United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
DOROTHEA L. JOYNER, Plaintiff,
NATIONWIDE HOTEL MANAGEMENT COMPANY, LLC f/k/a WOODSPRING HOTELS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, LLC, Defendant.
D. LAND, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Joyner brought this action against Nationwide Hotel
Management Company seeking relief under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e to 2000e-17, and state law. Nationwide moves
for summary judgment on all of Joyner's claims (ECF No.
53). For the following reasons, the Court grants summary
judgment on Joyner's federal law claim and dismisses her
state law claims without prejudice so that she may refile
them in the appropriate state court.
judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine
dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion
for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment,
drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing
party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it
is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if
the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
asserts that she was sexually harassed when her co-workers,
Nelwyn Smith and Robyn Evans, spread a rumor that she
received a promotion because she slept with her boss, Bill
Mark. The central issue for the Court to determine is whether
a reasonable jury could find that Joyner suffered this
alleged harassment because of her gender.
a prima facie showing of Title VII hostile work environment
sexual harassment, Joyner must prove that Smith and Evans
(both females) created a hostile work environment because
of Joyner's sex (female). Baldwin v. Blue
Cross/Blue Shield of Ala., 480 F.3d 1287, 1301-02 (11th
Cir. 2007). The Supreme Court has identified three ways in
which a plaintiff might prove that this type of same-sex
sexual harassment occurred because of the
plaintiff's sex. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs.
Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80-81 (1998). A plaintiff can show
(1) that the harasser's behavior is motivated by
homosexual desire for the plaintiff, (2) that the harasser
used “such sex-specific and derogatory terms ... as to
make it clear that the harasser is motivated by general
hostility to the presence of [members of the same sex] in the
workplace, ” or (3) that there is “direct
comparative evidence about how the alleged harasser treated
members of both sexes in a mixed-sex workplace.”
Id. Joyner did not offer evidence that would satisfy
any of these three scenarios.
is no evidence that Smith and Evans spread the rumor about
Joyner because they had a homosexual desire for her. There is
also no evidence that Smith and Evans spread the rumor
because they were motivated by a general hostility toward
women in the workplace. Rumors of a heterosexual affair are
not the type of sex-specific statements from which a jury
could infer a general hostility toward women because the
rumors degrade both men and women equally. See Pasqua v.
Metro. Life Ins. Co., 101 F.3d 514, 517 (7th Cir. 1996)
(finding that, because rumors of an affair affect men and
women equally, these rumors alone did not show that
harassment was based on sex); Duncan v. Manager,
Dep't of Safety, City & Cty. Of Denver, 397 F.3d
1300, 1312 (10th Cir. 2005) (noting the same in dicta).
seems to focus primarily on establishing gender-related
harassment under the third theory by alleging that Smith and
Evans treated women worse than men in a mixed-sex workplace.
Joyner's only evidence of this unequal treatment, though,
is that Smith and Evans talked about the rumor in her
vicinity more often than in Mark's vicinity. And, as
Joyner seems to note, Smith and Evans likely did not talk
about the rumor in Mark's vicinity because, unlike
Joyner, Mark did not work in the Columbus office with Smith
and Evans daily and had “no contact with [them]”
after January 2017, not because he was a man. Pl.'s
Sur-Reply 6, ECF No. 63. Evidence that one man, who had
little interaction with the alleged harassers, was harassed
less than a woman who worked with the harassers on a daily
basis is not enough for a jury to find that the woman was
harassed because she was a female. See, e.g.,
Johnson v. Hondo, Inc., 125 F.3d 408, 413 n.6 (7th
Cir. 1997) (rejecting a mixed-sex workplace theory in part
because no women permanently worked in the area where the
alleged harassment took place and they only occasionally
passed through the area). Joyner points to no other instances
where Smith and Evans treated women worse than men in their
workspace. Accordingly, Joyner fails to offer
sufficient evidence to demonstrate that she was harassed
because of her gender. Therefore, the Court grants Nationwide
summary judgment on Joyner's Title VII claim.
Title VII claim is the only basis for the Court's
original jurisdiction. The Court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Joyner's remaining state
law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Therefore, the Court
dismisses Joyner's remaining claims without prejudice so
that she may refile them in the appropriate state court.
 Joyner also brought a “federal
fraud” claim, but she has since abandoned that claim.
Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for ...