United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO.
P. GORDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Shaquinta Williams worked on a probationary basis as a bus
driver for defendant Clark County School District (CCSD). At
the end of her probationary period, she was returned to her
prior position as a bus aide. Williams sues, claiming she was
subjected to sexual harassment and was retaliated against
when she complained about it. She also claims white employees
were treated more favorably. Williams asserts claims for sex
harassment, retaliation, race discrimination, and
interference with her rights under the Family Medical Leave
Act (FMLA). CCSD moves for summary judgment on all claims. I
grant the motion.
started working for CCSD in 2006 as a bus aide. ECF No. 27-1
at 6. She was promoted to bus driver for the 2015-16 school
year. Id. CCSD policy requires a support staff
employee who is promoted to serve a six-month probation in
her new position. ECF No. 24-1 at 2. If the employee does not
pass probation, she is returned to her prior position.
September 2015, another bus driver complained about issues
she was having with Williams. Id. at 2, 7-14.
Williams denied she generally had issues with the other bus
driver, but she admitted she made a comment about the other
employee. Id. at 2, 16; ECF No. 24-2 at 3. Karen
Johnson, an administrator in CCSD's transportation
department, reminded Williams to be professional in her
interactions with other employees. ECF No. 24-1 at 2, 16.
October 9, 2015, Williams submitted a written statement
asserting that a fellow bus driver, Theo Manning, was
gossiping about the sexual behavior of an unidentified female
bus driver. Id. at 3, 18. Williams also complained
that Manning made comments to her about wanting to be more
than friends and showed her a pornographic video clip on his
phone. Id. at 3, 18-19. Williams saw the video for
about three seconds before she looked away. ECF No. 24-2 at
4. According to Williams, Manning would make comments about
the way she looked and he would undress her with his eyes.
ECF No. 27-1 at 17-18. Additionally, Williams contended
Manning falsely accused her of being in an accident and then
harassed her about it. ECF No. 24-1 at 19-23.
receiving Williams' complaint, CCSD employee Mark Johnson
told Manning not to bother Williams and her sister, who also
worked as a bus driver. ECF No. 27-1 at 19-20. Later that
month, Jennifer Coleman, a transportation department
administrator, issued a written directive to Manning ordering
him to cease communicating with other employees about the
recent allegations of harassment and advised him he was
expected to behave professionally. Id. at 27.
Coleman also told Williams and her sister to stay away from
Manning. ECF Nos. 27-1 at 21; 27-3 at 61.
December 2015, Manning complained that Williams and her
sister were harassing him. ECF No. 24-1 at 3. Another bus
driver separately reported that he heard Williams ask if
“ugly” (referring to Manning) had touched her
bus. Id. at 4, 33. In January 2016, Manning
complained that Williams and her sister were still harassing
him. Id. 24-1 at 4, 30-31.
meantime, Williams received her initial three-month
performance evaluation, which she signed on January 11, 2016.
ECF No. 27-6 at 26. Williams' overall performance was
marked as meeting standards, although she was marked as
needing improvement in the area of communications with
co-workers. Id. In the comment sections, Williams
was reminded to act professionally with fellow employees,
students, and members of the community. Id.
on the reports in December and January that Williams and her
sister were harassing Manning, Karen Johnson spoke to
Williams on January 25. ECF No. 24-1 at 4, 35. During that
conversation, Johnson asked if Manning had continued to
harass Williams. Id. at 4, 35. Williams responded
that Manning had not done anything inappropriate since
October. Id. at 4, 35; see also ECF No.
24-2 at 6 (Williams' deposition testimony that after
showing her the video, Manning did not further sexually
harass her). Johnson told Williams not to talk about Manning
with anyone except her, and she reminded Williams that
harassment was improper conduct and to act professionally.
ECF No. 24-1 at 3, 35. Johnson also decided that because more
than one employee had reported that Williams and her sister
were engaging in harassing conduct, the sisters would be
assigned to different work locations. Id. at 4, 35.
January 27, Williams was in a minor accident while driving
her bus. Id. at 4, 37. In her statement to the Las
Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Williams stated she was
driving down Tropicana Avenue in the turn lane and was about
to make a left turn when her “right bottom mirror hit
the armoured [sic] truck.” Id. at 38. A CCSD
transportation investigator reviewed the incident.
Id. at 4, 37. She determined that Williams was
traveling eastbound on Tropicana when the bus's mirror
made contact with a second vehicle, which fled the scene.
Id. at 37. The investigator concluded the accident
was preventable. Id. Approximately six weeks after
the accident, Williams' sister wrote a statement that the
accident was caused by the armored truck driver, but she did
not give the statement to CCSD as part of the accident
investigation. ECF No. 27-3 at 41, 56.
February 16, Williams applied for intermittent FMLA leave
based on stress and anxiety. ECF No. 27-5 at 13. That request
was granted. Id. at 15.
February 22, Williams received her six-month evaluation. ECF
No. 27-6 at 28. This time, her overall performance was rated
as requiring improvement. Id. She was marked as
needing improvement in the areas of safety practices and
compliance with rules, and work judgments. Id. In
the comments section, the evaluation stated Williams
“failed to make progress with the previously set goal
of conducting herself in a professional manner, ” and
it was noted that Williams “was involved in a
preventable accident on January 27, 2016.” Id.
tried to schedule meetings with Williams to discuss work
issues, but Williams would state she was feeling stressed and
could not continue to work, so no meeting was held. ECF No.
24-1 at 4. Johnson decided that Williams had not passed
probation, which meant Williams would be demoted from her
position as a bus driver and returned to her prior position
as a bus aide. Id. at 5, 40-41. According to
Johnson, the decision was based on work performance issues
and Williams' statements about her own stress level,
given that bus driver is a safety sensitive position.
Id. at 5, 40. On February 24, Johnson advised other
members of the transportation department of this decision.
Id. at 40. Williams was mailed a letter informing
her of the decision on February 25, and she signed a form
acknowledging the demotion on March 7. Id. at 41;
ECF No. 27-1 at 134. The demotion resulted in a pay decrease.
ECF No. 27-6 at 19.
April 2016, Williams filed a charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). ECF No. 24-2 at 17. Williams
marked the boxes for race and sex discrimination and
retaliation. Id. She based her complaint on
Manning's conduct, which she described as occurring from
August 2015 through December 2015, and on the fact that she
was not allowed to work with family members but white
employees were allowed to work with family members.
Id. The EEOC issued a notice of right to sue in June
2016. Id. at 18.
September 2016, a bus driver reported that Williams, who was
the aide on her bus, was sleeping and using a cell phone
while students were on the bus, in violation of CCSD policy.
ECF No. 24-1 at 5, 43-47, 55. After the matter was
investigated and video from the bus reviewed, Nathaniel
Whitney, Bus Operations Coordinator, suspended Williams for
ten days. ECF No. 24-1 at 5, 55. After an evidentiary
hearing, the suspension decision was upheld. ECF No. 27-4 at
judgment is appropriate if the movant shows “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), (c). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). An issue is genuine if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id.
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden
then shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific
facts demonstrating there is a genuine issue of material fact
for trial. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212
F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000). I view the evidence and