United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.
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.
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.
Supervisor Lynn McLuty's Treatment of 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
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.)
Sonja Schroeder's Informal Hostile Work Environment
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.
Management's Enforcement of “Large Bag” Rule
against Sonja Schroeder
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.)
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.
Termination of Plaintiff
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. ...