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Lundgren v. Kocourek Automotive Dealerships, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

June 18, 2019

JORI L. LUNDGREN, Plaintiff,
v.
KOCOUREK AUTOMOTIVE DEALERSHIPS, INC., Defendant, and BALLWEG AUTOMOTIVE, INC., Third Party Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jori Lundgren is suing her former employer, defendant Kocourek Automotive Dealerships, Inc., for allegedly subjecting her to a hostile work environment and then terminating her when she complained about discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now before the court is defendant's motion for partial summary judgment with respect to plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. Dkt. #24. I am granting the motion for summary judgment as to the timeliness of certain conduct but denying it on all other grounds because there are disputed issues of material fact that must be resolved by a jury. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

         From the parties' proposed findings of fact, I find the following facts to be material and undisputed.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         A. The Parties, Players and Background

         Plaintiff Jori Lundren resides in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and is a former employee of defendant Kocourek Automotive Dealerships, Inc. Defendant is located in Wausau, Wisconsin, where it has several automobile dealerships (Chevrolet, Ford Lincoln, Import, Subaru, Nissan Kia, and J.D. Byrider) that offer new car sales, pre-owned car sales, a parts department and a service department.

         Plaintiff started working for defendant in the early 1990s. In 1996, she became an office manager and then the leasing manager before resigning later that year to take a job with a different employer. However, plaintiff stayed in contact with Keith Kocourek, the president of defendant.

         In October 2010, plaintiff became defendant's director of training. In that position, she reported to Kocourek and trained all employees who worked with customers, such as salespeople and service advisors. In 2014, plaintiff began reporting to Greg Jensen, who had started working for defendant in September 2010 as the general manager for its Chevrolet dealership. Jensen was given additional responsibilities over the next five years: he became the general manager of the Import dealership in February 2011, the Subaru dealership in July 2012, the Nissan Kia dealership in January 2013 and the ABRA Collision Center in December 2014. In March 2013, Kocourek warned Jensen in a performance evaluation that “I hope we are finished with the drama and poor decisions you have made personally, ” and “personal issues - disorderly conduct - is it over - will you inform me in the future?” (It is unclear what Kocourek was referring to.) In October 2015, Jensen became defendant's chief operating officer and oversaw all operations for defendant's Chevrolet, Import, Subaru, Nissan Kia and Ford Lincoln dealerships and the ABRA Collision Center. Jensen has never had any responsibility for defendant's J.D. Byrider dealership.

         B. Defendant's Harassment Policy

         In 2015 and 2016, defendant had a “Non-Discrimination Policy and Harassment Policy.” On August 3, 2015, defendant trained plaintiff on the “law and unlawful harassment, the obligations imposed upon managers and employees of [defendant] and [plaintiff's] responsibility to address any incidents of inappropriate, unprofessional or unlawful conduct.” In 2015 and 2016, plaintiff knew that defendant had a procedure for reporting sexual harassment and that she could make a complaint to a manager or the human resources manager, Corinne Simonson. However, the policy did not require harassment complaints to be filed with Simonson. Defendant has an “open-door policy” by which employees are encouraged to “bring up concerns to a supervisor with whom they feel most comfortable.”

         C. Alleged Incidents of Sexual Harassment Disputed by Defendant

         Plaintiff alleges that she was physically groped and grabbed by Keith Kocourek at his 50th birthday party during a work-related conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in July 2012. Plaintiff did not complain about the incident at the time. Kocourek did not sexually harass plaintiff again after this incident.

         Plaintiff alleges that Jensen made various sexually offensive comments to her and about other women in her presence:

• Jensen regularly commented about the size of women's breasts and referred to female customers as “hot.” (Plaintiff does not recall the ...

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