United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
Karen Dragon ("Ms. Dragon"), a judicial marshal for
the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut brings a
hostile work environment claim under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et
seq, against the State of Connecticut and the State of
Connecticut Judicial Branch ("the defendants"). The
Court earlier dismissed Ms. Dragon's discrimination and
retaliation claims. (ECF No. 39.) Defendants now move for
summary judgment on her remaining hostile work environment
claim, arguing that Ms. Dragon has not provided enough
evidence to warrant a trial. For the reasons stated below, I
DENY the Motion for Summary Judgment.
on their Local Rule 56(a) statements, the parties agree on
Ms. Dragon's work history, which I will
Dragon is an employee of the State of Connecticut Judicial
Branch. (Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)l Statement, ECF No.
55-2 ("Def's L.R 56(a)l Stmt") ¶ 1;
Plaintiffs Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement, ECF No. 61-2
("Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt.") ¶ 1-2.) Ms.
Dragon began working in the Windham County Judicial District
in 2000, and was primarily assigned to the Windham County
Judicial District until 2013. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a) 1 Stmt.
¶ 2; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶ 1-2.) She was
initially hired as a Special Deputy Sheriff with the Sheriff
s Department in 1999, and was reclassified as a Judicial
Marshal II with the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch on
December 1, 2000, pursuant to Public Act 00-99. (Def.'s
L.R. 56(a) 1 Stmt. ¶ 1; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt.
¶ 1-2.) She was reclassified as a Judicial Marshal on
June 24, 2005. (Id.) Ms. Dragon was promoted to Lead
Judicial Marshal on May 7, 2010. (Id.) In July 2010,
Ms. Dragon began rotating assignments between Windham County
and the Judicial Marshal Academy (the "Academy").
(Id.) Ms. Dragon was promoted to a Supervising
Judicial Marshal in November 2013, and at that time she was
assigned to work primarily at the Academy. (Id.)
parties also agree that the Judicial Branch has
well-published workplace anti-discrimination and
anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures.
(Def.'s L.R. 56(a) 1 Stmt. ¶ 21; Pl's L.R.
56(a)2 Stmt. ¶ 21.) Ms. Dragon has read and signed these
policies, and is aware of the complaint process.
parties disagree about most of the facts that make up Ms.
Dragon's hostile work environment claim. I will discuss
the facts in chronological order, and note where the parties
Dragon alleges that she and her mother, Carol Sandoval
("Ms. Sandoval"), were the first two Hispanic
female judicial marshals hired by the Defendants in Windham
County. (Amended Complaint, ECF No. 24 at ¶ 13.) Ms.
Dragon states that after she was hired she was denied
employment opportunities available to other non-Hispanic male
marshals. In particular, Ms. Dragon requested
training to obtain her Commercial Driver's License
("CDL") so that she could be posted to transport
duties and receive a raise. (Def's L.R. 56(a)l Stmt.
¶ 3; ECF No. 55-4 at 8.) Ms. Dragon began CDL training
in May 2002, but in April 2003 formal CDL training ceased.
(ECF No. 55-4 at 88.) In discontinuing the program, the
Judicial Branch stated that "Judicial Marshals who are
in the process of obtaining their CDL and need to use a
vehicle will be allowed to do so on their own time. Such
vehicle usage shall be coordinated through the Judicial
Marshal Academy office." (Id.) Plaintiff
alleges that while white, male marshals in the same district
and position as she were allowed to use official vehicles to
continue practicing, in particular Marshal Gaudette and
Marshal Murphy, her requests to do so were denied.
(Id. at 8-9.) Ms. Dragon did not take CDL training
until 2006, when it was offered again to all marshals.
(Id. at 10.) She did not file a grievance about not
receiving the training earlier. (Id. at 9.)
Dragon also claims that she was denied promotions in favor of
non-Hispanic marshals with less seniority and education prior
to 2009. (Pl's L.R. 56(a)(2) Stmt., ECF No. 61-2 at 6.)
She alleges that she applied three times for a promotion and
was not even provided an opportunity to interview.
(Id.) She testified that openings were announced at
roll call, that interested candidates were to submit a
statement of interest to the Chief, and that she did so. (ECF
No. 55-4 at 14-17.) She could not recall the exact dates she
applied and did not have the letters of interest that she
defendants argue that Ms. Dragon never applied for a
promotion before 2009. In support of this, they have
submitted a record showing applications received from Ms.
Dragon, which shows applications on December 10, 2009, for
Lead Judicial Marshal and two applications submitted for
Supervising Judicial Marshal in April and September 2013.
(Def's Ex. 4, ECF No. 55-4 at 90.) They have also
submitted an affidavit from Linda Dow, the Human Resource
Manager for the Judicial Branch since 2005, who states that
the records show that Ms. Dragon applied only once for the
position of Lead Judicial Marshal. (Def's Ex. 2, ECF No.
55-4 at 78.) The defendants have also submitted an affidavit
from Chief Marshal Downer stating that he never received any
letters of interest from Ms. Dragon concerning a promotion to
Lead Judicial Marshal. (ECF No. 55-4 at 119.)
2006, Ms. Dragon heard Lead Judicial Marshal Gaudette call an
inmate a "spic" in her presence. (ECF No. 55-4 at
18.) She pulled him aside to tell him that the language
offended her, though it was not directed towards her.
(Id.) The defendants do not dispute this event
occurred. (Def's L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶ 6.) In January
2012, Supervisor Gaudette called Ms. Dragon into his office
and told her that she was not allowed to speak Spanish at
work, claiming that two other marshals-both white,
non-Hispanic males-had been offended when she spoke Spanish
to her mother. (ECF No. 55-4 at 20; ECF No. 61-2 at 6.) Ms.
Dragon was surprised as she had often been asked to translate
at work by judges when official translators were not
available and in lockup when Spanish speaking inmates needed
to be directed. (ECF No. 55-4 at 20; ECF No. 61-2 at 6.) She
complained to Chief Downer, telling him that she was
offended. (ECF No. 55-4 at 21.) She testified at her
deposition that the Chief told her not to worry about it and
"brushed it off." (Id. at 24.) Defendants
provide an affidavit from Chief Marshal Downer averring that
it is the "practice" of the Judicial Branch that
English be the primary language for safety and security
reasons, and that "[j]udicial marshals are not to
conduct private conversations in any languages other than
English while conducting their official duties."
(Def.'s L.R. 56(a) 1 Stmt. ¶ 10; Def.'s Ex. 3,
ECF No. 55-4 at 120.) Ms. Dragon also agreed in her
deposition that English is the primary language of the
Judicial Branch, but stated that there is no documentation
setting forth a formal policy. (ECF No. 61-3 at 38-39.)
2010, when Ms. Dragon was promoted to Lead Judicial Marshal,
she alleges that other non-Hispanic judicial marshals,
including Judicial Marshal Robinson, who is a white male,
were upset, gave her the "silent treatment, " and
disregarded her orders. (ECF No. 55-4 at 25-28.) Robinson in
particular "took the scheduling" that she had
"handed out" and "crumbled it up and threw it
in the garbage" "in front of everyone."
(Id. at 26.) She complained about this to Supervisor
Tercjak and Marshal Gaudette. (Id. at 27.)
Ms. Dragon was promoted, Judicial Marshal Brian Griffin told
her it was only because she was Puerto Rican. (Id.
at 18.) The judicial marshals believed that Marshal Jeffrey
Thibault, who is a white male, was going to receive the
promotion, and after he did not they were upset.
(Id. at 19.) She complained about the behavior of
the other marshals to Supervisor Tercjak and Supervising
Marshal Gaudette. (Id. at 27.) She alleges that
Supervisor Tercjak stated that they were acting that way
because they believed Marshal Thibault was going to get the
promotion. (Id. at 19.)
2012, Ms. Dragon, working as a lead judicial marshal, wrote
up Marshal Germaine Gilbert, a non-Hispanic female, for
abandoning her station at work. (Id. at 72.) Marshal
Gilbert became confrontational with Ms. Dragon, raised her
voice, and waved her finger in Ms. Dragon's face. (ECF
No. 61-2 at 8.) Supervisor Tercjak instructed Ms. Dragon to
write up the incident and submit it to Chief Marshal Downer.
She did so, but Chief Marshal Downer instructed her to
discard it, as she did not need to put her complaint in
writing. (Id.) The defendants submit that only
supervising judicial marshals have the authority to write up
another judicial marshal. (Def's Ex. 3, ECF No. 55-4 at
April 27, 2012, Marshal Gilbert filed a complaint with the
Judicial Branch's Administrative Services Division Human
Resource Management Unit. (ECF No. 55-4 at 94.) She alleged
that Ms. Dragon, who had undergone cosmetic breast surgery,
displayed before and after photos of her bare breasts to
Gilbert and other court personnel. (Id.) Program
Manager Mark Ciarciello investigated the complaint,
interviewing Marshal Gilbert, the other court personnel that
she identified, and Ms. Dragon. (Id.) After
investigating, Ciarciello substantiated the complaint.
(Id.) Marshal Gilbert, Marshal John Dempsey,
Patricia Lajoie, and Jennifer Green all stated that Ms.
Dragon had displayed the pictures. (Id.) Ms. Dragon
told Ciarciello that a group of marshals were attempting to
get her fired, and were filing this false complaint to do so.
(Id. at 96 n. 1) She denied the allegations and told
Ciarciello that "a lot of marshals . . . have a hard
time with her, an Hispanic female" being promoted to
Lead Judicial Marshal. (ECF No. 61-2 at 10.) Ms. Dragon
continues to assert that the marshals were falsifying
information. (Id. at 8-9.)
result of the substantiation of the complaint, Ms. Dragon
received a "written warning" on August 30, 2012.
(ECF No. 55-4 at 51.) The written warning remained in her
personnel file for one year. (ECF No. 61-3 at 45-46.)
Defendants assert that under the Collective Bargaining
Agreement, a written warning is not discipline. (ECF No. 55-4
at 99.) The Collective Bargaining Agreement states the
following about "written reprimands:"
Section 1. Types of Discipline.
Discipline includes discharge, demotion, suspension without
pay, denial of a pay increase due to misconduct, or letter of
reprimand, of an employee who has attained non-probationary
status. No such discipline shall be imposed without just
Section 3. Written reprimand.
Written reprimands and performance appraisal references
thereto, if any, shall be removed from the employee's
personnel file one (1) year from the date of issuance
provided that no other disciplinary incident occurs during
that period of time.
Written reprimands shall not be grievable, unless and until
used as grounds, in whole or in part, for other disciplinary
action, or it constitutes the basis of a decision not to
select an employee for a promotion as defined in this
(Id.) The portion of the CBA in the record does not
reference "written warnings." (Id.) Ms.
Dragon did not lose any pay or benefits as a result of the
warning. (ECF No. 61-3 at 46-47.) However, she interpreted
the August 30, 2012 "written warning" as
discipline, and was embarrassed that she had to have
conversations about her surgery with her supervisors. (ECF
No. 61-3 at 46.) She alleges that Marshal Gilbert and Marshal
Dexter were telling courthouse personnel that Ms. Dragon was
showing photos of her bare breasts. (Id. at 55-56.)
She states ...