United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Catherine Dahlberg, plaintiff pro se.
J. Beck, Esq. and Ford & Harrison LLP, counsel for
S. Doty, United States District Judge.
matter is before the court upon the motion for summary
judgment by defendant Radisson Blu Mall of America. After a
review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for
the following reasons, the court grants the motion.
employment dispute arises out of Radisson's decision to
terminate pro se plaintiff Catherine Dahlberg's
employment. Radisson hired Dahlberg as a front office
representative on September 7, 2016. Dahlberg was responsible
for checking guests in and out of the hotel and fielding
guest questions and comments.
October 12, 2016, a guest asked Dahlberg if she was from
China. Dahlberg Dep. at 143:17-44:4. Dahlberg felt that the
guest's manner and tone were threatening. Id. at
145:24-25. Dahlberg told the guest that she was not
comfortable answering the question. Beck Aff. Ex. 5 at 1. The
guest then asked where in China Dahlberg was from.
Id.; Dahlberg Dep. at 158:20-21. Dahlberg responded
that she did not want to answer the question. Beck Aff. Ex.
5. The front desk supervisor, Tee Phan, observed the exchange
and noticed that the guest appeared to be shocked by
Dahlberg's response. Id.; Dahlberg Dep. at
159:15-19. Phan then asked Dahlberg to discuss the matter in
her office. Phan Aff. ¶ 3; Dahlberg Dep. at 161:12-16.
explained that she did not want to engage guests in
discussions about personal matters but felt she had been
cordial to the guest. Beck Aff. Ex. 5 at 1. Phan advised
Dahlberg that engaging in small talk is part of working in
the hospitality industry and that she needed to respond to
guest questions in a friendlier manner. Id. Phan
offered to help Dahlberg craft appropriate responses to guest
questions that may make her uncomfortable. Id. at 2.
Phan felt that Dahlberg was defensive during their meeting
and that it was ultimately unproductive. Id.; Phan
Aff. ¶ 4. Dahlberg returned to work after meeting with
Phan and completed her shift. Dahlberg Dep. at 171:8-11. Phan
reported the incident to Liisa Soulak, director of guest
services. Phan Aff. ¶ 4.
following day, Dahlberg reported to work, but requested the
day off because she was still upset from the guest
interaction the previous day. Dahlberg Dep. at 171:12-72:16;
Kam Aff. ¶ 4. Human resources director Jennifer Wroe
provided Dahlberg with an employee assistance number so she
could set up counseling sessions to work through her distress
over the incident. Dahlberg Dep. at 176:25-77:9; Beck Aff.
Ex. 6 at 1.
Dahlberg reported to work on Friday, October 14, Wroe asked
her to meet in Wroe's office. Wroe Aff. ¶ 4;
Dahlberg Dep. at 95:19-96:14, 175:4-23. The meeting did not
go well. Wroe and Soulak, who was also present, were trying
to determine whether Dahlberg could return to her duties, but
Dahlberg would not confirm whether she was able to do so.
Wroe Aff. ¶ 4; Beck Aff. Ex. 6 at 1. Dahlberg told them
that the guest interaction on October 12 as “the most
stressful ten seconds of her life.” Wroe Aff. ¶ 4;
Beck Aff. Ex. 6 at 1; Dahlberg Dep. at 184:2-8. She mimicked
the guest involved in the incident and, according to Wroe,
became loud and angry when doing so. Wroe Aff. ¶ 5; Beck
Aff. Ex. 6 at 1; Dahlberg Dep. at 186:13-87:5. Dahlberg
denies being upset but admits telling Wroe and Soulak that if
they wanted to see her loud and aggressive, “she would
show them.” Dahlberg Dep. at 187:17-20; Wroe Aff.
¶ 6. She also said that she is not “soft spoken
like white people.” Dahlberg Dep. at 188:11-13.
reported that Dahlberg seemed confused and acted strangely
during the meeting. Wroe Aff. ¶¶ 4-6. She took
several breaks, which did not seem to help. Id.
to Dahlberg, Wroe was hostile towards her during the meeting
and told her that her “race is the reason” Wroe
can treat her “like that” and that she could
“treat [Dahlberg] poorly without consequences.”
Beck Aff. Ex. 2 at 8. At her deposition, however, Dahlberg
admitted that Wroe “did not specifically use that
wording” or reference Dahlberg's race or national
origin. Dahlberg Dep. at 188:18-93:22. Dahlberg also admitted
that Wroe did not tell Dahlberg that she could treat her
“poorly.” Id. at 194:15-19. Although
Dahlberg alleges that “hotel managers called [her]
names and said all kinds of mean things about [her] national
origin, ” Compl. at 7 ¶ 4, she could not recall
any specific discriminatory statements. Dahlberg Dep. at
ultimately offered Dahlberg the weekend off to regroup. Wroe
Aff. ¶ 6. Dahlberg refused and left Wroe's office.
Id. Wroe then asked Scott Huston, the director of
facilities, for assistance. Id.; Huston Aff.
¶¶ 1, 3. Huston found Dahlberg in the break room
crying and brought her back to Wroe's office to try to
calm her down. Huston Aff. ¶ 4. Huston told Dahlberg
that she needed to leave for the day. Id.; Wroe Aff.
¶ 7. According to Dahlberg, however, Huston immediately
fired her. Dahlberg Dep. at 214:3-6. She said that he later
told her to go home and let the hotel know if she would be
able to return to work. Id. at 215:13-16:13.
being told she needed to go home, Dahlberg cried, used
numerous tissues to wipe her face, and threw the tissues on
the floor. Wroe Aff. ¶ 7. Dahlberg then announced that
she could not feel her hands or feet and that she was having
trouble breathing. Id. ¶ 8; Huston Aff. ¶
5. Huston alerted hotel security personnel, who called the
paramedics. Huston Aff. ¶ 5. The Bloomington
police and paramedics arrived a short time later and
attempted to escort Dahlberg from the hotel. Id.
¶ 6. Dahlberg refused to leave the hotel for
approximately two hours. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. At
some point, hotel security asked the police to issue a
trespass order. Id. The police did so and ordered