United States District Court, D. Colorado
RAYMOND P. MOORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hayley Corio (“Ms. Corio” or
“Plaintiff”) was terminated from her employment
from Defendant Tri City Cycle, Inc. (“Tri City”
of “Defendant”), a motorcycle dealership, after
she complained of sexual harassment and filed a charge with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). This lawsuit followed. The case is now
before the Court on Tri City's Motion for Summary
Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 29) seeking judgment
as a matter of law in its favor on all of Ms. Corio's
claims. Ms. Corio filed a response in opposition; Tri City
filed a reply. The matter is ripe for resolution.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Court considers the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, as the non-movant, “unless contradicted by
the record.” DePaula v. Easter Seals El
Mirador, 859 F.3d 957 (10th Cir. 2017) (citing Birch
v. Polaris Indus., Inc., 812 F.3d 1238, 1251 (10th Cir.
Alleged Sexual Activities During Ms. Corio's
City is a motorcycle distributorship. It has about 25-30
employees. On or about July 18, 2015, Tri City hired Ms.
Corio to be the marketing manager. Among Plaintiff's
co-workers was an employee named John Goddard, one of two
sales managers. Mr. Goddard was already employed by Tri City,
and had been for several years, when Ms. Corio started her
employment. The other sales manager was David Wagner.
to Ms. Corio, at the dealership, “[t]here was always
teasing and, like, flirting with everybody in the dealership
in a friendly, light-hearted way.” (ECF No. 30-2, p.
62.) She testified “It's the culture…of the
industry. It's babes and bikers, and there's always a
light amount of profanity used.” (ECF No. 30-2, p. 63.)
There was also a certain level of acceptance of conduct, such
as a bikini bike wash, which Ms. Corio did not find
offensive. (ECF No. 30-2, p. 63.)
first, Ms. Corio and Mr. Goddard apparently got along well
enough. Whether that was true thereafter is disputed. Ms.
Corio testified that in or about June 2016 Mr. Goddard's
conduct of sexually inappropriate behavior “ramped
up.” Mr. Goddard allegedly made sexually inappropriate
statements to her, showed her two inappropriate sexually
charged videos, sent her inappropriate sexual text messages,
and watched inappropriate videos at his desk with other
employees. He also directed some of this conduct toward other
female employees. Ms. Corio testified she found this all
offensive and told Mr. Goddard this was unacceptable, e.g.,
telling Mr. Goddard “That's disgusting” or
“Don't ever show me that shit again.” (ECF
No. 30-2, pp. 61, 90.) Mr. Goddard admits he sent Ms. Corio
some texts and made some comments to Ms. Corio but, contrary
to Ms. Corio's testimony, testified they were friends and
that she never objected or indicated she was
offended. Tri City presented evidence that Ms. Corio
engaged in some conduct which may be deemed sexually
inappropriate. Indeed, there is testimony that Mr. Goddard
and Ms. Corio engaged in inappropriate conduct.
before January 23, 2017, Mr. Goddard sent Ms. Corio two text
messages involving a penis. Ms. Corio said she took offense
to the texts and showed one to Mr. Wagner. Mr. Wagner told
Tri City's owner, Brady Welton, about the text message on
Monday, January 23, 2017. Mr. Welton, along with the human
resources manager Christina Traw,  investigated. It was Ms.
Corio's day off, so Mr. Welton called Ms. Corio at home
about the incident. About four days later, Tri City
disciplined Mr. Goddard. Thereafter, Mr. Goddard ceased all
behavior toward Ms. Corio which she deemed inappropriate. Mr.
Goddard, however, did not cease such behavior toward others.
to Ms. Corio, there were still inappropriate comments and
videos. In other words, Ms. Corio contends the culture did
not change. For example, Mr. Goddard wrote a note for sales
spiffs, including a spiff of $50 to “whoever sells to
the hottest customer.” (ECF No. 30-2.) The parties'
interactions, however, are disputed. Ms. Corio contends that
Mr. Goddard became “very cold and standoffish”
when she came back to work on Tuesday, January 24 (ECF No.
30-2, p. 102), and that Mr. Welton, with whom she used to
have regular meetings, became distant. Tri City provides
evidence to the contrary.
2017, Ms. Corio filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC.
By letter from Ms. Corio's counsel, Tri City was notified
of the EEOC charge on or about May 20, 2017. Thereafter, on
May 23, Ms. Corio advised Mr. Welton that she would
“prefer” to communicate with him regarding work
matters via email or text; all other matters were to be
directed through her lawyer. Tri City viewed Ms. Corio's
“preference” as a demand; Ms. Corio viewed it as
25, 2017, Mr. Welton held a storewide meeting to discuss
sexual harassment in the workplace.
Corio's Alleged Requests for a Raise.
Ms. Corio apparently had an issue with her compensation. Ms.
Corio was paid an annual salary of $50, 000 plus capped
bonuses based on the performance of Tri City. At some point
around mid-year 2016, Ms. Corio began asking Mr. Welton (more
than once) about a change to her pay structure to straight
salary of about $61, 000. (See ECF No. 29-2, pp.
129-130.) There is a factual dispute over whether, in late
2016, Mr. Welton told Ms. Corio that he would be eliminating
her quarterly bonuses and would adjust her salary. Ms. Corio
never received an increase in salary. There is a factual
dispute as to whether and, if so, when a decision was made
not to give Ms. Corio a raise.
Corio's Termination from Employment, Followed by Mr.
Goddard's Termination from Employment.
30, 2017, Tri City terminated Ms. Corio's employment. At
the time she was terminated, Ms. Curio asked Mr. Welton about
vacation time she would have been entitled to in a few weeks
if she had not been terminated. Mr. Welton offered to pay Ms.
Corio the vacation pay in exchange for her providing Tri City
with a list of account names and passwords for Tri City
accounts. Ms. Corio provided this information on July 4,
2017, but Tri City never paid her the vacation pay.
parties dispute why Ms. Curio was terminated. Ms. Curio
contends it was in retaliation for complaining about and
filing a complaint with the EEOC about the sexual harassment.
Tri City contends it was for several reasons, including Ms.
Corio's subordination, failure to show up for work, and
about late June 2017, Mr. Goddard posted sexually
inappropriate materials on his Snapchat outside of work
hours. An employee from a business next to Tri City saw it
and told her employer; the employer then reported it to Tri
City. After investigating the matter, Tri City terminated Mr.
February 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. She asserts
three claims for relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, and one claim for breach of contract. She also
seeks punitive damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine dispute
of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Henderson v.
Inter-Chem Coal Co., Inc., 41 F.3d 567, 569- 70 (10th
Cir. 1994). Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a
material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
251-52 (1986); Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d
1132, 1136 (10th Cir. 2000); Carey v. United States
Postal Serv., 812 F.2d 621, 623 (10th Cir. 1987). Once
the moving party meets its initial burden of demonstrating an
absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, the burden
then shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine dispute of material fact to be
resolved at trial. See 1-800-Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com,
Inc., 722 F.3d 1229, 1242 (10th Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). “The mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380
(2007) (citation omitted). The facts, however, must be
considered in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Cillo v. City of Greenwood Vill., 739 F.3d
451, 461 (10th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted).
Sexual Harassment - Hostile Work Environment
Corio claims she was subjected to sexual harassment in the
work place by Mr. ...