United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment.
ECF Nos. 45 - 54. For the reasons stated below, the Motions
are granted in part and denied in part.
filed a petition for removal on May 27, 2015. ECF No. 1. On
June 3, 2015, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 7.
On February 18, 2016, this Court held a hearing on the Motion
to Dismiss, in which it granted the motion and gave the
Plaintiffs 45 days to file an amended complaint. Plaintiffs
filed an Amended Complaint on April 18, 2016. ECF No. 35.
Defendant filed an Answer on May 2, 2016. ECF No. 37.
Discovery closed on January 30, 2017. ECF No. 42. Dispositive
motions were due on March 30, 2017. ECF No. 44. Defendant
filed the instant Motions for Summary Judgment on March 17
and 18, 2017. ECF Nos. 45-54. On May 30, 2017, Defendant
filed a Stipulation and Order to Consolidate Cases for Trial.
ECF No. 75.
Motion for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate 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 judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). When considering the propriety of summary
judgment, the court views all facts and draws all inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Gonzalez v. City of Anaheim, 747 F.3d 789, 793
(9th Cir. 2014). If the movant has carried its
burden, the non-moving party “must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Scott
v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (alteration in
original) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Court finds the following facts to be undisputed.
Facts Relevant to All Plaintiffs
Vegas Valley Water District (“The District”) is a
not-for-profit utility that began providing water to the Las
Vegas Valley in 1954. The Southern Nevada Water Authority
(“SNWA”) is a separate joint powers authority
formed in the early 1990's by a number of area political
subdivisions of the State of Nevada (including the District,
North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Henderson) to
manage the region's water resources. The District
supplies personnel and funds to operate the SNWA.
the District hires an employee, the employee receives a
Handbook, which outlines the District's general policies
and procedures (“Handbook”). Some, but not all,
employees are members of unions covered by Collective
Bargaining Agreements (“CBAs”).
2008 to 2011, the nation was mired in a severe economic
downturn, and Las Vegas' economy was profoundly affected.
The economic downturn dramatically diminished the
District's revenues, as the level of new construction
during that timeframe declined. Declining construction meant
declining connection fees. Connection revenue went from
approximately $188 million in 2008 to approximately $3
million by 2010.
Manager Pat Mulroy addressed the economic downturn in her
“General Manager Briefings” from 2009 to 2011.
She informed those in attendance that, “under her
watch, ” the District was doing its best to not lay
anyone off during recession, and it was utilizing other
options in an effort to address the decreasing revenue.
However, the District continued to have financial challenges,
experiencing the absence of new construction in the Valley
and facing difficulties with bond obligations. In 2013, the
Board approved a new Strategic Plan, in which the central
goal was the management of resources in a responsible manner.
This led to a major shift in the District's focus, from
growth and development of new resources to operation and
maintenance of existing resources.
the new General Manager, John Entsminger, took over in
February of 2014, he met with his Deputy General Managers to
evaluate a reduction in force to address the lack of new
development, falling revenues, and to better meet the
District's new Strategic Plan. In doing so, Entsminger
directed department heads to review workload and staffing
levels for their respective departments and focus on
retaining only what was necessary to sustain the core
functions of the District and SNWA from 2014 to the
“reasonably foreseeable future.” Entsminger did
not set any targets for the reduction and each department was
solely responsible for selection of employees for the
layoffs. It was not a District-wide reduction by any set
classification. Department heads would provide the list to
the Senior Management Committee, and Pat Maxwell-the director
of the Human Resources department-would review the list for
any disparate impact on protected categories of employees.
She ultimately approved a list that she believed had no
disparate impact. In total, 101 positions from the District
and the SNWA were eliminated in the reduction in force
(“RIF”), spanning nearly all departments.
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Talley (ECF No. 48)
Talley began working at the District in 2005 and was employed
as a Materials Handler II when he was included in the RIF in
2013. Plaintiff Talley was over forty years of age when he
was included in the RIF. Three of the four material handlers
in Plaintiff Talley's department were included in the
RIF, with only the most senior employee remaining with the
District. Plaintiff Talley was covered by a CBA.
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Pridgen (ECF No. 49)
Pridgen was employed as a Business Analyst in the IT
Department at the District when she was included in the RIF
in 2013. Plaintiff Pridgen was over forty years old when she
was included in the RIF. Plaintiff Pridgen was not covered by
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Halverson (ECF No. 50)
Halverson was employed as a Resource Analyst on the Resource
Planning Team at the District when he was included in the RIF
in 2013. Plaintiff Halverson was over forty years old when he
was included in the RIF. During the RIF, the District
retained William Murray, the other Resource Analyst on the
Resource Planning Team, who was younger than Halverson and
had been with the District for less time. Plaintiff Halverson
was not covered by a CBA.
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Bordelois (ECF No. 50)
Bordelois was employed as a Civil Engineer at the District
when she was included in the RIF in 2013. Plaintiff Bordelois
and her same-sex partner spoke with Pat Maxwell in human
resources regarding the mishandling of insurance and tax
issues related to their status as a same-sex couple and filed
a complaint with the District regarding these issues.
Plaintiff Bordelois was included in the RIF fifteen months
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Jackson (ECF No. 51)
Jackson was employed as a Civil Engineer in the Engineering
Services Division of the District when he was included in the
RIF in 2013. Plaintiff Jackson was over forty years old when
he was included in the RIF. During the RIF, the District
retained Jason Ghadery, another Civil Engineer, who was
younger than Plaintiff Jackson. Plaintiff Jackson was not
covered by a CBA.
Facts Relevant to Plaintiff Morgan (ECF No. 51)
Morgan was employed as a Senior Civil Engineer in the
Engineering Services Division of the District when he was
included in the RIF in 2013. Plaintiff Morgan was over forty
years old when he was included in the RIF. During the RIF,
the District retained Michael Dishari, another Senior Civil