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McClendon v. Ikon Office Solutions

December 4, 2003

SHERYLEITA MCCLENDON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
IKON OFFICE SOLUTIONS, INC., AN OHIO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donovan W. Frank Judge of United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Introduction

The above-entitled matter came on for hearing before the undersigned United States District Judge on November 7, 2003, pursuant to Defendant Ikon's Motion for Summary Judgment. Specifically, Ikon asks the Court to dismiss claims brought against it by Plaintiff Sheryleita McClendon for race discrimination, sexual harassment, and constructive discharge. McClendon opposes the motion with regards to the sexual harassment and constructive discharge claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Ikon's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Background

Ikon provides office equipment, services, and supplies to businesses throughout the United States. On or about April 5, 2000, McClendon, an African-American female, accepted a temporary position through TempForce, a temporary employment agency, to work as a call center representative for Ikon. On July 27, 2000, McClendon stopped working at Ikon through TempForce and became a regular employee of Ikon.

Shortly after McClendon began working at Ikon, she was approached by a co-worker at Ikon, Tiffany Listrud. In an unsolicited conversation, Listrud told McClendon that she [Listrud] was having trouble with her boyfriend because he was having affairs with a man and another woman. McClendon told Listrud not to discuss such things with her in the future. McClendon then reported the conversation to her supervisor, Nicole Schlagel ("Schlagel"). A few days after the incident, Listrud saw a picture of McClendon's teenage son and told McClendon "if he was old enough, she would have him."

At some point between May 15, 2000, and July 18, 2000, Listrud told McClendon that she [Listrud] would be sending McClendon an e-mail. McClendon asked Listrud not to send her anything that was not work-related, but Listrud did send an e-mail of a naked man parachuting with an erect penis.

On or about July 11, 2000, Listrud again approached McClendon and began to tell McClendon that she [Listrud] had met a man at a bar the night before, taken him home, and performed oral sex on him. Later that same day, Listrud provided McClendon with more details of the sexual encounter that she had the previous evening. McClendon alleges Listrud told her that she [Listrud] had performed oral sex on the man from the bar in front of others, and that if McClendon would come to Listrud's home and perform oral sex on a group of men she would receive $5. At that time, McClendon told Listrud that she would be reporting Listrud's conduct to Ikon.

On July 12, 2000, Listrud sent McClendon an e-mail that essentially told McClendon to stay out of Listrud's business. McClendon forwarded the e-mail to her supervisor and complained about Listrud's conduct. McClendon then met with Sarah Stiebner ("Stiebner"), Ikon's call center manager, to discuss McClendon's complaint regarding Listrud's conduct. Stiebner contacted Kathy Jackson ("Jackson"), an Ikon human resources representative, and TempForce began an investigation of McClendon's claims. On July 13, 2000, Schlagel and Stiebner began to interview Ikon employees regarding McClendon's claims. Although none of the employees could verify McClendon's claims specifically, some of the employees did verify that Listrud talked about sexual matters at work in an offensive manner.

On July 13, 2000, Stiebner, Schlagel, and Jackson met to discuss their findings. They decided that Listrud should be given a written disciplinary warning called a "critical incident" report. The warning was given to Listrud on July 18, 2000. At some point on the day of the meeting, McClendon called TempForce and refused to return to work at Ikon unless her cubicle was moved away from Listrud. Ikon granted McClendon's request and moved her to another part of the call center.

On July 21, 2000, TempForce and Ikon representatives met with McClendon to discuss the actions that had been taken regarding McClendon's complaint. McClendon expressed satisfaction with Ikon's resolution of the issue.

In August 2000, McClendon alleges that she was pushed by Listrud while returning from a meeting with a supervisor. McClendon asserts she reported this conduct to Stiebner, but Ikon took no action with regard to the claim. Ikon does not address the claim specifically, but does point out that on August 24, 2000, McClendon, Jackson, and Stiebner met to discuss the work environment at Ikon and, at that meeting, McClendon suggested the overall work environment had improved.

Listrud went on personal leave from August 23, 2000, until September 14, 2000. McClendon took a leave of absence from September 12, 2000, until November 6, 2000. McClendon alleges that, once she returned from her leave of absence, Listrud began "coming around Plaintiff's desk laughing and staring at Plaintiff." On December 4, 2000, McClendon complained to Mike Glass, the new Call Center Manager, that Listrud had walked by McClendon's work station 10 times in a matter of 15 minutes. McClendon alleges that Glass told her that if she did not want Listrud in her work area, McClendon should leave. McClendon left Ikon shortly after speaking with Glass, and never returned to Ikon.

Although McClendon never returned to work after December 4, 2000, she contacted Michael Haber in Ikon's Human Resources Department on December 5, 2000, to discuss Listrud's conduct. Haber investigated McClendon's claims regarding Listrud and determined that Listrud had been placed on a special assignment that required her to use maps located near McClendon's work area. No decision was ever made regarding moving the maps or reassigning Listrud because McClendon never returned to work. ...


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