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Bradley v. County of Sacramento Department of Human Assistance of Northern California Welfare Division

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 26, 2017

RUBY BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN ASSISTANCE OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WELFARE DIVISION, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter came before the court on November 18, 2016, for hearing of defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1] The action is proceeding on the October 23, 2014 amended complaint's claim of age-based discrimination. (ECF Nos. 13, 25, & 28.) Attorney Chambord Benton-Hayes appeared on behalf of Defendant County of Sacramento. Plaintiff Ruby Bradley appeared on her own behalf. After hearing oral argument, defendant's motion was taken under submission.

         Having reviewed defendant's motion, the documents filed in support and opposition, and the arguments made at the November 18, 2016 hearing, the undersigned recommends that defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted. In this regard, THE COURT FINDS AS FOLLOWS:

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on November 21, 2013, by paying the required filing fee and filing a complaint. (ECF No. 1.) On December 12, 2013, defendants Donna Doyle and the County of Sacramento filed a motion to dismiss.[2] (ECF No. 6.) On August 13, 2014, the court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 10.)

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on October 23, 2014. (ECF No. 13.) Therein, plaintiff alleges, in relevant part, as follows. Plaintiff is a 54 years[‘] old. (Am. Compl. (ECF No. 13) at 2.[3]) In March of 1996, defendant hired plaintiff as a site coordinator. (Id. at 7.) In January of 2000, defendant hired plaintiff as a full-time Human Service Specialist. (Id. at 4.) In 2002, “plaintiff questioned her test results with [a] personnel specialist.” (Id.) “Defendant[‘]s personnel specialist explained to plaintiff [that] her test scores were not passing to qualify for a Social Worker's position.” (Id.)

         In 2004, “plaintiff took the social worker examination again and was placed on [the] social worker list for hire but in a low rank.” (Id.) In 2005, “plaintiff took the supervisor examination and was ranked low for a supervisor position but placed on a list for hire.” (Id.) Also in 2005, the defendant began “promoting younger candidates with fewer qualifications.” (Id. at 8.)

         In 2006, “plaintiff applied for a lateral transfer[] position and was interviewed . . . [but] was denied this lateral transfer position.” (Id. at 5.) In 2007, plaintiff applied for the position of Applicant Assistant, which was also a lateral transfer. (Id.) “Later on in the week, this position was rescinded, ” however, a few weeks later the position was reposted. (Id.) Plaintiff was later informed by two of her co-workers that they had been selected to fill the Applicant Assistant positions. (Id.)

         In 2008, plaintiff applied for “a Quality Control Worker's position.” (Id.) Plaintiff was interviewed for the position and told that she “would be selected for one of these lateral transfer position[s], ” however, “issues came about and plaintiff was told” that she “did not fit the crowd, ” so two of her co-workers were selected for the positions. (Id. at 6.)

         In 2010, plaintiff again applied for a lateral transfer. (Id.) Plaintiff was informed that the “position was promised to someone else who had been looked over, ” but that “the next time [plaintiff] applied [she] could get picked up.” (Id.) In January of 2010, “plaintiff was referred to receive psychiatric care on a continuance (sic) basis and treatment is still needed to date.” (Id. at 11.) “As a result, ” plaintiff filed a case with the California Division of Workers' Compensation, which “[s]ettled.” (Id.) At some point in time, “Supervisor Barbara Payne” told plaintiff that she would not be selected for promotion or transfer because she was “getting to[o] old.”[4] (Id. at 9.) According to plaintiff, Payne also allegedly assisted and coached “younger candidates . . . from late twenties and late thirties for lateral transfers and promotional opportunities. . . .” (Id. at 10.)

         Defendant County of Sacramento again filed a motion to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 14 & 15.) On July 22, 2015, the previously assigned Magistrate Judge issued findings and recommendations, recommending that the amended complaint's race-based discrimination and hostile work environment causes of action be dismissed, and that defendant be ordered to file an answer to the amended complaint's age-based discrimination claim.[5] (ECF No. 25.) On August 26, 2015, the assigned District Judge adopted those findings and recommendations in full. (ECF No. 28.)

         On October 18, 2016, defendant filed the pending motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 53.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on October 31, 2016. (ECF No. 54.) Defendant filed a reply on November 10, 2016. (ECF No. 57.) However, further briefing was ordered and plaintiff filed a supplemental response on November 22, 2016.[6] (ECF No. 60.) Defendant filed a sur-reply on December 7, 2016. (ECF No. 63.) Plaintiff filed another supplemental response on December 12, 2016, (ECF No. 64), and defendant filed a sur-reply on December 19, 2016. (ECF No. 65.)

         DEFENDANT'S STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS

         Defendant's statement of undisputed facts is supported largely by citation to plaintiff's deposition, documentary evidence, and allegations found in the amended complaint. Defendant's statement of undisputed facts establishes the following. Plaintiff was born in early 1960. In March of 1997, plaintiff was hired by defendant as a site coordinator in the Department of Human Assistance. In May of 1997, plaintiff earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. In January of 2000, plaintiff was promoted to the position of Human Services Specialist with the Department of Human Assistance Welfare Division. (Def's. SUDF (ECF No. 53-2) 1-4.[7])

         From 2008 until November 2014, Gianna Ha-Sadi was plaintiff's direct supervisor. On April 23, 2008, plaintiff submitted an application for a promotion to the Human Services Social Worker position. On June 3, 2008, plaintiff was informed that her application was not accepted because she failed to submit her college diploma as required by the job announcement. (Def's. SUDF (ECF No. 53-2) 6-8.)

         On April 22, 2010, plaintiff applied for the position of Human Services Community Work Experience Program Coordinator, (“CWEX”). Plaintiff submitted the required memorandum of interest and was interviewed. At the time of her interview, plaintiff had worked for defendant for 14 years and was 50 years old. Defendant selected another applicant, Robert Tucker, for the position. At the time of his application, Tucker had worked for defendant for 28 years and was 59 years old. (Def's. SUDF (ECF No. 53-2) 11, 14-21.)

         On October 17, 2010, plaintiff completed a United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (“EEOC”), intake questionnaire. On January 10, 2011, plaintiff filed her initial Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC alleging a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (“ADEA”). Plaintiff specifically alleged that “in May 2010, ” she had applied for a job as a “CWEX coordinator, ” but “was denied this transfer.” (Def's. SUDF (ECF No. 53-2) 26-28.)

         On March 6, 2012, plaintiff's supervisor, Gigi Ha-Sidi, informed plaintiff that she would be transferred from an office at 4433 Florin Road, to an office at 7000 Franklin Road. The offices were one block, or less than one mile, apart. All employees under Ha-Sidi's supervision were being consolidated into one location and plaintiff was not the only employee required to relocate. On July 2, 2012, plaintiff filed an amended EEOC claim, complaining ...


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