United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
HONORABLE STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III JUDGE
11, 2017, Plaintiff Crystal Murphy filed a complaint against
her former employer, Vaive Wood Products Co.
("Vaive"), alleging that Vaive committed two
violations of Title VII. First, she claimed that Vaive
tolerated and promoted a hostile work environment of severe
and pervasive sexual harassment. Second, she alleged that
Vaive terminated her employment for complaining about sexual
harassment in the workplace.
pending before the Court is Vaive's motion for summary
judgment. ECF 13. The Court held a hearing on April 17, 2018.
For the reasons below, the Court will grant in part and deny
in part Vaive's motion for summary judgment.
Wood produces wooden pallets used for shipping. Murphy began
work at Vaive in October 2015; her early work consisted of
stamping pallets for heat treatment and color coding the
pallets, ECF 13-2, PgID 88, but Vaive employees did whatever
work was needed to produce the pallets, id. at 89.
In addition to stamping the pallets, therefore, Murphy also
cut, stacked, and nailed the pallets, drove forklifts, and
unloaded and loaded trucks. Id. The entire
production of pallets occurred in a single factory. Allan
Scroggs, Vaive's Vice President, oversaw the day-to-day
management of the company. ECF 13, PgID 56. Phil Kotewa
served as the Plant Supervisor (or Plant Manager) and was the
primary supervisor of the factory's activities. Below
Kotewa were a number of mid-level supervisors, including
Chris Romero, who worked as Vaive's assembly foreman.
Id. During Murphy's employment, only one other
woman worked at Vaive, and she served on the business side.
Murphy worked in the male-dominated factory setting.
Id. All parties agree that Murphy's first few
months were unremarkable.
in February 2016, Murphy alleges that multiple incidents of
harassing conduct toward her occurred. She references
different alleged instances in her complaint, her responses
to interrogatories, and her deposition. For clarity and
simplicity, the Court will list the relevant allegations with
the name of the person who committed the alleged act.
- In February 2016, Murphy reported the first alleged
incident of harassment, that Ivory touched her
- In April 2016, Ivory told Murphy he wanted her to be his
"Twinkie." ECF 1, PgID 2.
- Also in April 2016, Ivory told Murphy: "I'm going
to . . . make you choke on my dick." Id.
- On several occasions, Ivory smacked Murphy's butt and
grabbed at her legs and breasts. Id. at 3; see
also ECF 13-18, PgID 193 (identifying Ivory as the
individual who performed the acts alleged in the complaint).
- Moreover, Ivory would grab Murphy's leg "[a]ll the
time." ECF 13-2, PgID 93.
- On an unknown date, Ivory allegedly talked about
Murphy's bra size to another coworker. ECF 13-18, PgID
- On multiple occasions, Ivory allegedly told Murphy he would
rape her. Id. at 191.
- On an unknown date, Moran shook a forklift that Murphy was
standing on and stared at her breasts while they also shook.
She pushed them together with her arms to make them stop
shaking to which Moran responded: "great, now your
cleavage looks better." ECF 1, PgID 2; see also
ECF 13-18, PgID 193 (identifying Moran as the person who
performed the acts alleged in the complaint).
- On May 31, 2016, Moran sent Murphy a photo of a woman's
tongue nailed to a surface with the caption: "Thou shalt
- On an unknown date, "Ralph" walked behind Murphy
with a sign that read: "wide load." ECF 13-18, PgID
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