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Flaviano v. California Department of State Hospitals, Napa

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 21, 2015

RAOUL FLAVIANO, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF STATE HOSPITALS, NAPA, DENISE DALY, JASON GOODING, and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this employment-discrimination action, defendants argue that plaintiff's claims are barred by the terms of a settlement agreement and move for summary judgment on that basis. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

STATEMENT

Plaintiff Raoul Flaviano was a hospital police sergeant employed by defendant, the California Department of State Hospitals, at Napa State Hospital. Throughout 2011 and 2012, Flaviano's wife was also employed as a hospital police officer.

In July 2012, Flaviano requested accommodations to take care of certain childcare needs, specifically for a work schedule that included a break of a few minutes in each shift so that he and his wife could transfer care of their child between shifts. Flaviano alleges that his supervisors, defendants Chief Denise Daly and Lieutenant Jason Gooding, made several inappropriate comments about Flaviano, his wife, and their need for childcare accommodations, which led to a "campaign of harassment and unequal treatment." Flaviano claims his request for accommodations was denied "under the guise of nepotism.'" Flaviano submitted a formal complaint of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Office of DSH. That complaint alleged that Chief Daly and Lieutenant Gooding had discriminated against Flaviano and harassed him by making inappropriate comments and denying his request for accommodations (Flaviano Decl. 5-7; Rashkis Decl., Exh. 6).

Flaviano claims that Chief Daly and Lieutenant Gooding took adverse employment actions against him in the work place in retaliation for filing that complaint, for example by moving him to a less-desirable shift. In September 2012, Flaviano filed a new internal EEO complaint alleging retaliation (Flaviano Decl. ¶¶ 8-9; Rashkis Decl., Exh. C).

In October 2012, Flaviano requested leave under the Family Medical Leave Act in order to assist with a family emergency, and elected to use his available vacation pay concurrently with that leave. Flaviano claims that Chief Daly and Lieutenant Gooding interfered with his leave request and made inappropriate comments about his request for leave. Flaviano later informed Lieutenant Gooding that he would need to extend his leave by three days, but got no response. He received a formal disciplinary notice from Chief Daly and Lieutenant Gooding for being "AWOL" for those three days, resulting in docked pay (Flaviano Decl. 10-13; Rashkis Decl., Exh. D).

On October 30, 2012, Flaviano brought his daughter to work while he was on duty in violation of DSH policy. He explained to his supervisor that he did this because his wife could not supervise her that day and he allegedly could not afford childcare. Flaviano received a disciplinary action in the form of a "Counseling Record" due to that conduct, at which he was advised that his "unwillingness or inability to resolve [his] childcare issues [were] detrimental to the department and severely impaire[d] [his] effectiveness as a supervisor" (Rashkis Decl., Exh. B).

On November 8, 2012, Flaviano filed a formal complaint for retaliation with the state EEO office, claiming that Chief Daly and Lieutenant Gooding were retaliating against him for filing his prior complaints. He also made a wage claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code for the docked pay. The state EEO office conducted an investigation and in November 2013 concluded that there was insufficient evidence of a violation of EEO policies, though Flaviano retained the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Flaviano Decl. ¶¶ 14-15, Exh. A; Rashkis Decl., Exh. D).

On November 21, 2012, Officer James Nohel observed Flaviano conducting what appeared to be a traffic stop. Flaviano's personal vehicle was parked on the side of the road behind another person's vehicle. He had activated a system of flashing red and blue lights on the front grill of his vehicle, in violation of California law. Officer Nohel observed Flaviano speaking to the driver of the other vehicle and saw he had exposed his off-duty firearm in violation of DSH policy. Officer Nohel informed defendant Lieutenant Jason Gooding of what he observed (SPB Record at 8).

On December 5, 2012, Chief Daly reviewed her file on Flaviano because of the concerns raised by Officer Nohel and discovered Flaviano had failed to submit his quarterly firearms documentation and failed to identify, in writing, the off-duty firearm he intended to carry ( id. at 9).

DSH decided to investigate Flaviano's conduct regarding the traffic stop Nohel had observed. The investigators interviewed Flaviano and concluded that he had deliberately attempted to mislead them throughout the process ( id. at 10).

In May 2013, Flaviano was served with a "Notice of Adverse Action" terminating his employment ( id. at 6-12). The NOAA specifically identified the following conduct as the basis for Flaviano's termination and provided ...


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