The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vaughn R Walker United States District Chief Judge
Plaintiff Alice Slater ("Slater") brings suit against her former employer, the Social Security Administration ("SSA"), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC § 2000e-2, the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 USC § 12101 et seq, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("RA"), 29 USC § 701 et seq. Compl (Doc #1). Slater asserted claims for various alleged violations of these laws, all of which have been resolved by prior orders except for her claim of hostile work environment, the subject of SSA's present motion for summary judgment. Third MSJ (Doc #59). For the reasons that follow, the court GRANTS SSA's motion.
As both the parties and the court are intimately familiar with the facts of this case, only those facts relevant to Slater's hostile work environment claim will be recited.
In October 1982, Slater developed multiple sclerosis ("MS"). First Opp (Doc #38) at 2. In September 1987, Slater began working for SSA, and in 1988 she became a tele-service representative ("TSR"). Benton Decl (Doc #30), Ex A, Deposition of Alice Slater ("Slater Depo") at 17:12-23. The TSR position required Slater to sit at a desk for several hours each day and receive incoming calls.
Slater asserts that she suffers from "bladder and bowel incontinence" associated with her MS. Second Opp (Doc #53) at 8. According to Slater, SSA originally allowed her to use the restroom without permission from a supervisor. But in March 1995, SSA allegedly began requiring each employee to "obtain the permission of a supervisor or manager prior to leaving his or her workstation for any reason other than during official break periods." Id at 8:1-6. Slater contends that her bladder and bowel control issues "did not always permit her the time and opportunity to delay using the restroom." Id at 8:8-21.
Slater claims that SSA's new policy frequently humiliated her, regardless of whether she obtained permission. When Slater obtained permission to go to the restroom, the brief delay was often enough to cause her to soil herself. First Opp at 15:9-13. When Slater went to the restroom without permission, her supervisor "verbally and loudly" chastised her "in the presence and hearing distance" of co-workers. Id at 14:23-25; 15:1. Accordingly, Slater asserts that SSA created an impermissible hostile work environment under § 501 of the RA. SSA denies ever having such a policy. Third MSJ at 4:18-6:13.
On December 1, 1997, SSA terminated Slater after she photocopied a bloody sanitary napkin and placed it on her supervisor's desk. AR at 2062-74.
In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the court must determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist, resolving any doubt in favor of the party opposing the motion. "[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is 'genuine,' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v Liberty Lobby, 477 US 242, 248 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id. The burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact lies with the moving party. Celotex Corp v Catrett, 477 US 317, 322-23 (1986). Summary judgment is granted only if the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FRCP 56(c).
The nonmoving party may not simply rely on the pleadings, however, but must produce significant probative evidence, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in FRCP 56, supporting its claim that a genuine issue of material fact exists. TW Elec Serv v Pacific Elec Contractors Assn, 809 F2d 626, 630 (9th Cir 1987). The evidence presented by the nonmoving party "is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 US at 255.
The evidence presented by both parties must be admissible. FRCP 56(e). Conclusory, speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment. Thornhill ...