Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, No. C 96-4023-MWB.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
Writing for the CourtBennett
Citation994 F.Supp. 1061
PartiesTerri MOLAND, Plaintiff, v. BIL-MAR FOODS, a division of Sara Lee Corporation, and Sara Lee Corporation, Defendants.
Decision Date13 February 1998
Docket NumberNo. C 96-4023-MWB.
994 F.Supp. 1061
Terri MOLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
BIL-MAR FOODS, a division of Sara Lee Corporation, and Sara Lee Corporation, Defendants.
No. C 96-4023-MWB.
United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division.
February 13, 1998.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENNETT, District Judge.


 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND ....................................... 1064
                 II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT .................................... 1065
                 A. General Standards For Summary Judgment ......................... 1065
                 B. Cautions In Employment Discrimination And Retaliation Cases .... 1065
                III. FINDINGS OF FACT .................................................. 1066
                 A. Uncontested Facts .............................................. 1066
                 B. Contested Facts ................................................ 1067
                 IV. LEGAL ANALYSIS .................................................... 1067
                 A. Employment Relationship Requirement ............................ 1067
                 B. Determination of Employee Status Under Title VII ............... 1068
                 C. Application Of The Hybrid Test ................................. 1069
                 1. Bil-Mar's right to control and supervise Moland ............. 1070
                 2. Other hybrid test factors ................................... 1071
                 D. Indirect Employee-Employer Relationship ........................ 1071
                 1. Sexual harassment claim ..................................... 1071
                 a. Sibley line of authorities ............................... 1071
                 b. The prompt remedial action requirement ................... 1074
                 c. Bil-Mar's response to harassment ......................... 1074
                 2. Retaliation claim ........................................... 1075
                

Page 1064

 E. Certification For Interlocutory Appeal ........................ 1076
                 V. CONCLUSION ....................................................... 1078
                

In this employment discrimination lawsuit, the present motion for summary judgment raises what at first blush appears to be the straightforward issue of whether an employment relationship, a statutory requirement for an employment discrimination lawsuit brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., existed between plaintiff and defendants at the time plaintiff was assigned to work at a scale house on one of defendants' facilities. However, closer examination reveals that the critical issue before the court in this case is one which neither the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, nor any other federal court, has ever addressed in a published opinion and one which the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has left unanswered: "whether an employee of employer X may bring a Title VII action against employer Y when Y is not his employer, but merely someone whose discriminatory conduct interferes with his employment with employer X." Alexander v. Rush North Shore Medical Ctr., 101 F.3d 487, 493-94 n. 2 (7th Cir.1996), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ____, 118 S.Ct. 54, 139 L.Ed.2d 19 (1997).

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Terri Moland filed this sex discrimination lawsuit on March 4, 1996, against defendants Bil-Mar Foods and Sara Lee Corporation (collectively "Bil-Mar" unless otherwise indicated). Moland, an employee of IBP Corporation ("IBP"), had been assigned to work at Bil-Mar's scale house at its turkey processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa. Moland worked at the scale house until February 22, 1995, when IBP complied with a request from Bil-Mar that IBP no longer assign her to Bil-Mar's scale house. Moland's complaint alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Moland also alleges that defendants retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace in violation of Title VII. Bil-Mar answered the complaint on April 16, 1996.

Bil-Mar has moved for summary judgment. In its motion, Bil-Mar asserts that there are no genuine issues of material fact and argues that no employment relationship existed between Moland and Bil-Mar. Accordingly, Bil-Mar asserts that Moland cannot invoke the protections found in Title VII. Moland filed a timely resistance to Bil-Mar's motion. In her resistance, Moland contends that she had an employment relationship with Bil-Mar sufficient to entitle her to bring suit under Title VII. Moland also contends that an indirect employment relationship is sufficient to bring Bil-Mar within the ambit of Title VII. After the parties had submitted their initial briefs, the court sua sponte invited the parties to submit further briefing on two issues: first, whether the line of authorities relied on by Moland applies with equal force to Moland's claim of sexual harassment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), as well as to her allegation that defendants retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), given the differences in the language found in those two sections; and second, whether Bil-Mar, when faced with actual or constructive knowledge of alleged sexually harassing conduct, took "`prompt remedial action reasonably calculated to end the harassment.'" Callanan v. Runyun, 75 F.3d 1293, 1296 (8th Cir.1996) (quoting Davis v. Tri-State Mack Distribs., Inc., 981 F.2d 340, 343 (8th Cir.1992)). Additionally, because Bil-Mar's motion raises several issues of first impression in this circuit, the court set the matter for oral argument.

The court held telephonic arguments on Bil-Mar's Motion For Summary Judgment on January 20, 1998. At the hearing, plaintiff Moland was represented by Steve Hamilton of Hamilton Law Firm, P.C., Storm Lake, Iowa. Defendants were represented by Margaret M. Prahl of Heidman, Redmond, Fredregill, Patterson, Plaza & Dykstra, L.L.P., Sioux City, Iowa.

The court turns first to the standards applicable to motions for summary judgment, then to a discussion of the undisputed facts as shown by the record and the parties'

Page 1065

submissions, and finally to its legal analysis of whether Bil-Mar is entitled to summary judgment on Moland's claims of sex discrimination and retaliation.

II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A. General Standards For Summary Judgment

This court has considered in some detail the standards applicable to motions for summary judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56 in a number of recent decisions. See, e.g., Dirks v. J.C. Robinson Seed Co., 980 F.Supp. 1303, 1305-07 (N.D.Iowa 1997); Laird v. Stilwill, 969 F.Supp. 1167, 1172-74 (N.D.Iowa 1997); Rural Water Sys. # 1 v. City of Sioux Center, 967 F.Supp. 1483, 1499-1501 (N.D.Iowa 1997); Tralon Corp. v. Cedarapids, Inc., 966 F.Supp. 812, 817-18 (N.D.Iowa 1997); Security State Bank v. Firstar Bank Milwaukee, N.A., 965 F.Supp. 1237, 1239-40 (N.D.Iowa 1997); Lockhart v. Cedar Rapids Community Sch. Dist., 963 F.Supp. 805 (N.D.Iowa 1997). Thus, the court will not consider those standards in detail here.

Suffice it to say that Rule 56 itself provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

Rule 56. Summary Judgment

(b) For Defending Party. A party against whom a claim ... is asserted ... may, at any time, move for summary judgment in the party's favor as to all or any part thereof.

(c) Motions and Proceedings Thereon.... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

FED.R.CIV.P. 56(b) & (c) (emphasis added). Applying these standards, the trial judge's function at the summary judgment stage of the proceedings is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there are genuine issues for trial. Quick v. Donaldson Co., 90 F.3d 1372, 1376-77 (8th Cir.1996); Johnson v. Enron Corp., 906 F.2d 1234, 1237 (8th Cir.1990). "An issue of material fact is genuine if it has a real basis in the [summary judgment] record." Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 395 (8th Cir.1992) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). As to whether a factual dispute is "material," the Supreme Court has explained, "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beyerbach v. Sears, 49 F.3d 1324, 1326 (8th Cir.1995); Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395.

B. Cautions In Employment Discrimination And Retaliation Cases

When summary judgment is sought in an employment discrimination case, however, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has viewed such motions with caution. The court has often stated that "summary judgment should seldom be used in employment-discrimination cases." Crawford v. Runyon, 37 F.3d 1338, 1341 (8th Cir.1994) (citing Johnson v. Minnesota Historical Soc'y, 931 F.2d 1239, 1244 (8th Cir.1991); Hillebrand v. M-Tron Indus., Inc., 827 F.2d 363, 364 (8th Cir.1987), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1004, 109 S.Ct. 782, 102 L.Ed.2d 774 (1989)); see also Snow v. Ridgeview Medical Ctr., 128 F.3d 1201, 1204 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Crawford); Helfter v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 115 F.3d 613, 615 (8th Cir.1997) (quoting Crawford); Chock v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 113 F.3d 861, 862 (8th Cir.1997) ("We must also keep in mind, as our court has previously cautioned, that summary judgment should be used sparingly in employment discrimination cases," citing Crawford); Smith v. St. Louis Univ., 109 F.3d 1261, 1264 (8th Cir.1997) (quoting Crawford); Hardin v. Hussmann Corp., 45 F.3d 262 (8th Cir.1995) ("summary judgments should only be used sparingly in employment discrimination cases," citing Haglof v....

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17 practice notes
  • Faber v. Menard, Inc., No. C 03-3034-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • June 17, 2003
    ...upon certification, decide, in its discretion, whether to permit the appeal on the question certified. Id.10 In Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061 (N.D.Iowa 1998), this court summarized the standards for an interlocutory appeal pursuant to § 1292(b), as articulated by the Eighth Circ......
  • Secondary Life Three LLC v. Transamerica Life Ins. Co., 21-cv-20-MAR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • December 8, 2021
    ...is wrong.”); In re Agriprocessors, Inc., No. 15-CV-1015-LRR, 2015 WL 5316867, at *1 (N.D. Iowa Sept. 11, 2015); Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1076 (N.D. Iowa 1998)); (Doc. 66 at 3 n.3 (citing, inter alia, 8th Cir. LR 32.1A (“unpublished opinions may be cited ‘if the opinion has......
  • Axness v. Aqreva LLC, No. CIV 14–4078.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • July 27, 2015
    ...order to prevail on [a] Title VII claim, [a plaintiff] must demonstrate that defendants were her ‘employer.’ " Moland v. Bil–Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1068 (N.D.Iowa 1998) (citing Devine v. Stone, Leyton & Gershman, P.C., 100 F.3d 78, 79 (8th Cir.1996) ). See Deal v. State Farm County Mu......
  • U.S. v. New York State Dept. of Motor Vehicles, No. 96 CV 2935(ARR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 12, 2000
    ...plaintiff's assignment, but she continued to be employed by the temp agency for which she worked. See id. Cf. Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1073 (N.D.Iowa 1998) (applying indirect employment theory where plaintiff was transferred by employer from job in Page 49 facility after b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Faber v. Menard, Inc., No. C 03-3034-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • June 17, 2003
    ...upon certification, decide, in its discretion, whether to permit the appeal on the question certified. Id.10 In Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061 (N.D.Iowa 1998), this court summarized the standards for an interlocutory appeal pursuant to § 1292(b), as articulated by the Eighth Circ......
  • Secondary Life Three LLC v. Transamerica Life Ins. Co., 21-cv-20-MAR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • December 8, 2021
    ...is wrong.”); In re Agriprocessors, Inc., No. 15-CV-1015-LRR, 2015 WL 5316867, at *1 (N.D. Iowa Sept. 11, 2015); Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1076 (N.D. Iowa 1998)); (Doc. 66 at 3 n.3 (citing, inter alia, 8th Cir. LR 32.1A (“unpublished opinions may be cited ‘if the opinion has......
  • Axness v. Aqreva LLC, No. CIV 14–4078.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • July 27, 2015
    ...to prevail on [a] Title VII claim, [a plaintiff] must demonstrate that defendants were her ‘employer.’ " Moland v. Bil–Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1068 (N.D.Iowa 1998) (citing Devine v. Stone, Leyton & Gershman, P.C., 100 F.3d 78, 79 (8th Cir.1996) ). See Deal v. State Farm County......
  • U.S. v. New York State Dept. of Motor Vehicles, No. 96 CV 2935(ARR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 12, 2000
    ...plaintiff's assignment, but she continued to be employed by the temp agency for which she worked. See id. Cf. Moland v. Bil-Mar Foods, 994 F.Supp. 1061, 1073 (N.D.Iowa 1998) (applying indirect employment theory where plaintiff was transferred by employer from job in Page 49 facility after b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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