Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pippin v. Boulevard Motel Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

August 31, 2016

BRENDA PIPPIN, GRACE PARKER, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
BOULEVARD MOTEL CORP., d/b/a Comfort Inn South Portland Hotel, Defendant, Appellee.

         APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE [Hon. John A. Woodcock, Jr., U.S. District Judge]

          James A. Clifford, with whom Andrew P. Cotter and Clifford & Clifford, LLC, were on brief, for appellants.

          Barbara Archer Hirsch for Maine Human Rights Commission, amicus curiae.

          Katharine I. Rand, with whom James R. Erwin, Michelle Y. Bush, and Pierce Atwood LLP were on brief, for appellee.

          Anne Noel Occhialino, Attorney, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, P. David Lopez, General Counsel, Jennifer S. Goldstein, Associate General Counsel, and Lorraine C. Davis, Assistant General Counsel, on brief for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, amicus curiae.

          Before Torruella and Barron, Circuit Judges, and Lisi, [*] District Judge.

          BARRON, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Brenda Pippin and Grace Parker are former employees of the Boulevard Motel Corporation ("Boulevard"). They filed complaints that alleged that Boulevard fired them in violation of the Maine Whistleblowers' Protection Act ("MWPA") and the Maine Human Rights Act ("MHRA"). The District Court granted summary judgment for Boulevard, relying on a purported "job duties exception" to both statutes. On appeal, the parties agree that our intervening decision in Harrison v. Granite Bay Care, Inc., 811 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2016), made clear that no "job duties exception" exists under either the MWPA or, by implication, the MHRA. But Boulevard argues that we nonetheless can affirm the District Court's ruling because it is supportable on other grounds. Because we disagree that other grounds support the order granting summary judgment, we reverse.

         I.

         "On review of an order granting summary judgment, we recite the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving part[ies]." Walsh v. TelTech Sys., Inc., 821 F.3d 155, 157-58 (1st Cir. 2016). Thus, we present the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs.

         This case concerns an incident of sexual harassment that occurred at the Comfort Inn Hotel in South Portland, Maine. The hotel is owned by the defendant, Boulevard. The plaintiffs are Pippin, the hotel's former executive housekeeper, and Parker, the hotel's former assistant executive housekeeper.

         The incident involved a maintenance worker at the hotel making graphic, sexual comments to a female housekeeper about her body. The victim -- along with Pippin and Parker -- made the initial report of the incident to the defendant. The three women made that report to the hotel's general manager, Beth Landergren. At that initial meeting on April 27, 2010, Pippin told Landergren: "[the victim] needs to talk to you. . . . she has gone through some incidents with [the maintenance worker] . . . and it's not pleasant." The victim then proceeded to describe the incident to Landergren.

         In the course of the defendant's resulting investigation of the incident, the plaintiffs each also made oral and written statements about it to Ignacio Mello, the defendant's human resources manager.[1] On May 11, 2010, after the investigation had come to a close, the defendant sent a written reprimand to the maintenance worker. No further disciplinary action was taken against him.

         More than three weeks later, on June 2, 2010, each plaintiff sent another written statement to Mello. Parker's statement described a conversation with a co-worker, Veronica Connolly, in which Connolly had reported feeling pressured by Landergren to protect the accused harasser during the investigation. Pippin's statement recounted a meeting that she had with the victim and Landergren the day before, during which the victim had accused Landergren of, among other things, only caring about "saving [the accused harasser]."

         In 2011, both plaintiffs were terminated from their employment by the defendant. On March 21, 2014, each plaintiff brought suit, in two separate complaints, in Maine Superior Court. Each plaintiff alleged that her termination violated both the MWPA, which protects an employee who, in good faith, "reports orally or in writing to [her] employer or a public body what the employee has reasonable cause to believe is a violation of [] law" by her employer, Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, § 833; Costain v. Sunbury Primary Care, P.A., 954 A.2d 1051, 1054 (Me. 2008), and the antiretaliation provision of the MHRA, which prohibits "discriminat[ion] ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.