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Date: 11-29-2023

Case Style:

Carmen Hampleman v. TJT Enterprises LLC, et al.

Case Number:

Judge: Terence Kern

Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: David Aaron Dekle, Steven Massey Harris, Steven Max Harris

Description: Tulsa, Oklahoma civil rights lawyer represented the Plaintiff who sued the Defendants on 42:2000e Job Discrimination (Employment) theories.

Plaintiff Carmen Hampleman (Plaintiff) was a female employee of Defendants from roughly May 2019 until July 30, 2020. During that time, Plaintiff states that she held the Director of Marketing position for Defendants and also acted as a consultant. (Doc. 1 at 3). Defendants are both limited liability companies headquartered in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. (Id. at 1-2). While the Complaint does not describe the type of business Defendants are engaged in, Defendant Jeweled Affairs describes itself as a company that manages the Thompson Mansion, which is a wedding and event venue, and Defendant TJT is a “property owner and management company for various other assets.” (Doc. 15 at 3). According to the Complaint, Defendant Jeweled Affairs is a subsidiary of Defendant TJT Enterprises, which are both owned by Tommy Thompson (Thompson), who Plaintiff alleges “managed and supervised employees of both Defendants.” (Doc. 1 at 2).

Around April 2020, Plaintiff alleges that Thompson, a male, began making unwanted sexual advances on Plaintiff, which Plaintiff rejected. (Id. at 3). Specifically, Plaintiff states that, on one occasion around this time, Thompson asked Plaintiff to go on personal vacations with him “for the purpose of carrying on a sexual relationship.” (Id.) Plaintiff rebuffed Thompson's efforts, and consequently, Thompson began to retaliate against Plaintiff by overriding Plaintiff's sales, resulting in Plaintiff not receiving commissions for her sales. (Id.) When Plaintiff confronted Thompson about his retaliatory actions, Thompson allegedly acknowledged that his actions were in response to Plaintiff's refusal of his sexual advances. (Id.) Thompson eventually terminated Plaintiff's employment with Defendants around July 30, 2020, telling Plaintiff that “she did a good job,” but implied that Plaintiff could not be employed unless she was having a sexual relationship with him. (Id. at 3-4).

Plaintiff exhausted her administrative remedies, timely filing an EEOC charge of discrimination on November 18, 2020 and receiving notice of her right to sue from the EEOC on January 11, 2021. (Id. at 4). On February 26, 2021, within ninety days of the EEOC Notice of Right to Sue, Plaintiff filed suit, asserting claims against Defendants for sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII). (Id. at 4-5). Defendants jointly filed a combined Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15), or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16).

With respect to their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that the Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Specifically, Defendants contend that they are not an “employer” for purposes of Title VII because they did not employ the requisite 15 employees-either jointly or individually-for 20 or more calendar weeks during the current or preceding year. (Doc. 15 at 7-8). Additionally, Defendants maintain that Plaintiff was an independent contractor, rather than employee, and thus, Plaintiff may not assert a claim against Defendants under Title VII. (Id. at 9-13). Plaintiff counters that her Complaint alleges facts sufficient to satisfy the Title VII employee-numerosity requirement as well as her status as Defendants' employee; and given that her factual allegations are assumed as true under Rule 12(b)(6), any disputed facts regarding these issues must be resolved in her favor. (Doc. 22).

Outcome: Settled for an undisclosed sum and dismissed with prejudice.

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