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Eschborn v. Ohio Department of Transportation

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

May 8, 2018

Anne Eschborn, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Transportation, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Ohio Court of Claims Ct. of Cl. No. 2016-00171

         On brief:

          Engler Law Firm, and David L. Engler, for appellant.

          Michael DeWine, Attorney General, Eric A. Walker, and Stacy Hannan, for appellee.

         Argued:

          David L. Engler.

         Stacy Hannan.

          DECISION

          BRUNNER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Anne Eschborn, appeals the judgment of the Ohio Court of Claims granting Civ.R. 56(C) summary judgment to defendant-appellee, Ohio Department of Transportation ("ODOT"), in an R.C. 4112.01, et seq. gender discrimination lawsuit against the state. The Court of Claims held that Eschborn could not meet her burden of proof of her prima facie case of discrimination. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         {¶ 2} Eschborn began working at ODOT as an unclassified, seasonal Highway Tech 1 employee on January 12, 2015. ODOT terminated her employment on February 12, 2015. During her one-month tenure with ODOT, Eschborn's work was assigned by ODOT staff at the Gustavus post and in her role as a Highway Tech 1 she worked alongside three male employees. Eschborn operated a truck that plowed snow and spread salt on the roads within ODOT's jurisdiction, patched potholes, "flagged, " washed trucks, and swept the truck bays. (Eschborn Dep. at 7.) While she worked for ODOT, she was the only female employee at the Gustavus post.

         {¶ 3} Eschborn contends that ODOT gave multiple reasons for her termination. Initially, she was told it was due to lack of work. After her termination, however, Eschborn received a letter from ODOTs director stating she had been terminated for not performing up to the standards expected of the position. Additionally, she was told she was terminated for her alleged use of foul language and sexual harassment.

         {¶ 4} Eschborn admits that she was "making a joke" when she said to her coworkers that her former boss did not listen to her, "because I have tits and a pussy." (Eschborn Dep. at 43.) She also admits that she told one of her coworkers to "bite me" after he was repeatedly "badgering" her regarding her performance of her job duties. (Eschborn Dep. at 48-49.)

         {¶ 5} On March 7, 2016, Eschborn filed a complaint in the Court of Claims alleging that ODOT terminated her employment because of her ...


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