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Spaziani v. Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 6, 2016

KIMBERLY SPAZIANI, Plaintiff,
v.
JEPPESEN SANDERSON, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter is before the court on “Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.’s Motion for Summary Judgment” (Doc. No. 41 [Mot.], filed November 3, 2015). Plaintiff filed her response on December 4, 2015 (Doc. No. 45 [Resp.]), and Defendant filed its reply on December 21, 2015 (Doc. No. 47 [Reply]).

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

This is an employment discrimination action in which Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against because she is a lesbian and that she was retaliated against for taking part in an EEOC investigation. (Doc. No. 5 [Compl.], filed December 2, 2014.) Plaintiff asserts claims for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Id., ¶¶ 18-21.) Plaintiff also asserts a claim for discrimination under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.[1] (Id., ¶¶ 22-24.)

STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

Following are the undisputed facts as relevant to this Order as taken from Plaintiff’s complaint and the briefing on this motion.

1. Defendant Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. (“Jeppesen”) is a subsidiary of the Boeing Company (“Boeing”) and provides innovative products that integrate navigation, operations, and logistic information for aviation and marine applications. (Doc. No. 41-2, Decl. of Mitchell Mr. Villanueva [Mr. Villanueva Decl.], ¶ 6.)

2. Plaintiff, who self identifies as a lesbian, began work with Jeppesen in August 2009 as an Organizational Development Consultant. On May 10, 2010, she was promoted to Senior Manager, Global Organizational Development (“Senior Manager”), her last position at Jeppesen. Plaintiff worked at Jeppesen’s Englewood, Colorado, office in the Organizational Development group. (Doc. No. 41-3 [Pl. Dep.] at 30:5-7, 30:12-14, 37:22-38:3, 24:5-7, 100:1- 3; Mr. Villanueva Decl., ¶ 7.)

3. Jeppesen has an equal employment opportunity policy prohibiting sex and sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff received a copy of the policy. (Doc. No. 41-9 [Ex. 4 to Pl. Dep.] at 2; Pl. Dep. at 28:16-29:12.)

4. Anne Bozeman, the Vice President of Human Resources, led Human Resources at Jeppesen when Plaintiff became Senior Manager, and Plaintiff reported to her. Ms. Bozeman was a member of Jeppesen’s Senior Leadership Team, which included various officers, including its CEO, COO, vice presidents, and chief legal counsel. (Pl. Dep. at 32:22-38:18, 54:7-11, 83:24-84:6.)

5. Plaintiff got along well with Ms. Bozeman professionally and personally. Ms. Bozeman named Plaintiff and Scott Larner (another Senior Manager in Human Resources) as potential successors to Ms. Bozeman’s position. (Pl. Dep. at 41:18-25, 53:9-54:6, 56:5-10.)

6. Les Dupree, Kristin Slocum, and Pamela Williams - who conduct corporate compliance investigations, not discrimination investigations - were investigating allegations about Ms. Bozeman’s authorization of retention payments to employees without following Boeing policy (“Retention Payment Investigation”). When Mr. Dupree contacted Plaintiff about the investigation in September 2011, she did not offer significant information. (Pl. Dep. at 61:20-62:19, 63:18-23; Doc. No. 41-11, Decl. of BV Mr. McGrue [Mr. McGrue Decl.], ¶¶ 7-8.)

7. Plaintiff had a “change of conscience” as to her willingness to provide information related to the Retention Payment Investigation. On December 1, 2011, she emailed Mr. Dupree, stating she had information that could be helpful to his investigation, and she corresponded with Ms. Slocum and Ms. Williams at that time. (Mr. McGrue Decl., ¶10; Pl. Dep. 53:23-54:9, 64:6-65:8, 65:4-24, 68:24-69:9; Doc. No. 41-12.)

8. During the Retention Payment Investigation, investigators asked Plaintiff to speak with a Boeing Equal Employment Opportunity investigator because Nancy Henderson, a former Jeppesen employee, had also claimed age and sex discrimination against Ms. Bozeman (the “EEO Investigation”). (Pl. Dep. 71:17-72:6.)

9. Jeppesen terminated Ms. Bozeman’s employment on February 28, 2012, based on the Retention Payment Investigation. Plaintiff has no knowledge of the reason for Ms. Bozeman’s termination. (Mr. McGrue Decl., ¶ 11; Pl. Dep. at 91:1-7, 91:24-92:7, 93:18-20.)

10. After Ms. Bozeman’s discharge, Mr. Larner was appointed as the interim head of Human Resources in March 2012. Mitch Villanueva, who did not previously work for Jeppesen, and had no involvement in either the EEO or Retention Payment Investigations, succeeded Mr. Larner and became Vice President of Human Resources at Jeppesen in August 2012. Mr. Mr. Villanueva had never worked with Ms. Bozeman on any matters related to Jeppesen and had not previously ...


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