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Sobolak v. CW&W Contractors Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

January 22, 2018

SCARLETT SOBOLAK AND BLANCA CHARPENTIER MCGEE
v.
CW&W CONTRACTORS, INC.

          HAYES, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendant, CW&W Contractors, Inc. (“CW&W”). [Record Document 20]. Plaintiff, Blanca Charpentier McGee (“McGee”) opposes the motion. [Record Document 28]. For the reasons assigned herein, Defendant's motion is hereby GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND FACTS

         McGee began her employment with CW&W on April 11, 2012, in the position of travel coordinator. [Record Document 3 ¶ 7]. McGee arranged the travel and hotel accommodations for CW&W employees working out-of-town construction projects. [Record Document 20-2 ¶ 1; Warren Dep. at 14-24]. McGee was also responsible for creating a daily report that summarized information valuable to managing the day-to-day operations of the business. [Warren Dep. at 14-24].

         While employed with CW&W, McGee alleges that she was sexually harassed at an off-campus cookout during the 2013 Labor Day holiday. [Record Document 3 ¶ 22]. CW&W General Manager, Ernie Simpson (“Simpson”), hosted the cookout at his home in DeBerry, Texas. Id. Also in attendance were CW&W employees Angela Finley (“Finley”) and James Traxler (“Traxler”). [McGee Dep. at 37-41]. McGee alleges that during the cookout she drank several shots of alcohol offered to her by Simpson because she did not believe she had the option to decline. [Record Document 3 ¶ 22]. She alleges that one of the drinks may have been drugged because shortly after taking a shot of alcohol she lost control of her body and could not move her arms or legs. Id. Thereafter, McGee alleges that Traxler picked up her legs and put them in his lap, while her upper body was resting against Simpson. Id. McGee alleges that Simpson then began speaking to her in a sexual manner and touched her breasts. Id. Shortly thereafter, McGee alleges that Simpson and Traxler decided to go back inside the house, and they had to assist her inside because she could not move. [McGee Dep. at 49]. McGee then went to her assigned bedroom and lay down on the bed. Id. Traxler slept beside her, but did not touch her. Id. at 49-51. The next morning McGee ate breakfast with Simpson before leaving his house because he allegedly required her to do so. Id. at 50. McGee also alleges that Simpson threatened her not to say anything at the office. [Record Document 3 ¶ 22].

         When McGee arrived at the office the following Monday she was approached by co-plaintiff, Scarlett Sobolak (“Sobolak”), CW&W's Human Resources Manager, who inquired into her well being after noticing that she was upset. [McGee Dep. at 60]. McGee then informed Sobolak of what allegedly happened over the weekend. [Record Document 3 ¶ 22]. During her conversation with Sobolak, McGee asked Sobolak not to tell anyone about what had transpired because she was afraid of negative consequences from Simpson. [McGee Dep. at 60-61]. However, McGee states that despite her request she felt that her conversation with Sobolak was her cry for help, and she thought Sobolak would fix the situation. Id. at 61. McGee did not tell her direct supervisor, Jennifer Corley Lewis (“Lewis”), because she feared repercussions from Simpson. Id. She did not tell Glen Warren (“Warren”), owner of CW&W, because she did not want to displease him and she was concerned that she would lose her job because she feared Warren would believe Simpson's version of the story. Id. at 61-63.

         On December 10, 2013, several of CW&W's female employees spoke privately amongst themselves and determined that Simpson had allegedly behaved inappropriately with McGee, Sobolak, Lewis, and Finley. [Record Document 3 ¶ 24]. Thereafter, Lewis shared this information with Warren and a meeting was called to discuss the allegations. Id. at ¶ 25. In attendance were Warren, Lewis, Finley, McGee, Sobolak, and Brian Murry, CW&W's Contract Service Manager. Id. During the meeting, Warren asked each of the women to explain what had been going on. [McGee Dep. at 73]. Finley stated that she received text messages and phone calls from Simpson. [Lewis Dep. at 79; Record Document 28-5, Finley Aff. ¶ 6]. Lewis also received text messages from Simpson asking her to spend time with him outside of the office. [Lewis Dep. at 80]. Sobolak described her interactions with Simpson as an inappropriate “emotional affair” and she indicated that she was leaving CW&W to work on her marriage and keep her family in tact. Id. at 81.[1]

         McGee told Warren about Simpson allegedly touching her breasts at his house while she was intoxicated and unable to move or resist. [McGee Dep. at 73-74]. McGee also told Warren that Simpson threatened her not to tell anyone about the incident. Id. McGee described the meeting as extremely uncomfortable because she told her story in front of so many people and she felt ashamed. Id. at 74. McGee also said that while she was making her statement she could sense that Warren was angry with Simpson, so she kept her story short and to the point. Id. at 74-75.

         On January 2, 2014, Simpson's employment with CW&W was terminated. [Record Document 3 ¶ 34]. McGee alleges that after Simpson's termination the office atmosphere became very tense and she began experiencing retaliation from other employees, such that the working conditions became so intolerable that she could no longer continue to work for CW&W. Id. at ¶ 35. Specifically, McGee made the following statements in her deposition regarding the retaliation:

“I resigned my employment because after Mr. Ernie Simpson was terminated, the environment at work was awful. It was - everyone hated and blamed Scarlett [Sobolak] for what happened, which I understood a part of that.” [McGee Dep. at 88-89].
“Comments would fly on a daily basis about Scarlett, about what happened.” Id. at 91.
“And the air in that office - well, you couldn't breathe. Because I felt animosity for having the audacity to still be Scarlett's friend. And the - it changed. From then on it changed.” Id.
“I felt animosity on several levels. One, I was still Scarlett's friend, even though I tried not to even discuss that I was still her friend, but I felt - I felt blamed that somehow they viewed that I carried some blame for what happened.” Id. at 92.
“I felt uncomfortable. I felt as an outsider. I did not - things changed. No. one really wanted to have anything to do with me. I felt ostracized. And I tried. But no one can ...

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