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Andalam v. The Trizetto Group

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 20, 2014

VIJAYKRISHNA ANDALAM, Plaintiff,
v.
THE TRIZETTO GROUP, a Delaware Corporation doing business as a foreign Corporation in Colorado, Defendant.

ORDER

WILEY Y. DANIEL, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Vijay Andalam initiated this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. claiming that his former employer, the TriZetto Group, Inc. ("Defendant" or "TriZetto"), [1] discriminated against him on the basis of race and national origin. Plaintiff also asserts claims of retaliation and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. Plaintiff is Indian and his national origin is East Indian.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 66) filed September 4, 2013. Defendant claims that Plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case of race or national origin discrimination and also claims that it had legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for terminating Plaintiff's employment. Based on my review of the pleadings and relevant record, I find that material issues of fact preclude summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Defendant's motion is therefore denied.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may grant summary judgment where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the... moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n. v. Horizon/CMS Healthcare Corp., 220 F.3d 1184, 1190 (10th Cir. 2000). "When applying this standard, the court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment." Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138, 1148 (10th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted). All doubts must be resolved in favor of the existence of triable issues of fact. Boren v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 933 F.2d 891, 892 (10th Cir. 1991). A "genuine" factual dispute is one "on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff, " and requires more than a mere scintilla of evidence. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A factual dispute is "material" only if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Justice v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 527 F.3d 1080, 1085 (10th Cir. 2008). Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that a genuine issue remains for trial with respect to the dispositive matters for which he or she carries the burden of proof. Nat'l Am. Ins. Co. v. Am. Re-Ins. Co., 358 F.3d 736, 739 (10th Cir. 2004); see Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). As to these matters, the nonmoving party may not rest on his or her pleadings but must set forth specific facts. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348; Justice, 527 F.3d at 1085.

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is from India, however, he has lived in the United States since 1996. On September 10, 2009, Plaintiff began working for TriZetto as a contractor, but on September 30, 2009, he was hired as a full-time employee to be TriZetto's Lead Software Engineer. While at TriZetto, Plaintiff was supervised by Matt Robinson. Although the parties recall conflicting versions of the events leading up to Plaintiff's firing, it is undisputed that on April 19, 2011, TriZetto terminated Plaintiff's employment.

Discrimination Claim

Plaintiff asserts that he suffered adverse employment actions when TriZetto both denied him training opportunities on numerous occasions and eventually terminated his employment. Plaintiff testified that each adverse employment action was accompanied by a racial slur from Robinson. Plaintiff asserts that in 2010, Robinson provided training classes to other Caucasian employees while denying Plaintiff's training requests because he is Indian. When his employment was terminated, Plantiff was the only Indian in the department.

Retaliation Claim

Plaintiff testified that in January 2010, Robinson began discriminating against him by: (1) denying him training opportunities, (2) denying his requests for a blackberry, and (3) excluding him from work-related meetings because he is Indian. Plaintiff complained to Robinson's supervisor, Carl Wilson, about the alleged acts of discrimination. In March 2011, Plaintiff participated in TriZetto's human resource department's investigation of his allegations of discrimination. As part of an agreement made during a meeting with Plaintiff and human resource ("HR") representatives, Plaintiff was enrolled in his requested online Oracle training course from Monday, March 28, 2011 through Friday, April 1, 2011. TriZetto secured a conference room for Plaintiff to take the online course. There is a genuine dispute as to whether the course started at 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. each day and whether Plaintiff attended and completed the course. Plaintiff received a certificate of completion and submitted a class survey following the course.

On April 8, 2011, an HR representative and Robinson met with Plaintiff to discuss their concern that he had been taking lunch breaks in excess of one hour. TriZetto described the excessive lunch breaks as "symptomatic of a broader problem of Plaintiff being inaccessible during working hours." (Mot. at 10). In addition to discussing Plaintiff's absenteeism, HR representatives and Robinson "also discussed that they and others had repeatedly observed Plaintiff using the internet for personal reasons during working hours." (Mot. at 11.) "Consequently, they decided to request that TriZetto's Information Security Department run an Internet Usage Report on Plaintiff's work computer." (Mot. at 11). On April 18, 2011, HR representatives, Robinson, and Robinson's supervisor Carl Wilson "met again to discuss the findings of the Internet Usage Report, " which "revealed Plaintiff's ...


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