United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. Cox United States District Court Judge.
the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“E.E.O.C.”), filed this Title VII employment
discrimination action against Defendant asserting a hostile
work environment sexual harassment claim against it on behalf
of two former employees, and a retaliation claim against
those same two individuals and two other former employees.
Discovery has closed and the case is now before the Court on:
1) the Defendant company's Motion for Summary Judgment;
and 2) the EEOC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as
to liability. The parties have fully briefed the issues and
the Court held a hearing on October 31, 2019. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court shall DENY both motions and allow
all claims in this action to proceed to a jury trial.
E.E.O.C. filed this action against Defendant Safie Specialty
Foods Company, Inc. on October 18, 2018. The EEOC's
complaint includes two counts, both brought under Title VII.
Count I asserts hostile work environment sexual harassment
claims on behalf of Nadwa Korkis and Christina Schoenherr.
Count II asserts Title VII retaliation claims against the
Company on behalf of Korkis, Schoenherr, Lisa Karaszewski,
and Bryant Hardiman.
in this case closed on July 5, 2019. On July 18, 2019,
Defendant Safie filed a summary judgment motion. (ECF No.
17). On August 5, the EEOC filed a “Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment On Liability.” (ECF No. 20).
Court's practice guidelines are included in the
Scheduling Order and provide, consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
(c) and (e), that:
a. The moving party's papers shall include a separate
document entitled Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute.
The statement shall list in separately numbered paragraphs
concise statements of each undisputed material fact,
supported by appropriate citations to the record. . .
b. In response, the opposing party shall file a separate
document entitled Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts. The
counter-statement shall list in separately numbered
paragraphs following the order or the movant's statement,
whether each of the facts asserted by the moving party is
admitted or denied and shall also be supported by appropriate
citations to the record. The Counter-Statement shall also
include, in a separate section, a list of each issue of
material fact as to which it is contended there is a genuine
issue for trial.
c. All material facts as set forth in the Statement of
Material Facts Not in Dispute shall be deemed admitted unless
controverted in the Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts.
(Scheduling Order at 2-3).
parties complied with the Court's practice guidelines for
motions for summary judgment such that Defendants'
summary judgment motion includes a “Statement of
Material Facts Not In Dispute” (“Def.'s
“Stmt. A”) and Plaintiff's response brief
includes a “Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts”
(“Pl.' s Stmt. A”). In addition, along with
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment,
Plaintiff submitted a “Statement of Material Facts Not
In Dispute” (“Pl.'s Stmt. B”) and in
response, Defendant submitted a “Counter-Statement Of
Disputed Facts” (“Def.'s Stmt. B”).
relevant evidence submitted by the parties is set forth
Company And Its Employees And Supervisors
Safie Specialty Foods Company, Inc. (“the
Company”) packages and distributes packaged foods such
as pickles, peppers, carrots, and beets. It is located in
Chesterfield Township, Michigan. (Stmts. A at ¶ 1).
Safie (“Safie”) is the Company's President.
Dr. Theresa Pavone is the Vice President of Human Resources
and Danielle Rashid was the Consumer Relations and Human
Resources Manager at the Company. (Stmts. A at ¶¶
2-4). Lisa Karaszewski was a Floor Supervisor. Nadwa Korkis
was part of the production staff. (Id. at ¶ 8).
Christina Schoenherr and Bryant Hardiman were temporary
employees at the Company and were employed through Allegience
Staffing. (Id. at ¶ 7).
Haddad has worked for the Company since 2003. (Haddad Dep. at
11). Haddad is the Quality Assurance / Production Manager.
(Id. at 16). Haddad's husband, Wajdi Al-Hanna
(“Al-Hanna”), was hired after her and became a Team
Leader. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6).
Company's Sexual Harassment Training And Policy
Company conducted periodic sexual harassment training and had
sexual harassment policies in place. (Stmts. A at
¶¶ 9-10). The Company's sexual harassment
policy that was in place on March 4, 2015 was the same one in
place in February of 2016. (Stmts. B at ¶ 1). The second
paragraph of that policy pertains to employees who feel that
they have been the victim of harassment and states, “If
you believe that you have been the victim of harassment, or
know of another employee who has, report it immediately . .
.” (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3). The third
paragraph of that policy pertains to a supervisor who becomes
aware of allegations of harassment and states, “Any
supervisor who becomes aware of possible harassment should
promptly advise their supervisor or Human Resources
Representative who will handle the matter in a timely
and confidential manner.” (Id. at ¶¶
4-5) (emphasis added).
Regarding The Company's Prior Notice Of Al-Hanna's
Parker was employed as a Production Floor Supervisor from
February of 2012 through March of 2014 and reported to
Haddad. (Parker Dep. at 8-10). Parker testified that, while
she was a supervisor at the Company, Al-Hanna was a team lead
for cooks. (Parker Dep. at 11). She testified that she
reported to Haddad and was discouraged from going to Safie.
Although Parker was a supervisor and Al-Hanna was just a team
lead, Haddad told Parker that she did not have authority over
her husband, or another employed named Frank. (Id.
the years she was employed at the Company, Parker observed
Al-Hanna interact with other employees of the Company and
observed him commit acts that she believed violated the
Company's sexual harassment policy. (Id. at
15-16). For example, Parker testified that Al-Hanna would go
up to female employees and make gestures or motions with his
hands, putting them down by his penis and say the arabic word
for “pussy.” (Id. at 16-18).
testified that she observed Al-Hanna approach a female
employee named Becky in an inappropriate manner:
Q. Okay. Did you observe any interactions between Wajdi and
A. He would always go up to her and get close to her. I never
saw him touch her.
A. And she would say just go away, go away.
Q. When you observed Wajdi using the word couscous and
grabbing his - well -
A. Making a gesture.
Q. Making a gesture, did anybody tell him to stop?
A. Hanan would.
Q. Hanan would tell him to stop?
A. And when I would see him do it, sometimes I would be,
like, knock it off, Wajdi. Stop, Joe.
Dep at 19). Parker testified that Al-Hanna would stop when
confronted, but would just continue doing the same thing
later. Parker testified that she was told by Haddad not to go
to Safie and that she reported Al-Hanna's inappropriate
behavior to Haddad:
Q. Does Mary [Safie] know about - did you ever report this
behavior to Mary, Wajdi's behavior to Mary?
A. You could not go to Mary with anything with Joe.
Q. Why not?
A. You were told not to by Hanan.
Q. So did you go to Hanan and report Wajdi's behavior?
Q. And what did Hanan say to you?
A. She'll take care of it.
Dep. at 19-20). Parker further testified that when she did
try to report Al-Hanna's behavior to Safie anyway, it was
not well-received, and that Haddad's own supervisor heard
Haddad make inappropriate sexual remarks and did nothing:
Q. Do you recall a conversation you had with Mary Safie about
Wajdi's sexual comments and Mary told you to leave the
A. We would tell Mary things and we would be said to leave
things alone, it would be handled, get out of my office, ass
Q. Who would say that to you?
A. Mary Safie has called everybody an ass hole. You had no
respect. I had no respect as a supervisor. I was a puppet.
Whatever Hanan would tell me to do, I had to follow through.
Q. So, again, as far as Wajdi's sexual behavior that you
observed and that you spoke about earlier, is it your
testimony that you believe that even if you told Mary - I
mean, what would you think, based on working with Mary, what
would she do?
A. I know nothing would have been done. It didn't matter.
I went to my supervisor about what Hannan was saying to me
and he did nothing, so -
Q. When you say your supervisor, when you say he, who are you
A. My supervisor was Chuck, Chuck Drogosch. He was standing
there when things were being said.
Q. What things are you talking about, Ms. Parker?
A. Hanan Hadadd, when she found out that I was gay, said I
needed to go on a trip with Mary, one of the business trips
and have sex with Mary to make her more relaxed.
(Id. at 20-21).
Lopez gave a sworn statement stating that she worked at the
Company for six years. Lopez states that she worked with
Al-Hanna and that he made sexually inappropriate comments at
the workplace the entire time she worked with him, and that
his wife (Haddad) heard him make those comments. She also
testified that Al-Hanna “stared a lot” at female
employees. (ECF No. 22-40).
Alleged Conduct By Al-Hanna That Created A Hostile Work
Environment For Korkis And Schoenherr
began working at the Company in January of 2015. (Korkis
Decl., ECF No. 20-15). Korkis states that Al-Hanna sexually
harassed her the entire time that she was employed at the
Company. (Id.). As to that harassment, Korkis states
8. . . . . He asked me to meet with him at the Meijer store
near Safie and I refused.
9. Alhanna also asked me to meet him outside of work for sex.
This happened approximately ten times. He said to me that he
loved me, and that he wanted me to meet him somewhere where
people at work could not see us. I told him no, I am a
married woman, and to stop asking me because he was like a
father or an older uncle.
10. Almost every day, Alhanna would make sexual comments to
me. Sometimes he would say them loudly, other times he would
whisper them inches from my ear. The things he would say
• “Oh my God, my heart is hurting me, My God make
her safe . . .”
• “Mary Mother of God, save the floor Nadwa walks
on, what is this ass she has”
• “I love your ass”, “I love your
• “Oh my God, I dreamed about you”
• “In my dreams, I feel your boobs and your butt .
. . Oh my God!”
• That he would like to “fuck me.”
• “In my dreams, I have fucked you, and it was so
good . . . !”
11. On a daily basis, Alhanna stared at my breasts and butt.
He would repeatedly walk behind me staring at my butt.
12. On a daily basis, Alhanna would find any opportunity he
could to bump into me or stand right next to me with his
shoulders or hip touching me. On several occasions, he
followed me up the stairs for no reason, looking at my butt.
Because the area where the stairs are is so small, Alhanna
would purposely push his body up to mine and would
intentionally touch my butt.
13. Alhanna sat near me during lunch and he would touch me on
my leg. I would often choose to sit in my car to eat because
he made me feel so uncomfortable.
14. His sexual comments and behavior made me extremely
uncomfortable and made it difficult to work. I often dreaded
coming to work because I was afraid of what Alhanna would do
or say. I told Alhanna to please stop talking to me that way
because it was not right.
15. On a daily basis, Alhanna tried to get me to eat the food
that he cooked. I would always refuse.
16. One day, Alhanna forced food into my mouth with his bare
hands, forcing his fingertips in my mouth. I was disgusted.
It seemed like his purpose was to get a part of his body
inside my mouth.
17. Alhanna would get upset if men working at Safie spoke to
me. Certain men were afraid to speak to me because they were
afraid of Alhanna.
18. One day during the summer of 2015, it was extremely hot
on the production floor and everyone was wearing tank tops or
short sleeved shirts instead of the wrap around jacket we
normally wear. I wore a short sleeved shirt that day, and
Alhanna was staring at my breasts. Haddad was standing close
to us while this was happening.
19. The next day, Haddad told me to make sure I wear a jacket
to work, even though it was very hot and everyone was wearing
tank tops and short sleeved shirts.
20. I believe Haddad saw Alhanna constantly harass me and
harass Christina Schoenherr. Haddad usually stood very close
to me or next to me while I was cutting beets. Haddad could
see and hear Alhanna while he was making sexual comments to
me and touching me.
27. I saw Alhanna touch Christina Schoenherr. He would touch
her on her shoulders. He would try to hug her and she would
jump away. When Alhanna got very close to Schoenherr, I saw
her put her head down and try to move away from him.
28. I heard Alhanna talk about Christina Schoenherr in a
sexually suggestive manner almost daily. He would talk about
her breasts to people on the production floor. He said that
she had a big ass in Arabic. He would stare at
Schoenherr's butt and breasts.
(Id. at ¶¶ 8-28).
Schoenherr was a temporary employee at the Company who began
working there in December of 2015. (Schoenherr Decl., ECF No.
2016). Schoenherr also claims to have been sexually harassed
by Al-Hanna while working at the Company:
8. Wajdi Alhanna and Hannan Haddad directed what I did at
work. Alhanna would tell me where to stand, tell me where I
had to work (assign my table), and assign me tasks on a daily
basis (e.g. peel beets or pack pickles). I knew Wajdi Alhanna
as “the ...