Employee’s Retaliation Claim Unsuccessful After Failing to Report Harassment to Management

Employee’s Retaliation Claim Unsuccessful After Failing to Report Harassment to Management

Sara Debord was hired in 2004 and worked as a nuclear-medicine technician at Mercy Hospital.  Debord’s supervisor was Leonard Weaver, the hospital’s director of radiology.  Soon after Debord was hired, she claims that Weaver regularly placed his “unusually cold hands” up her sleeve and down the back of her shirt.  Debord did not inform Mercy Hospital’s management and it first received notice of this behavior in July 2009 through comments that Debord posted on her Facebook page.  Debord’s Facebook posts included comments about Weaver’s “creapy” (sic) hands and Weaver adding money to her paycheck for hours she did not work.  Mercy’s HR Director met with Debord regarding the comments on her Facebook page.  At first, Debord denied authoring the comments but she eventually admitted it.  Mercy’s risk manager asked Debord if she wanted to file a formal sexual harassment complaint, but Debord declined. After performing an investigation, the HR Director determined that the overpayment claims were false, and Debord was subsequently terminated.  Debord filed suit against Mercy for sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII.  The parties moved for summary judgment.  The district court granted summary judgment against all claims and required each party to bear its own costs.  The Tenth Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Mercy.  The Court concluded that Debord’s harassment claim fails to raise a disputed, material fact and there were many nonretaliatory reasons for terminating Debord.  The Court noted that Mercy’s management investigated the sexual harassment complaint even when Debord did not pursue the claim herself.  The Court also reversed the denial of costs to Mercy and remanded to the district court.

Debord v. Mercy Health System of Kansas, Inc., Nos. 12-3072 & 12-3109 (10th Cir. Nov. 26, 2013). 

Debord v Mercy Health System of Kansas.pdf

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