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Hatmaker v. Memorial Medical Center

July 31, 2009

JANET HATMAKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Memorial Medical Center's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 19). Plaintiff Janet Hatmaker asserts that her former employer, Memorial Medical Center (Memorial), violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.*fn1 Specifically, Hatmaker's Complaint (d/e 1) alleges that she experienced unlawful discrimination based on her gender in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) and that she was subjected to unlawful retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Memorial moves for summary judgment on each of Hatmaker's claims. For the reasons set forth below, Memorial's Motion for Summary Judgment is allowed.

BACKGROUND

Memorial is a hospital located in Springfield, Illinois.*fn2 Prior to June 18, 2007, Hatmaker was employed by Memorial. Hatmaker's last position with Memorial was that of per diem chaplain, a position she held beginning August 23, 2001. The record indicates that Hatmaker held other chaplain positions with Memorial prior to August 2001. From July 1999 until December 27, 2006, Rev. Elizabeth Hawkins served as Memorial's Director of Pastoral Care. During that period, Rev. Hawkins was Hatmaker's direct supervisor. In September 2006, Rev. Hawkins took a medical leave of absence from Memorial, due to a serious health condition. Rev. Hawkins died on December 27, 2006.

At the time Rev. Hawkins went on medical leave in September 2006, Memorial named Rev. Greg Stafford as Acting Director of Pastoral Care. At all relevant times, Memorial Senior Vice President Forrest G. "Woody" Hester was Rev. Stafford's supervisor. On February 19, 2007, Hester convened a meeting of the employees of Memorial's Pastoral Care Department and announced that Memorial had begun the process of locating a new Director of Pastoral Care. Hester also announced that Rev. Stafford had expressed interest in becoming the Director of Pastoral Care.

On February 25, 2007, Hatmaker emailed Hester regarding the meeting and the Director search. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 10.*fn3 Hatmaker wrote that she had served under the directorships of Roy Nash, Ed Liddell, Gary Sproat, and Elizabeth Hawkins and had been able to observe the leadership abilities of each. Hatmaker wrote that she wanted to share some "observations and concerns about Greg's leadership abilities" in light of her prior interactions. Id. According to Hatmaker, during the time Rev. Stafford had been serving as Acting Director, "he has done an excellent job as a communicator, facilitator and connector for all of the ministerial subsets operating out of [the Pastoral Care] department." Id. Hatmaker further noted that Rev. Stafford's "warmth and approachability has been a distinct asset and his eagerness to do his very best has been noticeable." Id. Hatmaker deemed these characteristics to be "even more admirable given [Rev. Stafford's] newness on staff." Id. However, Hatmaker expressed concern "about Greg's presentation of himself in public and in representing our department." Id. Specifically, Hatmaker noted that she had observed Rev. Stafford speak on several formal occasions and "was disappointed in his remarks and appropriateness." Id. According to Hatmaker, Rev. Stafford appeared to be "uncomfortable with himself and inexperienced in that role." Id. Hatmaker recommended "some mentoring in this area" should Rev. Stafford be chosen as Director. Id.

Hester responded by sending Hatmaker the following email: "Hi Janet and thank you for sharing your observations. They are important to me. The outpouring of assistance as we think this matter through is very helpful. Let me know if you have more thoughts as time goes on. /Woody." Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 11; see also Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 3, Statement of Undisputed Material Fact No. 16; Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Summary Judgment (Hatmaker's Opposition), p. 2 (conceding Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Fact No. 16).

On March 6, 2007, Hatmaker sent another email to Hester. The record contains a true and accurate copy of this email, Bates stamped MMC014. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 5, Request to Admit No. 21, & p. 11. Hatmaker wrote that she had been on-call the previous Sunday night and, on Monday, June 5, she had reported in before going off duty to three named individuals, including Rev. Stafford. According to Hatmaker, during the brief report time, she realized her continuing discomfort with Rev. Stafford in a leadership role. Hatmaker reported as follows:

At the expense of sounding nit-picking, it feels to me like he is trying so much to be a "good ole boy" and friend that he sacrifices dignity and leadership in exchange for popularity. There are no specifics in the content of our interchange that I can site [sic] but the feeling that I came away with is one of disappointment. He seems to major in small talk, [sic] In short, he does not strike me as a spiritual statesman. Although I was not personally as drawn to Roy Nash, Gary Sproat and Elizabeth Hawkins on a spiritual level as to Ed Liddell, I saw each of them as spiritual statesmen/woman in comparison. They invited my respect in the area of leadership. Greg does not. I feel like he sees himself as the great entertainer.

Since I will be going out of town for several weeks following my next Sunday night (3/11) on-call coverage, I wanted to communicate with you about my observations and feelings before they become distant . . . for whatever they are worth. Thanks for welcoming our input.

Id., p. 11.

On March 26, 2007, Hester issued a letter to Memorial's Pastoral Care staff, announcing that Rev. Stafford had accepted the Director of Pastoral Care position. Hester testified in his deposition that he chose Rev. Stafford over other applicants for the position based on a review of the candidates' background experience, credentials, relationships with the community of clergy, and relationships within Memorial. On March 30, 2007, Hatmaker sent an email to Rev. Stafford, congratulating him on his appointment and offering to support him in the ways she could be most helpful.

On April 20, 2007, a meeting occurred between Hatmaker, Rev. Stafford, and Brenda Edens, who was the head of the pain management team at Memorial. Rev. Stafford called the meeting. Its purpose was to discuss Reiki therapy, a Japanese technique similar to touch therapy. Hatmaker is trained and certified in Reiki. When Rev. Hawkins was Director of Pastoral Care, she required all of the staff chaplains to become certified in Reiki. Hatmaker testified that, prior to Rev. Stafford being hired as a chaplain, Hatmaker expressed discomfort to Rev. Hawkins about male chaplains performing Reiki. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. C, p. 1-36, Deposition of Janet Hatmaker (Hatmaker Dep.), p. 15-16. Hatmaker also testified that, after he was hired, Rev. Stafford expressed his discomfort with Reiki to her. Id., p. 16-17. With respect to the April 20, 2007, meeting, Hatmaker testified that Rev. Stafford stated that he wanted to put Edens and Hatmaker in touch with one another because Rev. Stafford was uncomfortable with Reiki. Hatmaker characterized Rev. Stafford's conduct at the meeting as "very complimentary" to her, "very gentlemanly," "very honoring of [Edens and Hatmaker]," and "very professional." Id., p. 18-19. According to Hatmaker, Rev. Stafford stayed at the meeting for approximately fifteen or twenty minutes, at which point he said he had another meeting and left. Hatmaker testified that there was nothing inappropriate or objectionable about Rev. Stafford's behavior at the April 20, 2007, meeting. Id., p. 19.

On April 30, 2007, Hatmaker sent a lengthy email to Hester to share some concerns regarding Rev. Stafford. An accurate copy of the email is included in the record with the Bates stamp MMC019. See Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 5, Request to Admit No. 28, & p. 14-15. Hatmaker wrote that she was "stunned by the news of Greg's appointment" and "puzzled and troubled" when she read of the outpouring of support for Rev. Stafford. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 14. She stated that she expected the search process to be "an exploration . . . rather than the outcome of a voting campaign." Id. Additionally, Hatmaker wrote as follows: "Given my previous letters to you, I am sure it comes as no surprise that I had/have reservations." Id. Hatmaker informed Hester that she continued "to have question marks about [Rev. Stafford's] leadership in relationship to women." Id.

Hatmaker wrote that, in the eighteen months since Rev. Stafford began working as a staff chaplain at Memorial, several female clergy at Memorial and St. John's Hospital, another local hospital, had expressed their discomfort with him to Hatmaker. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 14. Hatmaker reported that, in several conversations she had with Rev. Stafford, "he quickly referenced his 2 divorces and his distrust/discomfort with women." Id. Hatmaker wrote that Rev. Stafford's "obvious attraction to/fear of women raises many questions . . . about whether he has addressed or been addressed by this significant issue in his Clinical Pastoral Education training." Id. Hatmaker stated that she was puzzled as to why it was not noted that Rev. Stafford was only provisionally certified in the College of Chaplains, despite eighteen years of experience in chaplaincy.*fn4 She opined that Rev. Stafford's "lack of self knowledge in regard to women and intimacy/partnership" could be part of his provisional certification. Id. Hatmaker characterized "the gender issue of particular importance" based on Rev. Stafford's work with women in the Pastoral Care Department and with women nurses and caregivers at Memorial. Id.

Hatmaker also stated an immediate concern about how Rev. Stafford's "seeming (perhaps unconcious [sic]) diminished view of same age or younger women . . will affect staffing in the Pastoral Care Dept." Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. A, p. 14. Hatmaker conceded that Rev. Stafford seemed "to do better with older women." Id. Hatmaker noted specific concerns about the "only female staff chaplain, Rev. Julie Hoving, as well as the department's search for another staff chaplain." Id. Hatmaker stated her hope that the new staff chaplain would be female, "as an appropriate compliment to the dept." Id. Hatmaker closed her email as follows:

It is with these observations that I recommend your highly focused oversight of Greg in this area. . . . In case you wonder, I find Greg to be affable, capable and ambitious. He is a fine man with noble aims and a magnetic personality. However it is the question marks I site [sic] above along with observations from my previous letters to you that raise red flags for me; I would feel irresponsible if I did not share them with you. Thanks for hearing me out.

Id., p. 14-15.

Hatmaker testified that, on two occasions, she heard Rev. Stafford say that he had been divorced twice, and did not "do women well." Hatmaker Dep., p. 49-50. Hatmaker also explained in her deposition that, prior to April 30, 2007, she had discussions regarding Rev. Stafford with five women, namely Julie Blythe, Julie Hoving, Anne Kelson, Sister Anna Marie Mehigan, and Dawn Victor. Prior to the time that Rev. Stafford became the Director of Pastoral Care, Julie Blythe, a staff chaplain at St. John's Hospital, told Hatmaker that Blythe was unimpressed and uncomfortable with Rev. Stafford and surprised that he was part of Memorial's Pastoral Care staff. Id., p. 56-58. Julie Hoving was a staff chaplain at ...


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