From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
A former inventory control supervisor for a Coca-Cola bottling company in Oklahoma can go forward with her claim that she was sexually harassed by her plant manager, a federal judge ruled.
The harassment included Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Okmulgee, Okla., facility plant manager Rick Randleman sending Samantha Payne more than 5,000 text messages and allegedly touching and trying to kiss her.
The March 13 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma is a reminder that whether illegal harassment occurred in the workplace is determined by looking at the entire course of misbehavior alleged by the victim, so long as it’s all part of one continuous pattern. That’s true even if some or most of the alleged harassment happened too long ago to independently support a timely lawsuit.
Payne says Randleman’s harassment was so bad it created problems in her marriage. It also prompted Randleman’s wife to come to the plant to demand Payne’s discharge.
Randleman’s wife “caused such a scene” that the plant’s human resources manager had to get involved, and Randleman was transferred to a plant in Oklahoma City, Payne says. But that didn’t stop the harassment, which had included “almost daily” lunch invitations from Randleman as part of his stalking and repeated attempts to coerce her into a romantic relationship with him, Payne alleges in her January 2018 amended complaint.
Following his transfer, Randleman called to tell Payne she had looked “hot” at a funeral the two had attended and that he still missed her, she charges. That allegation is enough to connect her earlier, untimely allegations of sexual harassment with her later, timely assertions, Judge Claire V. Eagan said, rejecting Great Plains’ argument that Payne’s hostile work environment claim should be dismissed because it was brought too late.
Payne’s allegations also sufficiently detail sexual harassment actionable under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the judge said. She said “it is certainly plausible that Randleman’s alleged sex-based harassment created an objectively and subjectively abusive working environment” for Payne.
Payne can also proceed with her claim that her January 2017 termination for discussing with hourly employees the performance of two other managers, and then discussing with them the corrective action she was placed on as a result of that earlier discussion, was itself based on sex. The other two managers were men, and Payne had reported both of them for making inappropriate comments in front of hourly workers, the court said.
But neither man was fired, according to Payne. That’s enough to state a claim for sex discrimination in Payne’s termination, Eagan said. She didn’t need to allege that she and the male managers shared the same supervisor because employment discrimination plaintiffs aren’t required to plead all elements of a claim in a court complaint, the judge said.
The court dismissed Payne’s retaliation claim and her separate claim of sex discrimination based on Randleman’s actions. She didn’t allege she suffered an adverse employment action as a result of Randleman’s conduct, the court said.
Jean Walpole Coulter & Associates Inc. represents Payne. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. represents Great Plains.
The case is Payne v. Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 2018 BL 84689, N.D. Okla., No. 17-CV-0578, motion to dismiss denied in part 3/13/18.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)