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Cartwright v. Regents of the University of California

December 23, 2009

EDITH F. CARTWRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, AN ENTITY OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, AN ENTITY OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; SAL GENITO III, AN INDIVIDUAL, IN HIS REPRESENTATIVE AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; AND DOES 2-300, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Defendants Regents of the University of California and Sal Genito III (collectively referred to as "Defendants" unless otherwise noted) move for summary judgment, or alternatively for summary adjudication of issues, on grounds that the instant lawsuit, brought by Plaintiff Edith Cartwright ("Plaintiff" or "Cartwright"), a former employee of the University of California, Davis, fails as a matter of law.

Defendants claim that 1) Plaintiff's termination resulted from her own allegedly threatening, intimidating and disuptive conduct towards her subordinates; 2) no evidence of pretext exists with which to rebut Defendants' purportedly legitimate reasons for terminating Plaintiff's employment; and 3) Plaintiff's causes of action against Defendant Genito in his individual capacity fail as a matter of law for lack of any supporting evidence. As set forth below, Defendants' Motion will be denied.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a Latina, Mexican-American, Native-American homosexual female, began working for the University of California, Davis in August 1987, as an employee in the Physical Plant-Facilities-Operational Department. Despite her repeated complaints to various authorities, Plaintiff claims she was subjected to a litany of discriminatory and retaliatory acts based on her race, gender, and sexual preference during her sixteen-year tenure of employment with the University.

Shortly after being hired, Plaintiff alleges that two of her male superiors began subjecting her to discrimination and harassment. The discrimination and harassment was ongoing and ultimately prompted Plaintiff, in 1991, to file complaints with the University, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Yolo County Superior Court.

The University entered into a written settlement agreement with Plaintiff under which Plaintiff agreed to release her claims in return for $30,000.00 and a promise by the University not to retaliate.

After several alleged instances in which Plaintiff alleges that she continued to be subject to harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation, Plaintiff began to report to Defendant Genito in approximately October of 2001. Plaintiff claims that ongoing mistreatment (which need not be recited here given the Court's prior determination that only events occurring after January 14, 2003 are currently actionable) prompted her to file a complaint in Yolo County Superior Court on January 14, 2003.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Genito told her, around the end of January of 2003, that the University's Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Dennis Shimek, was "very upset" about the Yolo County litigation, given Defendants' prior 1991 agreement, as delineated above, not to retaliate against Plaintiff. Genito admitted in his deposition that he told Plaintiff during this period of Mr. Shimek's displeasure about the complaint she had filed. (Genito Dep., 96:12-15).

In February 2003, Mr. Genito instructed Plaintiff to authorize and accept delivery of a new recycling dump truck. After research, Plaintiff discovered the dump truck had serious safety hazards and was less efficient and more expensive then the current truck. Plaintiff raised her concerns with Mr. Genito, who in response cancelled a pre-arranged meeting and failed either to follow-up or reschedule.

One month after first contacting Mr. Genito, on April 24, 2003, Plaintiff sent a comprehensive written report regarding her concerns of the new dump truck to Mr. Genito and several other Managing Agents. That same day, according to Plaintiff, Genito made derogatory remarks about Plaintiff in a meeting attended by senior university personnel. The following day, April 25, 2003, Plaintiff claims she was placed on investigatory leave.

Before placing Plaintiff on investigatory leave, in March 2003, Mr. Genito allegedly informed Plaintiff that she was being investigated due to "rumors" of the following behavior:

1) "hosting wild, lesbian sex parties at [her] house with [Managing Agent Genito]", 2) "perform[ing] yard work in the nude," and 3) "fetch[ing] [her] newspaper topless" (TAC 10:19-24). The investigation into these alleged "rumors" was initially conducted by Managing Agent Lead Supervisor Robert Bohn. Plaintiff alleges that because Genito was dissatisfied with the results of Bohn's investigation, he ordered Plaintiff herself to complete the investigation, despite her status as the subject of the rumors.

Plaintiff also alleges that on April 25, 2003, the day she was placed on investigatory leave, Mr. Genito forced three subordinate employees to file workplace grievances against ...


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