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Anita Washington v. California City Correction Center; Cca of Tennessee

May 9, 2012

ANITA WASHINGTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CALIFORNIA CITY CORRECTION CENTER; CCA OF TENNESSEE, LLC; AND DOES 1 TO 20,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION (Docs. 45-47)

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant CCA of Tennessee, LLC (erroneously sued as California City Correction Center) has filed a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication in the alternative pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For reasons discussed below, summary adjudication shall be granted as to the second and fourth causes of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and retaliation; summary adjudication shall be denied as to the first, third and fifth causes of action for discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 22, 2011, plaintiff Anita Washington (hereinafter referred to as "Plaintiff") filed the third and final iteration of her first amended complaint against defendants California City Correction Center, CCA of Tennessee, LLC and Does 1 to 20, asserting causes of action for (1) discrimination, (2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy, (3) failure to prevent discrimination, (4) retaliation, (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress and (6) defamation. The first through fifth causes of action were asserted against CCA of Tennessee, LLC; the sixth cause of action was asserted against all defendants.*fn1 Within the first amended complaint, Plaintiff alleged as follows:

"8. John Guzman was the Chief of Security for Defendant and he was Plaintiff's immediate supervisor at all times mentioned herein. John Guzman, Warden Gilkey and Warden Sugrue were the managing agents and officers for CCA at this facility. In 2004 Guzman communicated his dislike for Plaintiff because of her race and told Plaintiff that she [sic] did not like black women. Plaintiff is a black woman. From 2004, Mr. Guzman was continuously abusive of Plaintiff. Guzman would continuously harass plaintiff on a daily basis about her work performance and how the warden was upset with her. Guzman would continuously tell Plaintiff that he was dissatisfied with Plaintiff's work performance. Guzman told Plaintiff that she 'needed to improve being a sergeant over the officers in transport.' Plaintiff then asked Guzman why Warden Gilkey was dissatisfied with Plaintiff's work performance and what Plaintiff did that caused Warden to be acting out toward her. Guzman told Plaintiff that, 'He did not know,' but that Plaintiff better get it together or she would be demoted, move-out [sic] of transport or even fired."

Plaintiff further alleged:

"Plaintiff then had a meeting with Warden Gilkey and talked with him on why he was upset with Plaintiff's work performance, as a sergeant. Plaintiff then told the [sic] Warden Gilkey what Guzman had told her and how Guzman was constantly harassing her about how Warden Gilkey was upset with Plaintiff's work performance and how Warden Gilkey was watching Plaintiff. Warden Gilkey replied and told Plaintiff that he was not upset with Plaintiff, that he had no problems with Plaintiff's work performance. The warden then told Plaintiff that she 'was a good officer, to keep up the good work.' And that if he had a problem, he would confront Plaintiff himself and would not send Guzman to do it."

Plaintiff further alleged:

"9. Even After [sic] this incident, Guzman continued his constant harassment of Plaintiff. The harassment was constant. Guzman would constantly tell Plaintiff that if she could not do the job, 'get out,' find another job post. Guzman would constantly tell Plaintiff how her co-workers were saying that Plaintiff 'was hard to work with,' that Plaintiff 'wasn't doing her job, putting things on them, that I should be doing or have done myself.' Guzman would also constantly tell Plaintiff that her co-workers were saying that they were not going to work with Plaintiff, that Guzman needed to talk to Plaintiff or they are putting in for another post because of Plaintiff. Plaintiff questioned the alleged co-workers and not one said that they had said that to Guzman. The co-workers said, 'That is was [sic] Guzman, who did not want Plaintiff in transport and for Plaintiff to watch her back because Guzman was trying to get rid of Plaintiff."

Plaintiff further alleged:

"10. Guzman was also continuously telling Plaintiff that the medical staff was also complaining about working with Plaintiff. Guzman would tell Plaintiff that she was hard to work with, accusing Plaintiff of making and setting up wrong dates and times, for medical appointments and releasing incomplete medical files of inmates, and not scheduling right appointments for medical ailments for the inmates. Constant complaining from the medical staff about Plaintiff, said Guzman. Plaintiff went to the medical supervisor Mrs. Ramos and medical staff, and asked Med/Super Ramos about the problems. Ramos told Plaintiff that he [sic] had not received any complaints about Plaintiff and that there were no written incident statements from the staff or her complaining about Plaintiff. Ramos confirmed that she had a good professional working relationship with her and her staff."

Plaintiff further alleged:

"11. In 2005/2006, Guzman told Plaintiff that the Transport Officers were complaining about working with Plaintiff on the airlift trips. Guzman would continuously complain to Plaintiff that her co-workers on the airlifts told him that Plaintiff was not doing her job, not communicating, not giving information and not working as a team. Guzman said, the officers were tired of Plaintiff acting like 'you're better than they are,' and how Plaintiff 'was not doing anything.' That the co-worker wanted to switch Plaintiff out with a different Officer In Charge (OIC) for the airlifts. Plaintiff went to her co-workers and confronted them with what Guzman had said. The co-workers all said that, they did not have any complaints against Plaintiff on the airlifts, and that they did not go to Guzman and complain. The co-workers all said, "If the warden or captain and records department was not complaining or writing me up,[ ] then Plaintiff should know that it was Guzman who was doing all the complaining." The co-workers told Plaintiff that Guzman had told them that he did not Plaintiff [sic] in transport anymore. Guzman became upset after he realized that Plaintiff spoke to the Transport Staff about his false allegations and removed Plaintiff from the airlift trips and put Plaintiff in charge of the medical runs, scheduling and paperwork, as a set up [sic] to terminate Plaintiff's employment." Plaintiff further alleged:

"12. In October 2007, Plaintiff was demoted to Corrections Officer. Plaintiff had complained to Mr. Guzman to stop his racial discriminatory practices and he refused to do so and instead continue [sic] his pattern of discriminatory practices against Plaintiff. In or around September or October 2008, Plaintiff asked Mr. Guzman that she not be placed in transit because the high blood pressure medication she was taking made her drowsy. Plaintiff was placed in transit anyways and was demoted to the position of Correction Officer by Mr. Guzman because Plaintiff was allegedly drowsy in transit. After Plaintiff complained about the discriminatory act of Guzman, she was subjected to retaliation in the form of false accusations of inappropriate relationship with an inmate and giving away equal or value [sic] to an inmate. The allegation against Plaintiff was that an inmate stated that someone named Ana had a sexual relation with him. Plaintiff's name is Anita not Ana, but Plaintiff was singled out for investigations and harassment. Plaintiff was subsequently terminated on March 4, 2009, because of these false allegations motivated solely by racial discrimination and retaliation."

Plaintiff further alleged that on or about January 27, 2009, she filed a "Charge of Discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing [DFEH] based upon retaliation," and that on or about January 29, 2009, DFEH "issued a Notice of Right-to Sue letter." On March 20, 2012, CCA of Tennessee, LLC (hereinafter referred to as "Defendant") filed its motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication in the alternative pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff filed her opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication on April 3, 2012. On April 16, 2012, Defendant filed its reply to Plaintiff's opposition.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

"A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense -- or the part of each claim or defense -- on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). "Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." In re Oracle Corp. Securities Litigation, 627 F.3d 376, 387 (2010) (citing Celotex, supra, at p. 325). If the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to present evidence establishing the existence of a genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538. A court ruling on a motion for summary judgment must construe all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Even if the motion is unopposed, ...


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