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Hepburn v. Teleperformance

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 30, 2019

Tammy Hepburn, Plaintiff,
v.
Teleperformance, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable Bruce G. Macdonald United States Magistrate Judge

         Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Teleperformance's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 46). Defendant has also filed a Statement of Facts in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“SOF”) (Doc. 47). Plaintiff filed her Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 51). Plaintiff also filed a Supplemental Brief (Doc. 53), per the Court's December 21, 2018 Order (Doc. 52). Defendant replied (Doc. 54) to both of Plaintiff's responses. Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (Doc. 45). Defendant has filed its Response (Doc. 48) and Plaintiff replied (Doc. 50). As such, both motions are fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         In its discretion, the Court finds this case suitable for decision without oral argument. See LRCiv. 7.2(f). The Parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in their briefs and supporting documents, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this cause of action based on allegations of discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”). The Court views the facts, as it must, in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

         A. Plaintiff's Employment at Teleperformance-Overview

         Plaintiff Tammy Hepburn began her employment with Teleperformance, formerly known as Aegis USA, Inc. on September 9, 2013. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 (Exh. “1”) at 12:3-15. Plaintiff was hired as a Customer Service Representative and worked in this position until she applied for and was accepted to the position of HR Receptionist in May 2014. Id., Exh. “1” at 11:1-10, 11:24-12:11, 20:14- 19; see also Pl.'s First Amended Compl. (Doc. 1-3), AEGIS Welcome to Our Team (Temporary Employee) (Exh. “A”). On July 30, 2014, Teleperformance experienced a seasonal increase of temporary employee hiring in the Sierra Vista area. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Teleperformance's Position Statement to the EEOC (Exh. “3-A”) at Bates No. TPUSA000057. Due to the hiring increase, Plaintiff was assigned the job duties of controlling employee files, conducting backgrounds checks, assisting the recruiting team, and overseeing the reception area. Id., Exh. “1” at 23:1-10, 24:3-8. To fill these duties, Plaintiff was assigned to a back office to assist Human Resources. Id., Exh. “1” at 23:1- 4, 25:6-26:7.

         B. Alleged Work Interference

         On September 10, 2014, Plaintiff sent an e-mail to Judy Morris, Senior Vice President of HR and Niti Prothi, Associate Vice President of HR. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn E-mail to Morris & Prothi 9/10/2014 (Exh. “3-B”) at Bates No. TPUSA000062. Plaintiff indicated that she was doing well, but attached a letter stating that someone was going into her office and “sabotaging” her work by rearranging the employee files. Id., Exh. “3-B” at Bates No. TPUSA000062. Ms. Prothi investigated Plaintiff's allegations, and all of Plaintiff's colleagues denied the allegations. Id., Teleperformance's Position Statement to the EEOC (Exh. “3-A”) at Bates Nos. TPUSA000057-TPUSA000058. Because the files with which Plaintiff was working were employee files, personnel from both HR, as well as the recruiting department, required access to and worked with the same. Id., Exh. “3-A” at Bates. Nos. TPUSA000057-TPUSA000058; see also Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 (Exh. “1”) at 26:19-28:6.

         On September 17, 2014, a conference call was held with Plaintiff, Ms. Prothi, and Joseph Lu, the Manager of the Legal Department. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “3-A” at Bates Nos. TPUSA000058-59; see also Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “1” at 46:24-49:3. During that call, it was decided that Ms. Prothi would remind the HR Department of the company policies on professional conduct and limiting access to confidential personnel files to those who worked in HR. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “3-A” at Bates Nos. TPUSA000058-59; see also Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “1” at 46:24-49:3. Hepburn has acknowledged that the condition of the files may have been due to excessive hiring. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “1” at 50:2-9.

         C. Alleged Discriminatory Treatment

         1. McClanahan Statements

         On September 16, 2014, Plaintiff raised an additional allegation in an e-mail to Ms. Morris stating that Margaret McClanahan, a receptionist at Teleperformance had referred to Plaintiff using the “N” word. Pl.'s First Amended Compl. (Doc. 1-3), E-mail from Hepburn to Morris 9/16/2014 (Exh. “C”). This additional allegation was also discussed during the conference call on September 17, 2014. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 (Exh. “1”) at 46:24-49:3. It was decided that Rhonda Reinartz, HR Assistant, would investigate the allegation. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Teleperformance's Position Statement to the EEOC (Exh. “3-A”) at Bates Nos. TPUSA000059 & Reinartz Aff (Exh. “5”) at ¶ 6 & Bay Aff (Exh. “6”) at ¶ 15. Neither Ms. Prothi nor Ms. Reinartz were able to corroborate Hepburn's claim. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “3-A” at Bates No. TFUSA000059 & Exh. “5” at 10 & Exh. “6” at 18. Ms. McClanahan denied ever having used such language in reference to Plaintiff. Def's SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “6” at ¶ 11.

         On October 6, 2014, Plaintiff again raised her claims of file “sabotage” and Ms. McClanahan's alleged use of the “N” word to the new HR Manager, Yolanda Bay. Id., Exh. “6” at ¶ 4 & Exh. “1” at 73:4-20 & Exh. “3-A” at Bates No. TPUSA000059. Ms. Bay investigated the allegation and spoke with Ms. McClanahan who again denied ever having used such language. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “6” at ¶ 11 & Exh. “3-A” at Bates No. TPUSA000059. Ms. Bay also spoke with Ms. Reinartz who confirmed that Ms. McClanahan had also denied ever using such language upon questioning by Ms. Reinartz. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “6” at 16 & Exh. “5” at 8 & Exh. “3-A” at Bates No. TPUSA000059. No. one was able to substantiate any of Plaintiffs claims. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “6” at ¶ 19 & Exh. “5” at ¶ 10 & Exh. “3-A” at Bates No. TPUSA000059. Ms. McClanahan was coached on proper workplace behavior. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “6” at ¶ 23.

         2. Reinartz Actions

         Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Reinartz, an HR Representative, also used the “N” word in her presence, as well as showing Plaintiff an electronic photograph of a black and white herder type dog, with a bloody knife, and in quotations it read “Mary had a little lamb.” Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Second Amended Compl. (Doc. 15) at ¶¶ 10, 12 & Reinartz Aff (Exh. “5”) at ¶ 1. Ms. Reinartz denies that she ever showed Plaintiff such a photograph. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Exh. “5” at ¶¶ 11-13. After the September 17, 2014 conference call between Plaintiff, Ms. Prothi, and Mr. Lu, Plaintiff “e-mailed Joe Lu back and requested that Rhonda Reinartz be the one designated for the investigation[, ] . . . stat[ing] . . . [she] wanted Rhonda Reinartz to do the investigation because Karl Kondos spends a large amount of time conversing with Margret [sic] McClanahan and I wanted to make sure this is done professionally, honestly, and fairly.” Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Rebuttal to Teleperformance EEOC Position Statement (Exh. “8-B) (Doc. 47-9) at 19.[1]

         3. E-mails

         Plaintiff alleges that she ceased receiving company update e-mails while fulfilling her new duties in the HR Department, despite having received them while working in the receptionist position. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 (Exh. “1”) at 59:20-60:14. Plaintiff indicated that Ms. McClanahan, the new receptionist, began receiving those e-mails. Id., Exh. “1” at 56:6-10. Plaintiff testified that the e-mail updates came from an employee named Jim Gordon. Id., Exh. “1” at 59:17-22.

         4. Vinegar Incident

         Plaintiff alleges that someone placed a substance that looked like sperm in the vinegar at her home. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 (Exh. “1”) at 82:3-83:13. Plaintiff believed that if people were able to come into her office, where she kept her purse, they could get access to the keys to her home. Id. She took the vinegar sample to her neighbor, as well as Sierra Vista Hospital, who agreed that there was something in the vinegar. Id.

         D. Plaintiff's Separation from Defendant Teleperformance

         On December 1, 2014, Plaintiff left her position with Defendant Teleperformance. Def.'s SOF (Doc. 47), Hepburn Depo. 5/22/2018 at 19:16-25. Prior to separating from Defendant Teleperformance, Plaintiff indicated that she would be interested in transferring to an office ...


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