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Paolo Antonio Mendoza v. Marriott Hotel Sevices

September 9, 2011

PAOLO ANTONIO MENDOZA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARRIOTT HOTEL SEVICES, INC. DBA ANAHEIM MARRIOTT HOTEL DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew Senior, U.S. District Court Judge

ORDER re: Defendant Marriott Hotel Services's Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, Partial Summary Judgment[17]

On August 23, 2011, Defendant Marriott Hotel Services, Inc.'s ("Defendant") Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, Partial Summary Judgment [17] came on for regular calendar before this Court.

The Court having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion and having considered all arguments presented to the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:

The Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The present Summary Judgment Motion relates to work-place harassment, which allegedly occurred at Plaintiff Paolo Antonio Mendoza's ("Plaintiff") former work place.

On February 2006, Plaintiff, a trained chef of Filipino/Spanish descent, began working as a full-time kitchen supervisor at Anaheim Marriott Hotel ("Anaheim Marriott"), a hotel run by Defendant. Plaintiff worked at Anaheim Marriott full-time from February 2006 to October 17, 2008.

While working at Anaheim Marriott during this period, certain employees of Mexican descent spoke Spanish amongst themselves and listened to Spanish-language music while they worked. Plaintiff states that he did not like it when these co-workers spoke in Spanish because he felt it was unfair to those people who did not understand Spanish. These co-workers also called Plaintiff "Chinito" approximately five to ten times from February 2006 to October 17, 2008. Plaintiff never complained in writing to human resources.

Prior to January 2008, however, Plaintiff verbally complained to Anaheim Marriott management twice. He complained once in 2006 and once in early 2007. In early 2007, one manager told Plaintiff "if you can't beat them, join them." Declaration of Timothy B. McCaffrey ("McCaffrey Decl."), ¶2, Ex. A, 83:15-16.

On January 5, 2008, Plaintiff noticed a three-by-five inch Mexican flag hanging on a line used to hold the tickets for food orders. Plaintiff states that he was intimidated by the flag and felt that the Mexican workers were trying to send him a message. When Plaintiff saw the flag, he immediately removed it from the line and discarded it. Plaintiff, however, later on found out that the flag belong to his co-worker, who had received it as a gift and had forgotten to take it home with him.

Finally, on January 12, 2008, while Plaintiff was leaving work, he discovered that someone had defecated on the hood of his vehicle in the parking lot ("January defecation incident"). After seeing his vehicle, Plaintiff immediately reported the incident to management. Plaintiff also filed a police report, but the police told Plaintiff that it would not pursue the matter because the car was not damaged. In his deposition, Plaintiff states that he suspects that the perpetrator did the act out of resentment for management selecting Plaintiff for the kitchen supervisor position. McCaffrey Decl., ¶2, Ex. A, 112:17-24.

Shortly after this incident, Plaintiff asked each person on the kitchen staff to help him get more information that would be helpful in identifying the perpetrator. In response, one of the Marriott employees told Plaintiff "[d]o you think I did it?" in a tone of voice and with gestures that Plaintiff interpreted as physically threatening. McCaffrey Decl., ¶2, Ex. A, 72:11-25.

After the January defecation incident, Anaheim Marriott management responded in multiple ways. Management gave Plaintiff preferential treatment for parking, allowing him to park his car right outside of the hotel. Management met with the kitchen staff and warned them about Marriott's anti-harassment policy. Management also conducted a three-month-long investigation, during which more than thirty interviews with kitchen employees were conducted. Management also stopped scheduling Plaintiff to work any shifts with workers he suspected as the main perpetrators of the defecation incident. To this day, the main perpetrators have not been positively identified.

Plaintiff continued working at Anaheim Marriott until October 10, 2008, when he resigned to take a job at a Beverly Hills Hotel. In his resignation letter, Plaintiff's stated reason for leaving was "due to career advancement." McCaffrey Decl., ¶3, Ex. B, 166:8-21; McCaffrey Decl., ¶4, Ex. C, Ex. 19. In his deposition, Plaintiff admitted that he was not subject to any more harassment after the January defecation incident.

On March 10, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for racial discrimination in the work place, resulting in a hostile work environment and damage to personal property. Declaration of Frank Carleo ("Carleo Decl."), ¶ 2, Ex. 1. On March 18, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court

[1]. On August 26, 2010, Defendant removed the case to this Court [1].

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine issue is one in which the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other ...


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