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Vazquez v. Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 2, 2015

SYLVIA VAZQUEZ, Plaintiff(s),


JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc.'s ("Valley Hospital") motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 22). Plaintiff Sylvia Vazquez filed a response (doc. # 33) and defendant filed a reply (doc. # 37).

I. Background

Valley Hospital hired plaintiff, a Hispanic female, on or about December 4, 1992 as an MRI tech. (Doc. # 1 at 3). Valley Hospital maintains a strict confidentiality policy regarding patient and employee information that is included in the employee handbook. (Doc. # 22-1 at 23-25). Plaintiff received the employee handbook when she started work at Valley Hospital, and again in April 1995 and February 1998. (Doc. # 22-1 at 20, 21). Each time plaintiff signed a document certifying that she received a copy of the employee handbook and would familiarize herself with these policies. ( Id. ). Plaintiff also certified that she understood that violation of any of the rules and regulations in the employee handbook could result in disciplinary action or termination. ( Id. ).

Valley Hospital tacked paystubs for all employees who received direct-deposit pay to a bulletin board in the MRI department. The envelopes holding the paystubs had a clear window that displayed the employee's name. (Doc # 22-7 at 8). In April 2007 plaintiff opened and viewed a paystub for another MRI tech, Mr. Ludwig Williams, instead of opening her own. The parties dispute whether plaintiff's viewing of the paystub was intentional or a mistake.

Plaintiff, upon seeing Mr. Williams' paystub, perceived what she viewed as a pay disparity. Plaintiff then copied her own paystub and Mr. Williams' paystub. Plaintiff left a copy in two of her managers' mailboxes with notes stating, "I would like to know why Lud is making over $3.00 per hour more than I for MRI call back time. What can be done to make this more equitable? Sylvia." (Doc. # 22-3 at 4, 6).

On May 1, 2007, a human resources administrator from Valley Hospital sent plaintiff a response to her inquiry regarding the pay difference between Mr. Williams and plaintiff. (Doc. # 22-7 at 32). The letter explained that MRI tech salaries are determined by a pay matrix and pay raises are determined by employee performance. ( Id. ). It also stated that the human resources administrator and one of plaintiff's supervisors investigated plaintiff's concern of pay disparity and found no errors or irregularities in their reviewed of plaintiff's and Mr. Williams' files and wages.

The letter also stated that the human resources administrator and plaintiff's supervisor were concerned with plaintiff's possession of another employee's payroll information without that employee's consent. Human resources requested for plaintiff to schedule a meeting with them immediately. ( Id. ). The letter informed plaintiff that she would be taken off of the work schedule pending her meeting with human resources. ( Id. ).

On May 8, 2007, plaintiff responded in writing to human resources' letter. (Doc. # 33-1 at 7). Plaintiff requested a more detailed explanation of salary determinations. ( Id. ). Plaintiff did not address human resources' request for her to schedule a meeting, nor did plaintiff respond in any way to human resources' concerns regarding her possession and copying of another employee's confidential information.

On May 30, 2007, plaintiff met with human resources. Human resources informed plaintiff that her conduct of opening and copying a co-worker's paystub was a violation of Valley Hospital's confidentiality policies she had previously received and acknowledged that she was familiar with. Valley Hospital terminated plaintiff on May 30, 2007.

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 2, 2008, alleging equal pay, sex, and national origin discrimination, and retaliation for complaining of the alleged discrimination. (Doc. # 33-1 at 21-22). The EEOC issued a right to sue letter to plaintiff on June 15, 2009, for all allegations except equal pay discrimination. (Doc. # 22-7 at 22).

Plaintiff initiated her complaint before this court on November 15, 2013. (Doc. # 1). Plaintiff's complaint alleged three causes of action: (1) sex discrimination under federal anti-discrimination statutes; (2) national origin discrimination under federal anti-discrimination statutes; and (3) retaliation. (Doc. # 1).

On November 18, 2014, the parties stipulated to dismiss plaintiff's second cause of action for national origin discrimination with prejudice. (Docs. ## 18, 19). Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment on February 4, 2015, seeking summary judgment as to plaintiff's remaining claims. (Doc. # 22).

On April 29, 2015, the parties stipulated to dismiss plaintiff's first cause of action for sex discrimination with prejudice. (Docs. ## 35, 36). Accordingly, the court now considers defendant's motion for summary judgment with ...

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