FELICIA A. WILCOX, Plaintiff - Appellant,
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, a.k.a. McRae Correctional Facility, Defendant-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 1:11-cv-04365-ODE
TJOFLAT, ROSENBAUM, and BRANCH, Circuit Judges.
BRANCH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Felecia Wilcox sued her employer,
Corrections Corporation of America, for sexual harassment
resulting in a hostile work environment under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
At trial, she testified that she had complained to the
company that her coworker had sexually harassed her, but the
company failed to take prompt remedial action. The jury found
in Wilcox's favor and awarded damages, but the district
court later granted judgment as a matter of law for the
company. Wilcox appeals and argues that the jury was entitled
to find that the company failed to act promptly on her
complaints. Because we disagree, we affirm.
reviewing a judgment as a matter of law, we consider the
facts in the light most favorable to Wilcox. See Bogle v.
Orange Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 162 F.3d 653, 656
(11th Cir. 1998). Wilcox worked as a corrections officer at
McRae Correctional Facility, a federal prison operated by
Corrections Corporation of America. On July 10, 2009,
Wilcox's coworker Larry Jackson slapped her on the buttocks
twice. Wilcox filed a formal complaint with the company that
same day. The company told Jackson not to associate with
Wilcox or be anywhere around her.
days following Wilcox's complaint and the company's
admonition not to associate with Wilcox, Jackson repeatedly
rolled his eyes at Wilcox and once punched a metal machine in
her presence to intimidate her. On July 23, Wilcox submitted
a second complaint in which she reiterated that Jackson had
hit her buttocks on July 10, adding that she was afraid he
would touch her again, that this was not the first time that
he had touched her, and that he had told her he could touch
her if he wanted to. Wilcox concedes, however, that Jackson
never touched her or made any inappropriate comments to her
after her July 10 complaint.
company brought in an outside investigator to look into these
and other complaints against Jackson. On August 27, the
investigator interviewed Wilcox, who told her about two
additional times before July 10 that Jackson had sexually
harassed her. On one occasion, Jackson squeezed her thigh and
stated that he could touch her "juicy, fat thighs"
if he wanted. On the other occasion, Jackson made a sexually
explicit remark. On September 9, the investigator submitted
her report finding that Jackson had sexually harassed Wilcox
and other coworkers. On September 14, the company fired
later filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission,  and she filed this lawsuit
against the company under Title VII. The district court
granted the company's motion for summary judgment on
Wilcox's sexual harassment claim, but we reversed because
a triable issue of fact existed about whether the harassment
was severe or pervasive. Wilcox v. Corr. Corp. of Am.,
603 Fed.Appx. 862, 865-66 (11th Cir. 2015). On remand, a jury
trial was held. The jury returned a verdict for Wilcox of $4,
000 in actual damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages. The
company then renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of
law, which the district court granted, finding that the
company's prompt remedial action in response to
Wilcox's complaints barred liability as a matter of law.
Wilcox again appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review a district court's grant of judgment as a matter
of law de novo. Bogle, 162 F.3d at 656. We
view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in
Wilcox's favor, id., and we may affirm only if
we conclude that "a reasonable jury would not have a
legally sufficient evidentiary basis" to find for her,
prevail in a suit against her employer for a fellow
employee's sexual harassment that resulted in a hostile