United States District Court, D. Arizona
S. Willett United States Magistrate Judge.
August 2, 2016, Sunny Anthony (“Plaintiff”) filed
this action against her former employer, TRAX International
Corporation (“TRAX” or “Defendant”).
(Doc. 1). In her two-count Complaint, Plaintiff alleges
discrimination and retaliation under the American with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
before the Court are the parties' Motions for Summary
Judgment (Docs. 44, 46). Both parties have moved for summary
judgment on the discrimination claim in Count One. Defendant
also moves for summary judgment on the retaliation claim in
Count Two. After reviewing the parties' briefing, the
Court will grant Defendant's Motion (Doc. 44) and will
deny Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. 46).
SUMMARY OF UNDISPUTED FACTS
April 2010, Defendant hired Plaintiff for a Technical Writer
I position. (Doc. 51 at 1, ¶ 1). The job description for
the Technical Writer I position stated that the applicant
must possess a bachelor's degree in English, journalism,
or a related field. (Id. at 3, ¶ 8). Contrary
to Plaintiff's averment on her employment application,
Plaintiff does not have a bachelor's degree.
(Id. at 2-3, ¶¶ 2, 5-6).
January 2012, Plaintiff submitted a written complaint to her
supervisor concerning the alleged hostile and aggressive
behavior of a co-worker. (Id. at 7, ¶¶
21-22). Plaintiff alleged that the co-worker's behavior
adversely affected her mental and physical health.
(Id., ¶ 22). The co-worker was terminated
shortly after Plaintiff submitted her complaint.
(Id., ¶ 23).
April 2012, Plaintiff applied for leave under the Family and
Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) due to Plaintiff's
own health conditions. (Id., ¶ 24).
Plaintiff's physician indicated that Plaintiff suffered
from a number of conditions, such as fatigue, excessive
weight gain, panic attacks, anxiety, and adrenal fatigue,
which would likely continue until May 30, 2012. (Id.
at 8, ¶ 25, 28). Defendant approved the leave with an
effective date of April 4, 2012. (Id. at 7, ¶
24). On June 1, 2012, Plaintiff requested to work from home.
(Id. at 9, ¶ 30). The request was denied on
June 4, 2012. (Id.).
June 25, 2012 letter, TRAX's Benefits Coordinator
notified Plaintiff that her FMLA leave would be exhausted as
of June 27, 2012. (Id., ¶ 32). The letter also
instructed Plaintiff to respond no later than June 28, 2012
to discuss “options going forward” and stated
that failure to respond by the deadline “will result in
termination of your employment.” (Id. at 10,
¶ 33). On July 24, 2012, the Benefits Coordinator
emailed Plaintiff explaining that, consistent with TRAX's
precedent, Plaintiff will be given an additional thirty days
of leave time before TRAX takes action with respect to the
expiration of Plaintiff's FMLA leave. (Id.,
¶ 35). The email explained that unless Plaintiff
provides a full work release by July 26, 2012, Plaintiff will
be terminated from her employment. (Id.). Plaintiff
did not submit a full work release, and Defendant terminated
Plaintiff's employment effective July 30, 2012.
(Id., ¶ 36).
September 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). (Id. at 11, ¶
40). On March 2, 2016, the EEOC issued a cause determination
in Plaintiff's favor. (Doc. 47 at 8, ¶ 36; Doc. 53
at 7, ¶ 36).
judgment is appropriate if the evidence, when reviewed in a
light most favorable to the non-moving party, demonstrates
“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). Substantive law determines
which facts are material in a case and “only disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “A fact issue is genuine
‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'”
Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054,
1061 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248). Thus, the nonmoving party must show that the genuine
factual issues “can be resolved only by a finder of
fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of
either party.” Cal. Architectural Bldg. Prods.,
Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468
(9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250).
“[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the
evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the
facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . [t]he
evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor” at
the summary judgment stage. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398
U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)); Harris v. Itzhaki, 183
F.3d 1043, 1051 (9th Cir. 1999) (“Issues of
credibility, including questions of intent, should be left to
the jury.”) (citations omitted).
moving for summary judgment, the burden of proof initially
rests with the moving party to present the basis for his
motion and to identify those portions of the record and
affidavits that he believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant fails
to carry his initial burden of production, the non-movant
need not produce anything further. The motion for summary
judgment would then fail. However, if the movant meets his
initial burden of production, then the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to show that a genuine issue of material
fact exists and that the movant is not entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 250;
Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216,
1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a
material issue of fact conclusively in his favor. First
Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv.Co., 391 U.S.
253, 288-89 (1968). However, he must “come forward with
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation
and emphasis omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).
conclusory allegations unsupported by factual material are
insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Taylor v. List,880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989);
see also Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 502
F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[c]onclusory,
speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is
insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and ...