United States District Court, D. Arizona
Murray Snow, Chief United District Judge
before the Court is the State of Arizona's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. 26). For the following reasons, the
Court grants the motion in part and denies the motion in
2006 to 2016, Plaintiff John Doe worked as a corrections
officer at Arizona Department of Corrections
(“ADOC”) facilities in Arizona. Mr. Doe is a
transgender male. He alleges that he was subjected to
unabated harassment from his coworkers and supervisors that
created a hostile work environment, caused him to fear for
his physical safety, and ultimately forced him to resign in
2016. Defendant moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff's
hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims.
record, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff,
shows the following: in 2006, when he began working at ADOC,
Mr. Doe was transitioning from female to male. Initially, Mr.
Doe worked at the South Unit in Florence, Arizona as a
Correctional Officer II. After completing his initial
training, Mr. Doe informed his supervisors that he was
transitioning. He acknowledged that this period of time would
be “awkward, ” but requested that his colleagues
respect his status, refer to him by male pronouns, or simply
refer to him as Officer Doe.
worked at the South Unit for about four years. Other
correctional officers and his supervisors would sometimes
call Mr. Doe a “she, ” a “he/she, ”
an “it, ” a “d-” and a
“b-.” His fellow officers would also complain
that Mr. Doe should not be using the men's restroom. (Doc
34-3 at 6). Mr. Doe often asked his supervisors if they could
instruct other members of his team to refrain from calling
him by “she” and also refrain from using
derogatory language towards him. At the same time, Mr. Doe
also acknowledges that he did not report every incident of
alleged harassment to his supervisors, and that some of the
officers who made comments were reprimanded by their
supervisor. When Mr. Doe would complain to his supervisors
about his coworkers calling him “she, ” his
supervisors did not take corrective action. (Doc. 34-2, Ex. 1
at 18). During one of these conversations, Lt. Randolph told
Mr. Doe to “stay to himself” because the female
correctional officers “feel uncomfortable with
you.” (Id. at 19).
harassment reached an initial climax in 2010, when Mr.
Doe's tires were slashed in the parking lot of the
prison. Mr. Doe informed Deputy Warden Moody and provided him
with photos of the incident, but Deputy Warden Moody did not
respond to his complaint. Mr. Doe then informed Warden Carson
McWilliams, head of the Florence Complex, of the tire
incident as well as other statements that made him fear for
his safety. Warden McWilliams agreed that Officer Doe had
reasons to fear for his safety and agreed to transfer him to
the prison's administrative unit, also known as the
“Complex.” (See Doc. 27, Ex. D).
Although ADOC agreed to transfer Mr. Doe, it did not perform
an official investigation into who slashed Mr. Doe's
Complex, Mr. Doe's coworkers continued to make offensive
comments. His supervisor, Sergeant Wall, repeatedly referred
to Mr. Doe as “she, ” and told other officers
that he used to be a female, against Mr. Doe's wishes. At
one point, Sgt. Wall stated, “did you know that [Mr.
Doe] used to be a female. . . [c]an you believe that
s-?” (Doc. 34-3 at 16). Shortly thereafter, many of Mr.
Doe's coworkers asked him unwelcome questions about his
gender status. Mr. Doe complained to Sgt. Wall about these
statements and questions, but Sgt. Wall did not take
corrective action. Due to this situation, Mr. Doe requested
October of 2011, Mr. Doe was transferred to the North Unit.
(Doc. 27, Ex. E). Again, Mr. Doe's supervisors and
coworkers continued to discuss his transgender status,
against his wishes. During a staff briefing, Mr. Doe's
supervisor, Lieutenant Clark suggested that the officers
should hesitate before investigating a sexual assault of a
transgender female in the prison. Years later during his time
at North Unit, two other correctional officers told Mr. Doe
that they had heard other officers discussing Mr. Doe's
transgender status with some of the inmates. One of the
officers who allegedly told inmates about Mr. Doe's
status was his direct supervisor, Lieutenant Clark. Fearing
for Mr. Doe's safety, one of these officers immediately
filed an information report with ADOC documenting her
concern. (Doc. 34, Ex. 5). Another officer informed Mr. Doe
that his supervisor, Lieutenant Clark, had referred to him as
a “he/she.” ADOC did not investigate the
information report filed by the other officer.
response, Mr. Doe filed his first charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging that his “employer has
breached my confidentiality of my being a transgender
individual which was resulted in jeopardizing my safety with
the work environment.” (Doc 34, Ex. 3). Due to a lack
of corrective action, Mr. Doe then requested an additional
was then transferred to the Papago Unit in Douglas, Arizona.
Mr. Doe worked at Papago from July 2015 until he submitted
his resignation letter in 2016. While at Papago, Mr.
Doe's supervisor, Lieutenant Buldoc, made offensive
comments. Specifically, he referred to a prominent
transgender celebrity as a “nut job, ” stated
that he would like her in his prison because she would be
“one sorry b-.” Lieutenant Buldoc also made
comments about Doritos Rainbow Chips, stating “what the
hell this is about paying 15, 20 bucks for a stupid bag of
Doritos, ” and “who in their right mind would pay
for Doritos like that to support the queers.” (Doc.
34-5 at 1). Another supervisor, Sergeant Fredrickson,
allegedly criticized Mr. Doe's performance on the job,
and scrutinized his extended sick leave when he returned to
the job. Mr. Doe did not file any complaints with ADOC
regarding these incidents during his time in Douglas. Citing
interference with his sick leave, Mr. Doe finally resigned
from his position in April of 2016. (Doc. 27-3 at 27).
purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose
of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment
is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, shows “that there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of
summary judgment, and ...