United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMRANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dorise Robinson was a bus driver for her former employer
Defendant North American Central School Bus, LLC
(“NACSB”). Robinson filed this case in state
court asserting various claims of employment discrimination.
NACSB removed the case to this Court and filed a motion to
dismiss. I granted the motion to dismiss in part. The sole
claim remaining in the case is a hostile work environment
claim. NACSB has filed a motion for summary judgment. Because
Robinson has failed to provide evidence that the alleged
harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to
alter the conditions of Robinson's employment and created
an abusive working environment, I will grant NACBS's
following information is taken from the Parties'
statements of undisputed facts [Doc. Nos. 54 and 63.1] and
from the record. NACSB is a school bus company that provides
student transportation services to students in and around St.
Louis, Missouri. Robinson was hired as a part-time bus driver
at the company's St. Louis Terminal in the summer of
2012. The St. Louis Terminal employed approximately 124
drivers during the regular school year. Drivers bid on and
were assigned bus routes for the school year. [Doc. No. 54,
Ex. A, Pl.'s Depo. at 40:5 - 41:13] The routes had
separate morning and afternoon components (shifts).
Robinson began her employment she received and signed
NACSB's “Harassment Free Workplace” policy.
[Id. at 28:18 - 29:23; Ex. B ¶ 7] This document
informed employees that they have a right to work in an
environment free from harassment based on any characteristic
protected by law including gender. The policy provided
employees with instructions on how and when to report
workplace harassment. In addition, NACSB posted its
“Open Door Policy” on the employee bulletin board
of the St. Louis Terminal. [Id. at Ex. B ¶
The policy states that all employees are encouraged to the
express concerns or complaints with the location manager
(referred to as the Contract Manager or Location Manager). If
unsatisfied with the location manager's response, the
employee is directed to contact the regional manager and
provided with the appropriate contact information.
Carmel was employed as a dispatcher in the St. Louis Terminal
during Robinson's employment. Carmel was not a supervisor
and did not have any supervisory authority over Robinson.
[Id. at Ex. A, Pl.'s Depo. at 62:14 - 64:6; Ex.
B ¶ 6] Robinson asserts that Carmel's
behavior in the workplace created a hostile work environment
for her. Robinson worked for NACSB from the summer of 2012
through May 2016. She voluntarily elected not to return to
work for the 2016-2017 school year. She asserts that she
decided not to return to her work in August of 2016 at the
“last minute” because of the “way [she] was
treated.” Instead she pursued her own home healthcare
business. [Id. at Ex. A, Pl.'s Depo. at 152:18 -
155:6 and 195:4 - 200:6]
amended complaint Robinson asserted claims for a hostile work
environment, disparate treatment, and retaliation based on
gender pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. [Doc. No. 11] She also
asserted a claim of retaliation based on gender pursuant to
42 U.S.C § 1981. Robinson named Carmel as a defendant.
NACSB and Carmel filed a motion to dismiss asserting that
Robinson's claims were unexhausted or failed to state a
claim for relief. On April 24, 2017, I granted the motion to
dismiss, in part, and permitted Robinson to proceed solely on
her hostile work environment claim against NACSB, the only
claim she exhausted in her Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission charge. Robinson's prayer for relief requests
damages for mental anguish and emotion distress and seeks
punitive damages. NACSB has moved for summary judgment on
Robinson's hostile work environment claim. Robinson
opposes the motion.
judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Lynn v. Deaconess Medical Center, 160 F.3d 484, 486
(8th Cir. 1998)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The party seeking
summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of
informing the court of the basis of its motion and
identifying those portions of the affidavits, pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When such a motion is made and
supported by the movant, the nonmoving party may not rest on
his pleadings but must produce sufficient evidence to support
the existence of the essential elements of his case on which
he bears the burden of proof. Id. at 324. In
resisting a properly supported motion for summary judgment,
the plaintiff has an affirmative burden to designate specific
facts creating a triable controversy. Crossley v.
Georgia-Pacific Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1113 (8th Cir.
evidence of employment discrimination is rare, therefore,
most cases rely on circumstantial evidence. In the absence of
direct evidence of discrimination, courts employ the burden
shifting analysis of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)(Title VII case).
the burden-shifting analysis, the plaintiff must first
establish a prima facie case of intentional discrimination.
McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802; Bashara v.
Black Hills Corp., 26 F.3d 820, 823 (8th Cir. 1994). If
the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, a presumption
of discrimination is established and the burden of production
shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action.
411 U.S. at 802. The defendant need not persuade the court
that the articulated reason was the basis of the
employer's action; rather, it must simply provide some
evidence of a non- discriminatory reason or reasons for its
action. St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509
U.S. 502, 509 (1993).
the proffer of such evidence, the presumption of
discrimination established by the prima facie case
“simply drops out of the picture.” Id.
at 510-11. The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to
prove that the reason articulated by the employer was really
a pretext for discrimination. Aucutt v. Six Flags Over
Mid-America, Inc., 85 F.3d 1311, 1316 (8th Cir. 1995). A
rejection of the employer's proffered non-discriminatory
reason by itself or combined with elements of the prima facie
case may be enough to establish, but does not compel, an
inference of intentional discrimination. St. Mary's
Honor Center, 509 U.S. at 511.
burden of proving discrimination remains on the plaintiff at
all times. Id. at 515-16. It is not enough to merely
discredit defendant's articulated reason for the adverse
employment action. A plaintiff must always establish that the
real reason for defendant's action was impermissible
discrimination. Id.; see also Huston v.
McDonnell Douglas Corp., 63 F.3d 771, 777 (8th Cir.
1995). To avoid summary judgment, a plaintiff must present
evidence that, when viewed in its entirety: (1) creates a
fact issue as to whether the employer's proffered reason
is pretextual, and (2) creates a reasonable inference that ...