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Roland Hills v. Service Employees International Union; Service Employees Local 221

August 19, 2011

ROLAND HILLS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION; SERVICE EMPLOYEES LOCAL 221; DEQUASIA GARDNER, UNION ORGANIZING DIRECTOR; ABDUL SAYID, UNION WORKSITE ORGANIZER; SHARON-FRANCES MOORE; ANDY STERN, SEIU PRESIDENT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Q. Hayes United States District Judge

ORDER

HAYES, Judge:

The matters before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Service Employees International Union Local 221 ("SEIU Local 221"), Abdul Sayid, Dequasia Gardner, and Sharon-Francis Moore (ECF No. 31), the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Service Employees International Union ("SEIU International") and Andy Stern (ECF No. 32), and the Motion for Recusal filed by Plaintiff Roland Hills (ECF No. 41).

I. Background

On September 2, 2009, Plaintiff Roland Hills, proceeding pro se, initiated this case by filing the verified complaint. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff asserts a claim of intentional discrimination based on race in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, against Defendants Abdul Sayid, worksite organizer for SEIU Local 221, in his individual and official capacities; Dequasia Gardner, organizing director for SEIU Local 221, in her individual and official capacities; Sharon-Frances Moore, President of SEIU Local 221, in her official capacity; SEIU Local 221; Andy Stern, President of SEIU International, in his official capacity; and SEIU International. Plaintiff also asserts a second claim for violation of the National Relation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A), against SEIU Local 221 for preventing Plaintiff from resigning from the union until the month of June.

On January 18, 2011, Defendants SEIU Local 221, Gardner, Sayid, and Moore filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 31). On that same day Defendants SEIU International and Stern filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 32). On February 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants SEIU Local 221, Sayid, Gardner, and Moore (ECF No. 34) and also filed an Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by SEIU International and Stern (ECF No. 35). On February 15, 2011, Defendants SEIU Local 221, Sayid, Gardner, and Moore filed a Reply. (ECF No. 36). On that same day Defendants SEIU International and Stern filed a Reply. (ECF No. 37).

On July 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Recusal of United States District Judge William Q. Hayes and United States Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo. (ECF No. 41). Plaintiff contends that these judges should be disqualified pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) on the grounds that the judges have failed to ensure the "just, speedy and inexpensive resolution" of this action. Id. at 4-5 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 471; Fed. R. Civ. P. 1). Plaintiff contends that delay in ruling on motions and rescheduling of court proceedings show "the unwillingness on the part of these Judges to provide Plaintiff with the opportunity to have his case presented to a jury." Id. at 4.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), a district judge "shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. § 455(a). The standard for recusal under § 455 is "whether a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Mayes v. Leipziger, 729 F.2d 605, 607 (9th Cir. 1984) (internal quotations omitted). "Typically, a judge's partiality must be shown to be based on information from extra-judicial sources, although sometimes, albeit rarely, predispositions developed during the course of a trial will suffice." F.J. Hanshaw Enterprises, Inc. v. Emerald River Development, Inc., 244 F.3d 1128, 1144-45 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 554-55 (1994)). "In the instance where the partiality develops during the course of the proceedings, it can be the basis of recusal only when the judge displays a deep-seated and unequivocal antagonism that would render fair judgment impossible." Id.

In this case, the Plaintiff's sole basis for asserting that these judges should disqualify themselves is based on perceived procedural delays. Plaintiff has failed to show that "a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that [this Court's] impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Mayes, 729 F.2d at 607. Plaintiff has failed to show that "the judge[s] display[] a deep-seated and unequivocal antagonism that would render fair judgment impossible." The Motion for Recusal (ECF No. 41) is DENIED.

II. Undisputed Material Facts

In May of 2006, Plaintiff was hired as an office assistant by the County of San Diego Farm and Housing Advisor's Office. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 3). In early 2008, Plaintiff was asked "to permanently take on duties Plaintiff had been performing while a co-worker was out sick." Id.

In 2008, Plaintiff, an African-American, met with his union representative Defendant Sayid, worksite organizer for SEIU Local 221, and told Sayid that he had been assigned additional job duties by the County. Plaintiff told Defendant Sayid that Plaintiff believed the decision by the County to assign him additional job duties was racially motivated because the prior white employee who held his position had not been assigned the additional job duties. Defendant Sayid is also African-American.

On March 10, 2008, Defendant Sayid sent a grievance to the County on behalf of Plaintiff which stated:

SEIU Local 221 is asserting that Mr. Roland Hills (Office Assistant) has been tasked with duties outside the scope of his classification. Originally, these duties were the responsibility of a co-worker (Field Assistant) who is not working with the County at this time. Mainly, the responsibility for maintaining and operating the complex printer at the office has been an issue of concern and an extra workload burden. Furthermore, Mr. Hills is being asked to carry out purchasing duties as part of his routine, which is not included in his job description as an Office Assistant. SEIU requests that the Department immediately stop requiring Mr. Hills to carry out the purchasing function. (Decl. Sayid Ex. A, ECF No. 31-4 at 9).

After Defendant Sayid sent the grievance to the County, "[Defendant] Sayid met with [Plaintif] several times to discuss his case....[and Defendant Sayid] met County Labor Relations in an attempt to resolve [Plaintiff's] grievance." (Decl. Sayid, ECF No. 31-4 at 19).

An email dated March 18, 2008, from Plaintiff to Defendant Sayid states: "Please clarify your position on why you feel that I haven't been discriminated against all though (sic) the previous white individuals that held my position were not assigned the disputed duties." (Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 1, ECF No. 35-3 at 1). An email dated March 18, 2008, from Defendant Sayid to Plaintiff states: "I want to clarify that I did not say 'I don't feel you were discriminated against' or anything along those lines. What I did say is that discrimination will be very hard to prove in this instance. In order to prove discrimination you would basically have to show a clear nexus between your race and your assignment to those duties. In other words you would have to prove that management wanted to give you a hard time because of your race so they assigned you more work." Id. at 2.

An email dated April 22, 2008, from Plaintiff to Defendant Sayid states: "[P]lease provide me with a written copy of the labor relation's decision so that I can clearly understand their position." Id. at 3. An email dated April 22, 2008, from Defendant Sayid to Plaintiff states:

At this point the County's contention still remains that the purchasing duties are well within your job classification. Furthermore, the County is saying implicitly but not explicitly, that the newer duties were assigned because they felt that you had the time in your regular workweek to accomplish these duties. They feel vindicated in this thinking by the fact that you have not had to utilize extra time (i.e. overtime, compt time, ect) to accomplish your duties since printing was assigned. Their suggestion is that if we have an issue with these assigned responsibilities to pursue the process outlined under Rule 12 [Employee Request for Classification Review]. Unfortunately, I do not think that your case would have any standing under Rule 12 because you do not perform the disputed purchasing duties for 50% or more of your time. Furthermore, your current classification is vague enough to include ordering supplies when it states that 'management is not precluded from assigning other related functions not listed herein if such functions are a logical assignment for the position.' This catchall statement is very damaging to our point.

Also ... you told me that the constant standing and bending associated with the printing duties were hard to do because of a pre-existing disability. That is why I suggested that if this was an issue to go to your doctor and get some kind of clarification as to the physical limitations .... It is in your discretion whether or not you want to present the doctor's note to your management.

It is my belief, as a result of the vagueness of the job description of an Office Assistant, we do not have a case to challenge the assignment of the printing and purchasing duties. (Decl. Sayid Ex. 7, ECF No. 31-4 at 15). Plaintiff did not request an accommodation from the County based on his physical limitations. (Decl. Sayid Ex. 9, ECF No. 31-4 at 19).

On April 23, 2008, Defendant Sayid sent a letter to Plaintiff which states: "This letter is in regards to your wish to have the County remove either the printing or purchasing responsibilities from your current job assignment as an Office Assistant.... Unfortunately, your case to challenge the assignment of the printing and purchasing duties lacks sufficient merit as a result of the built in vagueness of the job description of an [Office Assistant]." Id. at 17.

Two emails dated April 29, 2008, from Plaintiff to Defendant Gardner, organizing director for SEIU Local 221, contain requests by Plaintiff for a copy of the Labor Relation's decision and the bargaining agreement. (Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 2, ECF No. 35-3 at 4). Defendant Gardner is African-American. An email dated April 30, 2008 from Defendant Gardner to Plaintiff states: "I will work with [Defendant Sayid] to obtain [information regarding the Labor Relation's decision] for you. We can send you a copy of the contract for your bargaining unit, if you provide us with your County Mail Stop address." Id. at 6. Defendant Gardner also stated, "If you disagree with the decision [Defendant Sayid] has made in your case then I ask that you send me an email outlining your specific areas of disagreement so that I may investigate the matter." Id. In an email dated May 1, 2008, from Plaintiff to Defendant Gardner, Plaintiff provided his address and states that he "expressed concern [to Defendant Sayid] about why [Plaintiff] as ...


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