United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
JAMES A. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
CHAD HENNEMAN, LORIE IVERSON, and LAURIE NEUROTH, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
James A. Lewis, a prisoner currently incarcerated at the
Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), brings this lawsuit
alleging that defendants, WSPF officials Chad Henneman, Lorie
Iverson, and Laurie Neuroth, harassed and disciplined Lewis
in retaliation for his complaining about sexual harassment by
Henneman. I granted Lewis leave to proceed on First Amendment
retaliation and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claims
against defendants. Defendants move for summary judgment.
Dkt. 28. Lewis asks for leave to file a sur-reply to address
new facts raised in defendants' reply. Dkt. 80. I will
grant his motion so that I may consider the full record and
record shows that Lewis was subjected to job-related
discipline for reasons that might not have been fully
legitimate. Henneman in particular may have treated Lewis
poorly. But on the legal merits, I must grant defendants'
motion for summary judgment. Lewis has not presented evidence
that defendants were motivated by Lewis's First Amendment
activity, so Lewis's retaliation claims against the
defendants fail. Lewis cannot base a class-of-one equal
protection claim on a discretionary employment decision, so
his claims against Iverson and Neuroth fail. And finally,
Henneman is entitled to qualified immunity because it is not
clearly established that Henneman's conduct reports
violated Lewis's rights under the Equal Protection
following facts are undisputed, except where noted.
December 2014, Lewis got a prison job as a kitchen worker in
the WSPF kitchen. Defendant Chad Henneman worked in the
kitchen as a corrections food service leader; defendant
Laurie Neuroth was a food service manager; and defendant
Lorie Iverson was the food service administrator.
March 2015, Lewis received his first performance evaluation
from Iverson. She gave him a score of 30 out of 33 possible
points, which was “above average.” Dkt. 31-1, at
1. Later that month, she promoted him to kitchen worker
advanced and gave him a raise, effective March 29. On April
13, Iverson gave Lewis a second raise and backdated it so
that it was effective March 29, too. During these early
months of work, Lewis got along well with Henneman-Henneman
even taught Lewis how to play euchre. Lewis also trained
incoming workers. Each defendant agrees that at that time,
Lewis was a good worker.
soon after that, Lewis's work relationship with Henneman
began to deteriorate. On April 15, Henneman reported that
Lewis “became argumentative, distracting, [and]
disruptive at work [and] began to take everything literally
when taking directions.” Dkt. 31-15, at 3. Lewis agrees
that Henneman made this report, but states that Henneman was
the one causing problems, not Lewis: Henneman ordered Lewis
not to talk to the other inmate workers, and Lewis complied,
but Henneman then complained that Lewis didn't tell the
other inmate workers when they were making mistakes.
to Lewis, in May 2015 he was bent over in the kitchen when
Henneman saw him and said, “Mmm, Mr. Lewis, what an
interesting view.” Dkt. 48, ¶ 7. Lewis interpreted
this as a sexual comment and “got angry and cursed
Henneman out.” Id. ¶ 8. Defendants say
this episode never occurred.
to Lewis, “[f]rom that moment on, Henneman started
harassing” him. Id. ¶ 9. For example,
Henneman would assign extra tasks to Lewis, especially
undesirable tasks like cleaning up after the other kitchen
workers. Lewis reported this harassment to Iverson, Neuroth,
and Anthony Broadbent (a WSPF unit manager). He also told his
daughter, Tiffany Lewis, about Henneman's harassment.
Tiffany called Iverson in “May or June of 2015, ”
and Iverson told her “she would handle the
situation.” Dkt. 57, ¶ 6.
27, Henneman reported in a “behavior log” that
Lewis “gets annoyed with work rules in the kitchen or
with decisions made by staff then complains loudly and
attempts to do what he wants to, not what staff tell him to
do.” Dkt. 31-15, at 3. The same day, Henneman sent an
email to Iverson and Neuroth stating, “Lewis is
increasingly becoming hostile and agitated at what he
perceives to be slights and his overworking.” Dkt.
76-1, at 1.
28, Henneman reported that Lewis “became very animated
and disruptive when he smelled gas 10 minutes into his work
shift in the kitchen and began pleading with staff to send
him back.” Dkt. 31-15, at 3.
30, Henneman reported that Lewis “can have very good
work performances when he wants to work [but] at other times,
is very slow and intentionally slow to get out of
work.” Id. The same day, Henneman wrote Lewis
a conduct report and sent him back from work “for
becoming a disruption and for arguing with staff.”
Id. Lebbeus Brown, a WSPF captain, reviewed the
conduct report, including Lewis's statement contesting
Henneman's accusations, and found Lewis guilty of
inadequate work performance and disruptive conduct.
early August, Lewis filed a grievance complaining of
Henneman's “harassment and unfair treatment.”
Dkt. 31-3, at 6. The grievance was rejected as outside the
scope of the grievance procedure-in other words, Lewis should
have appealed the conduct report rather than written a
grievance about it. Sometime that same month, Lewis's
daughter Tiffany called Iverson a second time; Iverson
“explained that [Lewis] and Mr. Henneman just had a
personality conflict.” Dkt. 57, ¶ 7.
August 25, Henneman yelled at Lewis about a mistake until
another inmate worker admitted that he made the mistake. On
August 26, Henneman reported that Lewis “does not take
orders well.” Dkt. 31-15, at 3.
August 31, Lewis filed another grievance, complaining that on
August 25 he “was again the target of Mr.
Henneman's bullying.” Dkt. 31-4, at 5. The inmate
complaint examiner spoke to Iverson about the grievance and
rejected the grievance as moot because Iverson said she
“already addressed this issue.” Id. at
October 7, Henneman reported that Lewis “does not make
good use of his time, attempts to leave work early so that he
can go to law library even though he is still scheduled to be
at work.” Dkt. 31-15, at 2. According to Lewis, another
corrections food service leader had told Lewis that he could
leave work early to go to the law ...