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Juan Garcia v. Psi Environmental Systems

March 16, 2012

JUAN GARCIA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PSI ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, AND WASTE CONNECTIONS, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court in the above-entitled matter is the Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The parties have filed responsive briefing and the matter is now ripe for the Court's review. Having fully reviewed the record herein, 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, the Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff, Juan Garcia, is a Hispanic United States citizen of Mexican descent. (Dkt. 52.) On October 12, 2005, Mr. Garcia was hired by Defendant PSI Environmental Systems ("PSI")*fn1 as a garbage truck mechanic. During his employment, Mr. Garcia alleges, he was denied pay raises and promotions that were awarded to other non-Hispanic Caucasians. Mr. Garcia worked for PSI until December 14, 2007. (Dkt. No. 1.)

In early 2008, Mr. Garcia filed a charge with the Idaho Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging the Defendants had discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin. On May 7, 2009, the IHRC issued a determination finding that the Defendants had discriminated against Mr. Garcia. On November 5, 2009, the IHRC issued Mr. Garcia a Case Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue; the EEOC likewise issued him a Notice of Right to Sue on February 11, 2010.

On February 3, 2010, Mr. Garcia initiated this action by filing a Complaint. (Dkt. 1.) He later amended the Complaint twice cumulating with the Second Amended Complaint filed on February 1, 2011 which alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Idaho Human Rights Act ("IHRA"), and Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-1 et seq. (Dkt. 35.) The claims allege the Defendants discriminated against Mr. Garcia based on his national origin and race by refusing to compensate him at the same rate as non-Hispanic Caucasian employees and failing to promote him in favor of non-Hispanic Caucasians. Defendants have filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment which the parties have briefed and the Court now takes up as follows. (Dkt. 39.)

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 56 provides, in pertinent part, that "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Once the moving party has met this initial burden, the nonmoving party has the subsequent burden of presenting evidence to show that a genuine issue of fact remains. The party opposing the motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of her pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.

Id. at 248. If the non-moving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial" then summary judgment is proper as "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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).*fn2

Moreover, under Rule 56, it is clear that an issue, in order to preclude entry of summary judgment, must be both "material" and "genuine." An issue is "material" if it affects the outcome of the litigation. An issue, before it may be considered "genuine," must be established by "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute . . . to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.3d 461, 464 (1st Cir. 1975) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co. Inc., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). The Ninth Circuit cases are in accord. See, e.g., British Motor Car Distrib. V. San Francisco Automotive Indus. Welfare Fund, 883 F.2d 371 (9th Cir. 1989).

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 it bears the burden of proof; (2) must show that there is an issue that may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party; and (3) must come forward with more persuasive evidence than would otherwise be necessary when the factual context makes the non-moving party's claim implausible.

Id. at 374 (citation omitted). Of course, when applying the above standard, the court must view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Hughes v. United States, 953 F.2d 531, 541 (9th Cir. 1992).

DISCUSSION

In the Second Amended Complaint, Mr. Garcia alleges 1) Pay Discrimination; 2) Failure to Promote; and 3) Discrimination in Terms and Conditions of Employment in violation of each of § 1981, IHRA, and Title VII. (Dkt. 35.) The Complaint presents nine claims separated out as to each statute and allegation of discrimination. The Court has grouped these claims for purposes of this Motion and will take up the parties' arguments as to each below.

1. Constructive Discharge

A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Defendants argue because Mr. Garcia never claimed he was constructively discharged in his charges to the IHRC or the EEOC, his claim is barred as he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Mr. Garcia seems to agree that he did not "expressly allege" a constructive discharge claim. (Dkt. 52 at 6, 11.) Instead, he argues, the claim was properly exhausted under Title VII and the IHRA because the circumstances surrounding his departure from PSI were "made clear" during the administrative investigation and are intertwined with his other discrimination claims. (Dkt. 52 at 11.) Further, Mr. Garcia argues § 1981 does not require exhaustion and his constructive discharge claim for that provision was timely filed. (Dkt. 52 at 13.)

Both Title VII and the IHRA require a claimant to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to bringing a judicial action. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b); Idaho Code Ann. § 67-5908(2). The exhaustion requirement is a matter of subject matter jurisdiction. See B.K.B. v. Maui Police Dept., 276 F.3d 1091, 1099 (9th Cir. 2002); EEOC v. Farmer Bros. Co., 31 F.3d 891, 899 (9th Cir. 1994). "Under Title VII, a plaintiff must exhaust [their] administrative remedies by filing a timely charge with the EEOC, or the appropriate state agency, thereby affording the agency an opportunity to investigate the charge." B.K.B., 276 F.3d at 1099 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b)).*fn3 "The administrative charge requirement serves the important purposes of giving the charged party notice of the claim and 'narrow[ing] the issues for prompt adjudication and decision.'" Id. (citations omitted). "The EEOC's failure to address a claim...has no bearing on whether the plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies with regard to that claim." Id. Likewise, whether "the EEOC in fact conducted any investigation at all is not material for purposes of exhaustion." Id. "Subject matter jurisdiction extends over all allegations of discrimination that either 'fell within the scope of the EEOC's actual investigation or an EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination.'" Id. (quoting Farmer Bros., 31 F.3d at 899 (emphasis in the original); see also Sosa v. Hiraoka, 920 F.2d 1451, 1456 (9th Cir. 1990) ("The jurisdictional scope of a Title VII claimant's court action depends upon the scope of both the EEOC charge and the EEOC investigation.").

"Even when an employee seeks judicial relief for claims not listed in the original EEOC charge, the complaint 'nevertheless may encompass any discrimination like or reasonably related to the allegations of the EEOC charge.'" Freeman v. Oakland Unified School Dist., 291 F.3d 632, 636 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). "Allegations of discrimination not included in the plaintiff's administrative charge may not be considered by a federal court unless the new claims are like or reasonably related to the allegations contained in the EEOC charge." B.K.B., 276 F.3d at 1100 (citations and internal quotations omitted). Stated differently, the district court has jurisdiction over any claims not specifically brought before the EEOC as long as they are "like or reasonably related to" the charges presented to the EEOC, or if the claims fall "within the scope of an EEOC investigation that reasonably could [have been] expected to grow out of the allegations" made before the EEOC. Leong v. Potter, 347 F.3d 1117, 1122 (9th ...


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