United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief Judge
Court has before it cross-motions for summary judgment. The
Court heard oral argument on August 9, 2016, and took the
motions under advisement. For the reasons expressed below,
the Court will deny both motions.
Emblem’s Motion for Summary Judgment
has made out a prima facie case under the McDonnell
Douglas burden-shifting analysis. McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 805-06 (1973). She has
presented evidence showing that while she was pregnant, and
qualified for her job, she was fired and replaced by a
non-pregnant individual. This Court has previously held that
such a showing satisfies the McDonnell Douglas
standard for a prima facie case. Staley v. U.S. Bank Nat.
Ass’n, 2012 WL 3201934 (D.Id. August 3,
2012), Id. at *4.
shifts the burden to Gold Emblem to show that Pacheco was
fired for a legitimate reason. Gold Emblem satisfies its
burden by alleging that Pacheco was fired for insubordination
after refusing to train another employee to be a pallet
tagger. See Taylor Affidavit (Dkt. No. 14-4) at p.
3; Simpson Affidavit (Dkt. No. 14-3) at pp. 2-3.
avoid summary judgment, Pacheco must show that this reason is
a pretext for discrimination, and can do that either
indirectly (by showing Gold Emblem’s stated reason for
termination is not credible and may be regarded by the jury
as pretextual) or directly (by showing that unlawful
discrimination more likely motivated Gold Emblem). Chuang
v. University of California, 225 F.3d 1115, 1127 (9th
Cir.2000). With regard to whether Gold Emblem’s stated
reason was not worthy of belief, and therefore pretextual,
Pacheco alleges that she was never asked to train another
employee, and thus never refused to do so. See Pacheco
Affidavit (Dkt. No. 16-3) at p. 2. Instead, she claims
that after Randy Taylor learned she was pregnant, he demanded
that she accept the help of another employee to do her job,
and she responded that she did not need any help because she
could handle the job herself. Id.
believed, Pacheco’s allegations would demonstrate that
Gold Emblem’s claim that she was insubordinate for
refusing to train another employee is not credible. That
would be sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact
precluding summary judgment.
addition, Pacheco claims that there is direct evidence of
discrimination. She has testified that Randy Taylor required
her to bring a doctor’s note describing any limitations
that her pregnancy would place on her job duties. See
Transcript (Dkt. No. 16-5) at pp. 38-39. She testified
that she was told that “if you don’t get this
note, you cannot work here.” Id. Her doctor
refused to provide the note, telling her that an employer
cannot require such a note. Id. at p.
Pacheco alleges that Gold Emblem placed two demands on her
because of her pregnancy (accept help and bring a
doctor’s note), and then fired her when she did not
comply with those pregnancy-related demands. If she is to be
believed, Gold Emblem was setting her up for termination
because she was pregnant, a violation of the PDA.
Emblem argues that it treats all its employees the same. But
there is no evidence submitted to the Court that Gold Emblem
routinely demands that employees with, say, weak backs or
strained ankles, accept the help of another employee or be
Emblem points to a provision in its Medical Screening
Procedure stating that “All employees must be observed
for any signs of illness, open sores & lesions on a daily
basis by their supervisors, ” and that “depending
on the nature of the illness the employee may be required to
bring a doctor’s note before they will be allowed to
return to work.” See Statement of Facts (Dkt. No.
14-2) at ¶ 5. But this provision is limited to
illnesses, and pregnancy is not an illness. There is no
evidence before the Court that Gold Emblem routinely requires
employees - who are suspected of having work limitations not
related to illness - to bring a doctor’s note or be
Emblem argues that it was merely attempting to help Pacheco
by making sure she did not damage her health or that of the
unborn infant due to the strenuous demands of her job. Gold
Emblem argues that it is being punished for being proactive
in protecting Pacheco. This paternalistic attitude is
certainly a cultural norm. But Congress has spoken that in
the workplace, paternalism must give way to equal treatment
for the pregnant woman: Employers must treat “women
affected by pregnancy . . . the same for all
employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so
affected but similar in their ability or inability to
work.” See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). Because
there are disputed facts over ...