United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT RITE WAY SERVICES, INC.'S  MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION'S  MOTION TO STRIKE DEFENDANT'S EXHIBITS AND TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT RITE WAY SERVICES, INC.'S  MOTION TO STRIKE LINDA QUARLES' DECLARATION, AND DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT RITE WAY SERVICES, INC.'S  MOTION TO STRIKE THE DECLARATION OF ANNETTE GEORGE
HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, District Judge.
BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Rite Way Services, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment . Also before the Court are the Motion to Strike Defendant's Exhibits and Testimony in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment  filed by Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Defendant Rite Way Services, Inc.'s Motion to Strike Linda Quarles' Declaration , and Defendant's Motion to Strike the Declaration of Annette George . Having considered the parties' submissions, the record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court is of the opinion that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment  should be granted. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's Exhibits and Testimony in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment , Defendant's Motion to Strike Linda Quarles' Declaration , and Defendant's Motion to Strike the Declaration of Annette George  should all be denied as moot. Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and this civil action should be dismissed.
A. Factual Background
Mekeva Tennort ("Tennort") applied for employment with Defendant Rite Way Services, Inc. ("Rite Way") on September 9, 2009. Tennort Dep. 49:21-25 [90-3]. Tennort was hired and assigned to work a shift from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Biloxi High School, in Biloxi, Mississippi, cleaning classrooms. Id. at 54:18-55:11, 67:12-17. In October 2009, Tennort agreed to be reassigned to Biloxi Junior High School ("BJHS") and to work from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Id. at 56:17-57:11. Tennort's new supervisor was Erika Quinn ("Quinn"). Id. at 58:3-4. Tennort's responsibilities expanded to include cleaning the restrooms, the cafeteria, and the hallways and windows. Id. at 57:19-24.
Tennort's daily schedule at BJHS began with cleaning the restrooms, wiping all windows in the hallway, and then moving to the cafeteria to set up for breakfast. Id. at 58:10-24. Once students finished breakfast, Tennort was responsible for cleaning the cafeteria with two to four of her co-workers. Id. at 59:7-20. Tennort would then move to her assigned area, the first floor of the main classroom building at BJHS, to clean, sweep, and mop the restrooms, wipe down all hallway windows, and clean the water fountains. Id. at 59:21-60:23. Tennort was required to return to the cafeteria to set up for lunch and to clean the cafeteria after each wave of students finished lunch. Id. at 61:2-14. Tennort would then return to her designated area, check and clean each of the restrooms, and clock out by 2:30 p.m. Id. at 61:15-23.
Tennort was not required to work during the summer when classes at BJHS were not in session. Id. at 62:9-11. For this reason, Rite Way laid off Tennort effective June 15, 2010,  and rehired her effective August 11, 2010, to work at BJHS, again under Quinn's supervision. Id. at 62:12-63:4, 66:24-67:11. Tennort had the same job responsibilities during the 2010 to 2011 school year as she had during the 2009 to 2010 school year, and she was similarly laid off at the end of the school year in May 2011. Id. at 69:25-70:6, 71:4-72:3. Tennort was rehired by Rite Way effective August 1, 2011, to work in the same capacity at BJHS for the duration of the 2011 to 2012 school year. Id. at 74:16-75:10. Upon being hired by Rite Way in September 2009 and rehired in August 2011, Tennort acknowledged receipt of Rite Way's policy for reporting harassment. Id. at 54:4-55:5, 78:10-79:15. Rite Way's policy instructed employees to first report incidents to their supervisor and, if not comfortable reporting the incident to their supervisor, to report incidents to Rite Way's Director of Human Resources. Id. at 82:2-83:24.
When she began work on August 1, 2011, Tennort was again assigned to Quinn's supervision at BJHS, but Rite Way terminated Quinn's employment on August 5, 2011. Id. at 75:20-22, 96:1-23; Decl. of Mekeva Tennort ¶ 6 [101-1]. Rite Way replaced Quinn with Willie Dean Harris ("Harris"), who had been working at BJHS as a laundryman since Tennort had returned. Tennort Dep. 96:24-25, 124:12-15 [90-3]. Tennort also recalled working with Harris when she was assigned to Biloxi High School in 2009. Id. at 98:13-19. Tennort acknowledged that she did not have "any issues" with Harris during the previous time she worked with him. Id.
In August 2011, Linda Quarles ("Quarles") also began working at BJHS in the same role as Tennort, and Tennort assisted in Quarles' training. Tennort Decl. ¶ 7 [101-1]. In "[e]arly August, " prior to August 11, 2011, Tennort saw Harris act inappropriately towards Quarles. Tennort Dep. 123:16-124:1 [90-3]. According to Tennort, she observed Harris "act like he was slapping [Quarles'] behind, saying ooh wee.'" Id. at 123:22-123:24. Tennort testified unambiguously that she did not tell Quarles or anyone else about witnessing this gesture:
Q. Did you tell Ms. Quarles that you had seen him do that?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. Did you tell anybody?
A. No, ma'am
Q. Why not?
A. I didn't want to get involved.
Id. at 124:5-11.
On August 11, 2011, Tennort observed a second incident involving Harris and Quarles. At approximately 10:00 a.m., Harris approached Tennort and Quarles to, as Tennort understood, warn Quarles about not having a cellular telephone while working. Id. at 115:17-116:15. According to Tennort, Harris told Quarles that she should not have a cellular telephone on her person, and he instructed Tennort to tell Quarles "to put the phone up out of [Quarles'] back pocket." Id. at 117:24-118:5. After Tennort mentioned that she too had a cellular telephone on her person but did not have anywhere to put the telephone, Tennort added "[d]ang[, s]omebody must be looking hard because how do you know what's in your back pocket?" Id. at 118:17-119:3, 118:12-16. Harris responded, "I'm a man. I'm going to look. They tight, her pants are tight." Id. at 121:6-16. According to Tennort, Quarles became "real upset, " began pulling the slack in the leg of her pants, stated "[i]f anyone else is asking about how tight my jeans are there is going to be some trouble[, ]" and walked away indicating that she was going to do something about the incident. Id. at 121:18-122:9, 125:19-126:5. Tennort did not hear Harris say anything else as Quarles walked away. Id. at 122:24-123:18. Tennort was not present for any other conversations between Harris and Quarles, and Tennort did not hear Harris make any other comments to or about Quarles or any other female employees. Id. at 125:4-11.
Tennort twice discussed this August 11, 2011, incident with others. Id. at 102:11-103:9, 126:10-127:2. The first of these discussions took place later that same morning, at approximately 11:00 a.m. Id. at 126:10-127:2. Quarles directed Tennort to go to the office of Paul Cannette, Chief of Police for BJHS, to make a statement about the incident. Id.; Decl. of Paul Cannette ¶ 3 [101-11]. When Tennort arrived at Officer Cannette's office, he asked her about the incident between Harris and Quarles. Tennort Dep. 17-20 [90-3]. Tennort told Officer Cannette "about how [Harris] was making gestures to [Quarles'] behind, and how he was a man, he's going to look, ...