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Prettyman v. LTF Club Operations Co., Inc.

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

November 13, 2018

TERRI M. PRETTYMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
LTF CLUB OPERATIONS CO., INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          T.S. ELTIS III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this Title VII and ADEA action, plaintiff, a former group fitness manager at defendant's Fairfax, VA fitness club, alleges (i) that her immediate supervisor, Devin Nickerson (“Nickerson”), discriminated against her on the basis of her religion and age, (ii) that Nickerson created a hostile work environment by making derogatory statements about her age and religion, and (iii) that Jorge Hernandez (“Hernandez”), the senior general manager at the fitness club, retaliated against her for reporting Nickerson's discriminatory comments.[1] Defendant has moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims. Although plaintiff opposes the motions, she has not created triable issues of fact as to her Title VII and ADEA disparate treatment claims, her ADEA hostile work environment claim, and her retaliation claim. Yet, plaintiff has produced sufficient record evidence to create a triable issue of fact as to her Title VII hostile work environment claim.

         I.

         Defendant's summary judgment motion complies with the federal and local rules by setting forth its statement of undisputed material fact in separately numbered paragraphs. Plaintiff also complied with the rules by responding to each of defendant's undisputed facts and by including her own list of undisputed facts. From these pleadings, it appears that although certain facts are disputed, the following facts are uncontested:

• Defendant operates a fitness/health club in Fairfax, Virginia and employed plaintiff for almost nine years.
• Nickerson, plaintiff's immediate supervisor, has been employed with defendant since 2003 and has been the General Manager of defendant's Fairfax fitness club since 2013.
• Hernandez has been a Senior General Manager with defendant since 2010.
• On December 19, 2007, plaintiff was hired by defendant as a fitness group instructor.
• On October 30, 2013, Nickerson promoted plaintiff to Group Fitness Department Head. At the time of plaintiff's promotion, she was 54 years old.[2]
• Plaintiff is Jewish.
• In March 2017, plaintiff was responsible for organizing and hosting an event for customers at the fitness center and, as part of the planning, plaintiff engaged in a heated argument with Melanie Heidt, the manager of the café at the fitness center.
• On March 9, 2017, Nickerson had a one-on-one meeting with plaintiff and discussed her interactions with Ms. Heidt.
• On March 10, 2017, plaintiff contacted defendant's employee relations specialist, Mark Savage, and reported that Nickerson had made anti-Semitic and ageist remarks to plaintiff over the course of her nine years in defendant's employ.
• On March 13, 2017, plaintiff had an in-person meeting with Hernandez to discuss what occurred at the March 9th meeting.
• At the end of the March 13th meeting, plaintiff handed Hernandez an envelope containing a letter she had written. The letter states that at the March 9, 2017 meeting between plaintiff and Nickerson, plaintiff “called [Nickerson] a liar, and gave him [her] notice.” Def.'s Ex. I.
• On May 1, 2017, Nickerson hired Amelia Lotz Chung, a 41-year-old woman at the time of her hire, as the Studio Manager to replace plaintiff.

         Although the parties appear to agree on the above-recited facts, they are contesting the following facts:

• Whether plaintiff resigned or was terminated.
• Defendant contends that during the March 9, 2017 meeting between plaintiff and Nickerson, plaintiff called Nickerson a liar, resigned and offered Nickerson her two-week notice.
• By contrast, plaintiff claims that during the March 9th meeting, Nickerson began to criticize her sharply and she said, “I feel like you want me to quit. I guess you just want me to give my two weeks' notice, ” and Nickerson then stated that he accepted her resignation. Plaintiff contends that she never intended to resign, and that Nickerson twisted her words to achieve his desired result: i.e. plaintiff's termination.
• Whether Nickerson and other employees made discriminatory remarks to plaintiff.
• Plaintiff claims that Nickerson made a host of ageist comments throughout her tenure at defendant's fitness center, including saying: (i) that she is “as old as the hills, ” (ii) that plaintiff reminds Nickerson of his “pain in the ass mother, ” and (iii) that plaintiff should “become friends with and drink wine with [Nickerson's] mother.” Plaintiff also claims that Nickerson uttered anti-Semitic remarks, including: (i) commenting on plaintiff's “Jewish money, ” (ii) discussing plaintiff's “trust fund, ” and asking where her “Jewish money” came from, and (iii) commenting that plaintiff purchased her big house with “Jewish money.” Plaintiff also claims that Nickerson encouraged other employees to treat plaintiff differently because of her Jewish faith and that Erin Jacobsen, the operations department head at the Fairfax fitness center, called plaintiff a “JAP” (Jewish American Princess).
• Defendant disputes that any anti-Semitic or ageist comments were made by any of its employees, including Nickerson.

         Given the factual record on summary judgment, it is necessary to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate as to any of plaintiff's claims or whether triable issues of ...


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