoked carefully so that no person will
be improperly deprived of a trial of disputed factual issues.
Inland Oil & Transport Co. v. United States, 600
F.2d 725 (8th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 991
(1979). The Eighth Circuit set out the burden of the parties
in connection with a summary judgment motion in Counts v.
M.K. Ferguson Co., 862 F.2d 1338 (8th Cir. 1988):
[T]he burden on the moving party for summary judgment is only
to demonstrate, i.e., ‘[to] point out to the
District Court,' that the record does not disclose a
genuine dispute on a material fact. It is enough for the
movant to bring up the fact that the record does not contain
such an issue and to identify that part of the record which
bears out his assertion. Once this is done, his burden is
discharged, and, if the record in fact bears out the claim
that no genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is
then the respondent's burden to set forth affirmative
evidence, specific facts, showing that there is a genuine
dispute on that issue. If the respondent fails to carry that
burden, summary judgment should be granted.
Id. at 1339. (quoting City of Mt. Pleasant v.
Associated Elec. Coop., 838 F.2d 268, 273-274 (8th Cir.
1988) (citations omitted) (brackets in original)). Only
disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit
under governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
which does not prohibit “sexual harassment, ” but
makes is it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The United
States Supreme Court has found that sex discrimination under
Title VII includes sexual harassment “sufficiently
severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the
victim's employment and create an abusive working
environment.” Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson,
477 U.S. 57, 67 (1986).
contends that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor,
Robert Donaldson, when Donaldson told two of Plaintiff's
co-workers, Kimberly Wilson and Richard Walker, that
“Nina ain't crazy, Nina just needs some
dick.” (Ex. 1 to Pl's Response, p. 68-72).
Plaintiff learned about Donaldson's remark later from
Kimberly Wilson. Plaintiff complained to Donaldson's
supervisor, Michael Stone, about the remark on August 22,
2017. Stone considered the allegation serious and planned to
start an investigation. One week later, Stone went on leave
under the Family Medical Leave Act. While on leave, Stone
contacted Donaldson about the allegation. Donaldson stated
that he did not recall making the statement. Stone issued a
written reprimand to Donaldson and required him to attend a
one-on-one training about rights, roles, responsibilities and
investigation was eventually taken over by Karli Saracini of
the District's Human Resources Department. Saracini met
with Donaldson on September 22, 2017. She consulted with the
District's legal counsel and sought approval from the
Superintendent to engage an outside investigator to complete
the investigation. A seven-month investigation revealed three
performance-based complaints against Donaldson and a
retaliation claim by Kimberly ...