Díaz-Zayas v. Municipality of Guaynabo

Decision Date27 April 2022
Docket NumberCIVIL NO. 18-1668 (RAM)
Citation600 F.Supp.3d 184
Parties Yenetamie DÍAZ-ZAYAS, et al., Plaintiffs v. MUNICIPALITY OF GUAYNABO, et al., Defendants
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico

Jane A. Becker-Whitaker, Becker & Vissepo, San Juan, PR, for Plaintiffs.

Claudio Aliff-Ortiz, Eliezer Aldarondo-Ortiz, Sheila J. Torres-Delgado, Aldarondo & Lopez Bras, PSC, Guaynabo, PR, for Defendant Municipio de Guaynabo.

Ricardo Pizarro, Pizarro Law Firm, P.S.C., San Juan, PR, for Defendants Hector O'Neill-Garcia, Alba Alvelo, Conjugal Partnership O'Neill-Alvelo.


RAÚL M. ARIAS-MARXUACH, United States District Judge Plaintiffs Yenetamie Díaz-Zayas ("Díaz") and Angel Reyes ("Reyes") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed this action against the Municipality of Guaynabo (the "Municipality" or "Guaynabo"), Guaynabo's ex-mayor, Héctor O'Neill-García ("O'Neill"), and his wife, Alba Alvelo-Colón ("Alvelo") (with O'Neill, the "Individual Defendants," and, collectively with the Municipality, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs seek redress for alleged constitutional violations as well as discrimination and retaliation during their employment with the Guaynabo Municipal Police Department. The Amended Complaint alleges Defendants violated: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" Section 1983"); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"); Puerto Rico's general anti-discrimination statute, Law No. 100 of June 30, 1959, P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29 §§ 146, et seq. ("Law 100"); and Articles 1802 and 1803 of the Puerto Rico Civil Code, P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31 §§ 5141 and 5142. Pending before the Court are DefendantsMotions to Dismiss at Docket Nos. 53 and 55.

For the reasons detailed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the Municipality's Motion to Dismiss at Docket No. 53 and GRANTS the Individual Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss at Docket No. 55.


Díaz was first hired by the Guaynabo Municipal Police Department in 2009. (Docket No. 51 ¶ 10). At that time, she was a single mother with a special needs child. Id. ¶ 11. Shortly after starting her position, Díaz approached the then-mayor of Guaynabo, O'Neill, to inquire about potential assistance for her special needs daughter. Id. ¶ 13. O'Neill invited Díaz for several lunches and then dinners. Id. ¶¶ 15-17. Plaintiffs allege that after an unspecified number of dinners, O'Neill pressured Díaz to have sex with him. Id. ¶ 19. Díaz claims she only acceded because she was afraid to lose her job if she refused the mayor's sexual advances. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiffs further allege that Díaz engaged in sexual relations with O'Neill until she ended the relationship in October 2014 and that during that time, O'Neill physically and sexually abused her. Id. ¶¶ 23-26.

By November 2014, Díaz was working as the director of the Division of Regulations and Environmental Matters ("DRAAS" by its Spanish acronym). Id. ¶¶ 36-38. Between November 2014 and June 2015, O'Neill regularly visited DRAAS for official business, including meetings and supervised operations. Id. ¶ 38. When he visited, Díaz hid to avoid seeing him. Id. ¶ 39. Despite her attempts to hide, Díaz claims O'Neill repeatedly tried to contact her during this time, including calling her from a blocked number. Id. ¶ 43.

While the Amended Complaint does not specify when, Díaz began seeing her now-husband, Reyes. Id. ¶ 27. Reyes had worked for the Guaynabo Municipal Police Department since 1996 and was promoted to sergeant in 2005. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. In 2012, he began working for the Transit Department, where he was able to earn significant overtime pay and was repeatedly recognized for his good work. Id. ¶¶ 31-34. Plaintiffs posit that when O'Neill learned of their relationship, he began to retaliate against them. Id. ¶ 35.

After the initiation of their relationship, one of Reyes's supervisors saw Díaz and Reyes eating breakfast together at a bakery. Id. ¶ 45. Following that encounter, Reyes asserts that his requests for shift changes — which had previously been routinely granted — were repeatedly denied by his supervisors. Id. ¶¶ 46-47. Reyes was then transferred from his unit and was no longer eligible for overtime work. Id. ¶ 48.

On November 2, 2015, Police Commissioner Wilfredo Martinez ("Commissioner Martinez") told Díaz that, if she wanted to continue working for the Guaynabo Municipal Police Department, she would either have to accept a demotion within DRAAS or be transferred to the traffic division. Id. ¶ 64. Commissioner Martinez allegedly admitted that this order came directly from O'Neill. Id. ¶ 66. Díaz immediately called O'Neill to discuss her demotion. Id. ¶ 68. The two arranged a meeting at O'Neill’s apartment for that afternoon. Id. ¶ 69. Díaz alleges O'Neill told her she could fix her work situation by being with him again and that the meeting ended with a physical altercation between the two. Id. ¶¶ 74, 79-83.

On either November 10 or 11, 2015, Díaz spoke with Commissioner Martinez again regarding her work situation. Id. ¶ 92. Commissioner Martinez reiterated that he was powerless to change her employment status at that time. Id. ¶ 93. On January 7, 2016, Díaz was officially demoted within DRAAS. Id. ¶¶ 96-102. Díaz felt "denigrated as a woman," as she was the only woman in the office and had been replaced in her role by a man despite having done nothing wrong. Id. ¶ 103. Throughout January 2016, her coworkers made multiple sexist comments in her presence, and Plaintiffs presume it was at O'Neill’s instruction. Id. ¶¶ 116-21.

In early 2016, Díaz was reassigned twice. First, on February 1, 2016, she was reassigned to the intake station and ordered to investigate civilian complaints. Id. ¶¶ 136-37. Then, on March 14, 2016, she was transferred to work as a security guard in a guardhouse outside the Center of Operations. Id. ¶¶ 153-54. Díaz claims O'Neill drove by the guardhouse numerous times and made sexist comments or sexual movements at Díaz. Id. ¶¶ 172-76, 194-97. Díaz was the only woman working at that security post and was forced to share an unsanitary bathroom with her male colleagues, even though she requested better bathroom accommodations. Id. ¶¶ 181-83.

During this time, in addition to the retaliatory demotions, O'Neill allegedly harassed and threatened Plaintiffs by repeatedly screaming at Díaz over the phone, claiming to be tracking her movements, and stating that he wanted to hurt Reyes. Id. ¶¶ 49-53, 60-61, 130. Díaz also claims O'Neill harassed her at work. Most notably, in late January 2016, Díaz walked into her office and encountered O'Neill masturbating while sitting in her chair. Id. ¶¶ 132-33. Díaz notes she was too afraid to report this conduct at the time. Id. ¶¶ 134-35.

These actions, and others outlined in the Amended Complaint but not repeated here, prompted Díaz to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on June 30, 2016.2 Id. ¶ 206. Once the EEOC began its investigation, O'Neill contacted Díaz through a friend requesting that the two settle the claims. Id. ¶ 207. Díaz, without the assistance of an attorney, negotiated an agreement whereby she would withdraw her charge in exchange for a payment and promise from O'Neill to cease his retaliatory conduct. Id. ¶ 208. The agreement also provided that Díaz would be restored to her old role as coordinator in the DRAAS office. Id. ¶ 218. The agreement was signed on December 27, 2016. Id. ¶ 215. Although O'Neill paid the money, Díaz was not given her old job back and the retaliation allegedly continued. Id. ¶¶ 218-42. Following her First EEOC Charge, only one officer allowed Díaz to perform her duties, and only for a week or so. Id. ¶ 260.

Díaz then filed her Second EEOC Charge due to the retaliation she allegedly experienced after filing the First EEOC Charge. Id. ¶ 276. O'Neill resigned as Mayor shortly thereafter. Id. ¶ 277. Based on Plaintiffs’ information and belief, O'Neill continues to meet with municipal employees to instruct them on how to maintain the retaliation against Díaz and Reyes. Id. ¶ 278. And, as recently as December 23, 2018, Díaz claims O'Neill physically intimidated her by standing behind her at her post for more than an hour as her supervisor looked on. Id. ¶ 279.


On September 10, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their original complaint in this action. (Docket No. 1). Plaintiffs then successfully moved to amend the complaint and filed the Amended Complaint on February 1, 2019. (Docket Nos. 34; 48; 51). On February 15, 2019, Defendants filed their Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Docket Nos. 53; 55). Plaintiffs opposed both Motions to Dismiss (the "Opposition to the Municipality's MTD " and the "Opposition to the Individual Defendants’ MTD "). (Docket Nos. 59; 60). The Municipality subsequently filed a Reply in further support of its Motion to Dismiss , and Plaintiffs filed a Sur-Reply. (Docket Nos. 61-1; 64). The Court then stayed discovery in this case pending resolution of the Motions to Dismiss. (Docket No. 80).


When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "[t]he sole inquiry ... is whether, construing the well-pleaded facts of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, the complaint states a claim for which relief can be granted." Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2011). The Court must first "isolate and ignore statements in the complaint that simply offer legal labels and conclusions or merely rehash cause-of-action elements." Schatz, 669 F.3d at 55 (citations omitted). Then, the Court takes "the complaint's well-pled (i.e. , non-conclusory, non-speculative) facts as true, drawing all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor," to determine "if they plausibly narrate a claim for relief." Id. (citations omitted). The analysis for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion "is essentially the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis: we accept the well-pleaded facts...

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