Lopez v. Whirlpool Corp., No. 19-2357 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Lopez worked for Whirlpool under the supervision of Gralund. Various people, including Gralund and Penning, assigned Lopez to fill in areas of the line. Penning was not a supervisor. Lopez alleges that Penning began touching her in inappropriate ways. She asked him to “back off.” There were more incidents of touching but Lopez did not report them to HR, any supervisor, or her union. Lopez later testified that she “[made] it clear to [Gralund].” Lopez and Penning subsequently had two disputes about how Lopez was to perform her job. Lopez then made her first written complaint, which noted incidents involving her working conditions but did not mention Penning’s harassment. Lopez later reported “that [she] felt like [Penning] was retaliating” by hovering and staring at her. Lopez resigned four days later, apparently without mentioning “Penning” or “harassment” in her voicemail.
Lopez sued for sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the Iowa Civil Rights Act. During discovery, Whirlpool spent time and money on multiple depositions that never occurred. Whirlpool invoked 28 U.S.C. 1927; the magistrate imposed a $2,000 sanction against Lopez’s counsel. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the sanction order and the subsequent entry of summary judgment in favor of Whirlpool. Lopez failed to raise a triable fact on what Whirlpool knew or should have known about Penning’s conduct; she never gave Whirlpool an opportunity to take corrective action.
Court Description: [Grasz, Author, with Colloton and Gruender, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Employment discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff failed to establish harassment affecting employment or that her employer had a reasonable time to investigate her complaint, formulate a remedy, and effectively end the sexual harassment; plaintiff failed to show she was constructively discharged; plaintiff's retaliation claim fails because she cannot satisfy the requirement that she engaged in statutorily protected conduct in that she cannot show that she opposed an act of discrimination made unlawful by Title VII; sanction order imposed on counsel after the cancellation of plaintiff's deposition was not an abuse of the district court's discretion.