Taylor v. Republic Servs., Inc.

Decision Date16 September 2013
Docket NumberCase No. 1: 12–cv–00523–GBL–IDD.
Citation968 F.Supp.2d 768
PartiesJennifer TAYLOR, Plaintiff, v. REPUBLIC SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia


Brian Adam Scotti, Carla Denette Brown, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Sakata PC, Reston, VA, for Plaintiff.

Erica Lynn Marshall, Leslie Victoria Maffeo, Michael Jay Bauer, Rhett Eugene Petcher, Taron Kato Murakami, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Joleen Roslyn Okun, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC, Washington, DC, for Defendants.


GERALD BRUCE LEE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the five-day non-jury trial of Plaintiff Jennifer Taylor's claims against Defendants Republic Services, Inc., Republic Services of Virginia, LLC, Jason Callaway, Ronald Krall, Douglas Murphy, Christopher Rains and Daniel E. Jameson for hostile work environment and retaliatory discharge pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This case concerns Ms. Taylor's claims that she was subject to systematic unwelcome sexual harassment by her former employer and co-workers for four years, which ultimately led to her separation of employment.

On May 11, 2012, Ms. Taylor filed her Amended Complaint in this Court, asserting the following claims: gender discrimination, sexual harassment and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII (Count I); retaliation, retaliatory discharge and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII (Count II); common law wrongful termination of employment for opposing or resisting criminal conduct (Count III); negligent retention of employees (Count IV); tortious interference with business expectancy (Count V); common law conspiracy (Count VI); and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII). Ms. Taylor requested compensatory, punitive and equitable relief.

At the summary judgment stage, only Counts I, II, III and V remained. 1 On December 20, 2012, the Court granted Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment on Counts I and V of the Amended Complaint, and Partial Summary Judgment on Count II of the Amended Complaint. The Court subsequently granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Count III of the Amended Complaint. Based on the remaining claims, the following issues are before the Court.

The first issue is whether Ms. Taylor was subject to a hostile work environment based on her sex in violation of Title VII where she alleges she was subject to disparate travel restrictions, was called a derogatory name by a colleague, was sent a sexually explicit email by a colleague, and was subject to numerous unwelcome sexual advances by her fellow co-workers. The Court holds that Ms. Taylor has not established by a preponderance of the evidence that the work place conduct she complains of was sufficiently severe or pervasive to establish a hostile work environment claim so as to impute liability to Defendants Republic Services, Inc. and Republic Services of Virginia, LLC.

The second issue is whether Defendants retaliated against Ms. Taylor for engaging in protected activity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court holds that Defendant Republic Services Inc. retaliated against Ms. Taylor when its Vice President of Human Resources terminated Ms. Taylor's employment forty-two (42) days after she engaged in protected activity.

The third issue is whether Ms. Taylor is entitled to compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs and injunctive relief because she has demonstrated that she was injured as a result of Defendants' discriminatory and retaliatory actions. The Court holds that Ms. Taylor is entitled to (1) compensatory damages, (2) front pay, (3) back pay, and (4) attorneys' fees and costs against Defendant Republic Services, Inc.


In a non-jury case, the court must make specific findings of fact and separately state its conclusions of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a)(1). The trial judge has a function of finding the facts, weighing the evidence, and choosing from among conflicting inferences and conclusions those which he considers most reasonable. Penn–Texas Corp. v. Morse, 242 F.2d 243, 247 (7th Cir.1957) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The trial judge has the inherent right to disregard testimony of any witness when satisfied that the witness is not telling the truth, or the testimony is inherently improbable due to inaccuracy, uncertainty, interest, or bias. Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see Columbus–Am. Discovery Grp. v. Atl. Mut. Ins. Co., 56 F.3d 556, 567 (4th Cir.1995) (internal quotation omitted) (stating that the fact finder is in a better position to make judgments about the reliability of some forms of evidence, including evaluation of the credibility of witnesses). It is the duty of the trial judge sitting without a jury to appraise the testimony and demeanor of witnesses. See Burgess v. Farrell Lines, Inc., 335 F.2d 885, 889 (4th Cir.1964).

To satisfy the demands of Rule 52(a), a trial court must do more than announce statements of ultimate fact. United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Constr. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (citation omitted). The court must support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies. Id.

The language of Rule 52 has been construed,

not to require a court to make findings on all facts presented or to make detailed evidentiary findings; if the findings are sufficient to support the ultimate conclusion of the court they are sufficient. Nor is it necessary that the trial court make findings asserting the negative of each issue of fact raised. It is sufficient if the special affirmative facts found by the court, construed as a whole, negative each rejected contention. The ultimate test as to the adequacy of the findings will always be whether they are sufficiently comprehensive and pertinent to the issues to provide a basis for decision and whether they are supported by the evidence.

Darter v. Greenville Cmty. Hotel Corp., 301 F.2d 70, 75 (4th Cir.1962). This rule does not require that the trial court set out findings on the myriad of factual questions that arise in a case. Golf City, Inc. v. Wilson Sporting Goods, 555 F.2d 426, 433 (5th Cir.1977). The sufficiency of the trial court's findings depends upon the particular facts of each individual case, and no general rule can govern. Darter, 301 F.2d at 75.


The following are findings of fact made by the Court after having had an opportunity to observe the witnesses, consider the evidence, and weigh the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses. All of the events giving rise to this action took place while Plaintiff Jennifer Taylor worked at Allied Waste Industries, Inc. (“Allied”) and Republic Services of Virginia, LLC (“Republic” or “the Company”), which are solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal companies.

In May 2007, Plaintiff Jennifer Taylor began her employment with Allied as the Director of Infrastructure Development for the Northeast Region. At this time, Ms. Taylor worked in Erie, Michigan, but maintained her residence in Toledo, Ohio. In this position, Ms. Taylor was responsible for all real estate transactions and construction projects in the region.

In December 2008, Allied merged with Republic, a wholly owned subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc. (Republic Inc.). Republic is comprised of four separate regional business operating units or regions. Each region is headed by a senior vice-president of operations who functions as the chief executive officer. Within each region there exists a number of areas devoted to various business units. The areas are headed by area presidents, who each direct their respective business unit with the assistance of general managers.

In early 2009, Ms. Taylor assumed the position of Director of Municipal Services for the East Region and relocated to Centreville, Virginia. In this role, Ms. Taylor was responsible for working closely with various districts and divisions within Republic to carry out strategies involving the sale of contracts for trash collection to local governments and businesses in the East Region. She oversaw a team of thirteenmunicipal sales persons in fourteen states. Ms. Taylor and the Regional Directors of Municipal Sales from three other regions reported indirectly to Daniel Jameson, Vice President of Municipal Services and Government Affairs at Republic. Ms. Taylor's immediate or dotted-line supervisor was Douglas Murphy, Vice President of Sales for the East Region. Ms. Taylor ultimately reported to Ronald Krall, Senior Vice President for the East Region.

Ms. Taylor testified that she first experienced sexual harassment while working at Allied. She attended a work-related social event one evening in April or May 2008 at a restaurant called Ralphie's in Ohio. Jason Callaway had recently been selected to be the Vice President of Human Resources for the Northeast Region and, during the course of the evening, Ms. Taylor engaged in conversation with Mr. Callaway regarding the neighborhood where she lived as Mr. Callaway was relocating to the Toledo area for his new position. At the conclusion of the evening, Ms. Taylor offered to take Mr. Callaway and Christopher Hill, a colleague at Allied, back to their hotel, which was en route to her home. During the car ride, Ms. Taylor and Mr. Callaway continued to discuss her neighborhood and the school system. Ms. Taylor invited Mr. Callaway to stop by her home next time he was in town.

Ms. Taylor was shocked when Mr. Callaway arrived at her home around 11:30 p.m. that evening. Mr. Callaway stated that he had come over for a brief tour of Ms. Taylor's home. While Ms. Taylor had suggested that Mr. Callaway could come to see her home and neighborhood on his next visit to Toledo, she was merely offering to show him and his family her...

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