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Jones v. PNK Baton Rouge Partnership

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 13, 2018




         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 32) filed by Defendant PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership d/b/a LAuberge Casino & Hotel of Baton Rouge. Plaintiff Toni Jones filed an opposition. (Doc. 39). For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 32) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is an employment discrimination lawsuit. The facts taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff are as follows. Defendant L'Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana hired Plaintiff, an African-American woman as a full-time Table Games Floor Supervisor in July of 2012. (Doc. 39-3 at p. 19). About a year and a half later, on December 9, 2013, Defendant promoted Plaintiff to Assistant Food and Beverage Manager in the Bon Temps Buffet at the Casino. (Id. at p. 23, 32-1 at ¶ 1 and 39-1 at ¶ 1). Before taking the Assistant Manager position, she told the Director of Food and Beverage, Sean Malone, that she was a single parent and therefore could not work nights. (Doc. 39-5 at p. 27). She asked him if the majority of her hours could be during the day or on weekends, and Malone assured Plaintiff that it would not be a problem to schedule the majority of her work during the day. Id.

         When she was promoted, Plaintiff was instructed to report to the Food and Beverage Manager Rhonda Johnson. (Doc. 39-3 at p. 26). Plaintiff was one of four Assistant Managers, including Chaunsey Miner, Derek Gaspard, and Kenneth Arcenaux. Id. After being promoted to Assistant Manager, but before she actually started working at the buffet, Arcenaux called Plaintiff at home and asked her if she was single. Id. at p. 35. Plaintiff told him that she was single. Id. Plaintiff had never met or spoken to Arcenaux before. Id. at p. 36. Arcenaux also called Plaintiff and said "I just called to tell you that I love you .. . [and] I'm looking forward to you coming to the buffet." Id. at p. 36.

         After Plaintiff started working at the buffet, Arcenaux's advances continued. He repeatedly asked Plaintiff to go out for drinks. Id. at p. 36. Arcenaux also repeatedly commented on Plaintiffs appearance or made advances at least twice each shift they worked together. (Doc. 168 at p. 45). For example, he said "Oh, who is that coming this way, nice arms, oh, nice legs. Oh, that's just Toni." (Doc. 39-3 at p. 36). He also told Plaintiff "That's a nice skirt you got on. I like the way it fit." Id. at p. 44. And he told Plaintiff that she had nice legs and "ought to wear skirts more often." Id. Also whenever Plaintiff and Arcenaux overlapped shifts, he would say "who is that good looking woman, oh, that is just Toni." Id. at p. 45.

         Another time, when Plaintiff was at a concert on her lunch break, Arcenaux waited until Plaintiff had turned around and took a picture of her buttocks and forwarded the photo to other people. Id. at p. 37. Derek Gaspard, another Assistant Manager, showed her the photo. Id. The day before Plaintiff was terminated, Arcenaux again asked Plaintiff to get drinks with him, and later in the day he said "I don't know why you're fighting it, you might as well just go on and give in[.]" Id. at p. 36.

         Plaintiff attempted to stop Arcenaux's advances by rebuffing him and moving on to other subjects. Id. at p. 41. She also tried to never be alone with him. Id. Plaintiff complained about Arcenaux's behavior on multiple occasions. About a month after she started working as an Assistant Manager, Plaintiff complained about Arcenaux to Kizzy Smith in Human Resources. Id. at p. 45. Smith told Plaintiff to keep him posted. Id. Plaintiff complained again to Smith in February and March of 2014. Id.

         Although Plaintiff was promised that she would work days, during her first two weeks at the buffet, Plaintiff worked the night shift from 2:00 PM until the restaurant closed. (Doc. 32-39). As soon as Plaintiff started working, she complained about her schedule to Malone. (Doc. 32-43 at ¶ 7). She also told Johnson, the Food and Beverage Manager, that she did not want to work nights during the week and could not work first thing in the morning. (Doc. 32-25 at ¶ 5). Defendant tried to accommodate Plaintiff and, when possible, gave Plaintiff two weekdays off and two weekday morning shifts. Id. at ¶ 7.

         After Plaintiff rejected Arcenaux's advances, Arcenaux changed Plaintiffs schedule so that she worked the night shift more often. (Doc. 39-3 at p. 27). Plaintiff complained to her supervisor, Rhonda Johnson, and Kizzy Smith in Human Resources, but they did nothing. Id. at p. 27. Plaintiff often arrived after she was scheduled to begin her shift in the morning. Id. Whenever this happened, though, she says that she received approval from Sean Malone or Rhonda Johnson. (Doc. 39-3 at p. 48). Johnson told Plaintiff that she understood that she was a single parent and needed to get her child to school, and that somebody else would open the buffet. Id.

         In April of 2014, Plaintiff says she received her first review from Rhonda Johnson, and she was told she was doing a good job. (Id. at p. 38; 39-4 at p. 18). Shortly after the meeting, however, Arcenaux "cursed out" Plaintiff on the buffet floor. (Doc. 39-3 at p. 41). Plaintiff repeatedly tried to contact Johnson, her supervisor, via text message and email to report his behavior, but Plaintiff received no response. Id. at 38.

         In March and April of 2014, the other three Assistant Managers complained about Plaintiff. Derek Gaspard said "My experiences with Toni were not great from the start. I have always thought she did not have a good attitude ... There have been countless times where she hasn't setup anything and just left both managers high and dry to stay there till 12:30am some nights finishing up things that she should have or could have done. . . She also came in two hours late on Sunday, April 13th." (Doc. 32-14). Chauncey Miner also complained "If I ask her to do something I have to come back and double check; instead of asking how it's done. It'll be completely] wrong where I have to do it myself[.] (Doc. 32-13 at p. 1). Ken Arcenaux also complained that "[Plaintiffs] attitude as a manager is very unacceptable . . . [she] has many excuses about why she can't work 10-11 hour[s] a day . . . [and she] has a bad habit of disappearing from the floor[.]" (Doc. 32-12).

         Malone also requested that the Director of Surveillance prepare a surveillance report on Plaintiff. (Doc. 32-40 at ¶ 5). Between April 13, 2014 and April 20, 2014, the Defendant monitored where Plaintiff was during her shift, when she arrived, and when she left work. (Doc. 32-41). The report shows that Plaintiff arrived late and left early from work on several occasions. Id.

         On May 7, 2014, after receiving these complaints and reviewing the surveillance report, Plaintiffs supervisor, Rhonda Johnson, informed Plaintiff that she was being placed on an Action Plan to address various concerns about her job performance. (Doc. 32-15). The Plan notes that "Toni has been late and/or left early for multiple shifts" and states that "Toni must report on time for all scheduled shifts and remain for their entirety. Should there be an emergency; Toni should contact her supervisor before leaving her shift." Id. at p. 2. Then two days later, Rhonda Johnson, Sean Malone, and Ken Arcenaux, had a meeting with Plaintiff to address communication issues between Plaintiff and Arcenaux. (Doc. 32-33 at p. 6). During the meeting, Arcenaux apologized "for any disrespect" and everyone agreed to move forward. Id.

         On July 28, 2014, Plaintiff asked Kizzy Smith in Human Resources if she could apply for a scheduling assistant position, but she responded that Plaintiff could not transfer because she was on the action plan. (Doc. 39-4 at p. 45). Then about a month later, on August 13, 2014, Plaintiff sent the EEOC an intake questionnaire, in which Plaintiff claimed that she was retaliated against. (Doc. 39-5 at p. 61). Plaintiff wrote: "because I told Rhonda [Johnson] that I wouldn't stand for [Arcenaux] treating me disrespectfully I was written up wrongfully and I have been blacked balled and ostracized by [my] fellow employees." Id. at p. 62. On August 18, 2017, the EEOC sent a notice of charge of discrimination to Defendant's Human Resources Director, Kizzy Smith. Id. at p. 54. On August 22, 2014, Plaintiff met with Malone and Smith. At the meeting, Plaintiff was terminated. (Docs. 32-10 and 40).

         On September 24, 2014, Plaintiff amended her charge of discrimination to claim that she was subject to sex discrimination and retaliation. (Doc. 39-5 at p. 65. On September 30, 2014, the EEOC sent Defendant a new notice of charge of discrimination. Id. at p. 66. Plaintiff then sued Defendant in this Court on December 13, 2016. (Doc. 1). She filed an Amended Complaint on March 27, 2018. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff claims that Defendant is ...

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