United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge
Louisville Zoo Foundation, Inc. has moved for summary
judgment. [DE 60]. Briefing is complete, and the motion is
ripe. For the reasons below, the Motion for Summary Judgment
[DE 60] is GRANTED.
Louisville Metropolitan Government (“Louisville
Metro”) employed Plaintiff Racheal Elizabeth Anne
Butrum (“Butrum”) as Maintenance Supervisor at
the Louisville Zoo (the “Zoo”), an agency of
Louisville Metro. [DE 1, Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4]. Butrum
was the first female Maintenance Supervisor at the Zoo.
[Id. at ¶ 4]. Butrum alleges that during her
employment she was subject to sexual harassment, that her
supervisors undermined her authority and tolerated sexist
behavior towards her by her subordinates, that she was
treated differently than male employees, and that the
Director of the Zoo intervened in a human resources
investigation and falsified the findings. [Id. at
sued both the Louisville Zoo Foundation, Inc.
(“Foundation”) and Louisville Metro. [DE 1,
Compl. ¶¶ 1-2]. She alleges Sexual Harassment
(Count 1), Hostile Work Environment (Count 2), and Sexual
Discrimination (Count 3), in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Acts of 1964, as well as Retaliation (Count 4)
in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12203, Fraud and Conspiracy
to Commit Fraud (Count 5) in violation of 17 C.F.R. §
23.410, violation of the Whistleblower Act, 5 U.S.C. §
1201 (Count 6), violation of the Open Records Act, 5 U.S.C.
§ 552 (Count 7), Intentional Infliction of Emotional
Distress (“IIED”)(Count 8), Negligent Infliction
of Emotional Distress (“NIED”)(Count 9),
Defamation (Count 10), and Punitive Damages (Count 11). [DE
1, Compl. ¶¶ 41-72]. The complaint does not
separate the Foundation and Louisville Metro and all eleven
counts in Butrum's complaint are against
Foundation moves for summary judgment on all claims. [DE 60
at 1335]. The Foundation is a nonprofit, non-governmental
entity that raises funds for the Zoo and promotes awareness
of Zoo causes. [DE 60-2, 60-3]. The Foundation presents
evidence that it is not involved with the Zoo's
employment practices or management of the Zoo's
employees. [DE 60-3, 60-4, 60-5]. The Foundation thus argues
it cannot be liable for Butrum's claims. [DE 60 at
1340-42]. Butrum argues the Foundation and Zoo are
essentially one entity. [DE 70 at 1615- 27]. Butrum further
argues even if the Foundation and Zoo are separate entities,
the Foundation is the Zoo's “employer, ” and
that the Zoo's Director acted as an agent of the
Foundation when he allegedly manipulated the result of a
human resources investigation into Butrum's claims. [DE
70 at 1627-32]. For these reasons, Butrum asserts the
Foundation is sufficiently connected to the Zoo to be liable
for her claims.
judgment is required when “there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
moving party bears the burden of specifying the basis for its
motion and showing the lack of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the
nonmoving party must produce specific facts showing a
material issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The non-moving
party cannot rest on its pleadings to avoid summary judgment
but must support its claims with evidence. Id.
Factual differences are not considered material unless the
differences are such that a reasonable jury could find for
the party contesting the summary judgment motion.
Id. at 252.
Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable
inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Williams v. Int'l Paper Co., 227 F.3d 706, 710
(6th Cir. 2000). But the nonmoving party must do more than
show some “metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the
nonmoving party must present specific facts showing that a
genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular
parts of materials in the record” or by “showing
that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . .
of a genuine dispute[.]” Shreve v. Franklin
Cty., Ohio, 743 F.3d 126, 136 (6th Cir. 2014).
“The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the [nonmoving party's] position will be
insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the [nonmoving party].” Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.
Title VII Claims and ADA Retaliation Claim
Title VII claims and ADA retaliation claim against the
Foundation must be dismissed. “Title VII provides that
‘it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an
employer' to discriminate on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin. A person aggrieved by such
discrimination may bring a civil action against the
‘employer.' ” Wathen v. Gen. Elec.
Co., 115 F.3d 400, 405 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e-2(a), 2000e-5(b)) (emphasis added). The
ADA retaliation provision, 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a), states
that “[n]o person shall discriminate against any
individual because such individual has opposed any act or
practice made unlawful by [the ADA] or because such
individual made a charge . . . under [the ADA].”
Id. This provision is much like Title VII's
prohibition of retaliation. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a).
Retaliation claims under the ADA use the same framework as a
retaliation claim under Title VII. Johnson v. Cleveland
City School Dist., 344 Fed. App'x 104, 113 (6th
Cir.2009) (citing Penny v. United Parcel Serv., 128
F.3d 408, 417 (6th Cir.1997)). Butrum's Title VII claims
and ADA retaliation claim will thus be analyzed together.
the Foundation was not Butrum's employer. Louisville
Metro employs Zoo staff, including Butrum. [DE 60-8]. That
said, an entity which is not the plaintiff's formal
employer may be treated as if it were the employer for
employment laws such as Title VII under either the
single-employer doctrine or joint employer doctrine.
Sanford v. Main St. Baptist Church Manor, Inc., 449
Fed.Appx. 488, 491 (6th Cir. 2011).
the single-employer doctrine, “two nominally
independent entities are so interrelated” that all the
employees of one are attributed to the other. Sanford, 449
Fed.Appx. at 491 citing Swallows v. Barnes & Noble
Book Stores, Inc.,128 F.3d 990, 993 (6th Cir.1997). In
determining whether to treat two entities as a single
employer, courts examine four factors: (1) interrelation of
operations, i.e., common offices, common record keeping,
shared bank accounts and equipment; (2) common management,
common directors, and ...