Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Thorington v. Sally Beauty Supply LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

May 10, 2017

Bianca Jasmine Thorington, Plaintiff,
Sally Beauty Supply LLC, Defendant.



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 32. Plaintiffs complaint alleges sex discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, and pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion.

         I. Background

         A. Factual History

         Defendant, Sally Beauty, LLC, is a wholesale and retail distributor of professional beauty products. SOF ¶ 1. The company is based in Texas but operates internationally, including 77 stores in the Commonwealth of Virginia. SOF ¶ 1. Defendant has an equal opportunity employee policy set forth in the employee handbook. SOF ¶ 2. Defendant also maintains a "Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Procedure" under which employees are obligated to report incidents of discrimination or harassment to the human resource manager, vice president of human resources, or the company president. SOF ¶ 3. The policy protects whistleblowing employees and those who cooperate in an investigation from retaliation. SOF ¶ 4. Defendant also maintains a complaint resolution program which empowers employees to publicly or anonymously express concerns about company practices. SOF ¶ 5.

         Defendant requires its hourly employees to clock in and out every time they arrive or leave the store. SOF ¶ 6. While Defendant's employees serve at-will, the company handbook identifies infractions warranting "immediate termination" including "[f]alsification of Company records" such "time sheets/Time Clock records." SOF ¶ 7.

         Plaintiff, Bianca Thorington, was hired on or about November 1, 2012 as an assistant store manager with the Defendant at its Woodbridge, Virginia store. SOF ¶ 10. On December 12, 2012, she was transferred to the Fredericksburg, Virginia store as an assistant manager. SOF ¶ 11. Plaintiffs direct supervisor in Fredericksburg was Store Manager, Julie Cochran (now Julie Carey, hereafter "Carey"). SOF ¶ 12. Plaintiffs supervisor was District Manager Barbara Lawter. SOF ¶ 12. Plaintiff received a performance appraisal on March 18, 2013 and was given a perfect score by Lawter and Carey. Dkt. No. 49, at 16, ¶ 14. She was classified by Defendant as "distinguished." Id.

         On May 30, 2013, suspecting that she may be pregnant, Plaintiff contends that Carey sent her to a nearby store to purchase a pregnancy test kit. Dkt. No. 49, at 7. Plaintiff took the test in the employee bathroom while Carey waited outside the door. Id. The test was positive, confirming Plaintiffs suspicion that she was pregnant. SOF ¶ 13. Carey found out about the pregnancy at the same time. SOF ¶ 13. Plaintiff avers that Carey called Lawter on June 4, 2013, in Plaintiffs presence, to inform Lawter of the pregnancy. Dkt. No. 49, at 8.

         Two weeks later, Plaintiff received a $0.75 per hour raise, effective June 9, 2013. SOF ¶ 14. On August 10, 2013, Plaintiff and Lawter met to discuss Plaintiffs role with Defendant. Plaintiff avers that Lawter offered her an ultimatum: step down as assistant manager and take part-time status or transfer to another store 75 miles away. Dkt. No. 49, at 8. Plaintiff further avers that Lawter told her that because the store was not making enough money it could no longer afford a full-time assistant manager. Following the meeting with Lawter, Plaintiffs role was changed from full-time Assistant Store Manager to part-time Sales Associate (20 hours a week), effective September 1, 2013. SOF ¶ 15. Her hourly rate remained unchanged. SOF ¶ 15. On September 8, 2013, Defendant hired Teresa Shipman as the new Assistant Store Manager in the Fredericksburg store at an hourly rate of $10.00 per hour. Dkt. No. 33, Exh. 13.

         On August 30, 2013, Plaintiff was scheduled to work from noon to 8:30 p.m. SOF ¶ 16. The only other employee present during her shift was a recent hire. SOF ¶ 16. During her shift, Plaintiff left the store three times without clocking out for a total of approximately two hours. SOF ¶ 16-18. The departures were captured on security camera footage at the store. SOF ¶ 17. Plaintiff also clocked out for one break from 6:00 p.m. to 6:16 p.m. SOF ¶ 18. Plaintiff testified during discovery that she did not recall the reasons for any of her departures from the store that day but that she only would have left without clocking out if she was out on store business. SOF ¶ 29, Dkt. No. 49, ¶ 16. She testified that she occasionally left the store for legitimate business purposes including making change at a nearby bank or purchasing supplies at nearby stores. SOF ¶ 29. Upon belief that Plaintiff had left the new employee alone during the August 30, 2013 shift, Lawter and Carey reviewed the security camera footage on September 23, 2013. SOF ¶ 17. On September 24, 2013, when Plaintiff arrived for her shift, Carey and Shipman confronted her about the video surveillance. SOF ¶ 19. Plaintiff was offered an opportunity to write a statement explaining the reason for her absence but she declined. SOF ¶ 20. The same day Carey suspended the Plaintiff. SOF ¶ 20.

         Later in the same day after the suspension, Plaintiff phoned Carey and recorded the conversation. SOF ¶ 21. In the call, Plaintiff questioned why she was not permitted to see the video surveillance. Carey insisted that she could not share the video because it was controlled by Defendant's corporate office. Id. Sometime after the August 30 incident, Lawter met with Human Resources Business Partner Tracy Advellas and they agreed to terminate Plaintiff's employment. SOF ¶ 25. Defendant cited Plaintiffs unwillingness to sign the statement on September 24 as a contributing factor in terminating Plaintiffs employment. Id.

         Plaintiff first learned about her firing on September 26, 2013, when she called the Fredericksburg store and spoke with Carey. SOF ¶ 26. Carey advised Plaintiff that she had been terminated because of the video. Defendant contends that Plaintiff did not contact Defendant's HR department or Lawyer to discuss the termination. SOF ¶ 28. Plaintiff avers that she attempted to report the incident to the Human Resources Manager using the toll-free phone number. Dkt. No. 49, at 13. However, she never directly reached anyone on the line despite leaving messages with the Manager and receiving voicemails in response from the Human Resources department. Id.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an intake questionnaire with the EEOC on July 9, 2014. Dkt. No. 49, Exh. F. Plaintiff marked "Pregnancy" as the reason for the claim of employment discrimination. Id. at 2. The questionnaire protested Plaintiffs termination and her being forced to work part time. Id. at 2. On the last page of the questionnaire, Plaintiff checked a box to affirm "I want to file a charge of discrimination, and I authorize the EEOC to look into the discrimination I described above. I understand that the EEOC must give the employer... that I accuse of discrimination information about the charge, including my name." Id. at 4. ...

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.