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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dolgencorp, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

May 8, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION PLAINTIFF
v.
DOLGENCORP, LLC. d/b/a DOLLAR GENERAL STORES, INC. DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the court on the motion of defendant Dolgencorp, LLC d/b/a Dollar General Stores, Inc. (“Dolgencorp”) for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has responded in opposition to the motion, and the court, having considered the memoranda and submissions of the parties, concludes that the motion is not well taken and should be denied.

         This is a sexual harassment case, filed by plaintiff EEOC, arising out of a harmful work environment allegedly suffered by Keoshal Hankins while working as a sales associate at the Dollar General store in Red Banks, Mississippi. Plaintiff contends that, during her brief employment at Dollar General in 2012, [1] Hankins was subjected to repeated sexual harassment by the store manager Jonathan Holloway, which allegedly included propositions for sex and unwanted and offensive physical contact. Plaintiff alleges that Hankins reported this harassment to the assistant store manager Linda Foshee as well as to lead sales associate Tara Hampton and that Foshee relayed her complaints to Dolgencorp's district manager Paul Grimes and senior human resources manager Jennifer Smallwood. Plaintiff further contends that defendant responded in a “painstakingly slow” manner to the reports of harassment against Holloway, although it acknowledges that it eventually terminated him, approximately four months after initiating its investigation into his conduct.

         Defendant has presently moved for summary judgment, arguing that there is no genuine issue of fact regarding its liability for any sexual harassment committed by Holloway and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. To establish a prima facie case of a sexually hostile work environment under Title VII, plaintiff must show that Hankins (1) belongs to a protected class, (2) was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment, (3) the harassment was based on sex, [and] (4) the harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of employment. Aryain v. Wal-Mart Stores if Tex, L.P., 534 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2008). In seeking summary judgment, defendant only appears to dispute that plaintiff can establish the fourth element of its prima facie case, relating to the seriousness of the harassment allegedly suffered by Hankins. To determine whether the alleged harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of her employment, a plaintiff must show that the conduct was “severe or pervasive.” Harvill v. Westward Commc'ns, L.L.C., 433 F.3d 428, 434 (5th Cir. 2005).

         In responding to defendant's arguments that the alleged harassment in this case was insufficiently severe, plaintiff provided a list of the harassment which, it contends, Hankins suffered. This court will quote this list in its entirety:

The summary of the facts of this case (cited previously) show that during the vast majority of the four months that Mr. Holloway supervised Ms. Hankins, Mr. Holloway daily directed some form of unwelcome, offensive and lewd conduct of a sexual nature when Ms. Hankins worked with Mr. Holloway. These comments were as follows:
• Mr. Holloway asked Ms. Hankins to come to his house so that he could eat pussy;
• Mr. Holloway made sexual gestures like licking his tongue out at her
• Mr. Holloway said you don't want me to eat your pussy;
• Mr. Holloway said, you know I love to eat pussy;
• Mr. Holloway said, I want to you to cum (sic) on my face;
• Mr. Holloway said, I can separate being your manager from outside. When we leave the store, it's personal;
• Mr. Holloway asked Ms. Hankins out on dates;
• Mr. Holloway told Ms. Hankins he wanted to fuck her;
• Mr. Holloway said he would fuck Ms. Hankins good;
• Mr. Holloway said he had a big dick;
• Mr. Holloway offered to pay Ms. Hankins to have sex with him;
• Mr. Holloway appeared in the bathroom while she was cleaning it and said the cameras could not see where they were standing;
• Mr. Holloway rubbed his erect penis against Ms. Hankins' buttocks;
• Mr. Holloway bumped his chest into Ms. Hankins' breast;
• Mr. Holloway placed his hands on Ms. Hankins' shoulders to rub her;
• Mr. Holloway peeked at Ms. Hankins in a sexual and seductive manner from a different area of the store;
• Mr. Holloway walked out of his office on several occasions with an erect penis that could be observed through his pants;
• Mr. Holloway made eye contact with Ms. Hankins and looked down toward his penis;
• Mr. Holloway grabbed his penis from outside his pants to show its size;
• Mr. Holloway, while showing his erection, placed his fingers up to his lips in the shape of the letter V and stuck out his tongue;
• Mr. Holloway sent Ms. Hankins inappropriate text message stating that he wanted to put his dick between Ms. Hankins boobs and rub back and forth, that Ms. Hankins had perfect breast, perfect body and that they should get together soon;
• Mr. Holloway sent Ms. Hankins a text message stating he wanted to kiss Ms. Hankins body and eat her pussy ...

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