United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case was before the court on February 27, 2019 for hearing on
the sole defendant County of Sacramento's (hereafter
“County”) motion for summary judgment (ECF No.
35) and the court's November 16, 2018 order directing
plaintiff to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed
for her failure to timely respond to the County's motion
(ECF No. 36). Attorney Glen Williams appeared on behalf
of the County, and plaintiff appeared pro se. For the
following reasons, the order to show cause is discharged and
it is recommended that the County's motion be granted.
Order to Show Cause
County noticed its motion for summary judgment for hearing on
November 28, 2018. ECF No. 35. In violation of Local Rule
230(c), plaintiff failed to timely file an opposition or
statement of non-opposition to the motion. Accordingly, the
hearing on the motion was continued and plaintiff was ordered
to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for her
failure to respond to the motion. ECF No. 36. Plaintiff was
also ordered to file an opposition or statement of
non-opposition to the pending motion.
response, plaintiff explains that she was diligently working
on her response to the motion but was unable to finish it
before the original deadline. ECF No. 37. Plaintiff also
filed a declaration in opposition to the County's motion
(but not a formal opposition) and a response to
defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts. ECF Nos. 38,
39. In light of plaintiff's representation and her pro se
status, the order to show cause is discharged and no
sanctions are imposed.
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement
complaint alleges claims against the County of Sacramento for
racial discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work
environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 (“Title VII”). ECF No. 1.
December 2, 2013, plaintiff was hired as a Human Services
Specialist (“HSS”) at the County of Sacramento
Department of Human Assistance. Decl. of Donna Doyle
(“Doyle Decl.”) ¶ 4; Decl. of Rehema
Stephens (“Stephens Decl.”) ¶ 4. Following
her completion of her HSS Induction class on March 10, 2014,
plaintiff was assigned to a unit at the Bowling Green Bureau
and commenced a twelve-month probationary HSS position. Doyle
Decl. ¶ 7; Compl. ¶7. Plaintiff's immediate
supervisor was Carmen Espinoza, who reported to Project
Manager Donna Doyle. Doyle Decl. ¶ 7.
March 17, 2014, Espinoza met with plaintiff to discuss
plaintiff's interest in taking the African American
Cultural Special Skills Exam. Decl. of Carmen Espinoza
(“Espinoza Decl.”) ¶ 9; Stephens Decl.
¶ 13. During the conversation, Ms. Espinoza told
plaintiff to do her “due diligence” because
“dealing with that particular demographic can be
difficult.” Stephens Decl. ¶ 13. When plaintiff
asked Ms. Espinoza if she was referring to black people, Ms.
Espinoza stated that many people make the mistake of
“thinking that because they're of the same race and
culture they have an automatic in.” Id.
Plaintiff then asked Ms. Espinoza if she was suggesting that
plaintiff not take the exam, to which Espinoza replied,
“No, I'm just making sure you have all the
this conversation, the working relationship between plaintiff
and Ms. Espinoza deteriorated and multiple disputes arose.
Stephens Decl. ¶¶ 14-17, 19-22; Espinoza Decl.
¶¶ 10-14. At plaintiff's request, Ms. Doyle
held a meeting on April 2, 2014 to discuss the comments Ms.
Espinoza made on March 17 and her subsequent interactions
with plaintiff. Stephens Decl. ¶¶ 23, 25. At the
meeting-which was attended by Ms. Doyle, Ms. Espinoza,
plaintiff, and plaintiff's union representative, Mechele
Dews-plaintiff requested she be assigned to another unit with
a different supervisor. Id. ¶ 25. Ms. Doyle
denied that request. Id.
23, 2014, plaintiff was called into Ms. Doyle's office
and given a Notice of Release from Probationary Status.
Id. ¶ 27. Ms. Doyle informed plaintiff that her
employment was being terminated because she was insubordinate
to her direct supervisor, unprofessional with clients, and
demonstrated an inability to work well with her coworkers.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate when 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).
Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases in which
the parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the
determination of the issues in the case, or in which there is
insufficient evidence for a jury to determine those facts in
favor of the nonmovant. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523
U.S. 574, 600 (1998); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50 (1986); Nw. Motorcycle
Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468,
1471-72 (9th Cir. 1994). At bottom, a summary judgment motion
asks whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement
to require submission to a jury.
principal purpose of Rule 56 is to isolate and dispose of
factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Cop. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Thus, the rule
functions to “‘pierce the pleadings and to assess
the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for
trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963
amendments). Procedurally, under summary judgment practice,
the moving party bears the initial responsibility of
presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those
portions of the record, together with affidavits, if any,
that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323;
Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir.
2001) (en banc). If the moving party meets its burden with a
properly supported motion, the burden then shifts to the
opposing party to present specific facts that show there is a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Auvil v. CBS
“60 Minutes”, 67 F.3d 816, 819 (9th Cir.
focus on where the burden of proof lies as to the factual
issue in question is crucial to summary judgment procedures.
Depending on which party bears that burden, the party seeking
summary judgment does not necessarily need to submit any
evidence of its own. When the opposing party would have the
burden of proof on a dispositive issue at trial, the moving
party need not produce evidence which negates the
opponent's claim. See e.g., Lujan v. National
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 885 (1990). Rather,
the moving party need only point to matters which demonstrate
the absence of a genuine material factual issue. See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24 (“[W]here the
nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a
dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be
made in reliance solely on the ‘pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file.'”). Indeed, summary judgment should be
entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion,
against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial. See id. at 322. In such a
circumstance, summary judgment must be granted, “so
long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates
that the standard for entry of summary judgment . . . is
satisfied.” Id. at 323.
defeat summary judgment the opposing party must establish a
genuine dispute as to a material issue of fact. This entails
two requirements. First, the dispute must be over a fact(s)
that is material, i.e., one that makes a difference in the
outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248
(“Only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”). Whether a
factual dispute is material is determined by the substantive
law applicable for the claim in question. Id. If the
opposing party is unable to produce evidence sufficient to
establish a required element of its claim that party fails in
opposing summary judgment. “[A] complete failure of
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
the dispute must be genuine. In determining whether a factual
dispute is genuine the court must again focus on which party
bears the burden of proof on the factual issue in question.
Where the party opposing summary judgment would bear the
burden of proof at trial on the factual issue in dispute,
that party must produce evidence sufficient to support its
factual claim. Conclusory allegations, unsupported by
evidence are insufficient to defeat the motion. Taylor v.
List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Rather, the
opposing party must, by affidavit or as otherwise provided by
Rule 56, designate specific facts that show there is a
genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249;
Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1076. More significantly, to
demonstrate a genuine factual dispute the evidence relied on