United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket No. 44] filed on May 24, 2019.
Plaintiff filed a response on June 19, 2019, Docket No. 54,
which defendant replied. Docket No. 65. Also before the Court
is Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement [Docket No. 81].
Defendant responded to the motion to supplement, Docket No.
84, and plaintiff filed a reply. Docket No. 85. The Court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
December 14, 2017, plaintiff Heather Price sued her former
employer, defendant Bavaria Inn Restaurant, d/b/a Shotgun
Willie's (“defendant”), raising one claim of
retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Docket No. 1; Docket No.
7 at 9-10. Plaintiff alleges in her complaint that defendant
retaliated against her after she had reported that one of
defendant's managers, Randy Thornton, had sexually
harassed her at work. Docket No. 7 at 9.
hired plaintiff on June 3, 2014 to work as a concierge.
Docket No. 44 at 2, ¶ 1. On October 3, 2014, defendant
terminated plaintiff for “improperly taking customers
away from other Shotgun Willie's employees.”
Id., ¶ 2. Defendant rehired plaintiff on
October 15, 2014. Id.
2014, Brian Barker began to manage defendant's concierge
program. Id., ¶ 7. His duties included
scheduling employee shifts. Id. Sometime after May
5, 2015, plaintiff spoke with manager Hopi Mondale and
reported that Thornton had asked her if she was wearing
panties and grabbed her buttocks. Id., ¶
Ms. Mondale told plaintiff to speak with another manager,
Michelle Poague, about the incident.
Id.Plaintiff informed Ms. Poague of her
complaint against Thornton, but did not file a written
working at defendant's business, plaintiff was involved
in an ongoing conflict with another employee, Desi LaFebre.
Docket No. 44 at 2, ¶ 3. Ms. Poague had warned plaintiff
that, if the conflict with Ms. LaFebre continued, she, Ms.
LaFebre, or both would be terminated. Docket No. 44 at 2,
¶ 4. On June 9, 2015, defendant's
principal, Debbie Matthews, held a meeting with multiple
managers (“the decision-makers”). Docket No. 44
at 3-4, ¶¶ 12. At the meeting, the decision-makers
discussed plaintiff's conflict with Ms.
LaFebre. Id. at 4, ¶ 13. They did not
discuss plaintiff's claim that Thornton had harassed her
or that she had complained to Ms. Mondale or Ms. Poague about
the harassment. Id., ¶ 14. On June 10,
plaintiff was terminated. Id. at 4, ¶
sued defendant, arguing that defendant retaliated against her
after she engaged in the protected activity of reporting
sexual harassment. Docket No. 7 at 9. Defendant argues that
it is entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's
retaliation claim. Docket No. 44.
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 when the “movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248-50 (1986). A disputed fact is “material” if
under the relevant substantive law it is essential to proper
disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs.,
Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 2001). Only
disputes over material facts can create a genuine issue for
trial and preclude summary judgment. Faustin v. City
& Cty. of Denver, 423 F.3d 1192, 1198 (10th Cir.
2005). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that it might lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Allen v. Muskogee, 119 F.3d
837, 839 (10th Cir. 1997).
“the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of
persuasion at trial, it may satisfy its burden at the summary
judgment stage by identifying a lack of evidence for the
nonmovant on an essential element of the nonmovant's
claim.” Bausman v. Interstate Brands Corp.,
252 F.3d 1111, 1115 (10th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 671 (10th Cir. 1998)). “Once
the moving party meets this burden, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to demonstrate a genuine issue for trial on a
material matter.” Concrete Works of Colo., Inc. v.
City & Cty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1518 (10th Cir.
1994). The nonmoving party may not rest solely on the
allegations in the pleadings, but instead must designate
“specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 324 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). “To
avoid summary judgment, the nonmovant must establish, at a
minimum, an inference of the presence of each element
essential to the case.” Bausman, 252 F.3d at
1115. When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Id.
argues it is entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's
Title VII retaliation claim for three reasons: (1) plaintiff
cannot demonstrate a causal connection between reporting
Thornton's sexual harassment and her termination; (2)
plaintiff was terminated for legitimate, non-retaliatory
reasons; and (3) plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the
legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for terminating her are
pretextual. Docket No. 44 at 5-6.
succeed on a retaliation claim under Title VII, a plaintiff
must establish that (1) “she engaged in protected
opposition to discrimination”; (2) “an adverse
action was taken against her”; and (3) “a causal
connection existed between the protected activity and the
adverse action.” Salemi v. Colo. Pub. Emp. Ret.
Assoc., 176 F.Supp.3d 1132, 1148 (D. Colo. Mar. 31,
2016). If the plaintiff meets this burden, the burden shifts
to the defendant “to produce a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory justification for taking the disputed
employment action.” Stover v. Martinez, 382
F.3d 1064, 1071 (10th Cir. 2004). If the defendant can
provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for
the adverse employment action, “the burden shifts back
to the employee to provide evidence showing that the
employer's proffered reason . . . was so inconsistent,
implausible, incoherent, or contradictory that it is unworthy
of belief.” Id.