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Chartraw v. City of Shawano

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 12, 2018



          William C. Griesbach, United States District Court Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Laura Chartraw filed suit against Defendants, the City of Shawano and its former Chief of Police Mark Kohl, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., for discriminating against her based on her sex and then retaliating against her when she complained. Because the claims arise under federal law, this court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The case is now before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Also before the court is Chartraw's motion for leave to file a sur-reply in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Chartraw's motion for leave to file a sur-reply will be granted, but it does not help her case. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to her, the evidence she offers could not support a verdict in her favor. Defendants' motion for summary judgment will therefore also be granted.


         Laura Chartraw has been employed by the City of Shawano as a clerical specialist for the Shawano Police Department since 1998. Pl.'s Proposed Findings of Fact (PPFOF) ¶ 1, ECF No. 63. In 2003, then-Chief of Police Edward Whealon promoted Chartraw to lead clerical specialist. Defs.' Proposed Findings of Fact (DPFOF) ¶¶ 2, 4, ECF No. 49. As lead clerical specialist, Chartraw was the senior most clerical person in the Department and the Chief's secretary. Id. ¶ 2. She worked for four different police chiefs in her role as a clerical specialist: Norm John, from April 1998 to January 2001; Mark Kohl, from January 2001 to August 2002; Edward Whealon, from August 2002 to April 2014; Mark Kohl, from April 2014 to April 2017; and Dan Mauel, from April 2017 to the present. Id. ¶ 4. The Chief of Police is responsible for supervising all police department employees, including the lieutenants, police officers, community service officers (CSOs), and clerical staff. PPFOF ¶ 4. At all times relevant to the complaint, Mark Kohl was the Chief of Police. Id. ¶ 2.

         It should be noted at the outset that the court's efforts to determine the disputed and undisputed material facts of the case have been unnecessarily complicated by the number of personal opinions (she's a complainer; Attorney Kalny found) and tendentious proposed facts and responses thereto (see 96-page Defendants' Reply to Plaintiff's Proposed Findings of Fact) the parties have submitted. In general, it is the admissible evidence of the material facts of the case, not what someone else thought about what was in someone's mind, that are key to deciding whether a motion for summary judgment should be granted. What follows is the court's attempt to set out, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the undisputed material facts as gleaned from the properly submitted evidentiary materials of the parties.

         Chartraw alleges that she was subjected to a pattern of sexual harassment beginning on some unspecified date after Kohl became Chief of Police in April 2014. She then proceeds to describe a series of incidents that she believes would support a verdict in her favor. She alleges, for example, that shortly after Kohl started his tenure at the Shawano Police Department, he invited her to have pizza and watch a movie with him, which she declined. PPFOF ¶ 15. Chartraw acknowledges, however, that Chief Kohl made similar offers to pick up dinner and a movie to whoever was present, regardless of gender, and he never asked her to go on a date. DPFOF ¶¶ 37-38.

         Chartraw contends that Chief Kohl also made inappropriate comments about her appearance and the appearance of another female employee, Officer NiCole Hoffmann. In February 2015, Kohl noticed that Chartraw did not do anything with her hair and asked her why she was not wearing any makeup. PPFOF ¶ 17. At a later date, Kohl noted that Chartraw's hair “looked like hell” and stated “women look better with a smile and makeup on.” Id. ¶ 18. In late-February or early-March 2015, Chief Kohl described the boots Chartraw wore as “hooker boots.” Id. ¶ 16. Chartraw was offended by the comment and went to talk to him about it the following week. Kohl joked about the comment and again stated that her boots were “hooker” boots. Id. ¶ 27. Chartraw complained to Lieutenants Musloff and Rabideau about Chief Kohl's comments. Id. ¶ 20. In April 2015, Chartraw told Chief Kohl and Lieutenant Mauel that she did not appreciate the comments he made about her appearance. Id. ¶ 28. Chartraw does not dispute that after the meeting, Kohl did not comment on her appearance again.

         She was also concerned with comments she overheard Chief Kohl make about NiCole Hoffmann. When discussing the Department's vacant night shift position, a position Officer Hoffmann had applied for, Chartraw overheard Chief Kohl state that he would rather hire a “strong man” for the position. Id. ¶ 21. The City eventually hired Hoffmann as an officer, and Chartraw overheard Chief Kohl comment that Hoffmann's chest was “too big and jiggly” to fit a standard bulletproof vest. Id. ¶ 22. The City ordered a custom vest for Officer Hoffmann. DPFOF ¶ 74. Chartraw also claims she overheard Chief Kohl make comments about Hoffmann's “lesbian glasses” and her eating habits. She asserts she never heard Chief Kohl make comments about male employees' eating habits or weight. PPFOF ¶¶ 24-25. In September 2015, Chartraw complained to Chief Kohl about the comments he made about Officer Hoffmann. He responded that Officer Hoffmann was “one of the guys” and “can take it.” Id. ¶ 29. Chartraw stated his comments were “not cool” and that other women can hear them. Id.

         Although Chartraw asserts she was offended by Chief Kohl's comments about women, these comments were part of an unprofessional environment to which she also contributed. In particular, Chartraw sent Chief Kohl lewd and inappropriate emails. In April 2014, she wrote

I attached a list of our job duties.
Shall I order a large vat of lotion to ease the chaffing? I figured with all the hinder licking you have received and will continue to receive you may need it . . . also thinking of getting one of those “take a number” dispensers for outside your office . . .
- have a warm and wonderful day.

         DPFOF ¶ 20. And on August 26, 2014, she summarized what had occurred on a day Chief Kohl was out of the office:

According to Noah, this guy was just irate the cops showed up, fucked up their fucking, and he lost his boner. You don't even know what you've missed today.


         Chartraw further reports that she was the recipient of Kohl's rude workplace behavior and angry outbursts but admits Kohl treated male employees that he had conflicts with in a similar way.

         After Chief Kohl became upset when Chartraw told him she would not be his “Confidential Secretary” and “narc” on her coworkers, Kohl accused Chartraw of “blowing the budget.” PPFOF ¶¶ 33, 39. When Chartraw asked to meet with him to discuss his concerns, he indicated that he did not want to meet with ...

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