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Brainerd v. Schlumberger Technology Corp.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 25, 2014



WILEY Y. DANIEL, Senior District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on defendant, Schlumberger Technology Corp.'s, Motion For Summary Judgment [ECF No. 32]. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED and Brainerd's Title VII sex discrimination claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


On May 14, 2012, plaintiff, Claire Brainerd, filed this suit against defendant, Schlumberger Technology Corp. ("Schlumberger"), alleging that Schlumberger discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., by terminating her because she is a female.

Schlumberger "is one of the world's leading oil field service companies" and "operates a drilling and measurements facility in Commerce City, Colorado." ECF No. 32, p. 2, ¶ 1. On May 16, 2011, Schlumberger hired Brainerd as a Mechanic Technician Trainee for the Drilling and Measurements Segment at its Commerce City facility. On September 13, 2011, Schlumberger terminated Brainerd because of her alleged poor performance, safety record, and sub-par attitude. Brainerd alleges that Schlumberger failed to provide any rational reason for her termination and maintains that Schlumberger terminated her because it did not want a female working in her particular position.

Brainerd file a sexual discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and on February 29, 2012, she received an EEOC right to sue letter. Brainerd subsequently filed this suit on May 14, 2012, alleging a Title VII sex discrimination claim against Schlumberger. On April 25, 2013, Schlumberger filed a Motion For Summary Judgment [ECF No. 32] arguing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Brainerd's sex discrimination claim because: (1) Brainerd cannot establish that she was satisfactorily performing her job at the time of her termination; (2) Brainerd cannot establish that she was terminated under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination; (3) Brainerd was terminated for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason; and, (4) Brained cannot establish that Schlumberger's legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for her termination is a pretext for discrimination under Title VII.


A. Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper when "the movant shows 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); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Equal Employment Opportunity Comm. 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.'" Atl. Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138, 1148 (10th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). "A fact is material' if, under the governing law, it could have an effect on the outcome of the lawsuit." Horizon/CMS Healthcare, 220 F.3d at 1190. "A dispute over a material fact is genuine' if a rational jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party on the evidence presented." Id.

"The burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists is borne by the moving party." Horizon/CMS Healthcare, 220 F.3d at 1190. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'" Atl. Richfield Co., 226 F.3d at 1148 (quotation omitted). All doubts must be resolved in favor of the existence of triable issues of fact. Boren v. Sw. Bell Tel. Co., 933 F.2d 891, 892 (10th Cir. 1991).

B. Brainerd's Title VII Claim

Brainerd alleges that Schlumberger discriminated against her on the basis of her sex, in violation of Title VII.

Title VII makes it unlawful "to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). "A plaintiff who seeks to prove that an employer discriminated against him or her can use direct or circumstantial evidence." Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132 (10th Cir. 2000) (quoting Ingels v. Thiokol Corp., 42 F.3d 616, 620 (10th Cir. 1994)). "Direct evidence is evidence, which if believed, proves the existence of a fact in issue without inference or presumption." Riggs v. Airtran Airways, Inc., 497 F.3d 1108, 1117 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hall v. United States DOL, 476 F.3d 847, 855 (10th Cir. 2007)). In other words, "[d]irect evidence demonstrates on its face that the employment decision was reached for discriminatory reasons." Danville v. Reg'l Lab Corp., 292 F.3d 1246, 1249 (10th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). Circumstantial evidence is evidence that "allows the jury to draw a reasonable inference that discrimination occurred." Id.

Brainerd does not present any direct evidence of discrimination. Therefore, her claims are analyzed under the burden shifting framework announced by the Supreme Court of the United States in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under this evidentiary framework, the plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Sanders v. Southwestern Bell Tel., L.P., 544 F.3d 1101, 1105 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Sanchez v. Denver Pub. Sch., 164 F.3d 527, 531 (10th Cir. 1998)). If the plaintiff does so, the burden then shifts to the defendant "to give a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its employment decision." Id. (citation omitted). "If the employer comes forward with a nondiscriminatory reason for its actions, the burden then reverts to the plaintiff to show there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the employer's proffered reason for the challenged action is ...

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