Pamela J. Mahler Plaintiff - Appellant
First Dakota Title Limited Partnership, a South Dakota Domestic Limited Partnership; Community Title, LLC, a South Dakota Domestic LLC; Dennis C. Anderson, Individually; Shirley A. Thoelke, Individually; Dean Hoag, Jr., Individually Defendants - Appellees
Submitted: May 15, 2019
from United States District Court for the Northern District
of Iowa - Sioux City
BENTON, WOLLMAN, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
BENTON, Circuit Judge.
J. Mahler sued her former employer-First Dakota Title Limited
Partnership and Community Title, LLC-and several of its
executives-Dennis C. Anderson, Shirley A. Thoelke, and Dean
Hoag, Jr.-under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the
Iowa Civil Rights Act for retaliation, discrimination, and
hostile work environment. The district court granted summary
judgment to the defendants. Mahler v. First Dakota Title
Ltd. P'ship, 2018 WL 1096838 (N.D. Iowa Feb. 28,
2018). Mahler appeals. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1291, this court affirms.
Title is a limited liability company with two members-First
Dakota Title Limited Partnership and D. Hoag, LLC. Title
Resource Network (TRN) is a tag line for First Dakota,
Community Title, and their subsidiaries. Community Title
hired Mahler in 2012 as vice president of one of the TRN
umbrella companies. The next year, she was promoted to
regional president, responsible for overseeing eight
March 2014, Mahler reported vice president Charity
Archer's complaint of discrimination to Dennis
Anderson-First Dakota's Chief Executive Officer. A month
later, Mahler reported a sexual harassment complaint to Human
Resources Director Clay Rees. Mahler and Rees scheduled a
mandatory workshop about the sexual harassment policy for all
company conference in April, Anderson told all TRN staff that
regional presidents should remain at "50, 000 feet"
and stay out of day-to-day office work. That fall, Archer
complained that Mahler was too involved in the office's
day-to-day activities, making it difficult to do her job. At
Archer's request, Mahler was moved to the TRN Settlement
February 2015, Anderson emailed Mahler some off-color jokes,
explaining "Hopefully the following will not offend
you." Mahler responded, "No offense taken and thank
you I did get a good laugh out of it." Around the same
time, "a lot of staff" at the TRN Settlement
Services office asked to meet with Rees about Mahler.
According to Rees, "[t]hey did not like the way Pam
[Mahler] managed the office. They said that she micromanaged
them, was always in their stuff, and they felt they
couldn't do anything." Anderson reminded Mahler in
March to stay at 50, 000 feet and out of the day-to-day work.
He also told her "to not get dragged into the office
drama." Later that month, he authorized Mahler to hire
one person to fill an open position. She hired two
April, Mahler contacted a Register of Deeds about its work
with a TRN company, Union County Abstract & Title. The
Register of Deeds complained about quality issues. Instead of
contacting Bobbi Jo Dondelinger-the regional president over
the Union County office-Mahler went to one of
Dondelinger's employees about these issues. Dondelinger
complained to Anderson. He then sent an email to Dondelinger
and Chief Technology Officer Shirley Thoelke:
After my conversation with Bobbi Jo today it is possible that
Pam may cause more problems than we will want to deal with.
While I do not expect a major catastrophe to occur before I
return on May 4th, I want each of you to know that you have
my confidence and support to handle any issue with the Sioux
City office as may be necessary, including termination.
mid-May, Mahler reported sexual harassment to Rees on behalf
of Archer. Mahler also shared her concerns with Anderson. A
few days later, she called Rees to discuss the situation
again. Later that month, Mahler complained of age
discrimination on behalf of another employee. On June 1,
Mahler met with Anderson and Thoelke. They told her to spend
more time in her office, keep the door shut to avoid becoming
involved in the day-to-day activities, and to follow the
chain of command. Mahler claims Anderson also accused her of
acting like a tyrant. Explaining that Mahler "tends to
embellish," Thoelke called Archer the next day to verify
what Mahler said. Shortly after, Thoelke asked Archer to keep
an eye on Mahler and let her know if Mahler continued
8, Mahler told Rees about another sexual harassment complaint
by Archer. Two days later, Mahler met with Reese to reiterate
Archer's complaints, adding a ...