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Tegler v. Global Spectrum

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 13, 2018


          Michelle J. Douglass, Esq. MY RIGHTS LAWYERS EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP, LLC Attorney for Plaintiff

          Jonathan David Ash, Esq. Wayne E. Pinkstone, Esq. Eileen Powers, Esq. FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP and Nathan Michael Buchter, Esq. FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP Attorneys for Defendants


          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge.


         This is a case originally brought in the Superior Court of New Jersey by Plaintiff Judith Gayle Tegler against her former employer, Defendant Global Spectrum, L.P. (“Global Spectrum”), and its parent corporation, Comcast-Spectacor. The case was removed to this Court on March 9, 2015 by Defendants. [Docket Item 1.] Plaintiff alleged that her termination by Global Spectrum in 2014 violated the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19.1 et seq. (“CEPA”), the age discrimination prohibition of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. (“NJLAD”), and the prohibition against retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2617 (“FMLA”). [Docket Item 1-1 at 21-24.]

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket Item 46].

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         A. Procedural Background

         On or about January 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County against four parties: Global Spectrum, Comcast-Spectacor, Comcast Corporation (the parent corporation of Global Spectrum and Comcast-Spectacor), and the Casino Reinvestment Authority (“CRDA”). [Docket Item 1-1 at 4.] Plaintiff alleged that she had been wrongfully terminated from her position as Human Resource Management by Global Spectrum in violation of CEPA, NJLAD, and FMLA. [Id. at 21-24.] Plaintiff alleged both age discrimination under NJLAD and FMLA retaliation, but the bulk of her complaint centered on the claim that she had been wrongfully terminated after attempting to blow the whistle on allegedly wrongful and/or discriminatory or harassing workplace behavior by a Global Spectrum employee named Ryan Stouffer, as well as Global Spectrum supervisors' failure to adequately investigate or address the same. [Id. at 7-9.]

         Defendants removed the case to federal court on March 9, 2015, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) on the grounds that Plaintiff's FMLA claim alleged a cause of action arising under a federal statute, and the Court could exercise supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) over Plaintiff's CEPA and NJLAD claims. [Docket Item 1 at 2.]

         Subsequently, Comcast Corporation and CRDA were dismissed with prejudice on February 26, 2016 after Plaintiff filed a Stipulation of Dismissal. [Docket Item 24.] The remaining Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment [Docket Item 46]; Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition [Docket Item 49]; and Defendants filed a Reply [Docket Item 54].

         B. Factual Background[2]

         Plaintiff was hired by Global Spectrum, a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, in December of 2013. Global Spectrum terminated her employment in December of 2014, when Tegler was 61 years old.

         Before her employment with Global Spectrum, Plaintiff held a variety of operational, training, and human resources positions with Harrah's Entertainment from 1980 through 2007. In 2007, her position at Harrah's corporate human resources department was eliminated and she was laid off.

         SMG is a venue management company that managed the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall from 2000 to 2013. SMG is not affiliated with Global Spectrum or Comcast-Spectacor.

         In November of 2007, SMG hired Plaintiff as a Human Resources Manager for the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall. As a part of that position, she investigated complaints and ensured compliance with state and federal laws, among other duties.

         In June of 2012, while employed by SMG, Plaintiff participated in an investigation of Ryan Stouffer (“Stouffer”), a fellow SMG employee, which involved an allegation by another SMG employee, John Sarkos (the “Sarkos Incident”). This incident involved Stouffer and his supervisor at the time, altering a large poster of a woman in a bikini, hugging a man, by placing Sarkos's face over the woman's face and then placing the poster in Sarkos's office. [Docket Item 46-1 at 47.] According to Plaintiff, the incident also involved photographing the poster and sending the picture via text message to other employees. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 47.] As a result of the Sarkos Incident, SMG Corporate Human Resources Manager Charlotte Jones made the determination to issue a “final warning” to Stouffer with the implication that any further issues would lead to Stouffer's termination; Plaintiff was responsible for preparing the final warning, giving it to Stouffer and discussing it with him. [Id. at ¶¶ 48, 47.]

         Plaintiff alleges that, while at SMG, she received and investigated a number of other complaints about Stouffer from other SMG employees, including complaints from the union shop steward, Jeanette Bundy (“Bundy”) that “Stouffer had engaged in race motivated conduct, harassment that involved sexually motivated behavior and inappropriate conduct.” [Docket Items 49-1 ¶¶ 47, 49; 46-4 at 64.]

         Plaintiff also testified about an incident where Stouffer made a comment about a woman (possibly a female colleague) “wearing a really tight low cut top and something about cleavage.” [Docket Item 49-1 ¶¶ 60-61.] Stouffer was also the subject of complaints from two other women who stated that Stouffer teased them about their appearance and related conduct, including complaints made by an SMG employee (later employed by Global Spectrum as well) named Heather Monacelli. [Id. ¶ 62.] The complaints made by Monacelli extended through her and Stouffer's employment by Global Spectrum. [Id.] Tegler testified that Stouffer “would tease [Monacelli] about her appearance often and a couple of times she came to [Tegler] and said, you know, ‘It's offensive. Please ask him to stop.'” She also testified that in March of 2014, Monacelli complained to her that “‘[H]e's always doing this and he--I don't like the way he watches--I don't like him walking behind me because of the way he looks at me and watches me walk.'” [Docket Item 46-4 at 85.]

         Plaintiff also testified that Bundy made complaints to her about Stouffer's conduct that involved “violations of various union contract provisions such as scheduling, seniority, [and] pay[.]” [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 57.] Bundy also complained to Plaintiff regarding Stouffer and race. [Id. ¶ 57; Docket Item 49-2 at 20.] While Plaintiff did not come to the specific conclusion that Stouffer had made any comments regarding the race of an employee while at SMG, Plaintiff discussed the situation that led to Bundy's complaint with Stouffer and reminded him of SMG's policies; per Plaintiff, Stouffer denied the conduct and “he would promise that he wouldn't do it again.” [Docket Item 49-2 at 20.]

         In September of 2013, while still employed at SMG, Plaintiff was investigated for allegedly sharing Stouffer's confidential medical information with Stouffer's direct supervisor. [Docket Item 46-1 ¶ 53.] Plaintiff denies sharing such information and states that she was never disciplined while employed at SMG. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶¶ 53, 54.]

         Plaintiff has stated that in November or early December of 2013, Stouffer was involved in an incident where he allegedly “lost his temper and screamed and swore at” Maggie Santos, the SMG Director of Events. [Docket Item 46-1 ¶ 63.] Plaintiff states that she told Global Spectrum's Corporate Human Resources Manager, Nicole Orlosky, about this incident; in response, Orlosky told Plaintiff that Global Spectrum would not elevate Stouffer from acting Public Safety Manager to permanent Public Safety Manager. However, Orlosky left Global Spectrum shortly thereafter. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 63.]

         At approximately the same time (November of 2013), Plaintiff learned that the management contract for the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall had been awarded to Global Spectrum. She applied for a human resources position with Global Spectrum at the Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall, and was hired as a Human Resources Manager on December 16, 2013. Plaintiff claims that Global Spectrum did not make clear to whom she was to report, or what her job duties would be, and that in the absence of such direction she continued to perform the same duties that she had at SMG. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 33.]

         On January 1, 2014, Global Spectrum assumed management of the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall. Defendants claim that all SMG employees hired by Global Spectrum were given “a new blank slate regarding ‘attendance records and previous documentation or issues of performance.'” [Docket Item 46-1 ¶ 44.] Plaintiff disputes this, stating that this was true “in some senses” and “in most cases.” [Docket Items 49-1 ¶ 44; 49-2 at 24.]

         On December 23, 2013, Plaintiff signed an acknowledgement that she had received the Global Spectrum Personnel Policy Manual and that she had read it, understood it and become familiar with all of its policies. [Docket Item 46-1 ¶ 34.] Plaintiff claims that she signed this at the request of Orlosky but had not in fact received the Policy Manual when she did so. [Docket Item 49-2 at 28-29.] Tegler also signed a form acknowledging that her employment was at will. [Docket Item 46-1 ¶ 35.]

         The Policy Manual included a “Respect in the Workplace Policy, ” which explicitly prohibits harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in any form, whether verbal, physical, or environmental, that is based upon sex, gender, race, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference or any other individual or group characteristic protected by law. [Docket Item 46-5 at 15-24.]

         The Respect in the Workplace Policy also provides:

[Comcast-Spectacor/Global Spectrum] will not tolerate illegal retaliation against any employee who, in good faith, reports potential discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation or participates in an investigation of such a report. . . .
Retaliation against an individual who reports a claim or who participates in an investigation of a claim is unlawful. [Comcast-Spectacor/Global Spectrum] prohibits all forms of unlawful retaliation related to workplace discrimination, including, opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination or harassment, which is based on a reasonable, good faith belief, or, participation in an employment discrimination proceeding, such as an internal investigation.
Unlawful retaliation may occur when an employee suffers an adverse employment action (e.g., demotion, salary reduction, or termination) because he or she engaged in protected conduct.

[Id. at 16, 20.] The Policy also contains a “Complaint Procedure for Reporting a Violation of the Policy, ” which instructs all employees to report “all incidents which may constitute discrimination, harassment or retaliation” promptly to one of “the designated contacts” identified in the Policy. [Id. at 20.] The Policy also states that “[i]n addition to the above designated contacts, [Global Spectrum] employees may report any concerns to the following individuals in their facilities: Facility Human Resources Representative; Facility General Manager; Facility Regional Vice President[.]” [Id. at 21.] The Policy also states that “[i]ndividuals with supervisory responsibility are required to report such conduct or behavior immediately, regardless of how they learned of it” and that “[a]ny individual with supervisory responsibility will be subject to disciplinary action if he or she does not immediately report conduct or behavior that may violate this Policy.” [Id. at 20, 23 (emphasis added).]

         After the Respect in the Workplace Policy, the Policy Manual outlines Defendants' “Open Door Policy, ” the purpose of which was to create “an environment that fosters open, constructive communications” and was meant to “encourage [employees] to discuss . . . ideas, issues, or complaints with . . . supervisor[s] without fear of retaliation.” [Id. at 26.] The Open Door Policy called for employees to, first, discuss any issues with their immediate supervisors, where “the problem should be put in writing at that time.” Second, employees who felt that the problem was not resolved or who did not feel comfortable discussing the issue with their supervisors “should request a meeting with the next level of management or a representative of the Human Resources Department.” Third, the employee who felt that “a satisfactory resolution of the problem still ha[d] not been reached” was directed to write to the Vice President of Human Resources and/or the CEO “requesting a final decision.” [Id.] The Open Door Policy also states: “Concerns about unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment, especially sexual harassment, should be pursued through the company's ‘Respect in the Workplace' policy and reporting procedures.” [Id.]

         In December of 2013, Plaintiff attended a meeting where SMG employees were introduced to Global Spectrum management. In a discussion after the meeting, Plaintiff alleges, she was asked for insights into any employees with current performance issues, and, at that time, voiced her concerns about Stouffer, stating that his “inappropriate” behavior while employed by SMG had culminated in his being on “final warning” status. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 67; 46-4 at 65-66.]

         Plaintiff alleges that she discussed the Sarkos Incident, as well as other incidents regarding Stouffer, with Fran Rodowicz (“Rodowicz”) and Karen Totaro (“Totaro”). Rodowicz is Global Spectrum's general manager for the Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall; Totaro is the former general manager of the Convention Center and reported to Rodowicz. Plaintiff states that Totaro said she considered the incidents “frivolous, ” that no action was necessary, and that “they” (Rodowicz and Totaro) had confidence in Stouffer and wanted to develop him. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶ 69.]

         In January or February of 2014, Plaintiff met with Rodowicz and two members of Global Spectrum's corporate finance department. Stouffer's role was discussed, and Plaintiff expressed her concern that Stouffer represented an “increasing liability risk because of his inability to control his anger and behavioral issues that were the subject of employee complaints.” Plaintiff acknowledges that none of those complaints related to harassment or discrimination. [Docket Item 49-1 ¶¶ 136-140.]

         In February of 2014, Rodowicz and Jim McDonald, the Director of Operations/Assistant Manager at the Convention Center, held a manager staff meeting, which Plaintiff attended. At that meeting, Rodowicz and McDonald “made a point to bring up that they believed [Plaintiff's] office . . . should not be complaint central and that . . . it was alarming how many employees came in . . . to complain to [Plaintiff] about issues and that they wanted managers to handle issues and they wanted employees to go and follow the chain of command and that issues needed to be addressed by the managers.” [Docket Item 49-2 at 36.]

         Rodowicz also expressed that he did not want Plaintiff's office to be “complaint central” at a meeting with Tegler and Totaro in the spring of 2014 that Tegler requested to clarify her job duties. [Docket Item 46-4 at 74.] In the context of this meeting, Tegler assured Rodowicz that while employees “were accustomed to being able to come and talk over issues with [her] or make complaints to [her] if they didn't feel they were resolved by their department manager or supervisor, . . . [she nevertheless] always encouraged them to go to their supervisors first or their manager first and that most often they had already tried that route before they came to see me. . . . [She] never wanted to do or had done things in isolation . . . [and she] was a business partner.” Id. at 75.

         At some point prior to the spring of 2014, but after the January or February meeting where Tegler expressed to Rodowicz that she felt Stouffer was a “liability risk” but did not specifically cite complaints of discrimination or harassment, a co-employee named Ernest Ward complained to Bundy (who informed Tegler) that Stouffer had used the phrase “You people and your constant complaints, ” or “You people need to start doing your jobs right, ” which Ward (who is African-American) took to be both race-based (the “you people” phrasing) and age-based, as well as derogatory. [Docket Item 46-4 at 78.] Tegler then confirmed this incident with Ward. Id. at 78-79. At her deposition, Tegler testified that a majority of the Public Safety employees were African-American and “the perception of those African-American employees was that Ryan was a--did not treat them fairly and that he treated them . . . with discrimination or discriminated against them.” Id. at 79. Tegler also testified that she believed she was able to corroborate Ward's account with a co-employee who witnessed the exchange, and that she believed Stouffer admitted to using the words “you people.” Id. While Tegler investigated this incident, she ultimately referred the matter to Jim McDonald (the assistant general manager/director of operations) and did not recommend a specific disciplinary course of action, because “it became increasingly clear during this period that if . . . and when [she] brought complaints to Jim [McDonald] regarding Ryan, that he was to handle them, he was to conclude them and that [she] should not be as involved as [she] may have previously been involved [at] SMG in recommending disciplinary measures or other consequences.” Id. at 80.

         In February, another employee, Gary Wright, “made a complaint or two” regarding “harassment” by Stouffer, which “had to do with the way Ryan spoke to him, with the words Ryan used, the fact that Ryan yelled and the fact that he used profane language.” Id. at 81. While Tegler believes she spoke with Stouffer about that allegation, she testified that it would have been in conjunction with McDonald because she understood by that time that Rodowicz and McDonald wanted her to refrain from directly engaging with Stouffer on any issue of substance in their absence. Id. at 81.

         Tegler testified at her deposition that Stouffer would frequently make age-related comments to her along the lines of “Well, you wouldn't know anything about that, it's after your time, ” or suggesting that Tegler wouldn't or couldn't understand things because “you would have to be on Facebook or . . . Twitter.” Id. at 83-84. She characterized him as “constantly . . . making inappropriate jokes and comments about physical appearance, age, dating.” Id. at 84. Tegler also testified that when she would ask about something relating to technology, e.g., getting a DVD burned from a surveillance recording, Stouffer “would say, ‘You don't understand. You wouldn't understand. I'll take care of it[, ']” and that she believed those comments to be because “either . . . I'm a woman or because of my age”: “Well, why wouldn't I understand?” Id.

         In the spring of 2014, Rodowicz told Plaintiff that Stouffer would become the Public Safety Manager and that an assistant manager position would be created. Rodowicz and Totaro expressed confidence in Stouffer despite his youth and inexperience, and said they believed he had potential. They told Plaintiff that she “needed to have more confidence in them that they knew what they were doing.”

         In late March and early April of 2014, Plaintiff attended a series of meetings with Rodowicz and Totaro. At least one of those meetings occurred on the same day wherein Plaintiff was informed that Stouffer would become the permanent Public Safety Manager. It was in that meeting that Plaintiff expressed the following concerns, as she characterized them in her deposition testimony: “I raised concerns that there was potential for harassment if employees were so inclined to make formal complaints that some of Ryan's behavior would be problematic, that it may or may not actually be harassment but it could be perceived [that way] and that employees were definitely coming to me and using that word. Whether or not it was actual harassment, I couldn't determine because I was told not to investigate.” [Docket Item 49-2 at 47.] Plaintiff states that she “specifically addressed the issue that . . . it was [her] duty to protect the company from any exposure, from possible illegal activity with regard to employment law.” [Docket Item 46-4 at 108.]

         She also stated that at that meeting, Stouffer's making of inappropriate age-related comments to Tegler “was one of the things that I talked about, you know, that he would make those comments[.]” Id. at 84. She also believes that this meeting occurred only a week after Monacelli complained to her about Stouffer's conduct, and that “it was very soon after that that . . . the meeting happened with [Totaro and Rodowicz], but I believe that I also said something [about Monacelli's complaints] to [McDonald.]” Id. at 85.

         Plaintiff also reported “the wedgie incident” (an incident involving Stouffer ostentatiously again moving his pants out of his backside in response to a complaint by Monacelli about her seeing him do this and Stouffer saying “Like this?”) at this meeting. Right after that incident, Monacelli and another employee, Catherine Emmell, came to Tegler's office and said, “Ryan does this kind of thing all the time” and complained about him yelling and swearing on the phone loudly. Id. at 87. Tegler testified that when she talked to Totaro, she “said, ‘This is, you know, the complaints that I got about this. I mean, I believe that I handled it at that moment, addressed it but, you know, I'm not sure how to proceed.' And she said, ‘Employees just need to have a better sense of humor' and I think ‘not be so petty' or something to that . . . effect, that you know, ‘just take this in stride somehow. They need to stop making complaints about it.'” Id. at 88.[3]

         At this meeting, Tegler testified, Rodowicz told Tegler, “Do not entertain any more complaints.” Id. at 86.

         In mid- to late spring of 2014, Bundy reported to Tegler an incident wherein Stouffer used one white employee for special assignments (e.g. helping Stouffer with scheduling) despite that employee being part-time and having less tenure with the company and less familiarity “with the department and scheduling practices, ” while “there were others that were just as qualified that were African American. And [Bundy] specifically stated that she thought it was discriminatory.” Id. at 102. Tegler confirmed the facts with Stouffer and then reported the situation to McDonald. Id. at 103. Tegler also testified that, at this time, Stouffer “was having difficulty balancing the schedule” and that “there was a lot of dissatisfaction within the department about assignments”: there was a sense that “certain people were getting choice shifts or ability work overtime shifts, and that they weren't following the protocol for awarding overtime shifts. And that it was based on who Ryan liked and didn't like. . . . Plus he was making mistakes with pay every week that was creating a lot of dissatisfaction. And people perceived that some of this was targeted at certain people, rather than being a simple mistake with no malice involved.” Id. Tegler testified that when she relayed her concerns over the situation to McDonald, she stated that management needed to make sure “that there was no chance that it could be perceived as discriminatory. We needed to address the issue and find out if it was. And if it was, then we needed to do something about it.” Id.

         Another employee, Jessica, reported to Tegler (while all were still employed by SMG) that Stouffer made “inappropriate comments about how she was dressed.” Id. at 85. Jessica continued to informally report to Tegler that similar comments continued, but Tegler was unsure whether this took place before or after Global Spectrum took over the management of the facilities. Id. at 86. In June of 2014, however, employees took a bus to a Philadelphia Phillies game, and Tegler learned that Stouffer “had been drinking heavily and made some inappropriate comments to Jessica in the bus . . . you know, about like whos he was dating and, you know, what kind of men she preferred and that kind of thing, and she was sitting in a seat right in front of him and, you know, he was kind of just not leaving her alone.” Id. Jessica nevertheless asked Tegler not to intervene formally as a result of any of these incidents and would not be specific about what Stouffer said to her on the bus. Id. at 85-86. Plaintiff testified that she told Karen Caiola about this incident in October of 2014. Id. at 95.

         Plaintiff alleges that in mid- to late summer of 2014, Stouffer told her directly that “he did not want to hire any[]more black people.” [Docket Item 49-2 at 49-50.][4] Plaintiff states that she responded: “I said, ‘Ryan, you can't say that. You can't--that's not appropriate. Do not say that. If somebody is qualified, we have to consider them seriously for the role and you can't hire anybody less qualified who's not African[-]American.'” Id. at 50. Plaintiff stated that she “was concerned that Ryan was not [applying the same criteria to every applicant] and he was being subjective and that we, you know, might be exposing the company to some kind of unfair hiring practice situation” and told Stouffer as much. Id. Plaintiff testified that she also told McDonald that she had concerns about how Stouffer was conducting the interview process. Id. Plaintiff testified that she “believed” she reported this comment of Stouffer's, among others, to Karen Caiola when she came and visited the property some time in late August or early September.

Q. You say you believe. You're not sure or--
A. I was fairly open with Karen about all of my concerns, which would have at that time included concerns that we had, you know, potential harassment, possibly sexual harassment and race discrimination complaints that might arise out of Ryan's behavior and some of which hadn't, I think, been appropriate addressed and I believe that I said that to her. Again, I can't be absolutely sure. I don't know why I would have left it out.

Id. at 50-51. Tegler acknowledged that “it could be accurate” that out of nine people hired as Public Safety employees during Stouffer's tenure, seven were African-American. Id. at 51.

         At a meeting in June of 2014, Rodowicz, Totaro and/or McDonald had a management meeting wherein they said “that they wanted it to be communicated to employees that they should follow the chain of command and not come to [Tegler's] office first”; however, Plaintiff denies that this meeting was called “to ask [her] to be more positive in the workplace” or ever asked her to “stop inserting” herself into interdepartmental issues. [Docket Item 46-4 at 112.]

         In July or August of 2014, Stouffer was a passenger in a car driven by the assistant Public Safety manager, who backed the car into another car in the garage. When Tegler learned of the accident, she went to Totaro “to say ‘This is the normal protocol for somebody to go and have a drug or alcohol test when they have an accident on property. Did you want this to happen or not?' And [Totaro] said, ‘No, I'll follow up. I'll handle the situation.'” Id. at 87. Tegler understood this response to imply that she was correct in her understanding that Rodowicz and Totaro did not want her to conduct any investigations regarding Stouffer. Id.

         Tegler testified that throughout the summer and fall of 2014, people continued to complain to her about Stouffer (notably Bundy) and that Tegler “had been warned to not entertain them, [she] would most often ask if they had spoken to Ryan, have they addressed it with Ryan directly, have they addressed it with the shop steward or if it was the shop steward had she talked to the business manager, had she talked to Ryan and then I would refer them to Jim McDonald or Fran.” Id. at 95-96. Tegler stated that “it was around this time that Michael Ciallella [the business agent for Guards & Security Local 1412] informed [her] that he had been informed that they would not listen to any[ ]more complaints from the Public Safety Department.” Id. at 96.

         Tegler testified that a Public Safety employee named Winsome Dixon complained about unfairness in Stouffer's scheduling “with regard to the possible punishing of people for making complaints prior . . . that might be retaliation for bringing things forward and making complaints to Ryan. . . . That she wasn't being scheduled as much because she, you know, had made complaints about the way he talked to her, and that kind of thing.” Id. at 115.

         Karen Caiola initiated a visit in October of 2014 to Atlantic City to visit the property to “see what the operation was like here . . . [to] just generally visit and get to know what was going on, how it all worked.” At that visit, Tegler testified as follows:

I discussed with [Caiola] that I was concerned about several issues at the property, in particular that I didn't understand what my role was or hadn't been clearly defined for me, I didn't have an approved job description, that there were incidents there that I felt weren't being properly investigated or followed up on or addressed, including potential race discrimination, sexual harassment and harassment, that I was told not to involve myself, that I wasn't permitted to be involved other than at a very low level and very initial level in any of that, therefore I felt that the property was at risk and the company was at risk. . . . I'm not sure how specific [the examples I gave] got. She didn't ask me for specific situations.

Id. at 97. Tegler testified that she wasn't asking Caiola to do anything specific except as to the clarification of Tegler's job duties: “I just wanted her to be aware of it but I wasn't asking her specifically to follow up[.]” Id. She testified that this conversation was approximately 45 minutes to one hour long. Id. Tegler also testified that she “believe[s]” that she mentioned Ryan Stouffer's name to Caiola during this conversation. Id. at 97-98.

         On or around December 5, 2014, Tegler came to Rodowicz's office with a completed self-review for her performance appraisal review, but Rodowicz “turned to [her] and said, Gayle, we're going to let you go. And I said why? And they said, it's just not a good fit, you know that.” Id. at 113.

         Tegler testified that she believed her termination was in retaliation for her conversation with Caiola in October of 2014[5] because

I have no other reason for my termination. I did not do anything wrong. I didn't violate any policies. I continued to do my job to the best of my ability. I was very positive about Global Spectrum coming in, and completely supported them as a company and as a management team for as long as I could, until I became extremely concerned about the fact that they didn't seem to be taking my concerns seriously about the way that the public safety department was being run and exposure to the company.
And that I tried my best to work with management. And that they . . .did not appropriately address my concerns or the concerns of other employees at the property.
And that I was very concerned that we were in violation of federal and state law, as well as company policies and procedures . . . [in n]ot properly addressing harassment complaints, not conducting an investigation.

Id. at 115. She elaborated: “It was soon after that [conversation] that my employment was terminated, and . . . I never heard back from Karen Caiola with an appropriate response from her. She said she would look into things, she never got back to me. So I think that means that a decision had probably been made not to appropriately investigate my allegations. . . . So my conclusion was that the company decided that it was easier to get rid of me than to work with me, or to in ...

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