United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
ANTHONY A. KUKLINSKI Plaintiff
STEVEN TERNER MNUCHIN, United States Secretary of the Treasury Defendant
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Rebecca Grady Jennings, United States District Court.
Anthony Kuklinski brings this action against Defendant Steven
Mnuchin, in his capacity as United States Secretary of the
Treasury (“Secretary”),  alleging that Defendant
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-3(a), when the Secretary retaliated against
Kuklinski for opposing workplace sexual harassment. [DE 83,
Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 43-49]. Kuklinski further asserts
a breach-of-contract claim arising from Defendant's
alleged breach of a mediation agreement. Id. at
¶¶ 66-71. Defendant now moves for summary judgment.
[DE 108]. The matter is fully briefed and ripe for judgment.
[See DE 118, Response; DE 122, Reply]. For the reasons below,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.
2004 until 2011, Kuklinski worked as a supervisory police
inspector at the United States Bullion Depository (the
“Depository”) in Fort Knox, Kentucky. [DE 117-3,
Anthony Kuklinski Dep. 61:13-14, Nov. 17, 2016; DE 117-5, Ex.
7 at 1374]. In that role, Kuklinski supervised three
lieutenants, six sergeants, and about 48 other employees. [DE
108-13, Anthony Kuklinski Dep. 34:20-23, Nov. 17, 2016; DE
117 at 1275].
Kuklinski was a supervisor, one of Kuklinski's
subordinates-referred to in the record as “Harassed
Officer”-was repeatedly harassed by another
subordinate, referred to as “Harassing Officer.”
[DE 117 at 1275]. Harassing Officer allegedly spied on
Harassed Officer at her home and told her that he dreamt he
was suffocating her. Id. Harassing Officer also
purportedly used the Depository's surveillance equipment
to spy on Harassed Officer at work. Id. at 1276.
Officer eventually discovered that Harassing Officer was
using the Depository's surveillance equipment to spy on
her, prompting her to report the harassment. Id.
Harassed Officer first informed her superior (and
Kuklinski's subordinate) Lieutenant Lee Booth of the
situation. Id. Though Booth confirmed Harassing
Officer's misconduct by reviewing video footage recorded
on the Depository's camera, Booth declined to discipline
Harassing Officer. Id. A few months later, Harassing
Officer spied on Harassed Officer again. Id. When
Harassed Officer learned of Harassing Officer's continued
harassment, she reported it to Kuklinski. Id. Booth
confirmed Harassing Officer's misconduct and later
completed an incident report documenting the events.
Id. at 1277.
record of Harassing Officer's improper surveillance on
file, upper management- specifically, the Depository's
legal counsel, Irwin Ansher-investigated Harassed
Officer's claims of sexual harassment. [DE 117-20, Ex. 22
at 1712]. Upper management selected Inspector John Seiple to
conduct the investigation. Id.
close of the investigation, Kuklinski reviewed Seiple's
findings and determined that Harassing Officer should be
removed, and later drafted a proposal to that effect. [DE
117-1, Ex. 2 at 1298, 1314]. The proposal was circulated
between human-resources workers, the Depository's
attorneys, and other Depository officials. Id. at
management rejected Kuklinski's proposal to remove
Harassing Officer and decided instead to either reprimand or
suspend Harassing Officer. [DE 117 at 1280]. When Kuklinski
insisted that removal was the only discipline that would end
Harassing Officer's misconduct, upper management removed
Kuklinski as the officer in charge of disciplining Harassing
Officer. Id. Kuklinski's removal came shortly
after Trent Keltner, president of the Officers' union,
informed Chief of U.S. Mint Police, Dennis O'Connor, and
the Depository's Field Chief, Bert Barnes, that Keltner
believed Kuklinski was biased against Harassing Officer
because Kuklinski had an inappropriate personal relationship
with Harassed Officer. Id. at 1280, 1282.
Harassing Officer submitted a rebuttal to his proposed
discipline. Id. at 1280. He claimed that Harassed
Officer perjured herself, that management conducted an
unauthorized investigation into Harassing Officer's
purported misconduct, that there was a hostile work
environment at the Depository, and that Harassed Officer had
an improper relationship with Kuklinski. Id.
Ultimately, Deputy Chief Bill Bailey issued Harassing Officer
a letter of reprimand. [DE 117-8, Ex. 10 at 1414].
Officer continued to harass Harassed Officer, so Kuklinski
advised Harassed Officer that she should contact the Equal
Employment Office (“EEO”) for
guidance. [DE 180-13, Anthony Kuklinski Dep.
131:21-132:1, Nov. 17, 2016]. Harassed Officer contacted an
EEO counselor and filed a charge against the Depository on
September 3, 2010. [DE 117 at 1282]. Harassed Officer
subsequently settled her claims. Id. at 1288.
Harassed Officer's claims were pending, the Depository
contracted Carol Nichols, an independent investigator, to
conduct two investigations. Kuklinski claims that both
investigations targeted him. Nichols's first
investigation began on July 27, 2010 and focused on assessing
Harassed Officer's allegations and Harassing
Officer's rebuttal allegations, including the rebuttal
allegation that Kuklinski had an inappropriate relationship
with Harassed Officer. [DE 117-8 at 1407-37]. Nichols's
second investigation, initiated on September 23, 2010,
focused on uncovering possible management misconduct. [DE
117-12, Ex. 14 at 1465-66]. O'Connor's memorandum
appointing Nichols to the investigation stated that
O'Connor expected Nichols to investigate a wide range of
perceived management misconduct, including misconduct
unrelated to Kuklinski or his involvement in Harassed
Officer's EEO complaint. Id.
months later, Nichols issued the results of her
investigations. While Nichols found that no inappropriate
relationship existed between Kuklinski and Harassed Officer,
[DE 108-16, Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 17,
1026-33], she concluded that management misconduct-including
misconduct committed by Kuklinski-was pervasive at the
Depository. [DE 108-12, Ex. 12 at 903-74]. Nichols also
concluded that Kuklinski's aggressive management style
contributed to the poor morale and performance of his
subordinates. Id. at 964-67.
on Nichols's negative findings regarding Kuklinski's
management style, Field Chief Connie Stringer spoke with
Kuklinski about relieving him of his supervisory duties
“pending a management inquiry.” [DE 117 at 1284].
The record is unclear about whether Stringer suspended
Kuklinski's supervisor duties; but even if she did, she
decided to allow Kuklinski to resume performing his
supervisory duties on February 25, 2011, about one month
after she originally met with him about revoking his
supervisory duties. Id. at 1285.
April 5, 2011, upper management began to investigate
Kuklinski's responses to his security clearance
questionnaire, which ultimately caused the suspension of his
clearance. [DE 108-1 at 806]. The investigation
concerned whether Kuklinski failed to file federal income tax
returns in 2008 and 2009, and whether he failed to disclose
outside employment activities. [DE 108-13, Anthony Kuklinski
Dep. 114:19-23, Nov. 17, 2016; DE 117-3, Anthony Kuklinski
Dep. 159:15-20, Nov. 17, 2016]. Initially, at
O'Connor's request, the Office of the Inspector
General (“OIG”) investigated Kuklinski's
questionnaire. The OIG concluded its investigation on May 17,
2011 and found evidence that substantiated the allegations
against Kuklinski. [DE 117-11, Ex. 13 at 1457-63]. Bailey
then directed Commander Paul Constable to review the
OIG's findings. [DE 117 at 1286]. Constable recommended
that Stringer review the report and determine whether
Kuklinski's security clearance should be suspended.
Id. at 1287. Months later, management informed
Kuklinski that his security clearance was suspended. [DE
117-5, Ex. 7].
Kuklinski's security clearance was under review, he was
relieved of his law enforcement authority and relegated to
working in a maintenance building. [DE 117-6, Bill Bailey
Dep. 51:7-52:4, Dec. 6, 2016]. Kuklinski could not enter the
building he usually worked in while his clearance was in
jeopardy. Id. at 52:5-9.
important events occurred on March 1, 2012. First, management
informed Kuklinski that his security clearance was reinstated
but that he still could not enter the main security building
without Stringer's permission. [DE 117-5, Ex. 7 at 1375].
Bailey explained that Kuklinski remained relegated to the
maintenance building because of his aggressive management
style. [DE 117-6, Bill Bailey Dep. 48:5-9, Dec. 6, 2016].
Second, management notified Kuklinski that he was being
assigned to the Investigations and Intelligence Branch,
Operations and Training Division, at the United States Mint
Headquarters in Washington, D.C. [DE 117-5, Ex. 7 at 1376-
77]. Management explained that Kuklinski was reassigned due
to his “history of intimidating and aggressive behavior
towards his subordinates.” [DE 108-28, Ex. 29].
on these events, Kuklinski contacted an EEO counselor on
March 21, 2012. [DE 117 at 1291]. He alleged that management
relegated him to the maintenance building and reassigned him
to work in Washington, D.C. because of his involvement in
Harassed Officer's harassment claim. Id. at
attempted to settle his EEO charge through mediation.
Id. at 1292. During Kuklinski's first mediation,
held May 1, 2012, Kuklinski's counsel produced
photographs of Kuklinski's workplace and asserted that an
employee who is subjected to a demeaning work environment can
be entitled to monetary damages. Id. Because federal
regulations prohibit photography at the Depository, Stringer
drafted an incident report documenting Kuklinski's
misconduct and opened an administrative investigation into
the matter. [DE 117-21, Ex. 23]. At some point during
settlement discussions, Kuklinski provided his medical
records to Ansher who, in turn, submitted them to a medical
expert, Dr. Neil Presant. [DE 117 at 1293]. Ansher also
provided Dr. Presant with a copy of Kuklinski's job
description and asked Dr. Presant to conduct a
fitness-for-duty assessment. [DE 117-4, Ex. 6 at 1345-1364].
After reviewing Kuklinski's records, Dr. Presant issued a
report concluding that Kuklinski was physically and mentally
unfit to work as a police officer. [DE 117-4 at 1366]. Upon
receiving that report, Ansher-despite Kuklinski's
counsel's insistence that it remain
confidential-submitted it to Bailey and Stringer.
Id. at 1365-66. Stringer assessed the report and
informed Kuklinski that he would need to complete a
fitness-for-duty exam. Id. at 1368-69.
initiated this action on September 27, 2013, and later
submitted an Amended Complaint on January 24, 2017. [DE 83].
Considering the Amended Complaint and Kuklinski's other
filings collectively, Kuklinski's retaliation claims are:
• Defendant revoked Kuklinski's authority to
discipline Harassing Officer on March 16, 2010 because, on
February 1, 2010, he proposed that Harassing Officer be
removed from his position at the Depository.
• Because Kuklinski informed Harassed Officer on June 7,
2010 that she could seek guidance from the EEO regarding
Harassing Officer's misconduct, Defendant:
o Contracted Nichols to initiate an administrative
investigation into Harassed Officer's allegations and
Harassing Officer's rebuttal allegations on July 27,
o Contracted Nichols to initiate an administrative
investigation into possible management misconduct at the
Depository on September 23, 2010; o Stripped Kuklinski of his
supervisory duties in January 2011;
o Forced Kuklinski to perform administrative tasks and to
work in the break room of the maintenance building in March
o Reassigned Kuklinski to a position in Washington, D.C. in
• Because Kuklinski filed a charge with the EEO on March