United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Western Division
LEONARD T. STRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff has filed a motion (Doc. No. 32) to quash subpoenas duces tecum and for protective order. The motion raises issues concerning document-production subpoenas certain defendants have served on plaintiff’s current and former employers. The defendants that issued the subpoenas have filed a resistance (Doc. No. 38) and plaintiff has filed a reply (Doc. No. 41). I conducted a telephonic hearing on February 7, 2014. The motion is fully submitted.
II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
Plaintiff Lisa Cornell filed this case on February 22, 2013. Her complaint, as later amended, asserts claims against Jim Hawk Truck Trailer, Inc., Sioux City Jim Hawk Truck Trailer, Inc., and Shawn Corbett. See Doc. No. 15. Cornell alleges that she was hired on February 7, 2011, to be the office manager of the Hawk Defendants’ Sioux City branch. She further alleges that Corbett was the general manager and her direct supervisor. She contends that Corbett started sexually harassing her about three months after her employment began. She contends that the harassment took place both in the office and outside the office, via text messaging. Her amended complaint includes detailed allegations concerning Corbett’s alleged comments and actions. Doc. No. 15 at ¶¶ 19-26.
Cornell alleges that when she did not respond favorably to Corbett’s sexual advances, he began treating her differently. She further alleges that she reported Corbett’s conduct to members of the Hawk Defendants’ management team but her complaints were not acted upon. She contends she was then fired a short time after filing complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Id. at ¶¶ 27-47. She asserts claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
All of the defendants have filed answers denying various allegations and denying liability to Cornell. Among other things, the Hawk Defendants contend that Cornell’s employment was terminated for legitimate, performance-based reasons. On December 12, 2013, counsel for the Hawk Defendants sent a Notice of Intent to Issue Subpoenas Duces Tecum (Notice) to Cornell’s counsel, attaching subpoenas to Cornell’s current and former employers, dating back to 1992. The Notice indicated that the Hawk Defendants would be demanding production of five different types of documents, culminating in “All other documents in your possession, custody or control pertaining to the employment of Lisa Cornell . . . .” Cornell’s counsel spoke with counsel for the Hawk Defendants about the Notice on December 16 and 17, 2013, and requested that the Hawk Defendants narrow or withdraw the proposed subpoenas. Cornell’s counsel asked that the Hawk Defendants delay service of the subpoenas until the parties could obtain guidance from the court through a Motion for Protective Order. Apparently, no agreement was reached on this issue, as the Hawk Defendants proceeded to serve the subpoenas on five different entities on or about December 31, 2013. As served, the subpoenas demanded that each recipient produce the following documents:
A. Personnel Records. Any and all personnel records, including, but not limited to, starting and ending dates of employment, applications, resumes, job descriptions, performance evaluations, disciplinary reports;
B. Payroll & Attendance Records. Any and all payroll and attendance records, including, but not limited to, W-2 forms, records of earnings and compensation, time and attendance logs, and any other records illustrating dates and hours worked, vacation time, and sick time;
C. Benefits Records. Any and all benefits records, including, but not limited to, all records relating to plaintiff’s medical insurance, short-term disability, long-term disability, leaves of absence, retirement contributions and life insurance;
D. Medical Records. Any and all medical records, including, but not limited to, reports of physical or mental examinations conducted as a condition of employment, work excuses, physician’s notes, and disability and workers’ compensation records; and
E. Any other documents in your possession, custody or control pertaining to the employment of Lisa Cornell, DOB: (redacted), SSN: (redacted).
On January 6, 2014, Cornell’s counsel learned that the subpoenas had been served. Cornell’s motion was filed the same day. As of the date of the telephonic hearing, the parties had resolved nearly all issues concerning the subpoenas. Among other things, the Hawk Defendants had made the wise decision to narrow the scope of the subpoenas dramatically. Indeed, and except for the language emphasized below, the parties have agreed that the subpoenas can properly request the following documents:
A. Personnel Records. Any and all personnel records, including, but not limited to, starting and ending dates of employment, applications, resumes, job descriptions, perf ...