Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schroeder v. Brennan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 10, 2019

Sonja Schroeder, et al., Plaintiffs,
Megan J. Brennan, Defendant.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.

         At issue is Defendant Megan J. Brennan's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff Daniel Walker's Claim for Retaliation (Doc. 74, “MSJ”), to which Plaintiff Daniel Walker filed a Response (Doc. 78, “Resp.”), and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 87, “Reply”). The Court finds these matters appropriate for decision without oral argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Plaintiff has shown that genuine issues of material fact exist as to his substantive retaliation claim, and Defendant is not entitled to summary judgment on that claim. However, Plaintiff has presented no evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding equitable relief. Therefore, summary judgment is appropriate on the issue of equitable relief for Plaintiff's retaliation claim.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was hired by the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) as a Rural Carrier Associate (“carrier”) at the Peoria Main Post Office (the “Peoria post office”) in January 2016. In March 2016, Plaintiff was dating his co-worker Sonja Schroeder, who was also a carrier at the Peoria post office. Both were supervised by Lynn McLuty.

         A. Supervisor Lynn McLuty's Treatment of Female Employees

         Female carriers who worked under the supervision of Mr. McLuty at the Peoria post office testified that Mr. McLuty frequently used offensive and intimidating words and behavior towards them. Linda Miano testified that Mr. McLuty was abusive towards female carriers. (Doc. 82, Ex. 7, Deposition of Linda Miano (Miano Dep.) at 37:25-38:2.) She said that Mr. McLuty singled out female carriers for criticism-at times reducing them to tears-and “routinely called women bitches.” (Miano Dep. at 38:12-38:20; 61:19- 61:24.) On the other hand, Ms. Miano said that Mr. McLuty “wouldn't harass the guys” and “wrote up very little discipline for male carriers.” (Miano Dep. at 63:11; 112:12- 112:13.) Alegria Arment testified that Mr. McLuty called female carriers “crybabies[, ]” “pussy[, ]” and “spoiled bitches.” (Doc. 82, Ex. 9, Deposition of Amber Alegria (Alegria Dep.) at 15:15-15:20.) She said that she never witnessed Mr. McLuty “invade [male carriers'] personal space[] as he would the women [or] call a male carrier by any other name than what their name was[.]” (Alegria Dep. at 16:7-16:12.)

         Barbara Feno, a rural carrier who had worked for USPS for 18 years, testified that Mr. McLuty “tormented [her] life for so long[.]” (Doc. 82, Ex. 10, Deposition of Barbara Jean Feno (Feno Dep.) at 16:9-16:10.) Ms. Feno said that Mr. McLuty used words that were gender specific and offensive, including “bitch” and “the F word.” (Feno Dep. at 24:15-25:3.) She testified that Mr. McLuty previously had to leave a different post office “because of the way he treated women.” (Feno Dep. at 33:7-33:8.) She described Mr. McLuty as a “bully” who would “get right in [the] face” of women. (Feno Dep. at 38:16-38:25.) Ms. Feno said that if “you were a man, [Mr. McLuty] wasn't going to mess with you[, ] but he targeted “[w]eak women mostly[.]” (Feno Dep. at 43:13-43:17.) In addition, Ms. Feno said that Mr. Zavala, the Acting Postmaster at the time, and Mr. McLuty were “like two peas in a pod, ” except that Mr. Zavala knew “how to control himself better” than Mr. McLuty did. (Feno Dep. at 39:15-39:16.)

         B. Sonja Schroeder's Informal Hostile Work Environment Complaint

         On December 17, 2015, Ms. Schroeder made an informal complaint to USPS of a hostile work environment. Mr. Zavala interviewed Ms. Schroeder, Mr. McLuty, and two witnesses and completed a USPS hostile work environment packet. (Doc. 73, Ex. 2-A, Hostile Work Environment Packet at 47-62.) Ms. Schroeder provided a statement alleging that she and Mr. McLuty had a verbal altercation that day and that Mr. McLuty pulled her “cage, ” causing an injury-a scratch-on her left side. Ms. Schroeder also alleged that Mr. McLuty directed her to leave the premises. Mr. Zavala immediately sent the Hostile Work Environment packet and interview notes to the Phoenix District Office's Human Resources (“HR”) department but never received a response.

         C. Management's Enforcement of “Large Bag” Rule against Sonja Schroeder

         Mr. McLuty stated that in March 2016, his managers told him that he needed to start enforcing a USPS rule that prohibited employees from having large personal items on the workroom floor. (Doc. 73, Ex. 1, Declaration of Lynn McLuty (McLuty Decl.) ¶ 18.) On March 22, 2016, Mr. McLuty told Ms. Schroeder to remove her backpack from the workroom floor. (McLuty Decl. ¶ 19.) Ms. Schroeder went to Mr. Zavala, who confirmed that the instruction was coming from him. (McLuty Decl. ¶ 19; Ex. 1-E; Ex. 1-F.) Ms. Schroeder took her backpack to her car and returned with a smaller bag. (McLuty Decl. ¶ 19; Ex. 1-E; Ex. 1-F.)

         On March 25, 2016, Ms. Schroeder again had her backpack in the workroom and was reprimanded by Mr. McLuty. The parties disagree about exactly what occurred. According to Ms. Schroeder, she was outside on a break when her coworker came to tell her that Mr. McLuty had kicked her backpack, causing its contents to fall out. (Doc. 73, Ex. 5, Deposition of Sonja Schroeder (Schroeder Dep.) at 26:3-26:7.) Ms. Schroeder said she relayed the incident to Mr. Zavala, who allegedly told her that if she “didn't want to be bothered by Lynn McLuty, [she] needed to carry a clear plastic purse or see-through bag.” (Schroeder Dep. at 28:11-28:18.) According to Defendant, Ms. Schroeder claimed that her backpack was not a personal item because it contained work materials. (McLuty Decl. ¶ 19, 22; Ex. 1-F.) Defendant alleges that Ms. Schroeder then went to Mr. Zavala and told him she needed to keep her medicine at her work station. (Doc. 73, Ex. 2, Declaration of Albert Zavala (Zavala Decl.) ¶ 12.) Mr. Zavala told Ms. Schroeder that she could keep her medicine at her work station in a clear bag. (Zavala Decl. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff reports that Ms. Schroeder approached him crying and told him that a member of management had dumped her purse out onto the floor.

         D. Termination of Plaintiff

         Shortly thereafter, Mr. Zavala and Plaintiff had a conversation-the details of which are disputed. Plaintiff had just walked Ms. Schroeder out of the building. (Doc. 79, Ex. 3, Deposition Excerpts of Daniel Walker (Walker Dep.) at 40:14-40:18.) According to Plaintiff, Mr. Zavala approached him “in good spirits and just kind of said, hey, what's up.” (Walker Dep. at 40:11-40:24.) In response, Plaintiff asked Mr. Zavala “why Sonja [Schroeder] was being treated so much differently than everybody else.” (Walker Dep. at 34:15-34:21.) Mr. Zavala told Plaintiff that he could not talk to Plaintiff about another employee. (Walker Dep. at 42:9-42:10.) Then Plaintiff asked him a second question in a “friendly” way about why Ms. Schroeder was crying. (Walker Dep. at 43:6-43:10.) Plaintiff said that his demeanor was “respectful” and that he never raised his voice. (Walker Dep. at 43:11-43:15.) Mr. Zavala asked Plaintiff to follow him into his office and had the City Manager, Greg Valenzuela, come too. (Walker Dep. at 42:10-42:12; 43:16-43:22.) Mr. Zavala asked Plaintiff to repeat what he had said in front of Mr. Valenzuela. (Walker Dep. at 43:14-43:15.) After Plaintiff repeated himself, Mr. Zavala “looked over to Mr. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.