818 F.3d 274 (7th Cir. 2016), 15-1900, Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc.

Docket Nº:15-1900
Citation:818 F.3d 274
Opinion Judge:Rovner, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:KELLIE PIERCE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ZOETIS, INC. and LOIS HEUCHERT, Defendants-Appellees
Attorney:For Kellie Pierce, Plaintiff - Appellant: Joni Fixel, Attorney, Fixel And Nyehol, Pllc, Okemos, MI. For Zoetis, Inc., Lois Heuchert, Defendants - Appellees: Nadine C. Abrahams, Attorney, Jackson Lewis P.C., Chicago, IL.
Judge Panel:Before WOOD, Chief Judge, ROVNER, Circuit Judge, and SHAH, District Judge.[*]
Case Date:March 15, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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818 F.3d 274 (7th Cir. 2016)

KELLIE PIERCE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

ZOETIS, INC. and LOIS HEUCHERT, Defendants-Appellees

No. 15-1900

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 15, 2016

Argued November 9, 2015

Page 275

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. 1:14 CV 00084 -- Theresa L. Springmann, Judge.

For Kellie Pierce, Plaintiff - Appellant: Joni Fixel, Attorney, Fixel And Nyehol, Pllc, Okemos, MI.

For Zoetis, Inc., Lois Heuchert, Defendants - Appellees: Nadine C. Abrahams, Attorney, Jackson Lewis P.C., Chicago, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, ROVNER, Circuit Judge, and SHAH, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

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Rovner, Circuit Judge.

Kellie Pierce sued her former employer Zoetis, Incorporated and her former supervisor Lois Heuchert, alleging causes of action under Indiana state law. The district court dismissed Pierce's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Pierce appeals, arguing that she has stated a claim for tortious interference with a business relationship against her former supervisor Heuchert. Because the allegations in Pierce's complaint fail to state a claim for tortious interference under Indiana law, we affirm.

I.

In February 2012, Pierce began working for Zoetis, Inc. as a sales representative for animal medicines. According to her amended complaint, which we accept as true at this stage of the proceedings, Pierce had a series of unpleasant encounters with Heuchert and others during her employ before she was ultimately terminated. For example, an instructor at Pierce's training classes told her that she needed to " sex it up" when making her sales presentations. When Pierce told Heuchert about the comment, Heuchert said that the instructor was an " arrogant dickhead" and that Pierce should " just hang in there" and finish the training.

Heuchert also did a number of things that made working for her difficult. She told Pierce to " stroke" the ego of her male " counterpart" (presumably Pierce's sales partner, although that is not clear from her complaint). Heuchert also " took over" sales calls and conversations while on supervisory ride-alongs with Pierce. Pierce alleges that Heuchert's interference on these occasions jeopardized Pierce's relationship with the clients. And at lunch on another occasion when Heuchert was accompanying Pierce on sales calls, Heuchert yelled at Pierce in a restaurant. Specifically, after Heuchert directed Pierce to role play, Heuchert interrupted Pierce's sales pitch by " slam[ming] her fists down on the table" and yelling, " What the FUCK! Why are you talking about puppies?????"

Finally, Heuchert publicly humiliated Pierce again at a National Sales Meeting in Dallas, Texas in February 2013. When Pierce and her male associate Kerry Hab entered a room full of people at an awards banquet, Heuchert said, " What are you two sleeping together in the same room? You are always together!"

Pierce complained about Heuchert's behavior to Human Resources, which she alleges prompted Heuchert to retaliate against her. Zoetis' human resources director eventually connected Pierce with someone to investigate her complaint against Heuchert. Some time after the investigation, all sales representatives received an e-mail informing them that their sales quotas were going to be adjusted. Pierce alleges that her quotas were adjusted upward more substantially than the other employees'. She claims that the substantial increase in her sales quotas was a result of her complaint against Heuchert. Pierce also attributes an increased difficulty in receiving expense reimbursements around that time to retaliation by Heuchert.

In mid-July of 2013, Pierce took time off work for foot surgery. Around that same time, Evelyn Ortiz, who worked in Human Resources, informed Pierce that the investigation had concluded. She told Pierce

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that Heuchert had behaved inappropriately and that she would be disciplined. Pierce returned to work at the beginning of November, but was fired approximately three weeks later for poor performance related to her inability to meet the increased sales goals.

In March 2014, Pierce filed this diversity suit against Zoetis and Heuchert in federal district court, alleging Indiana state-law claims of wrongful termination against both Zoetis...

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