United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE STEVEN P. LOGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
25, 2012, Charles Okonkwo began working as a process engineer
for Intel Corporation. Okonkwo initially reported to Greggory
Gargano, who was succeeded by Sean Singer as his manager.
Troy Greiert was the area manager for Okonkwo's
department. Okonkwo describes himself as a black man, whose
national origin is Nigeria, and alleges that because of his
race and national origin, he was disparaged, insulted,
racially harassed, demeaned, and treated with hostility by
Intel personnel. He claims Gargano compromised and neglected
his training and subjected him to a hostile work environment
with the intent of terminating his employment. After Gargano
was no longer employed by Intel, Singer engaged in the same
December 13, 2013, Intel placed Plaintiff on a Performance
Improvement Plan (“PIP”). Okonkwo complained to
management regarding the PIP, and filed a written complaint
with human resources on January 26, 2014 regarding his
employment at Intel. On March 12, 2014, Okonkwo received an
Improvement Required rating and was placed on a Corrective
filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on May 2, 2014,
alleging discrimination based on age, race, and national
origin as well as retaliation. Okonkwo and Intel participated
in mediation, but were unable to reach an agreement. On June
27, 2014, Intel terminated Okonkwo. Okonkwo then filed an
EEOC complaint for retaliation on July 17, 2014.
filed the instant lawsuit against Intel on June 29, 2015,
bringing a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act. (Doc. 1.) In his complaint, Okonkwo alleges that
Intel retaliated against him for: (i) filing an EEOC charge,
(ii) refusing to withdraw the charge, and (iii) refusing to
settle the charge. (Doc. 1 ¶ 70.) Intel has moved for
summary judgment. (Doc. 62.) Having viewed the evidence in
the light most favorable to Okonkwo, the Court finds that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and Intel
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am.,
815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987); Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Okonkwo has not demonstrated a prima facie case of
unlawful retaliation. In order to establish a prima facie
case of retaliation, “the employee must show that he
engaged in a protected activity, he was subsequently
subjected to an adverse employment action, and that a causal
link exists between the two.” Dawson v. Entek
Int'l, 630 F.3d 928, 936 (9th Cir. 2011). To meet
his burden to show that he engaged in protected activity,
Okonkwo must show that he reasonably believed Intel engaged
in a discriminatory practice, and opposed the unlawful
practice by specifically referring to the unlawful practice.
See E.E.O.C. v. Crown Zellerbach Corp., 720 F.2d
1008, 1013 (9th Cir. 1983); Learned v. City of
Bellevue, 860 F.2d 928, 932 (9th Cir. 1988) (“the
opposed conduct must fairly fall within the protection of
Title VII to sustain a claim of unlawful retaliation”).
summary judgment, Okonkwo now argues that Intel retaliated
against him by subjecting him to further disciplinary action
after he filed a complaint with human resources about
Gargano. (Doc. 82 at 7-8.) Assuming that Okonkwo reasonably
believed he was subject to a hostile work environment because
of his race, or that Gargano failed to provide him with
adequate training because of his race, he fails to direct the
Court to any testimony or evidence that shows that prior to
any of the disciplinary actions he complains of, he reported
any discriminatory conduct. In the written complaint
submitted to human resources in January of 2014, Okonkwo
makes no reference to Gargano's racially discriminatory
conduct. (See Doc. 63-5, Exh. F.) In his various
filings, Okonkwo points to no evidence in the record that
shows he informed human resources or anyone at Intel
concerning racially discriminatory conduct. (See
e.g., Doc. 90 ¶¶ 16-25, 42-51; Docs. 82-84.)
Okonkwo's scattered references to complaints he made
concerning Gargano make no reference to race, nor do they
implicate any form of discriminatory conduct. (See
Doc. 83 ¶¶ 9, 20; Doc. 84 ¶ 12; Doc. 90
¶¶ 16-25, 42-51.)
follows that without some evidence that Okonkwo
reported Gargano's race or national origin-based remarks
or conduct (whatever they may be), his written and/or oral
complaints cannot be viewed as opposing an unlawful practice
under Title VII, and do not constitute protected activity.
See Crown Zellerbach, 720 F.2d at 1013; Jurado
v. Eleven-Fifty Corp., 813 F.2d 1406, 1411 (9th Cir.
1987). Okonkwo's unsupported, vague, and conclusory
assertion on summary judgment that he was unlawfully
retaliated against is not sufficient to create a genuine
issue of fact for trial. See Villiarimo v. Aloha Island
Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1064, n. 10 (9th Cir. 2002)
(“At summary judgment, this court need not draw all
possible inferences in [plaintiffs] favor, but only all
reasonable ones.”). Thus,
Okonkwo's failure to establish any causal link between
some protected activity and any subsequent discipline is
fatal to his claim for relief See Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med.
Ctr. v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517, 2534 (2013) (“[A]
plaintiff making a retaliation claim… must establish
that his or her protected activity was a but-for cause of the
alleged adverse action by the employer.”).
has failed to show there is sufficient evidence of
retaliation to create a genuine dispute for trial, and Intel
is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 62) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall
terminate this case and enter judgment accordingly.
 Okonkwo also named individual managers
and other Intel personnel who were subsequently dismissed on
motion by Defendants. (Doc. 29.)
 Okonkwo has abandoned his retaliation
claim that Intel terminated him for filing an EEOC complaint.
See Estate of Shapiro v. U.S., 634 F.3d 1055, 1060
(9th Cir. 2011); Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878,
892 (9th Cir. 2008) (“We have previously held that a
plaintiff has ‘abandoned ... claims by not raising them
in opposition to [the defendant's] motion for summary