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Mills v. Lynwood Unified School District

August 6, 2009

ANNETTE MILLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LYNWOOD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, RACHEL CHAVEZ, MARTINA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA LOPEZ, JOSE LUIS SOLACHE, ALFONSO MORALES, GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ, DHYAN LAL, ROBERTO CASAS, DIANE LUCAS; ANIM MENER, MALCOLM BUTLER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[Motion filed on May 13, 2009]

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Annette Mills, who is African American and over 40 years of age, has been a teacher working for Defendant Lynwood Unified School District since 1994. (Mills Decl. ¶ 4.) Before the events at issue starting in Fall 2005, Plaintiff had never received a negative employment review or been disciplined and, to the contrary, had received numerous distinguished service teaching awards over her career, including in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2003, and 2007. (Johnson Decl. Ex. 11.)

In Fall 2005, Plaintiff was working at Lynwood Middle School ("LMS"), when Defendant Anim Mener became principal of the school. (Id. ¶ 4.) In the summer before school started in 2005, Plaintiff was diagnosed with sciatica, a nerve condition that results in pain, muscular weakness, and difficulty for Plaintiff in moving her legs. (Mills Decl. ¶ 5.) However, Plaintiff does not consider herself presently disabled, and her back condition comes and goes. (Statement of Uncontroverted Facts ("SUF") ¶¶ 2-3.)

When she returned to work in September 2005, a few days after the school year had begun, Plaintiff informed Mener of her sciatica and requested that she be able to drive to the front office, sign-in, and then drive to the rear of the campus where her classroom was located to park. Plaintiff explained that the request was based on her sciatica and resulting pain. (Mills Decl. ¶ 10.) Mener initially agreed to permit Plaintiff to do this, but later became uncooperative. (Mills Decl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff states that Mener or the head of security would intentionally park in the only available parking space at sign-in time, and Plaintiff would then not have a location to park. (Id. ¶ 7.) As a result, Plaintiff says she was often late to work. (Id.) Plaintiff also states that Mener would remove the sign-in sheet before 8am, the required sign-in time, to make her appear late (when, in fact, she was not). (Id. ¶ 8.) At some time in 2006, Plaintiff also requested help from Mener and her assistant to carry testing material to the classroom, but was ignored by them. (Id. ¶ 10.)

Plaintiff also states that Mener treated African American employees of the school differently. For example, Plaintiff states that Mener had security follow her around and gave her "incessant memos" on a "daily basis," which was not done to younger and non-African-American employees. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff also alleges that on May 2, 2006, there was an award ceremony at the school where older, African-American teachers did not receive "legitimate" certificates of appreciation signed by the Superintendent, and instead received "generic" certificates. (Id. ¶ 11.)

Regarding Plaintiff's overall performance in 2005-06, Defendants provide that Plaintiff was late to work 15 times, though the parties dispute why, as described above. During Fall 2005, Plaintiff also failed to attend five staff meetings, two "college" meetings, and two department meetings. (SUF ¶¶ 15-17.)

On March 22, 2006, the District notified Plaintiff that she would be transferred for the 2006-07 school year and, on June 1, 2006, Plaintiff was transferred to Cesar Chavez Middle School ("CCMS"). (SUF ¶ 19.) CCMS and LMS are 1.77 miles apart, and Plaintiff's base pay, hours, classification, and benefits did not change. (SUF ¶¶ 20-24.) However, Plaintiff states that at CMS she had to "team teach" with another teacher, requiring her to teach twice the number of students in cramped quarters; and that she did not have adequate materials or supplies. (Mills Decl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff also lost the opportunity to work on weekends for pay at LMS, to work in LMS' "Summer Bridge Program," and the opportunity to substitute teach during the summer. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff also was part of two specialized programs at LMS ("Curriculum and Development" and "Backward Design") that did not exist at CCMS. (Id.)

Plaintiff filed suit on August 2, 2007 and, in her Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), brings the following claims against the District:

1) failure to accommodate her disability in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a);

2) disability discrimination in violation of FEHA § 12940(h);

3) discrimination based on retaliation in violation of FEHA § 12940(a);

4) race discrimination in violation of FEHA § 12940(a);

5) age discrimination in violation of FEHA § 12940(h);

6) failure to prevent harassment in violation of FEHA § 12940(k);

7) racial discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. ...


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