Rinker v. Ohio State Racing Comm'n, 2019-00525JD

CourtCourt of Claims of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPATRICK E. SHEERAN Judge
Citation2022 Ohio 1595
PartiesKIMBERLY RINKER, et al. Plaintiffs v. OHIO STATE RACING COMMISSION Defendant
Docket Number2019-00525JD
Decision Date18 March 2022

2022-Ohio-1595

KIMBERLY RINKER, et al. Plaintiffs
v.
OHIO STATE RACING COMMISSION Defendant

No. 2019-00525JD

Court of Claims of Ohio

March 18, 2022


Sent to S.C. Reporter 5/12/22

Holly True Shaver Magistrate Judge

JUDGMENT ENTRY

PATRICK E. SHEERAN Judge

{¶1} On June 24, 2021, plaintiffs filed objections to the magistrate's June 9, 2021 decision recommending judgment in favor of Defendant, Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the magistrate's decision as its own.

Standard of Review

{¶2} Civ.R. 53(D)(3)(b)(i) provides, "A party may file written objections to a magistrate's decision within fourteen days of the filing of the decision, whether or not the court has adopted the decision during that fourteen-day period as permitted by Civ.R. 53(D)(4)(e)(i)." "Whether or not objections are timely filed, a court may adopt or reject a magistrate's decision in whole or in part, with or without modification." Civ.R. 53(D)(4)(b). The court "shall undertake an independent review as to the objected matters to ascertain that the magistrate has properly determined the factual issues, and appropriately applied the law." Civ.R. 53(D)(4)(d). In reviewing the objections, the court does not act as an appellate court but rather conducts "a de novo review of the facts and conclusions in the magistrate's decision." (Citations omitted.) Ramsey v. Ramsey, 10th Dist. No. 13AP-840, 2014-Ohio-1921, ¶ 17. Objections "shall be specific and state with particularity all grounds for objection." Civ.R. 53(D)(3)(b)(ii). An objection to a factual finding must be supported "by a transcript of all the evidence submitted to the magistrate

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relevant to that finding or an affidavit of that evidence if the transcript is not available." Civ.R. 53(D)(3)(b)(iii).

Factual Background

{¶3} Defendant has employed plaintiff Kimberly Rinker as the administrator of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund since 2015 and plaintiff Sherry White as a fiscal officer since 2009. Defendant has employed William Crawford as its executive director since 2011 and Michael Rzymek as deputy director and legal counsel since 2018.

{¶4} Rinker filed a complaint with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) in December 2017. Rinker alleged that Crawford had discriminated against her based on gender. OEO investigated this complaint. White was interviewed during this investigation and stated that she believed Rinker's allegations. During a separate June 2019 investigation, OEO interviewed both White and Rinker. The investigation focused in part on both women's allegations of gender-based discrimination and retaliation.

{¶5} At trial, plaintiffs testified that Crawford and Rzymek took a variety of adverse actions towards them after they participated in OEO's investigations. In her role as administrator of the Ohio Sire Stakes Program, Rinker must visit farms to inspect stallions. In 2018, Rzymek instituted a new policy that required Rinker to use a state vehicle to visit farms, which she had to request 10 days prior. Plaintiff had previously been allowed to visit farms using her personal car. Rzymek testified that he made this change to comply with Department of Administrative Services (DAS) policy.

{¶6} In 2019, Defendant also instituted a new policy that required Rinker to store prizes for race winners in the workplace, rather than at her home, as she had previously been permitted to do. Rinker claimed that Rzymek justified this on the basis that it was illegal to store state property at her home. Rinker further testified that she contacted DAS regarding this policy. DAS told Rinker that storing state property at her home was not illegal, but that it preferred for state property to be stored in a state facility.

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{¶7} Further, Rinker testified that defendant instructed her to make fewer farm visits and prohibited her from accruing compensatory time for working more than 80 hours in a two-week pay period. Crawford denied that defendant banned Rinker from accruing compensatory time. Crawford testified that Rinker merely needed to get approval for compensatory time in advance. According to Rzymek, this policy applied to all employees, not just Rinker. Further, according to Rzymek, the purpose of the policy was to allow defendant to reassign work from any employee routinely working more than 80 hours per pay period to another employee.

{¶8} Rinker also testified that Crawford pulled his car behind her car in a parking facility they both use and, to intimidate her, shined his high beams through her windows. Crawford testified that he did not remember this, admitted to using that parking garage, and suggested that he would have had his lights on because it was dark.

{¶9} Finally, Rinker testified that an IT person at OSRC told her Crawford attempted to access her work computer while she was on vacation.

{¶10} White testified at trial that defendant undertook a variety of retaliatory action towards her as well. White testified that Crawford refused to speak to her except by email and did so only when necessary. Crawford denied this,...

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