Jackson v. Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Record No. 34] is GRANTED, in part. Summary judgment is granted in favor of the defendants w/respect to Plaintiff Jackson's claims of conspiracy to retaliate (Count II ), sex discrimination (Count III), and breach of contract (Count VIII); 2) The plaintiff's Motion to Remand [Record No. 40] is GRANTED. This matter is REMANDED to Laurel Circuit Court; 3) This matter is STRICKEN from the Court's docket. Signed by Judge Danny C. Reeves on 4/16/2018.(RC)cc: COR, certified copy of Order to Laurel Circuit Court Clerk w/docket sheet
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
BIMBO BAKERIES USA, INC., et al.,
Civil Action No. 6: 17-134-DCR
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This matter is pending for consideration of Defendants Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc.’s
(“Bimbo”), Joey Patterson’s (“Patterson”), and Delbert Smith’s (“Smith”) motion for summary
judgment. [Record No. 34] Additionally, Plaintiff Teresa Jackson (“Jackson”) has filed a
motion to remand her state law claims to the Laurel Circuit Court. [Record No. 40] For the
reasons that follow, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment will be granted, in part.
The plaintiff’s motion to remand will be granted with respect to the remaining claims.
Teresa Jackson worked at Bimbo’s London, Kentucky facility from 1999 through May
2016. [Record No. 33, p. 8] She was a member of Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers,
and Grain Millers International Union, AFL-CIO, Local No. 280 (“the Union”) while
employed by Bimbo’s. Her employment was subject to a collective bargaining agreement
(“CBA”) which provided that union members could only be suspended or discharged for “just
Jackson contends that, in 2015, her work environment became filled with “sexual
comments and innuendo and inappropriate language.” This included the following: Two
female co-workers yelled “filthy names” at her and complained that she performed her job
poorly; and a male co-worker “humped” objects and other males in the bakery. Id. at pp. 1114. Jackson also complained that the male co-worker responsible for shift relief consistently
arrived ten to fifteen minutes late. Id. at p. 10. Jackson asserts that she reported these events
to supervisors and the human resources department in 2015, but nothing was done. Id. at pp.
Jackson received a verbal reprimand on August 1, 2015, for leaving her duty station
when her male co-worker failed to show up on time. [Record No. 33-1, p. 19] That same day,
Jackson filed a grievance which read: “Discrimination harassing a female employ[ee] over
something a male employ[ee] has been doing for over a year. This is the second time this has
happened.” [Record No. 33-1, p. 20] She indicated that her “settlement desire” was “equal
employment conditions just like the men.” Id. Jackson explained in her deposition that
everyone was relieved of their shift on time except for her and her grievance referred to her
male co-worker arriving late for over a year. [Record No. 33, p. 16] She clarified that when
she made the allegation of “harassing a female employee,” she was referring to the fact that
she was reprimanded for leaving her work station. Id.
Jackson contends that she started getting disciplined more frequently after submitting
the grievance. Specifically, she was cited for attendance and job performance issues on several
occasions. [Record No. 33-1, pp. 33, 36, 39, 40] Matters came to a head on April 24, 2016,
when co-worker Scotty Allen told Jackson to go to the dock area and look at something that
had been written on the desk. [Record No. 33, p. 31] Jackson discovered a dry erase board
with a small piece of cardboard with plastic taped to it. Someone had written on the cardboard:
“If you give a woman 2 glasses of wine it increases the chances of a stroke, but if you give her
the whole bottle you have a better chance of a blowjob!” [Record No. 33-1, p. 41] According
to Jackson, her male co-workers laughed as she read the comments. [Record No. 33, p. 34]
Jackson took the small piece of cardboard (which she characterized as garbage) and put
it in her car. Id. at pp. 31-32. After returning to her work station, supervisors Joey Patterson
and Delbert Smith questioned Jackson about the dry erase board, which she denied taking. Id.
at p. 32. Shortly thereafter, two London police officers arrived and asked Jackson whether she
had stolen a dry erase board belonging to the bakery. Id. at p. 34. Jackson took a photo of the
cardboard with the comments on it and gave it to police, who returned it to Smith. Patterson
suspended Jackson for stealing company property after the officers left. Id. at p. 35. On May
16, 2016, Jackson received a letter from Lori Weeks, Bimbo’s HR Director, informing Jackson
that her employment was terminated based on theft of company property. Id. at p. 36.
Jackson filed this action on April 24, 2017, in Laurel Circuit Court. She alleged sex
discrimination and retaliation under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. § 344.010,
et seq., and various claims under Kentucky common law, including false imprisonment,
defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), and invasion of privacy.
[Record No. 1-1] Jackson also alleged that Bimbo had breached the CBA by terminating her
employment without just cause. Id. at p. 19. The defendants filed a notice of removal on May
22, 2017, because Jackson’s breach of contract claim is preempted by Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). [Record No. 1] Accordingly, the Court has
federal question jurisdiction with respect to the breach of contract claim, 28 U.S.C. § 1331,
and supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims, which are part are the same case or
controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
The defendants moved for summary judgment with respect to all claims on March 1,
2018. [Record No. 34] Jackson concedes that her claim for conspiracy to retaliate (Count II)
“must be dismissed” because it is barred by the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine. See
Cowing v. Commare, 499 S.W.3d 291, 294 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016). She also agrees that her claim
of sex discrimination (Count III) should be dismissed because she admitted in her deposition
that her employment was not terminated due to her sex.1 [Record No. 39, p. 2] Finally, Jackson
agrees that her breach of contract claim (Count VIII) should be dismissed because it is barred
by the sixth-month statute of limitations applicable to claims under section 301(a) of the Labor
Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). Accordingly, the Court will grant summary
judgment in favor of the defendants with respect to these claims.
Jackson has asked the Court to remand her remaining claims (Counts I, IV, V, VI, VII)
to state court. [Record No. 40] These claims assert retaliation under the KCRA, false
imprisonment, defamation, IIED, and invasion of privacy. Generally, when all federal claims
are dismissed before trial, the remaining pendent state claims should be remanded to state
court. See Taylor v. First of Am. Bank-Wayne, 973 F.2d 1284, 1287 (6th Cir. 1992). The
defendants oppose remand, arguing that it is “too late,” as the parties have engaged in full
Jackson contends that her sex discrimination claim should be dismissed without prejudice
“as it involves claims of discrimination involving the union contract, wages and whether or
not union dues were paid by other employees, which were not a part of this lawsuit.” [Record
No. 40, p. 2] However, Jackson has failed to identify any adverse employment action other
than her termination, which she concedes was not based on her sex. See Com. v. Solly, 253
S.W.3d 537, 541 (Ky. 2008); Brooks v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Cnty. Hous. Auth., 132
S.W.3d 790, 802 (Ky. 2004). Accordingly, this claim will be dismissed with prejudice.
discovery, briefed a motion for summary judgment, and filed nine status reports. However, it
is presumed that the parties would have engaged in discovery and motion practice regardless
of forum, and few judicial resources have been invested in the matter to this point. The
plaintiff’s claims involve quintessential issues of state law, and this Court should to refrain
from deciding such issues needlessly. See United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S.
715, 726 (1966); Moon v. Harrison Piping Supply, 465 F.3d 719, 728 (6th Cir. 2006). As the
defendants point out, discovery is complete, and there should be no reason that they cannot
renew their motion for summary judgment regarding the remaining claims in state court.
Based on the foregoing reasons, it is hereby
ORDERED as follows:
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [Record No. 34] is GRANTED, in
part. Summary judgment is granted in favor of the defendants with respect to Plaintiff
Jackson’s claims of conspiracy to retaliate (Count II), sex discrimination (Count III), and
breach of contract (Count VIII).
The plaintiff’s Motion to Remand [Record No. 40] is GRANTED. This matter
is REMANDED to Laurel Circuit Court.
This matter is STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.
This 16th day of April, 2018.
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