United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO.
C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Lenworth Bunting (“Bunting”), brings
claims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against
the defendant, Kellogg's Corporation
(“Kellogg”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq.,
(“Title VII”). See Complaint
(“Compl.”) (Doc. No. 1) at 1-3. Kellogg now moves
for summary judgment. See Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Mot.”) (Doc. No. 50). Bunting,
who is acting pro se, submitted several briefs
opposing summary judgment as to his Title VII claims. See
generally Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pl.'s
Opp'n”) (Doc. No. 57); Plaintiff's Brief in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Pl.'s Sur-Reply”) (Doc. No. 61). In these
opposition papers, Bunting also appears to assert for the
first time a state law claim against Kellogg. See
Pl.'s Opp'n at 6-7.
reasons set forth below, Kellogg's Motion for Summary
Judgment is granted. While the court will not address
Bunting's new state law claim because it is not properly
before the court, Bunting may pursue such a claim by filing a
motion to amend his Complaint. Only after Bunting has filed
such a motion will the court decide whether to permit Bunting
to amend his Complaint at this stage of the litigation.
employed Bunting at its Distribution Center in Newington,
Connecticut. Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement of
Facts (“Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1”) (Doc. No. 52) at
¶ 1; Plaintiff's Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement of
Facts (“Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2”) (Doc. No. 58) at
1, ¶ 1. On October 14, 2015, a physical altercation
occurred between Bunting and a co-worker, Marcos Cadavid
(“Cadavid”), at the Distribution Center.
See Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 ¶¶ 13-22;
Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 21, ¶¶ 1-5. Bunting claims
that Cadavid sexually assaulted him by grabbing his chest and
bottom. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 22; Pl.'s L.R.
56(a)2 at 9, ¶ 22, 21, ¶ 1. Cadavid told Kellogg
managers that he accidentally bumped into Bunting, and that
Bunting responded by punching and chocking him. Def.'s
L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 27; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 21, ¶
October 19, 2015, Kellogg sent Bunting a letter advising him
that his employment was terminated. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at
¶ 43; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 15, ¶ 43;
Defendant's Exhibit A (“Def.'s Ex. A”)
(Doc. No. 52-1) at 107 (Bunting's employment termination
letter). On February 25, 2016, Bunting filed a
complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (“CHRO”) that identified age
discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation as the
basis for his charge of employment discrimination (“the
CHRO Charge”). Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 45;
Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 16, ¶ 45; Def.'s Ex. A at
135-138 (Bunting's CHRO Charge). The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) notified Bunting
that it had received a copy of his CHRO Charge alleging age
discrimination, sex discrimination, and retaliation.
Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 47; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at
16, ¶ 47; Def.'s Ex. A at 139 (EEOC letter to
Bunting, dated March 31, 2016). The EEOC also informed
Bunting that it would accept and adopt the CHRO's final
findings as its own unless Bunting requested in writing that
the EEOC conduct its own review of Bunting's Charge
within fifteen days of the date on which Bunting received the
CHRO's notice of its final findings. Def.'s L.R.
56(a)1 at ¶ 48; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 17, ¶ 48;
Def.'s Ex. A at 140 (EEOC's Notice of Right to
March 20, 2017, the CHRO dismissed Bunting's case,
finding that there was no reasonable cause for believing that
Kellogg terminated Bunting's employment on the basis of
age discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation.
Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 49; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at
17, ¶ 49; Def.'s Ex. A at 141-148 (letter notifying
Bunting of the CHRO's final decision). The CHRO also
advised Bunting that he could apply for reconsideration of
the decision. Def.'s Ex. A at 141. Bunting filed a timely
request for reconsideration, which the CHRO denied on August
25, 2017. Plaintiff's Exhibits (“Pl.'s
Exs.”) (Doc. No. 57-1) at 7-11 (CHRO's decision on
Bunting's reconsideration request).
EEOC mailed Bunting a Dismissal and Notice of Rights Letter
(“the Right to Sue Letter”) that was dated May
15, 2017. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 52; Pl.'s L.R.
56(a)2 at 18, ¶ 52; Compl. at 9 (EEOC's Letter of
Dismissal and Notice of Rights to Bunting). This Right to Sue
Letter, which Bunting attached to the Complaint that he filed
in this court, notified Bunting that the EEOC had adopted the
CHRO's findings; that the EEOC was dismissing
Bunting's claims of age discrimination, sexual
harassment, and retaliation; and that Bunting had a right to
bring a Title VII suit in federal court. Def.'s L.R.
56(a)1 at ¶ 52; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at 18, ¶ 52;
Compl. at 9 (EEOC's Letter of Dismissal and Notice of
Rights to Bunting). The Right to Sue Letter further noted:
This will be the only notice of dismissal and of your right
to sue that we will send you. You may file a lawsuit against
the respondent(s) under federal law based on this charge in
federal or state court. Your lawsuit must be filed
WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this
notice; or your right to sue based on this charge
will be lost. (The time limit for filing suit based on a
claim under state law may be different.)
Compl. at 9 (emphasis in original).
August 29, 2017, Bunting filed the instant action in this
court. See generally Compl. While his CHRO Charge
alleged age discrimination, sexual harassment, and
retaliation, the Complaint that he filed in federal court
alleges race discrimination, sexual harassment, and
retaliation. See also Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at
¶¶ 45, 47, 54; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 at
¶¶ 45, 47, 54.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving
party to establish that there are no genuine issues of
material fact in dispute and that the party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); Wright v. N.Y. State
Dep't of Corr., 831 F.3d 64, 71-72 (2d Cir. 2016).
Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party
“must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial, ” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 256, and present “such proof as would allow a
reasonable juror to return a verdict in [its] favor, ”
Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir.
2000). “An issue of fact is genuine and material if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Cross Commerce
Media, Inc. v. Collective, Inc., 841 F.3d 155, 162 (2d
assessing the record to determine whether there are disputed
issues of material fact, the trial court must “resolve
all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the party
against whom summary judgment is sought.” LaFond v.
Gen. Physics Servs. Corp., 50 F.3d 165, 175 (2d Cir.
1995). “Where it is clear that no rational finder of
fact ‘could find in favor of the nonmoving party
because the evidence to support its case is so slight,'
summary judgment should be granted.” F.D.I.C. v.
Great Am. Ins. Co., 607 F.3d 288, 292 (2d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd.
P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994)). On the
other hand, where “reasonable minds could differ as to
the import of the ...