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Carlson v. Partners

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 26, 2014

CLAUDIA CARLSON, Plaintiff(s),
v.
VICTORIA PARTNERS, Defendant(s)

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant Victoria Partners d/b/a Monte Carlo Resort and Casino's (hereinafter "defendant") motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 70). Plaintiffs Claudia Carlson and Joshua Hall (hereinafter "plaintiffs") filed a response, (doc. # 80), to which defendant replied, (doc. # 88).

I. Background

Plaintiffs were previously employed as ushers in the Monte Carlo showroom. (Doc. # 70). Plaintiff Claudia Carlson ("Carlson") is a Hispanic female who began working at the Monte Carlo in 2003. (Doc. # 80). Plaintiff Joshua Hall ("Hall") is an African-American male who began working at the Monte Carlo in 2005. (Doc. # 80).

Plaintiffs allege that, beginning in 2008, they were subjected to and witnessed coworkers' racist conduct and remarks. (Doc. # 6). Plaintiffs also allege that beginning around 2010 or 2011, coworkers made sexually offensive statements in plaintiffs' presence and directed such statements towards plaintiffs. (Doc. # 6).

Plaintiffs filed a number of written complaints with defendant concerning this purported discriminatory conduct. (Doc. # 6). Beginning in 2011, Carlson received a number of disciplinary write-ups for allegedly failing to follow appropriate procedures and stay within her workstation. (Doc. # 6).

As a result of the disciplinary write-ups, Carlson was suspended pending investigation. On or about November 7, 2011, she was permanently fired. (Doc. # 6). On or about October 31, 2011, Hall went on medical leave for severe emotional distress supposedly caused by defendant's alleged discrimination. (Doc. # 6). Hall never returned to work at the Monte Carlo and eventually resigned. (Doc. # 6).

Plaintiffs both filed charges of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Doc. # 6). On February 1, 2013, plaintiffs received notice of their rights to sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). (Doc. # 27-1, 27-2).

On March 7, 2013, plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting the following causes of action: 1) hostile work environment for race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 2) hostile work environment for gender in violation of Title VII, on behalf of Carlson; 3) sexual harassment in violation of Title VII, on behalf of Hall; 4) retaliation in violation of § 1981; 5) retaliation in violation of Title VII; and 6) constructive discharge in violation of § 1981, on behalf of Hall.[1] (Doc. # 6).

On August 25, 2014, plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a declaration in further support of their response to defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 90). Plaintiffs sought to authenticate deposition transcripts and other documents included as exhibits to their opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 80).

On September 16, 2014, Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen granted in part and denied in part the motion for leave. (Doc. # 93). Judge Leen granted leave to include court reporter certifications to authenticate deposition excerpts. (Doc. # 93). However, Judge Leen denied plaintiffs' request to authenticate their remaining exhibits with a blanket declaration of authenticity by plaintiffs' counsel. (Doc. # 93).

Defendant denies all of plaintiffs' allegations and asserts that plaintiffs have fabricated the instant claims for monetary gain. Accordingly, defendants now move for summary judgment. (Doc. # 70).

II. Legal Standards

A. Summary judgment

The federal rules of civil procedure allow summary judgment when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

For purposes of summary judgment, disputed factual issues should be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). However, to be entitled to a denial of summary judgment, the non-moving party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id.

In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. "When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case." C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

By contrast, when the non-moving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the non-moving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the non-moving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the non-moving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).

"A trial court can only consider admissible evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Orr v. Bank of Am., NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). "Authentication is a condition precedent to admissibility." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Authentication requires that the proponent produce evidence that is sufficient to support a finding that the document is what the proponent claims it is. Fed.R.Evid. 901(a). "[U]nauthenticated documents cannot be considered in a motion for summary judgment." Orr, 285 F.3d at 773.

B. Title VII hostile work environment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it "an unlawful employment practice for an employer... to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).

"To make a prima facie case of a hostile work environment based on sex or race under Title VII, a person must show that: (1) she was subjected to verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or because of race, (2) this conduct was unwelcome, and (3) the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment." Craig v. M&O Agencies, Inc., 496 F.3d 1047, 1055 (9th Cir. 2007); Manatt v. Bank of Am., N.A., 339 F.3d 792, 798 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).

"Additionally, the working environment must both subjectively and objectively be perceived as abusive." Id. "Objective hostility is determined by examining the totality of the circumstances and whether a reasonable person with the same characteristics as the victim would perceive the workplace as hostile." Id. Finally, "conduct ...


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