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Laurie Ann Gold v. Parker Toyota

February 17, 2011

LAURIE ANN GOLD PLAINTIFF,
v.
PARKER TOYOTA, INC., ET AL DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: U. S. District Judge Honorable Edward J. Lodge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Plaintiff Laurie Ann Gold brings this action against Defendants Tony Cruickshank, Mike White, James Parker and Parker Toyota, Inc. alleging sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, equal pay discrimination and age discrimination. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. The motion is now ripe. Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this matter shall be decided on the record before this Court without a hearing.

BACKGROUND

On October 22, 2008, Laurie Ann Gold ("Gold") was terminated from her position as an Assistant Sales Manager, ("ASM") at Parker Toyota. Gold was an Automotive Society of Engineers certified Master Mechanic, a Toyota certified Master Mechanic, and a Toyota Certified Assistant Service Manager. Before her termination Gold had worked for Parker Toyota for seventeen years. She was hired as a line technician on November 5, 1991. In 2001, she was promoted to the position of ASM, a position she held for 7 years. All ASMs are paid on a commission basis, and Gold admits all ASMs, male and female were paid on this same compensation plan. In 2005 and 2006 Gold made top ASM customer service sales for the year, and was on track to be the top volume ASM in 2008.

Defendant Tony Cruickshank was Gold's direct supervisor for the last nine years of her employment. Defendant Mike White is the general manager of Parker Toyota. Defendant James Parker is the president of Parker Toyota. Between 2004 and 2008, Gold was issued at least seven written warnings about customer service complaints. Gold admits that she was warned that these complaints put her job in jeopardy. Gold alleges she was never allowed to see these warnings or respond to them. She also claims that many of these complaints were not her fault or have been exaggerated by the Defendants.

On October 22, 2008, a customer at Parker Toyota arrived one day early for a scheduled appointment. Gold claims that before she could try to accommodate the customer the customer turned to leave. Defendant Cruickshank then intercepted the customer and scheduled an appointment for that day. Defendant Cruickshank then terminated Gold for failing to find an appointment for the customer, stating that Gold had an open appointment at that very time the customer was already there. Gold believes that this situation was set up to give Parker Toyota an excuse to fire her. She claims that when she arrived to work that morning a co-worker commented that the atmosphere felt like someone was going to be fired. Gold also states that after she had been terminated a former co-worker approached her in Costco and told her that he had overheard an ASM talking about how Defendant Cruickshank had worked together with three other ASMs to get Gold terminated.

After Gold was terminated, her position was filled by a male ASM, 12 years younger than Gold. This ASM had been hired between six and eight weeks before Gold was terminated. At this time Parker Toyota was expanding its building and claims the ASM was originally hired to work alongside Gold. Gold contends the younger, male ASM was hired to replace her. Gold alternatively acknowledges the expansion but argues Parker Toyota should have offered her a mechanic position in the expanded service center instead of terminating her.

Subsequent to her termination, Plaintiff Gold filed charges for sex and age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and with the Idaho Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC denied her allegations and the EEOC adopted the IHRC's findings. Gold filed this action for violation of the Equal Pay Act, and for age discrimination, sexual harassment and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964. Defendants then moved for summary judgment on all claims.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule provides that judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

The Supreme Court has made it clear that under Rule 56 summary judgment is mandated if the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element which is essential to the non-moving party's case and upon which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See, Celotrex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to make such a showing on any essential element, "there can be no 'genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id at 323.

According to the Ninth Circuit, in order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, a party

(1) must make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of fact with respect to any element for which ...


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