United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
S. KRIEGER, SENIOR JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court upon the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment (# 38), the Plaintiff's Response (#
41), and the Defendant's Reply (# 42). For the reasons
that follow, the Motion is granted, in part
Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Bruce Casias, who is Hispanic, was employed as a lead test
engineer at Defendant Raytheon's Aurora Campus. He worked
on Raytheon's contract with the United States Air Force
to produce the next generation of satellites - the GPS OCX
Program. He reported directly to Joseph Hollon, who
ultimately reported to Bill Sullivan through a couple of
layers. In 2015, Mr. Casias was responsible for developing
and running test procedures called dry runs for the GPS OCX
Program. In this capacity, he supervised around 35 employees.
November 2015, a number of test procedures had been developed
but remained incomplete because Mr. Casias and his team
encountered defects preventing successful completion. On
orders from Program leadership, Mr. Hollon directed Mr.
Casias to change these procedures from
“incomplete” to “complete”. Mr.
Casias expressed concern that doing so was unethical and
contrary to Raytheon's contract with the Air Force. He
also expressed these concerns to Program leadership at a
meeting. He nevertheless made the changes, worried that he
would be terminated if he did not.
2016, Mr. Hollon reassigned Mr. Casias to a different role in
the GPS OCX Program where he developed software scripts. The
number of employees under his supervision decreased to two.
Mr. Casias and others considered the reassignment a demotion.
When Mr. Casias asked why he was being reassigned, Mr. Hollon
told him it was due to inaccuracies in the data he had been
working with - the same data he had been told to change. The
nature of the inaccuracies was that they were caused by Mr.
Hollon's prior direction. Mr. Casias sought and obtained
employment elsewhere in July.
maintains a designation of Engineering Fellow for certain
employees who exhibit ingenuity and resourcefulness. During
his tenure at Raytheon, Mr. Casias applied for the
designation but never received it.
action, following the Court's order (# 28) on
Raytheon's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (# 18),
Mr. Casias has two claims: (1) retaliation in violation of
the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act based on
his reassignment and constructive discharge, and (2)
discrimination on the basis of race/national origin in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 based on not being
accepted as an Engineering Fellow. Raytheon moves for summary
judgment on both claims (# 38).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure facilitates the entry
of a judgment only if no trial is necessary. See White v.
York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995).
Summary adjudication is authorized when there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and a party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive
law governs what facts are material and what issues must be
determined. It also specifies the elements that must be
proved for a given claim or defense, sets the standard of
proof, and identifies the party with the burden of proof.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986); Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. v. Producers Gas
Co., 870 F.2d 563, 565 (10th Cir. 1989). A factual
dispute is “genuine” and summary judgment is
precluded if the evidence presented in support of and
opposition to the motion is so contradictory that, if
presented at trial, a judgment could enter for either party.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a
summary judgment motion, a court views all evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, thereby
favoring the right to a trial. See Garrett v. Hewlett
Packard Co., 305 F.3d 1210, 1213 (10th Cir. 2002).
movant has the burden of proof on a claim or defense, the
movant must establish every element of its claim or defense
by sufficient, competent evidence. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1)(A). Once the moving party has met its burden, to
avoid summary judgment the responding party must present
sufficient, competent, contradictory evidence to establish a
genuine factual dispute. See Bacchus Indus. Inc. v. Arvin
Indus. Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991);
Perry v. Woodward, 199 F.3d 1126, 1131 (10th Cir.
1999). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, a
trial is required. If there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact, no trial is required. The court then applies
the law to the undisputed facts and enters judgment.
moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, it
must point to an absence of sufficient evidence to establish
the claim or defense that the non-movant is obligated to
prove. If the respondent comes forward with sufficient
competent evidence to establish a prima facie claim
or defense, a trial is required. If the respondent fails to
produce sufficient competent evidence to establish its claim
or defense, ...