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Porter v. Mabus

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 9, 2014

RONALD L. PORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
RAY MABUS, Secretary, Department of the Navy, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIALSUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 206)

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronald L. Porter ("Plaintiff") brought this action against the Navy and the Defendant, Ray Mabus ("Defendant"), for alleged discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by Defendant related to Plaintiff's removal from Navy employment in 1999. Plaintiff seeks partial summary judgment on his Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims based on Defendant's denial of repromotion priority benefits between two reductions in force.[1]

I. SUMMARY

Plaintiff alleges that he was a Navy employee from 1988 until 1999. Doc. 95 (First Amended Complaint), 2:10-11. In 1993, he was employed at Defendant's China Lake facility. Doc. 211 (Defendant's opposition), 3:25-26. On July 31, 1996, Plaintiff was demoted through a reduction in force. Doc. 211, 4:3-5. Plaintiff was placed on Defendant's "Repromotion Priority List" at least on March 10, 1998. Doc. 206-1 (Plaintiff's motion), 3:11-13. Defendant's Repromotion Priority Program gave Plaintiff first consideration for vacancies for which he was qualified. Doc. 211, 4:6-8. On November 19, 1999, Plaintiff was terminated from his employment as a result of a second reduction in force by Defendant. Doc. 211. Prior to his termination, Plaintiff had not been selected for any other position. Doc. 211, 4:13-14.

In this motion for partial summary judgment Plaintiff argues that Defendant discriminated and/or retaliated against him when Defendant improperly denied Plaintiff repromotion priority benefits between the 1996 and 1999 reductions in force. Doc. 206-1, 1:6-9. Plaintiff believes that he was qualified for promotions during that time period but did not receive them. See Doc. 206-1, 5:4-6:12. However, Plaintiff does not provide any evidence to support his allegations of discrimination based on age or retaliation in violation of Title VII.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc ., 569 F.3d 946, 950 (9th Cir. 2009). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Freeman v. Arpaio , 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248. If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party "must produce specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the dispute exists." Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc. , 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991). In resolving the summary judgment motion, the evidence of the opposing party is to be believed ( Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255), and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party ( Matsushita , 475 U.S. at 587).

In the context of a motion for summary judgment in a Title VII action, federal courts apply the burden-shifting analysis set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green , 411 U.S. 792, 802-05 (1973); and e.g., Davis v. Team Elec. Co. , 520 F.3d 1080, 1089 (9th Cir. 2008); Dawson v. Entek Intern , 630 F.3d 928, 934-35 (9th Cir. 2011). First, the employee carries the burden to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. McDonnell Douglas , 411 U.S. at 802. If he so does, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the challenged action. Id . If met, the employee must show that the reason is pretextual "either directly by persuading the court that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer or indirectly by showing that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence." Davis v. Team Elec. Co. , 520 F.3d at 1089 (citations omitted); McDonnell Douglas , 411 U.S. at 804-05.

The ultimate question in an employment discrimination case is "one that can only be resolved through a searching inquiry-one that is most appropriately conducted by a factfinder, upon a full record." Chuang v. Univ. of Cal. Davis , 225 F.3d 1115, 1124 (9th Cir. 2000)(internal quotations omitted). The Ninth Circuit has emphasized the importance of "zealously guarding an employee's right to a full trial, since discrimination claims are frequently difficult to prove without a full airing of the evidence and an opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses." McGinest v. GTE Serv. Corp. , 360 F.3d 1103, 1112 (9th Cir. 2004).

III. DISCRIMINATION

Plaintiff's first amended complaint alleges discrimination based on age. Doc. 95, 2:20-21. The first step of the McDonnell Douglas analysis is to determine whether Plaintiff has established a prima facie case of discrimination. To establish a Title VII violation for discrimination an employee must show that: (1) he belongs to a protected class; (2) he was qualified for his position; (3) he was subject to an adverse employment action; and (4) similarly situated individuals outside his protected class were treated more favorably. McDonnell Douglas Corp. , 411 U.S. at 802; Davis v. Team Elec. Co. , 520 F.3d 1080, 1089 (9th Cir. 2008).

Although Plaintiff has not presented any evidence that he belonged to a protected class, Defendant does not dispute this for the purposes of this motion. Doc. 211, 11:26-27. It is also undisputed that Plaintiff was qualified for his position and that he was not promoted between the two reductions, thereby meeting the second and third elements of the prima facie case for Title VII discrimination. However, Plaintiff has not presented any evidence that similarly situated individuals outside of his protected class were treated more favorably. Plaintiff does not provide any evidence that would support his contention that discrimination based on his age was the cause of the failure to be promoted between the 1996 and 1999 reductions. The operative complaint and Plaintiff's moving papers and supporting documents do not even identify Plaintiff's age, and they do not identify any similarly situated individuals, nor the ages of any individuals such that they would be outside of Plaintiff's Title VII protected class. It is a necessary part of a prima facie case for discrimination under Title VII to establish that similarly situated individuals outside of Plaintiff's protected class were treated more favorably.

In Plaintiff's briefs, Plaintiff does not identify any individual outside of his protected class that were treated more favorably than Plaintiff. See Docs. 206, 213. Hence, Plaintiff fails to meet his initial burden to establish the prima facie case for ...


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