Dalton v. Painters District Council No. 2 et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Joseph Barretts motion for summary judgment is DENIED. (Doc. No. 157.) IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Painters District Council No. 2 for summary judgment is DENIED. (Doc. No. 158.) Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on 2/1/2013. (KSM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
PAINTERS DISTRICT COUNCIL NO. 2, )
and JOSEPH M. BARRETT,
Case No. 4:10CV01090 AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the separate motions of Defendants Joseph
Barrett and Defendant Painters District Council No. 2 (“the District Council”) for
summary judgement on Plaintiff Lesa Dalton’s claims of retaliation against both
Defendants under the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) and her claim of retaliation
against the District Council under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The motions
do not address Plaintiff’s claim that the District Council violated the Labor Management
Reporting Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”) by retaliating against her for exercising her free
speech rights.1 For the reasons set forth below, both motions for (partial) summary shall
By Memorandum and Order dated Nov. 10, 2011, the Court dismissed several
other claims asserted by Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 98.)
Plaintiff alleges in her fifth amended complaint that she was a female
journeyman painter who, prior to April 18, 2009, had been employed as a painter and
paperhanger by various contractors that had collective bargaining agreements with
Defendant Painters District Council No. 2 (“District Council”). She alleges that during
this period, Defendant Joseph Barrett, who at various times was the Business Manager
and/or Secretary-Treasurer of the District Council, made lewd sexual comments to her
and sexually propositioned her. Plaintiff further asserts that on April 15, 2009, in an
open District Council meeting, Plaintiff complained about this conduct, and a letter she
had written detailing the objectionable conduct was read at the meeting.
Plaintiff alleges that thereafter, in about July 2009, without her knowledge, her
name was stricken from a list from which union members were referred to contractors for
work. On September 29, 2009, a “Trial Board” of the District Council found Dalton
guilty of making slanderous allegations of sexual harassment against Barrett (and fined
Plaintiff $5,000), a decision that was reversed on April 26, 2010, by the General
Executive Board of the international union. Plaintiff further alleges that starting on about
April 18, 2009, Defendants began advising contractors with whom the District Council
had collective bargaining agreements not to hire Plaintiff, and that since that time, she has
not been able to find employment as a painter.
The Court previously determined that the letter complaining about sexual
harassment was protected activity under Title VII, the MHRA. Defendants now argue, in
their joint memorandum and reply, that Plaintiff cannot make a submissible case on her
retaliation claims because “the overwhelming majority of witnesses” identified by
Plaintiff have testified that Barrett at no time instructed or otherwise encouraged them
not to hire Plaintiff. Defendants acknowledge the testimony of Pat Woods, a contractor
who had previously hired Plaintiff, that Barrett made derogatory statements to him about
Plaintiff, but Defendants assert that the conversation occurred while Barrett was only a
union co-member with Plaintiff, not Business Manager of the District Council.
Defendants likewise acknowledge the testimony of District Council member
Kent Kirby, stating that he overheard Barrett make a similar statement to Anthony
Datillo, a project superintendent. Defendants note that Kirby did not know whether
Barrett was Business Manager at the time the statement was made.
Defendants stress that Plaintiff has not shown that Barrett or the District
Council deleted her name from the out-of-work list. They contend that Plaintiff has not
accounted for the recession that limited the work available to all painters and
paperhangers during the time Plaintiff was without work. Defendants also argue that
most of Plaintiff’s evidence will be inadmissible and barred as hearsay or conjecture.
They contend that Plaintiff shows no causal connection between her loss of work and the
alleged retaliatory actions, nor does she show any adverse employment action undertaken
by Barrett in a supervisory role. Lastly, Defendants argue that Plaintiff ignores or
selectively quotes the testimony of several contractors, all of whom made statements
contrary to her claims.
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary
judgment shall be entered “if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file,
and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, a court is required to view the facts “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party” and must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be
drawn from the record. Shrable v. Eaton Corp., 695 F.3d 768, 770 -71 (8th Cir. 2012).
“Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Credibility
determinations and the weighing of the evidence are jury functions, not those of a judge.”
Wierman v. Casey’s Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
Title VII prohibits a labor organization from retaliating against a member who
has opposed any practice Title VII makes unlawful. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). To prevail
on her Title VII retaliation claim, Plaintiff will have to prove that (1) she engaged in
protected activity, (2) the union took adverse action against her, and (3) the adverse
action was causally linked to the protected activity. Martin v. Local 1513, 859 F.2d 581,
585 (8th Cir. 1988). The standard for a retaliation claim under the MHRA “is more
lenient than the standard applied in Title VII retaliation cases, in which a plaintiff must
prove that her opposition to unlawful discrimination was the ‘but for’ cause of the . . .
adverse action.” Porter v. City of Lake Lotawana, 651 F.3d 894, 898 (8th Cir. 2011).
Here, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff and giving her
the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the record, the Court cannot say
as a matter of law that Defendants are entitled to judgment on Plaintiff’s retaliation
claims. The record reflects genuine issues of material fact that cannot be resolved at this
stage. See, e.g., Sandler v. Donley, No. 4:11CV1119 CDP, 2012 WL 3155146, at *5
(E.D. Mo., Aug. 2, 2012) (denying in part motion for summary judgment on retaliation
claim where record included testimony that defendants denied plaintiff required time to
celebrate Jewish holidays; berated, cursed, and yelled at her; and denied her the flexible
schedule that men in the office received).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Joseph Barrett’s motion for
summary judgment is DENIED. (Doc. No. 157.)
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Painters District Council No. 2 for
summary judgment is DENIED. (Doc. No. 158.)
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 1st day of February, 2013.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?