United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell United States District Judge.
Vanessa Ramirez asserts claims against Mitel (Delaware) Inc.,
Mitel Communications, Inc., Mitel Cloud Services, Inc., and
Mitel Business Systems, Inc. (collectively,
“Mitel” or “Defendants”), for
discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et.
seq. (“Title VII”), and 42 U.S.C. §
1981. Doc. 1. Mitel moves for summary judgment on all claims.
Doc. 34. The motion is fully briefed. Docs. 34, 35, 37, 38,
43, 44. For the reasons that follow, Mitel's motion will
began working for Mitel (then known as Inter-Tel Network
Services) on May 24, 2004, as a Sales Analyst. Doc. 35,
¶ 1. In 2008, Plaintiff was selected for a job within
Mitel as a Sales Administrator. Id., ¶ 2. In
February 2009, Brenda Cordova became Plaintiff's manager.
Id., ¶ 3. In March 2013, Plaintiff's sales
administration department, located in Mesa, Arizona, merged
with the order administration department, located in Reno,
Nevada, and Plaintiff became a Sales/Order Administrator.
Id., ¶ 4. The merged team consisted of eight
members: Plaintiff, Cordova, Denise Ramos, and Tamara Benton
in Mesa, and Barbara Scofield, Danielle Barraza, Melissa
Hills, and Allison Dunmire in Reno. Id.,
¶¶ 5, 7. Dunmire was the supervisor of the merged
team, but Cordova continued as Plaintiff's manager until
June 2014. Id., ¶ 5. Ramos is Plaintiff's
aunt. Id., ¶ 6.
following the merger, Plaintiff and Dunmire “began
having issues.” Id., ¶ 8. Plaintiff
alleges several instances of disparate treatment by Dunmire
against her and her Hispanic co-workers with regard to hours,
vacation, pay, overtime, training, and one instance involving
a racially charged comment. See Doc. 1, ¶¶
16-22; Doc. 35-3 at 36. In November 2014, Plaintiff applied
for a transfer out of Dunmire's department. Doc. 1,
¶ 26. Her application was denied because Plaintiff's
mother already worked in the department Plaintiff applied
for, and, according to Defendants, allowing Plaintiff's
transfer “would violate company policy against
relatives working together.” Id.; Doc. 35,
alleges that she reported Dunmire's disparate treatment
on numerous occasions to Human Resources, but nothing was
done. Doc. 1, ¶ 27. On December 1, 2014, Plaintiff
resigned, claiming that she “had no other
choice[.]” Doc. 37 at 6; Doc. 35-15 at 2-3. Soon
thereafter, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Doc. 35-15), as
well as applications for government health/nutrition benefits
(Doc. 37 at 6) and unemployment benefits with the Arizona
Department of Economic Security (Doc. 35-18 at 2). Upon
review of Plaintiff's application for unemployment
benefits, an agency deputy determined that “[Plaintiff]
voluntarily left work without good cause in connection with
[her] employment[, ]” and denied her application.
Id. On appeal, an Administrative Law Judge affirmed
the deputy's decision and reasoning. Doc. 35-11.
January 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. Defendants now
move for summary judgment on all counts. Doc. 34.
seeking summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is
appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, shows “that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). Summary judgment is also appropriate against a party
who “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party's
case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof
at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed
evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
VII provides that an employer may not “discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race, color, . . . or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).
“Similarly, § 1981 prohibits [race] discrimination
in the ‘benefits, privileges, terms and conditions'
of employment.” Surrell v. Cal. Water Serv.
Co., 518 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting 42
U.S.C. § 1981(b)). A plaintiff may establish a violation
of Title VII or § 1981 by proving that discrimination
created a hostile work environment. See, e.g.,
Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 66
(1986) (Title VII); Manatt v. Bank of America, NA,
339 F.3d 792, 797 (9th Cir. 2003) (§ 1981). To prevail
on her hostile work environment claim, Plaintiff must show
that (1) she was subjected to verbal or physical conduct
because of her race or national origin, (2) the conduct was
unwelcome, and (3) the conduct was sufficiently severe or
pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and
create an abusive work environment. Kang v. U. Lim
America, Inc., 296 F.3d 810, 817 (9th Cir. 2002)
(internal quotations omitted); Gregory v. Widnall,
153 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 1998).
was represented by counsel when this case was filed, but her
counsel later withdrew. Doc. 20. Plaintiff's pro se
filings in response to Defendant's motion for summary
judgment contain a somewhat rambling and disorganized
discussion (Docs. 37, 38), but the Court has reviewed them
with care to identify Plaintiff's specific factual
assertions and the evidence she provides in support. The
Court has identified thirteen factual assertions Plaintiff
makes in support of her hostile work environment claim. The
Court will summarize each assertion and the evidence, if any,
provided to support it.
Dunmire “was constantly questioning Plaintiff's
whereabouts and work performance through email, phone calls
and with other coworkers on the team, even when Plaintiff was
present at work and available via email and desk
phone.” Doc. 37 at 2 (citing Ex. 8 (email exchange
between Plaintiff and Dunmire in which Dunmire states she
contacted Plaintiff's coworkers looking for Plaintiff
after failing to reach her by other means)).
Dunmire would question Plaintiff's hours worked during
the day, as well as any and all overtime, and would require a
detailed email from Plaintiff accounting for her hours and
the orders on which she worked. Id. at 3. No
evidence is cited in support.
Dunmire initiated a policy requiring that overtime be
preapproved. Id. (citing Ex. 6 (email from Dunmire
to her team stating, “[o]vertime within the company is
approved on an as needed basis when ...