Mendoza v. Borden Inc., No. 97-5121

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
Writing for the CourtHULL; EDMONDSON; CARNES; TJOFLAT, Circuit Judge, concurring in part, and dissenting in part, in which BIRCH, BARKETT and MARCUS; BARKETT, Circuit Judge, concurring in part, and dissenting in part, in which BIRCH
Citation195 F.3d 1238
Parties(11th Cir. 1999) RED MENDOZA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BORDEN, INC., d.b.a. Borden's Dairy, Defendant-Appellee
Decision Date16 November 1999
Docket NumberNo. 97-5121

Page 1238

195 F.3d 1238 (11th Cir. 1999)
RED MENDOZA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BORDEN, INC., d.b.a. Borden's Dairy, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 97-5121
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
Nov. 16, 1999

Page 1239

Copyrighted Material Omitted

Page 1240

Copyrighted Material Omitted

Page 1241

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida D. C. Docket No. 96-CV-1082-Nesbitt

Before ANDERSON, Chief Judge, TJOFLAT, EDMONDSON, COX, BIRCH, DUBINA, BLACK, CARNES, BARKETT, HULL and MARCUS, Circuit Judges.*

HULL, Circuit Judge:

This appeal requires this Court to determine whether Appellant Red Mendoza introduced sufficient evidence at trial to support her claim alleging hostile-environment sexual harassment. We conclude that she did not, and therefore we hold that the district court properly granted Appellee Borden's Rule 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's sexual-harassment claim.1

I. Procedural History

In April 1997, Mendoza filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Borden alleging a variety of employment claims. Mendoza asserted claims for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), retaliation under Title VII, and sexual harassment under Title VII. Mendoza also asserted state-law claims alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and discrimination in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act.

Following discovery, Borden moved for summary judgment on all claims. After hearing oral argument, the district court granted summary judgment to Borden on all of Mendoza's claims except her sexual-harassment and disability-discrimination claims.

The parties then proceeded to a jury trial. Following the conclusion of Mendoza's case in chief, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to Borden on her remaining claims including Mendoza's

Page 1242

hostile-environment sexual-harassment claim.

Mendoza appealed the district court's orders awarding summary judgment to Borden on her ADEA, retaliation, and state-law claims and the district court's order granting Borden judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's sexual-harassment and ADA claims. A panel of this Court affirmed the district court's summary-judgment rulings and the entry of judgment as a matter of law on the ADA claim, but reversed the district court's ruling on Borden's motion for judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's sexual-harassment claim. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 158 F.3d 1171 (11th Cir. 1998). On Borden's suggestion for rehearing en banc, this Court voted to hear the case en banc, vacated the panel's opinion, and subsequently directed the parties to brief issues related to Mendoza's sexual-harassment claim. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 169 F.3d 1378 (11th Cir. 1999).

We agree with the panel that the district court properly granted Borden's motions for summary judgment and judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's claims for age discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and discrimination in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act. Therefore, we affirm the district court's entry of judgment in favor of Borden on Mendoza's claims for age discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, and Mendoza's state-law claims. However, we disagree with the panel's conclusion on Mendoza's sexual-harassment claim. For the reasons below, we conclude that the district court did not err in granting Borden's motion for judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's sexual-harassment claim.

II. Factual Background

Mendoza worked in Borden's Miami facility for a total of sixteen months. In December 1993, Mendoza began work with Borden as a temporary employee in the accounting department. In April 1994, she became a permanent employee. Her employment ended in April 1995. According to Borden, Mendoza's employment ended because she was absent from work for three consecutive days without calling to explain her absence as required by Borden's written personnel policies.

During most of her tenure with Borden, Mendoza's supervisor was Daniel Page. He began working in the Miami facility in May 1994; and therefore, his employment overlapped with Mendoza's for approximately eleven months. As the controller of the Miami facility, Page was the highest ranking Borden employee at the facility. Thus, Page exercised supervisory authority over Mendoza.

The Miami facility where Mendoza worked consisted of several discrete areas. The plant where the milk was processed constituted the majority of the facility, but the facility also included various offices, hallways, and an outdoor picnic area. Mendoza worked in the same office area with eight to twelve other accounting clerks. Page worked in a glass-enclosed office situated in one corner of that office area. From his desk, Page could observe the rest of the office area.

In sexual harassment cases, the courts must consider the alleged conduct in context and cumulatively. Therefore, we set forth all alleged harassing conduct so that we can look at the totality of the circumstances. At trial, Mendoza testified to these instances of conduct by Page. First, she testified that:

the man was constantly watching me and following me around and looking me up and down, whether it was face to face with me or as I would get up from a lunch table or from the picnic table to walk away and to go back to the office.

Later, Mendoza further explained Page's conduct:

He seemed to be wherever I was in the plant. He followed me not around the office, but around the hallways in the Plant. Okay? He was at a lunch table in the lunch room. He would be at a picnic table outside. And he would look me up and down, very, in a very obvious fashion.

Page 1243

When I was face to face with him, when I would get up and walk away from these tables or areas, I would feel him watching me up and down from--okay.

Finally, Mendoza reiterated that Page's following and watching "was a constant thing" and that Page never said anything during the following and watching.

Mendoza also testified about two instances when Page "looked at me up and down, and stopped in my groin area and made a . . . sniffing motion." Mendoza described these two instances as follows:

There was an incident where I was standing at a copy machine direct right next to his office. I was making copies. I felt somebody watching me. I looked directly to my right. He was sitting at a chair in the conference room, which is approximately 20, 25 feet away from me, at a chair at the end of the table. And he looked at me up and down, and stopped in my groin area and made a (indicating) sniffing motion.

This also happened another time. It had to be in March, I had the flu. I went into his office -- he was sitting at his computer -- to tell him that my doctor wanted me to take time off because of this flu. And he turned around to his right, looked directly at me, up and down, and stopped again in the groin area, made a sniffing motion again, (indicating), like that.

(Emphasis supplied.) In one instance, Page was twenty to twenty-five feet away from Mendoza, and in the other, Page was sitting at his computer when Mendoza entered his office. She further testified to one other time when he walked around her desk and sniffed without looking at her groin. Mendoza admitted that Page also never said anything to her during what she perceived to be the sniffing nor the looking up and down.

Explaining her only allegation that included any physical conduct, Mendoza testified that while she was at a fax machine in a hallway, Page passed by her and "rubbed his right hip up against my left hip" while touching her shoulder and smiling. Mendoza's complete description of this follows:

I was doing a fax. We had a small coffee machine directly outside the office to the right of our office. I was doing a fax. And this was -- the fax machine was by the doorway, and he rubbed -- he went by me and he rubbed his right hip up against my left hip. I was at an angle, rubbed against me, walked by me, touched my shoulders at the same time, simultaneously. I was startled, I looked up, and he gave me a big smile.

When asked if Page said anything at that point, Mendoza testified, "No, he didn't." Mendoza also explained that this was the only physical contact during the eleven months she worked for Page. Finally, Mendoza described an incident when she confronted Page by entering his office and saying "I came in here to work, period." According to Mendoza, Page responded by saying "Yeah, I'm getting fired up, too."2 When asked if Page said anything else during that meeting, Mendoza testified, "No, he didn't." Mendoza also admitted this was the only time where Page said anything to her that she perceived to be of a sexual nature. When asked if "Page ever use[d] vulgar language with you?", Mendoza replied, "No, he didn't."3

Page 1244

At the close of Mendoza's evidence, Borden moved for judgment as a matter of law on Mendoza's hostile-environment sexual-harassment claim. After hearing argument from counsel, the district court, ruling from the bench, granted Borden's motion. The court found the incidents of harassment "in the minds of a reasonable juror or to a reasonable person, are not physically threatening or humiliating, and certainly there was not a sufficient frequency and severity to suggest a hostile or abusive environment." The court further remarked that the allegations were largely devoid of any physical contact or overly offensive comments. Accordingly, the district court concluded that, assuming Mendoza's allegations were sexual in nature, Mendoza had not established a hostile or abusive work environment.

III. Standard of Review and Standard for Granting Judgments as a Matter of Law

This...

To continue reading

Request your trial
697 practice notes
  • Blalock v. Dale County Bd. of Educ., No. CIV. A. 97-D-650-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 15 Diciembre 1999
    ...and (5) that the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take remedial action. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1244 (11th Cir.1999); Huddleston v. Roger Dean Chevrolet, Inc., 845 F.2d 900, 903-04 (11th Cir.1988); Sparks v. Pilot Freight Carriers, Inc., 830......
  • Roberts v. Archbold Med. Ctr., CASE NO.: 7:14–cv–210 (WLS)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • 16 Noviembre 2016
    ...have long held the phrase "terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" prohibits it. 220 F.Supp.3d 1347Mendoza v. Borden, Inc. , 195 F.3d 1238, 1244 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc. , 510 U.S. 17, 23, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d 295 (1993) ). The parties agree there......
  • Anderson v. Dunbar Armored, Inc., Civil Action File No. 1:08-CV-3639-BBM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 18 Agosto 2009
    ...work due to any harassing conduct. As such, her hostile work environment claim is not viable as a matter of law. See Mendoza v. Borden, 195 F.3d 1238, 1248 (11th Cir.1999) (finding hostile work environment claim not actionable where "three of the four factors—physically threatening or humil......
  • Mangrum v. Republic Industries, Inc., No. 1:99-CV-3031-CAM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 10 Febrero 2003
    ...and create a discriminatorily abusive working environment; and (5) a basis for holding the employer liable. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1245 (11th Cir.1999) (citing Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903-05 (11th Cir.1982)), cert denied, 529 U.S. 1068, 120 S.Ct. 1674, 146 L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
694 cases
  • Blalock v. Dale County Bd. of Educ., No. CIV. A. 97-D-650-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • 15 Diciembre 1999
    ...and (5) that the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take remedial action. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1244 (11th Cir.1999); Huddleston v. Roger Dean Chevrolet, Inc., 845 F.2d 900, 903-04 (11th Cir.1988); Sparks v. Pilot Freight Carriers, Inc., 830......
  • Roberts v. Archbold Med. Ctr., CASE NO.: 7:14–cv–210 (WLS)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • 16 Noviembre 2016
    ...have long held the phrase "terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" prohibits it. 220 F.Supp.3d 1347Mendoza v. Borden, Inc. , 195 F.3d 1238, 1244 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc. , 510 U.S. 17, 23, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d 295 (1993) ). The parties agree there......
  • Anderson v. Dunbar Armored, Inc., Civil Action File No. 1:08-CV-3639-BBM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 18 Agosto 2009
    ...work due to any harassing conduct. As such, her hostile work environment claim is not viable as a matter of law. See Mendoza v. Borden, 195 F.3d 1238, 1248 (11th Cir.1999) (finding hostile work environment claim not actionable where "three of the four factors—physically threatening or humil......
  • Mangrum v. Republic Industries, Inc., No. 1:99-CV-3031-CAM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 10 Febrero 2003
    ...and create a discriminatorily abusive working environment; and (5) a basis for holding the employer liable. Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1245 (11th Cir.1999) (citing Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903-05 (11th Cir.1982)), cert denied, 529 U.S. 1068, 120 S.Ct. 1674, 146 L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • How Sexual Harassment Law Failed Its Feminist Roots
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law Nbr. XXII-1, October 2020
    • 1 Octubre 2020
    ...has rejected hostile-work environment claims based on facts more egregious than those presented here”). See also Mendoza v. Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1266–68 (11th Cir. 1999) (Tjof‌lat, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (noting that while the cases cited by the majority with......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT