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Smith v. T.W. Clyde, O.D., P.C.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 10, 2014

ANDREA SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
T.W. CLYDE, O.D., P.C., d/b/a PIKES PEAK EYE CARE, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Andrea Smith ("Plaintiff") brings this action against her former employer, Tom W. Clyde, O.D., P.C., doing business as Pikes Peak Eye Care ("Defendant" or "Dr. Clyde"), for discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"). (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). (ECF No. 27.) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Henderson v. Inter-Chem Coal Co., Inc., 41 F.3d 567, 569 (10th Cir. 1994). Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132 (10th Cir. 2000); Carey v. U.S. Postal Serv., 812 F.2d 621, 623 (10th Cir. 1987).

A fact is "material" if it pertains to an element of a claim or defense; a factual dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is so contradictory that if the matter went to trial, a reasonable party could return a verdict for either party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court must resolve factual ambiguities against the moving party, thus favoring the right to a trial. Houston v. Nat'l Gen. Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following relevant facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and are undisputed except where noted.

Defendant operates an optometry practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado, under the name Pikes Peak Eye Care. (Deposition of Tom W. Clyde ("Clyde Dep.") (ECF Nos. 27-1, 27-2, 35-2) p. 7.) Plaintiff was hired on July 14, 2004 to work in the optical department under the supervision of Mark Winn. (Deposition of Andrea Smith ("Pl.'s Dep.") (ECF Nos. 27-4, 35-1) p. 7.)

On July 20, 2010, a notice was posted at Dr. Clyde's office for Pikes Peak Eye Care employees that prohibited, among other things, "internet use that does not pertain to work". (ECF No. 27-5; Clyde Dep. pp. 38-39.) Dr. Clyde testified that Plaintiff "was the main reason" that the notice was drafted, but Plaintiff states that she was never informed of this or personally given any warnings or reprimands with respect to her internet use. (Pl.'s Dep. pp. 18-19.) In early 2012, filters limiting access to the internet were installed on most of the computers in the office, but the computer in the business office remained capable of full internet access. ( Id. pp. 16-17.)

On June 4, 2012, according to Plaintiff, Dr. Clyde met with her in his office and informed her that when Mark Winn retired at the end of the month, Dr. Clyde was planning to put Plaintiff "in charge of the optical department, " on equal footing with a new employee he planned to hire who would be a certified optician. (Pl.'s Dep. pp. 30-32.) Dr. Clyde disputes that such a meeting occurred and that Plaintiff was ever promoted. (Clyde Dep. pp. 78-79.)

At some point in late June or early July 2012, Plaintiff informed Dr. Clyde that she was pregnant. ( See Pl.'s Dep. p. 37.) Plaintiff testified that when she informed Dr. Clyde that she was pregnant, he was upset and said angrily, "Don't you know what causes that shit?" ( Id. pp. 60, 71.) Dr. Clyde testified that he did not react when told about Plaintiff's pregnancy, and later made a joke to the effect of "Don't you know how you got pregnant?". (Clyde Dep. p. 87.)

On August 8, 2012, according to Plaintiff, Dr. Clyde met with Plaintiff privately and informed her that it was unfortunate that she had become pregnant, but that because he needed someone to be in charge of the optical department, he was planning to hire Jim Willis to take over instead. (Pl.'s Dep. pp. 41-42, 69.) Dr. Clyde disputes that this meeting occurred and that Plaintiff was ever demoted. (Clyde Dep. pp. 78-79.)

Later that same day, an office meeting was held at a local restaurant at which Dr. Clyde and Plaintiff were both in attendance. ( Id. at 84-85.) According to Plaintiff, during the meeting, Dr. Clyde mentioned to the group that he was hiring Jim Willis to be in charge of the optical department, and "it was too bad that [Plaintiff] had to go and get pregnant." (Pl.'s Dep. p. 42.) Dr. Clyde asserts that he merely made a bad joke about Plaintiff's pregnancy. (Clyde Dep. p. 87.)

Plaintiff also testified that she heard Dr. Clyde make multiple statements to Mark Winn not to hire women with "viable eggs", but only older women with "dead eggs". (Pl.'s Dep. pp. 71-72.) Mark Winn confirmed that Dr. Clyde made statements a few times "in a joking manner", as well as in business meetings, to the effect of "Don't hire women with viable eggs." (Deposition of Mark Winn ("Winn Dep.") (ECF No. 35-3) pp. 45-46.) When Dr. Clyde was asked if he ever made statements about hiring women with viable eggs, he testified, "I think I did because I've been told I did." (Clyde Dep. p. 90.) Dr. Clyde stated that he intended any such comments to refer to his preference ...


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