United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRENT BRENNENSTUHL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the motion of Defendant Bel Brands USA, Inc. for
a protective order governing discovery disclosures (DN 25).
Plaintiff Shannon Woosley has responded in opposition at
¶ 29, and Bel Brands has replied at ¶ 31.
of the Case
was previously employed by Bel Brands and claims she was
subjected to racial discrimination prohibited by the Kentucky
Civil Rights Act, KRS 344 et seq. and Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 200e et seq. She
contends that she was subjected to offensive racial comments
and complained to management at Bel Brands, but her
complaints went largely unaddressed. Her complaint states
that, prior to her termination, she was suspended for
allegedly making inappropriate remarks to Bel Brands'
human resources director and was later terminated “for
waiting until she was at work to change into her work
uniform” (DN 1-2, p. 3). She asserts that these adverse
employment actions represent disparate treatment.
has submitted discovery requests to Bel Brands for
information and documents related to disciplinary actions
against other current and former Bel Brands employees. Bel
Brands represents that it has identified over two hundred
pages of records which appear to be responsive to
Woosley's request (DN 25, p. 2). These documents include
“confidential employee complaints, internal
investigations and disciplinary action forms” and
involve over two-dozen current and former employees
Brands requests that dissemination of these documents be
restricted because some of it was “provided to human
resources in confidence and other of which is potentially
embarrassing or harmful for the employee who was disciplined
as well as for the employee who complained”
(Id. at p. 4). Bel Brands notes that the community
where the facility is located is a small community and
“Defendant has legitimate concerns that Plaintiff may
disclose this sensitive information or otherwise use it for
personal purposes unrelated to the prosecution of this
contends that Bel Brands' motion fails to articulate
specific facts demonstrating that there would be a clearly
defined and serious injury should the information be
disclosed without the requested restrictions and, as such,
Bel Brands has failed to satisfy the criteria for imposition
of a protective order. She contends Bel Brands has only made
statements of a broad, speculative nature.
Brands argues that non-party employee records are customarily
accorded a high-degree of confidentiality, citing cases from
a variety of federal district courts as examples. Bel Brands
further contends that, having demonstrated the necessity of
confidentiality, the burden has shifted to Woosley to
demonstrate that a protective order will impair her ability
to conduct discovery, and she has failed to make any such
Civ. P. 26(c)(1) provides that “a party or any person
from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order
in the court where the action is pending . . . . The court
may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or
person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue
burden or expense . . . .” “To be sure, Rule
26(c) confers broad discretion on the trial court to decide
when a protective order is appropriate and what degree of
protection is required.” Seattle Times Co. v.
Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 36 (1984).
terms protective order and confidentiality order are often
used interchangeably. Scott-Warren v. Liberty Life Assur.
Co., NO. 3:14-CV-738-CRS-CHL, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
90745, *54 (W.D. Ky. July 13, 2016). In essence, a
confidentiality order is one of the protective reliefs
available under Rule 26(c)(1)(B) whereby the court may
specify the terms for disclosure or discovery. See
Alvarez v. Aldi (Tex.) LLC, No. 3:13-cv-4122-L, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99996, *8 (N.D. Tex. July 22, 2014). A
confidentiality order will only be issued if the movant
demonstrates good cause by articulating specific facts
showing that a clearly defined and serious ...