445 F.3d 19 (1st Cir. 2006), 05-1743, Aguiar-Carrasquillo v. Agosto-Alicea

Docket Nº:05-1743.
Citation:445 F.3d 19
Party Name:Fernando AGUIAR-CARRASQUILLO, Mar
Case Date:April 12, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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445 F.3d 19 (1st Cir. 2006)

Fernando AGUIAR-CARRASQUILLO, María Reyes-García, Plaintiffs, Appellants,

v.

Hon. Juan AGOSTO-ALICEA, in his personal capacity and in his official capacity as President of the Government Development Bank (GDB); Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico, Defendants, Appellees.

No. 05-1743.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

April 12, 2006

Submitted Feb. 9, 2006.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO, Hon. Daniel R. Dominguez, U.S. District Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Francisco R. Gonzlez, with whom F.R. Gonzlez Law Office was on brief, for appellants.

Edwin J. Seda-Fernndez, with whom Mariel Y. Haack, Adsuar Muñiz Goyco & Besosa, P.S.C., Rafael Escalera-Rodríguez, Michelle Taveira-Tirado, and Reichard & Escalera were on brief, for appellees.

Before Torruella, Circuit Judge, Stahl, Senior Circuit Judge, and Howard, Circuit Judge.

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TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

plaintiffs-Appellants Fernando Aguiar-Carrasquillo ("Aguiar") and Maria Reyes-Garcia ("Reyes") allege several different causes of action arising from political discrimination against their employers, defendants Government Development Bank ("GDB") and Juan Agosto-Alicea ("Agosto"). Plaintiffs are members of the New Progressive Party ("NPP") while Agosto is a member of the Popular Democratic Party ("PDP") that came to power in Puerto Rico after its 2000 electoral victory.

On July 15, 2003, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On July 21, 2003, plaintiffs requested a thirty-day extension to file their opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment because they claimed it was essential for their opposition to depose Alba Caballero ("Caballero").1 The district court granted plaintiffs' request for an extension until August 21, 2003, but warned that "ABSOLUTELY NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED." (emphasis in the original). Nevertheless, plaintiffs did not timely file their opposition to defendants' summary judgment motion.

Four months later, on November 25, 2003, defendants filed a motion requesting that the court deem unopposed their statements of uncontested material facts and grant summary judgment in their favor. On December 24, 2003, plaintiffs opposed defendants' motion for the admission of their statement of facts as uncontroverted, and requested a thirty-day extension to file their opposition to defendants' summary judgment motion. On March 12, 2004, the court entered its Opinion and Order, accepting defendants' unopposed statement of facts and granting defendants' unopposed motion for summary judgment. On March 23, plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration on grounds that defendants had failed to provide certain "essential documents." On March 25, plaintiffs filed their first motion requesting that the court order defendants to produce those documents. Finally, on April 14, 2004, more than one month after the entry of judgment, plaintiffs filed their opposition to summary judgment. On March 23, 2005, the district court denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. Plaintiffs now appeal.

I. Uncontested Facts

agosto became GDB President on January 2, 2001, at which time he extended all probationary periods then in effect and ordered an investigation -- to be conducted by Caballero--of all recent appointments, including those of plaintiffs, to determine whether any violated the applicable law and regulations. Both plaintiffs allege discriminatory adverse employment actions resulting from this investigation.

A. Plaintiff Aguiar

On April 7, 2000, Aguiar was appointed Executive Director of the Tourism Development Fund, a trust position, 2 with a salary of $77,200. That salary was increased to $82,227 on July 12, 2000. In August 2000, the GDB Human Resources

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Office prepared an announcement for the position of Assistant Director of Private Finance. The requirements for the position included:

(a) Bachelor's Degree in Accounting or Finance from an accredited university or college; Six years of experience in loan analysis and administration, two of those years in personnel supervision functions; Bilingual (Spanish and English); or in its place;

(b) Master's Degree in Accounting or Finance from an accredited university or college; Five years of experience in loan analysis and administration, two of those years in personnel supervision; Bilingual (Spanish and English).

Jaime Lopez ("Lopez"), Director of Private Finance at GDB, reviewed these requirements before the announcement was published, met with Aguiar to discuss his eligibility for the position, and subsequently eliminated the education prerequisites and the requirements for experience in loan analysis and administration. In their stead, he established a much lower threshold of qualifications for the job--namely, six years of experience in analysis and administration of private sector financing, two of which must have entailed the planning and coordination of financing services including personnel supervision. Despite the fact that GDB had classified the position of Assistant Director of Private Finance as one that categorically required a degree in accounting or finance, the announcement was published with no such requirements. Aguiar does not have a degree in accounting or finance and would not have been eligible for the position if Lopez had not changed the requirements.

Aguiar applied for the position of Assistant Director of Private Finance and was appointed, effective September 7, 2000, subject to the standard six month probationary period. At that time, Aguiar's qualifications for the position included four years and eleven months' experience in analysis and administration of private sector financing, two of which related to planning and coordination of financing services. When he was certified as eligible for the position, one additional year of employment experience--during which time he served as an administrative officer--was counted toward the requirement of six years' experience in the analysis and administration of private sector financing, despite the fact that his duties as an administrative officer did not include those activities.

The position of Assistant Director of Private Finance was a permanent career position, with an annual salary of $58,900. Aguiar continued to occupy the position of Executive Director of the Tourism Development Fund, for which he received a "differential compensation" of $23,100 annually. The sum of his salary and the differential was $82,230, which is the same...

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