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Martinez v. City and County of Denver

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 5, 2019

CELENA MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, d/b/a Department of Aviation, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          NINA Y. WANG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang This matter comes before the court on Defendant the City and County of Denver's d/b/a Department of Aviation (“Defendant” or “the Department”) Motion for Summary Judgment (“the Motion”) [#33, filed December 20, 2018]. Plaintiff Celena Martinez (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Martinez”) filed a Response on January 23, 2019 [#36] and the Department filed a Reply on February 1, 2019 [#37]. The matter is now fully briefed and ready for decision. The undersigned Magistrate Judge fully presides over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the Order of Reference dated February 13, 2018 [#15] and the Parties' consent [#10; #13]. After careful consideration of the Motion and the applicable law, the court finds there is no genuine issue of material fact and Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Therefore, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. Martinez filed this action on December 27, 2017, bringing three claims for sex/pregnancy discrimination, race-based discrimination, and unlawful retaliation. [#1 at ¶¶ 33- 61]. Ms. Martinez, formerly an employee at Denver International Airport, asserts that she was discriminated against as a nursing mother and as a Hispanic woman during her employment as a contract administrator at the Department. See generally [#1]. In the Complaint, Ms. Martinez references a “Right to Sue” Letter issued by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission dated March 17, 2015. [Id. at ¶ 7].

         Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on December 20, 2018 at the close of discovery. [#33]. Plaintiff filed a Response, contesting several of Defendant's facts and proffering several of her own. [#36]. Defendant filed a Reply brief contesting several of these material facts. [#37]. Accordingly, before the court can proceed to the legal issues and underlying merit of the case, the court must first address the proffered material facts and the corresponding objections.

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS [1]

         1. Plaintiff began her employment with the City and County of Denver in April 2002 and began working at Denver International Airport (“DIA”) as a contract administrator in December 2012. [#33 at 1 ¶ 1; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         2. Plaintiff was on maternity leave from June 6, 2014 through August 17, 2014, and worked part-time from August 18, 2014 through September 22, 2014. [#33 at 1 ¶ 2; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         3. Upon her return, Plaintiff needed to express milk and was given a vacant office (“the vacant office”) to use for that purpose and a laptop to work from while she pumped. [#33 at 1 ¶ 3; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         4. In mid-January 2015, the vacant office was assigned to another employee and Plaintiff was directed to the nursing mothers' room (“the nursing room”).[2] [#33-3 at ¶ 6].

         5. Beginning January 5, 2015, Plaintiff made a series of complaints about the nursing room which Defendants attempted to address. [#33-3 at ¶ 7 (indicating Defendant's receipt of the complaints); #33-5 at 1 (email from Department employee Dani Brown offering to “roll one of our office chairs down there [the nursing room]” in the event Plaintiff required it); #33-6 (email exchange between Plaintiff and Department employee Susan Moore wherein Ms. Moore states that she has forwarded on the complaint to “Sherry Grams” to “check [it] out”); #33-7 (late February/early March 2015 email exchange between Department employees Ian Alexander, Sherry Grams, and Susan Moore regarding ongoing cleaning efforts); #33-8 (mid-March email exchange regarding gnats in the nursing room and Defendant's efforts to remediate); #33-9 (February 26, 2015 email from Department employee John Sarmiento stating that the nursing room had “a detailed cleaning and has been sterilized”); #33-10 (email exchange between Dani Brown, Greg Hegarty, Plaintiff, and Susan Moore where the employees solicit Plaintiff's advice for the nursing room and further discussion over remediating an unspecified issue with the floor drain and a too-bright light)].

         6. Based on Plaintiff's concerns about the condition of the nursing room, Defendant allowed Plaintiff to work from home until her concerns could be resolved. Therefore, Plaintiff worked from home intermittently from mid-January 2015 through March 2, 2015. [#33-3 at ¶ 8].[3]

         7. When she was at the office, Plaintiff was permitted to express breast milk in the vacant office until it was reassigned to another employee. [#33-3 at ¶¶ 4, 8].[4]

         8. Plaintiff applied for an Airline Real Estate Director position and a Director of Food and Beverage Concessions, both at DIA, on June 11, 2015. [#33-11 at 1-5 (Airline Real Estate Director job posting); id. at 6-12 (Plaintiff's application); #33-12 at 1-5 (Director of Food and Beverage Concessions job posting); id. at 6-11 (Plaintiff's application)].[5]

         9. The posting for Director of Food and Beverage Concessions was cancelled and not filled. [#33-1 at ¶ 4 (Senior Human Resources Business Partner Janice Hathaway's affidavit); #33-2 at 97:7-19[6] (Plaintiff's deposition testimony that the position was cancelled and not filled)].[7]

         10. Angela Padalecki, another Department employee, was offered the Airline Real Estate Director position on September 4, 2015, and she accepted on September 10, 2015. Ms. Padalecki was pregnant at the time. [#33-11 at 13-24 (Angela Padalecki's application); #33-1 at ¶ 6 (Ms. Hathaway's affidavit reflecting Ms. Padalecki's job offer and acceptance while pregnant)].

         11. Plaintiff submitted EEOC Charge No. 846-2015-15689 on September 25, 2015, asserting sex discrimination and retaliation (“the September 25 Charge”). [#33-14; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         12. Angela Padalecki became Plaintiff's supervisor in February 2016. [#1 at ¶ 26; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         13. In April 2016, Plaintiff received her 2015 performance evaluation and received satisfactory scores. [Id. at ¶ 27; #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         14. On July 6, 2016, Plaintiff received a contemplation of discipline letter (“the July 6 Letter”). [#33-1 at ¶ 9; #33-15 (the letter); #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         15. The conduct described in that letter led to Plaintiff being disciplined with a written reprimand on August 22, 2016. [#33-1 at ¶ 9; #33-16 (notification of reprimand); #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         16. Plaintiff received a second contemplation of discipline letter on December 22, 2016 (“the December 22 Letter”). [#33-1 at ¶ 10; #33-17 (the letter); #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         17. The conduct described in that letter led to Plaintiff being disciplined with a temporary reduction in pay on January 24, 2017. [#33-1 at ¶ 10; #33-18 (notification of reprimand); #36 at 2 ¶ 1].

         18. Plaintiff received a third contemplation of discipline letter on June 23, 2017 (“the June 23 Letter”).[8] [#33-1 at ΒΆ ...


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