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Thurmond v. Dean Dairy Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

April 24, 2017

JENNIFER THURMOND PLAINTIFF
v.
DEAN DAIRY HOLDINGS, LLC d/b/a DEAN MILK COMPANY, LLC and KYLE WANCKET DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of Plaintiff Jennifer Thurmond to amend her original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1), ECF No. 7. She tendered an amended complaint, ECF No. 7-1. Defendants Dean Dairy Holdings, LLC d/b/a Dean Milk Company, LLC (“Dean Milk”) and Kyle Wancket responded, ECF No. 15. Thurmond replied, ECF No. 16. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant Thurmond's motion to amend the original complaint.

         II. Background

         A. Allegations in the Original Complaint

         As explained in the original complaint, Thurmond is female. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1-1. She asserts that she was employed by Dean Milk from January 2008 to September 2016. Id. ¶ 2. During part of this period of employment, her immediate supervisor was Wancket, who is male and was also employed by Dean Milk. Id. ¶ 6. “

         During the vast majority of her employment tenure with Dean Milk, Thurmond was an “exemplary employee.” Id. ¶ 8. Her performance reviews and testimony from other Dean Milk employees demonstrate that she was qualified for the position in which she was working. Id. ¶ 9.

         In the second half of 2016, Thurmond got into a dispute with Wancket. Id. ¶ 10. Afterwards, she threw a small metal trash can in frustration. Id. ¶ 11. Thurmond was suspended with pay from her position. Id. ¶ 12. She was eventually terminated on September 6, 2016 for violence in the workplace. Id.

         Before Thurmond's dispute with Wancket, there had been a “plethora” of incidents at Dean Milk that involved male employees who were violent or threatened to be violent. Id. ¶ 13. The employees involved were not disciplined with the same severity that was applied to Thurmond. Id. ¶ 15. For example, Dean Milk employee Andy Bean and another male employee apparently became involved in a physical altercation. Id. ¶ 14. Bean threatened to go to his car, retrieve a firearm, and shoot the other employee. Id. But unlike Thurmond, Bean was not terminated. Id. After Thurmond was terminated, Wancket and/or Dean Milk began retroactively disciplining employees to cover up their disparate treatment of Thurmond. Id. ¶ 16.

         Thurmond also alleges that Wancket harassed and intimated her in a “severe and pervasive manner.” Id. ¶ 17. He did not harass or intimidate male employees in the same way. Id. ¶ 18.

         On January 20, 2017, Thurmond filed suit against Dean Milk and Wancket in the Jefferson County, Kentucky Circuit Court. Id. at 5. She asserts two causes of action. First, she claims that they discriminated against her based on her gender in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 344.010, et seq. (Count I). Id. ¶¶ 18-25. Second, she maintains that Dean Milk and Wancket wrongfully discharged her (Count II). Id. ¶¶ 26-29. She seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs. Id. at 10.

         B. Removal to this Court

         On February 13, 2017, Dean Milk and Wancket removed the case to this Court under federal diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. Not. Removal 1, ECF No. 1. In their notice of removal, they explain that Thurmond is a citizen of Kentucky and that Dean Milk is a citizen of Texas and Wisconsin. Id. at 2. And while the complaint alleges that Wancket resides in Kentucky, Dean Milk and ...


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