United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [DOC. 16]
THOMAS J. WHELAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Transdev Services, Inc.'s,
motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary
adjudication. Plaintiff Alicia Del Villar opposes.
Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without
oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the
following reasons, the Court DENIES the
motion for summary judgment [Doc. 16].
lawsuit, Plaintiff Alicia Del Villar is suing her former
employer, Defendant Transdev Services, Inc.
(“Transdev”), for retaliation and wrongful
termination. At the time of her termination, Del Villar was a
bus driver and union shop steward. In June 2016, Transdev
terminated her for allegedly failing to
“immediately” report that her bus bumped a
pedestrian, who darted in front of the bus just as it began
to leave the bus stop. There is no dispute that Del Villar
reported the incident within 1 minute of bumping the
Transdev's absurd interpretation of “immediately,
” it now seeks summary-judgment for two reasons. First,
it argues Del Villar's causes of action are preempted by
federal law to the extent they require interpretation of the
term “immediately” in the Collective Bargaining
Agreement (“CBA”) between Transdev and Del
Villar's union. Second, Transdev contends Del Villar
cannot establish that its “legitimate” reason for
terminating was pretext for her Union activity.
(P&A [Doc. 16-1] 1:5-6.) Because Del
Villar's causes of action do not require the
interpretation of the CBA, they are not preempted.
Additionally, because there exists a disputed issue of fact
regarding pretext, summary judgment is not appropriate.
Del Villar's union activity.
Villar was employed as a bus driver for Transdev from
approximately May 2004 until June 24, 2016, when she was
terminated. (Pl's Tab 1 (“Del Villar
Decl.”) [Doc. 23-2] ¶¶ 3, 4; Lewis
Decl. [Doc. 17-2] ¶¶ 3, 4; Def's Ex.
B [Doc. 17-2].) As a bus driver for Transdev, Del Villar
was a member of Teamsters Local 683 (the
“Union”), which had a CBA with Transdev.
(Lewis Decl. ¶ 4; Def's Ex. 29
her employment with Transdev, Del Villar was active in the
Union. In 2013, she was elected as a Shop Steward and was on
the run-cut committee. (Del Villar Decl.
¶¶ 5, 6; Lewis Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6.)
As a run-cut committee member, Del Villar helped review
Transdev's proposed changes to bus routes in order to
ensure compliance with, among other things, mandated driver
meal-time and rest breaks. (Del Villar Decl. ¶
approximately November 2015, Transdev proposed new bus
routes. Del Villar believed the proposed routes for the South
Bay failed to comply with California law and the CBA
regarding driver meal and rest breaks, and in early 2016 she
notified management. (Del Villar Decl. ¶¶
6, 7, 9.) Although management fixed the problem for the Chula
Vista routes, the revised proposed bus routes for South Bay
continued to have the same problems. (Id.
¶¶ 8, 9.) Del Villar, therefore, again advised
management about the problems. (Id.)
Relevant Provisions of the CBA, and Transdev's Safety
Policies and Procedures Manual.
10 of the CBA between the Union and Transdev covers
“Discipline and Discharge.” (Def's Ex.
29 at 149.) Relevant to this motion is subsection 10.3,
“Serious Infraction (Examples)”, which provides
“examples of violations of Company policies and rules
that are considered Serious Infractions and shall be just
cause for immediate discharge….” (Id.
at 150.) Among the examples is the “[f]ailure to report
a hazardous situation, accident or injury immediately to the
dispatcher or supervisor.” (Id. at 151.)
Similarly, Transdev's 2015 Safety Policies and Procedures
manual states, “[e]mployees that do not report an
accident immediately will result in disciplinary action up to
and including termination.” (Def's Ex. 28
[Doc. 17-2] at 131.)
The June 16, 2016 Incident.
16, 2016, Del Villar was picking up passengers at a bus stop
near 54th Street and El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego.
(Del Villar Decl. ¶ 10.) As she closed the
bus's doors and was in the initial moments of pulling
away from the curb, a pedestrian jaywalking from across the
street to catch the bus stepped in front of the driver's
side of the bus. (Id.) Del Villar slammed on the
breaks as the pedestrian continued to cross in front of the
bus. (Id.) Del Villar then opened the doors,
allowing the pedestrian to board the bus. (Id.) As
the person boarded the bus, Del Villar scolded her for being
reckless. (Id.) According to Del Villar, the
passenger responded by denying that the bus struck her.
Villar's bus is equipped with a number of cameras, one of
which appears to be positioned high above Del Villar's
seat. (Lewis Decl. ¶ 6.) From that angle, a
bike rack mounted on the front of the bus appears to bump the
pedestrian. (Lewis Decl. Ex. A.) Del Villar contends
she did not believe the bus struck the pedestrian. (Del
Villar Decl. ¶ 12.)
Villar began to again pull-away from the curb, she noticed
the passenger rubbing her shoulder. (Del Villar
Decl. ¶ 11.) Worried that either the bus struck the
passenger or that the passenger was going to make a false
claim, Del Villar stopped the bus and reported the incident
to dispatch. (Id.) Approximately one minute elapsed
from the time the passenger appeared in front of the bus and
Del Villar notified dispatch. (Def's Ex. 23
[Doc. 17-1 at 083.)