from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey A.
plaintiff appeals the district court summary judgment
dismissal of his claims of racial harassment, racial
discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional
Denne and Stanley E. Munger of Munger, Reinschmidt &
Denne, L.L.P., Sioux City, for appellant.
A. Horvatich, Aaron A. Clark, and Abigail M. Moland of
McGrath North PC LLO, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellees.
by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.
Fenceroy appeals the district court's granting of summary
judgment in favor of defendants Gelita USA, Inc. (Gelita),
Tom Haire, and Jeff Tolsma and dismissing his claims of
racial harassment, racial discrimination, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. We find Fenceroy did not
show Gelita had the requisite knowledge to support the
harassment claims, did not establish an adverse employment
action for his discrimination claim, and the evidence did not
support a finding of severe emotional distress. We affirm.
Background Facts & Proceedings
is a corporation based out of Germany with a plant in
Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, which produces gelatin products used in
a variety of industries. Fenceroy, an African-American, began
working for Gelita in 1975 and retired in March 2013. For the
majority of his tenure at Gelita, Fenceroy was the only
African-American employee in the plant.
Code of Conduct provided to employees includes an
anti-harassment policy as well as a reporting procedure.
Fenceroy was also aware he had complaint procedures available
to him through his union membership.
holds annual training sessions concerning harassment and
discrimination, which Fenceroy acknowledged attending on at
least three separate occasions. Jeff Tolsma, Gelita's
current head of human resources, sent a memo to all employees
in August 2010, explaining harassment was a serious offense
that could lead to disciplinary action.
October 2011, Fenceroy reported to human resources that a
rope he believed was tied to resemble a noose was hanging in
the plant where he worked. Tolsma and the production manager
for the plant, Jeremie Kneip, went to the factory and looked
at the rope, determining the rope-which had a loop tied at
the end-was used for a valid employment purpose to create
pressure on a scale and the loop might be used as a handle.
But, they ordered the rope to be untied and advised Fenceroy
of their action. Fenceroy observed the rope was soon tied
back into the loop by unknown persons in the factory. Tolsma
and Kneip do not appear to have ordered the rope untied
again. However, Fenceroy made no additional reports to human
resources to complain of the "noose."
2012, Gelita sent out a "confidential" survey to
all employees asking for suggested improvements or changes to
the harassment policy. Fenceroy did not report any harassment
through the survey.
retiring from Gelita in 2013, Fenceroy filed a complaint with
the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC). Fenceroy identified
multiple occasions in 2012 when Gelita employees, including
Tom Haire and Bob Kersbergen, made racially discriminatory or
harassing comments; many of the comments were overtly white
supremacist in nature or otherwise denigrated
African-Americans. Kersbergen allegedly assaulted Fenceroy by
grabbing and pulling him to the ground. Fenceroy alleges
Kneip told him not to bother bringing complaints to human
resources. Fenceroy stated the foremen did not take action
when he complained or they witnessed the harassing comments.