United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Terrance Schrammen, Pro Se Plaintiff
Daniel Meyers, Esq., Husch Blackwell LLP, for Defendant
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ, United States Magistrate Judge
Court recommends that Plaintiff's lawsuit be dismissed.
Plaintiff has not shown evidence that ConAgra fired Plaintiff
for improper reasons.
Foods (“ConAgra”) terminated Plaintiff Terrance
Schrammen's (“Schrammen”) employment on
September 12, 2014. Schrammen sued ConAgra, arguing he was
fired in retaliation for internally reporting safety issues
at the plant where he worked and for filing a complaint with
the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. ConAgra has
moved for summary judgment, arguing they fired Schrammen for
performance issues and disruptive behavior. Because Schrammen
has failed to provide evidence from which a reasonable jury
could conclude that the performance reasons provided by
ConAgra for his termination were a pretext for retaliating
against him, the Court recommends that ConAgra's Motion
for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 58] be granted.
22, 2014, Schrammen began working as a Line Helper for second
shift operations at ConAgra's Fridley, Minnesota plant.
Schrammen Depo. 15, Docket No. 61-2. Before commencing his
employment, Schrammen received and signed a copy of
ConAgra's code of conduct. Id. at 24-25. The
Code prohibited employees from engaging in disruptive
behavior (e.g. swearing, harassment, fighting);
detailed the protocol for reporting safety concerns; and made
assurances against retaliation. Code of Conduct 7-11, Docket
No. 61-17. Schrammen also attended an orientation training
that included discussions on “hazard
communication” and “prohibited harassment.”
Schrammen Depo. 21, Docket No. 61-2. Schrammen was aware of
ConAgra's policies in these areas and knew that violating
the Code could lead to his termination. Id. at
new employee, Schrammen's continued employment was
subject to a 45-day probationary period. Id. at
16-17. During that period, Schrammen was given performance
reviews every 15 days, which evaluated his performance in
seven different areas. Id. at 77. At 15 days,
Schrammen was deemed “good” in all seven; at 30
days, he was “good” in five and “unknown or
not applicable” in two. Performance Reviews, Docket
Nos. 61-14, 61-15. Schrammen's review was overseen by two
of ConAgra's production supervisors, Rose Krieger and
Randy Hoover. Schrammen Depo. 26, 66, 78, 84, Docket No.
after his 30-day review, Schrammen drew attention when, at a
safety meeting, he loudly and repeatedly complained that
ConAgra had long neglected to address safety issues,
particularly involving a leaking pan washer. Id. at
56-62. ConAgra followed up with Schrammen to address his
concern and inform him the safety issue he had raised was
already fixed. Id. at 64-65. That interaction
heightened ConAgra's concern with Schrammen, as he was
“really hyper and animated” and
“angry.” Human Resources Investigation 6-7,
Docket No. 61-5. Schrammen quickly developed a reputation for
being “a hothead” who was “always
complaining” and who “scared” people and
refused orders. Id.
with Schrammen's performance persisted. Schrammen was
noted to have used profanity, despite previous warnings not
to swear. Schrammen Depo. 26-28, Docket No. 61-2. As a result
of his behavioral issues, Schrammen's probationary period
was extended 15 days. HR Email, Docket No. 61-6. Schrammen
contacted Anne Woodfin, the facility's Human Resource
Manager, to set up a meeting to discuss the extension.
Schrammen Depo. 95-96, Docket No. 61-2. At this August 26,
2014 meeting, Schrammen was visibly upset and began yelling
and thrashing his arms. Id. at 87-88; Human
Resources Investigation 3-4, Docket No. 61-5. Schrammen
complained that the pan washer safety issue had not been
fixed despite informing Rose Krieger. Schrammen Depo.
109-111, Docket No. 61-2. Schrammen also mocked his
supervisor, Randy Hoover. Human Resources Investigation 4,
Docket No. 61-5.
by Schrammen's erratic behavior and fearful for the
safety of those in attendance, Ms. Woodfin ended the meeting.
Id. Schrammen was escorted out of the building, and
suspended pending further investigation. Schrammen Depo.
137-142, Docket No. 61-2. Two days later, Schrammen filed a
MNOSHA complaint with the Minnesota Department of Labor and
Industry alleging discrimination by ConAgra. Docket No.
61-11. Schrammen did not inform ConAgra of his complaint.
Schrammen Depo. 151-53, Docket No. 61-2 During
Schrammen's suspension, ConAgra conducted an
investigation regarding his behavior. Ketelsen Aff. ¶ 7,
Docket No. 61-1. That investigation uncovered further
examples of Schrammen's disruptive and uncooperative
behavior while at work, such as yelling at colleagues and
refusing to rotate, as well as a pattern of making sexist
comments. Human Resources Investigation 1-7, Docket No. 61-5.
Some of Schrammen's co-workers feared him, and others
felt uncomfortable working with him because of his
“anger issues.” Id.
September 12, 2014, ConAgra managers met to discuss
Schrammen's actions and chose to terminate his
employment. Ketelsen Aff. ¶¶ 8-9, Docket No. 61-1.
In their letter informing Schrammen of his termination,
ConAgra wrote that he had been fired for his angry outbursts
and his failure to take responsibility for his actions,
including swearing, yelling and mocking co-workers.
Termination Ltr., Docket No. 61-8. At the time they fired
Schrammen, the managers who made the decision were unaware of
Schrammen's MNOSHA complaint; ConAgra received a
certified letter of the Complaint on September 12, 2014,
Certified Ltr., Docket No. ...