The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN T. ELFVIN, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff Deborah Miller ("Miller") commenced this civil action on
January 18, 2002 against her current employer, Saint-Gobain Corporation
("Saint-Gobain"). Miller alleges sexual harassment and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y
Exec. Law § 290 et seq. ("HRL"). On March 21, 2003,
Saint-Gobain filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCvP"). This motion was argued
and submitted on September 26, 2003. For the reasons set forth below,
Saint-Gobain's motion will be granted.
Miller began employment with Saint-Gobain, then known as Carborundum
Corporation, on October 24, 1985 and remains employed there today. From
1986 through January 2002 Miller worked as a journeyman machinist in the
Grinding Department, which comprises two areas: Green Machine and Grind
Shop.*fn2 Although Miller frequently worked in Green Machine, she could
be assigned to work in either area depending on the respective workload
in the department.
Miller asserts that, starting in approximately mid-1999, she observed
co-workers reading magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy or
Hustler and otherwise observed such magazines in tool drawers.
Miller testified that she threw away each magazine that she found.
During the second half of 1999 and with the acquiescence of Miller's
union, Saint-Gobain developed new attendance guidelines in an effort to
improve attendance. All of the affected employees were trained at that
time with respect to the new system for tracking attendance. On April 6,
2000, in accordance with the new policy, Miller received a "friendly
verbal" warning about her attendance. Miller did not file a grievance
about this warning.
On May 16, 2000 Miller found an offensive joke on her workbench. Miller
brought the document to her supervisor, John Winstanley, who said that he
would "take care of it." Miller subsequently discovered who was
responsible for the joke, but she did not inform management because she did not want to implicate
a co-worker and because she thought that "it was their job, not mine, to
find out who did it."
On May 17, 2000 Miller found an offensive magazine in a drawer in the
Green Machine area; she threw it out and did not report the incident. On
June 20, 2000 a photograph of a partially nude female was posted on the
company bulletin board, within several feet of the foreman's office.
In mid-June 2000 Miller informed Human Resources Manager Joan McGarvey
that David Miller*fn3 had been giving her "less desirable" work
assignments and shifts and that he intentionally assigned her work that a
shoulder injury restricted her from performing. On July 19, 2000 a
meeting occurred between Miller, McGarvey, David Miller, and two union
representatives to discuss Miller's claims of gender-based favoritism in
work assignments, training and scheduling of shifts.
When Miller complained to McGarvey about the presence of adult
materials in the plant, McGarvey investigated Miller's complaint.
McGarvey was unable to locate any adult materials. To preempt debate
about the offensiveness of any particular material, the management and
supervisory teams subsequently reached a consensus to remove all personal
reading materials from work areas.
On June 29, 2000 Miller allegedly observed a co-worker reading an issue
of Playboy magazine. Miller reported the incident to David
Miller, who could not find the magazine but instructed all employees to remove all reading
materials from the work areas.
On July 19, 2000 Miller saw a calendar that allegedly contained a
photograph of a partially nude female. The next day, Miller photographed
the calendar and reported it to David Miller, who removed it immediately.
During this time, Miller's co-workers complained to McGarvey and to their
supervisors that Miller had been wandering throughout the plant, writing
observations of her co-workers in a notebook and making unsolicited
comments about personal items and photographs that they had on
display.*fn4 Several of Miller's co-workers approached management to
protest the decision to remove non-offensive personal reading materials.
On July 21, 2000 a copy of an Ann Landers column appeared on a bulletin
board in Miller's work area.*fn5 Nothing on the document itself targeted
Miller, but she and two union stewards believed that the document was
directed at her. Miller subsequently discovered who posted the column,
but did not share this information with management. Later that day, the
sexual epithet "cunt" appeared scrawled on Miller's mailbox.*fn6 The graffiti was removed under the shift
supervisor's direction. Miller left work early that day by permission and
was not paid for the hours not worked.
On July 24, 2000 Miller met with McGarvey regarding the mailbox
obscenity and the Ann Landers column. McGarvey investigated these
incidents and wrote Miller a memo summarizing the actions. The memo,
which was copied to David Miller, indicated that Saint-Gobain would
continue to monitor the workplace for offensive materials and that it
would keep all personal reading material out of the workplace.
On August 1, 2000 Miller saw a co-worker reading an issue of
Penthouse magazine. Miller did not report the incident and did
not discuss it with the co-worker. On August 8, 2000 Miller saw a
co-worker in the boiler-room reading a "smut magazine." When Miller asked
the co-worker what he was doing, he put the magazine in a filing ...