United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
Diana Marie Salmons filed a five-count complaint against her
former employer, Commercial Driver Services, Inc.
(“CDS”). Count I is a claim for sexual harassment
and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e,
et seq. (“Title VII”). Counts II and III
allege claims of discriminatory and retaliatory constructive
demotion and constructive discharge, respectively, in
violation of Title VII. Counts IV and V allege sex-based wage
discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Equal Pay
Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (the “Equal Pay
moved to dismiss all of Salmons' claims under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On November 18, 2019, the
parties presented oral argument in a telephonic hearing.
During that hearing, Salmons moved for leave to amend her
wage discrimination claims, and CDS moved for a discovery
stay until the court ruled on CDS' motion. The court
granted both motions. Salmons has since filed an amended
complaint, and CDS has filed an answer in response. CDS'
motion to dismiss is thus ripe for review. For the reasons
stated, the court will deny CDS' motion to dismiss in
whole and lift the stay of discovery.
following facts, alleged in the amended complaint, are taken
as true for purposes of CDS' motion. CDS is a
Virginia-based truck driver training and job placement
program with several locations throughout Virginia. Am.
Compl. ¶ 8. On June 6, 2014, Salmons, “who
identifies her sex as female, ” was hired by CDS as an
Instructor at CDS' Roanoke location. Id. ¶
9. Salmons was a Co-Lead Instructor there from 2015 until
September 2017. Id. ¶ 15. CDS failed to have an
anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policy in place during
Salmons' employment. Id. ¶ 10.
alleges numerous examples of “unwelcome inappropriate
remarks and sexually aggressive behavior at CDS.”
Id. ¶ 19. For example, male CDS employees made
the following remarks about female students: “Boy,
she's got some big melons, ” “I'd like to
get in her pants, ” “I'll do her, ”
“She can back that up on me, ” and “She can
drive me anytime.” Id. Several male employees
“inappropriately and consistently” called Salmons
“Dirty D, ” and “often lewdly discussed
their genitalia” in front of Salmons. Id.
Another male employee, J.R. Mays, “slapped”
Salmons “on the buttocks, ” and told Salmons that
he “would take [her] to bed any time.” Salmons
reported Mays' “sexual misconduct to CDS management
twice, but, upon information and belief,  Mays was never
appropriately disciplined.” Id. Salmons
witnessed, during a company bowling outing, that other female
employees and students were asked by a male employee, Matt
Walfare, to “hold his balls” as he held two
bowling balls in front of his crotch. Salmons also alleges
that “[s]everal members of CDS management were present
at this event and, upon information and belief, heard [the]
inappropriate comment, but  Walfare was never counseled
about, or disciplined for, his misconduct.”
further states that she was CDS' sole female Instructor
for the first year of her employment, that “her male
colleagues resented having to work for or under the
supervision of a female supervisor, ” and that male
employees worked to undermine her. Id. ¶ 20.
For example, CDS employees directed students to ignore her
instructions and to provide false, negative reviews.
Id. A male Instructor, Walfare, advised multiple
students that Salmons “doesn't know what she is
doing. She got her [supervisor] position because she cried
and whined about it.” Id. Walfare also
admitted to a student that he, and other Instructors, were
reporting allegations regarding Salmons to CDS because the
Instructors did not want her as their boss. Id.
also alleges that she was disciplined for mistakes that men
were not. For example, her truck became stuck. She was
written up and her male co-workers were not disciplined for
the same errors. After complaining that she did not think the
write-up was fair on that basis, Salmons “was treated
differently.” Compl. Ex. B.
addition, several CDS students made a sex discrimination
complaint to Patrick Henry Community College about the
environment at CDS, and made a similar complaint to CDS
management. Ultimately, the students filed a complaint with
the Department of Education, which resulted in Patrick Henry
not renewing its contract with CDS. Id. ¶ 28.
alleges that CDS' failure to address her discrimination
claims led her to step down from her role as Co-Lead
Instructor in September 2017. Salmons brought her concerns to
CDS General Manager Crystal Kennedy on several occasions. On
one such occasion, in September 2017, Kennedy responded by
telling Salmons to “stop pouting and put your big boy
panties on.” Id. ¶ 21. Walfare also told
students that Salmons was forced to step down from her
leadership position because “no one would listen to a
woman.” Id. ¶ 23. As stated in an email
attached to Salmons' amended complaint, she “felt
forced to step down from [her] supervisor position . . .
because of all the harassment[.] I just could not take it
anymore.” Am. Compl. Ex. B.
January 2018, Salmons met with Kennedy to discuss how a male
employee, Everett Markham, had been treating her. Kennedy
declined to file a formal complaint or take other action on
Salmons' behalf, and instead invited Markham into her
office, and told Markham that Salmons intended to file a
complaint against him. Thereafter, Markham “angrily
rebuke[d]” Salmons, “curse[d] at her, ” and
spoke to Salmons “in a demeaning way.” Am. Compl.
¶ 26. Kennedy also told Salmons that she had no recourse
and that she shared the blame for her workplace conditions.
Id. ¶ 27. Salmons further described this
encounter in the email attached to her complaint. Salmons
relayed that “[Kennedy] wouldn't let me get up and
leave[.] She stated you called this meeting and we will
settle this today and be done with it.” Am. Compl. Ex.
on April 9th and 19th, 2018, Salmons complained about the
harassment she endured to CDS President Jill Balleh, Vice
President Chris Pender, and again, Kennedy. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 29-31. Salmons stated she was concerned about
being retaliated against for her complaints. Salmons also
explained that she had stepped down from her Co-Lead
Instructor role due to harassment, and asked to be
reinstated. Balleh and Pender denied Salmons' request.
Id. They told her, instead, to meet with Markham
alone. Id. Salmons told them she was “scared
of” Markham due to his “past aggressive
behavior.” Balleh nevertheless insisted. Id.
Later, Markham cornered Salmons and “cursed her.”
Id. ¶ 35. Eventually, Salmons feared for her
safety, to the point that she told Markham she would call the
police if he did not cease his behavior. Id.
with no other choice, ” as she “could no longer
risk her personal safety, ” Salmons resigned on July 9,
2018. Id. ¶ 31. Salmons has sought
“ongoing medical care due to the discriminatory and
retaliatory acts she suffered at CDS.” Id.