Medina v. Adecco

Decision Date12 June 2008
Docket NumberCivil No. 06-2126 (GAG).
Citation561 F.Supp.2d 162
PartiesCharlene MEDINA, Plaintiff, v. ADECCO, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico

Pedro J. Landrau-Lopez, San Juan, PR, for Plaintiff.

Ricardo Pizarro, Pizarro Law Firm, P.SC., San Juan, PR, for Adecco.

Eva Yanira Mundo-Sagardia, Enrique A. Del Cueto-Perez, Fiddler, Gonzalez & Rodriguez, San Juan, PR, for Popular Finance.

OPINION AND ORDER

GUSTAVO A. GELPI, District Judge.

Plaintiff Charlene Medina filed this action against Adecco and Popular Finance alleging pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). She also asserts supplemental claims under Puerto Rico law. Presently before the court are Popular Finance's and Adecco's motions for summary judgment (Docket Nos. 75, 78). After reviewing the relevant facts and applicable law, the court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Popular Finance's motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 75) and GRANTS Adecco's motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 78).

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary 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 issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). "An issue is genuine if it may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party at trial, and material if it posses[es] the capacity to sway the outcome of the litigation under the applicable law." Iverson v. City of Boston, 452 F.3d 94, 98 (1st Cir.2006) (alteration in original) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

The moving party bears the initial burden to demonstrate the lack of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548. In order to defeat summary judgment, the non-moving party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). If the court finds that some genuine factual issue remains, the resolution of which could affect the outcome of the case, then the court must deny summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). When considering a summary judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and give that party the benefit of any and all reasonable inferences. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Moreover, at the summary judgment stage; the court does not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. Id.

In cases involving questions of motive or intent, the movant's burden is particularly rigorous. Unsettled issues regarding motive and intent will often preclude summary judgment. See Lipsett v. Univ. of P.R., 864 F.2d 881, 895 (1st Cir.1988). Summary judgment may be appropriate, however, if the non-moving party's case rests merely upon "conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation." Forestier Fradera v. Municipality of Mayaguez, 440 F.3d 17, 21 (1st Cir.2006) (quoting Benoit v. Technical Mfg. Corp., 331 F.3d 166, i73 (1st Cir. 2003)). The court should deny summary judgment when the non-moving party "can point to specific facts detailed in affidavits and depositions—that is, names, dates, incidents, and supporting testimony—giving rise to an inference of discriminatory animus." Lipsett, 864 F.2d at 895.

II. Factual Background

In early 2003, Medina began working for Adecco, a company that provides temporary staffing for its clients, including Popular Finance. During her employment, Medina signed several Adecco temporary employment contracts to work myriad locations including Keebler Company, Farmacias El Amal, Phillip Morris, and Popular Finance. Adecco maintained an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") policy of which it made Medina award.

Popular Finance's business needs dictated whether it used Adecco's services. A Popular Finance business unit or department would contact Celeste Cardoza, Popular Finance's Director of Human Resources, if it had a business need for additional staffing. Cardoza then contacted Adecco, or another staffing firm, to arrange the temporary staffing to satisfy the need.

At some point in 2003, Popular Finance requested personnel from Adecco to satisfy its business needs. Adecco first assigned Medina to work at Popular Finance on June 10, 2003. Medina signed a one-month Adecco contract to provide temporary services to Popular Finance; the contract expired on July 10, 2003. Medina initially worked a part-time schedule at Popular Finance. She switched to full-time at some point during her first contract.

Following the expiration of the first contract, Medina signed six additional temporary contracts to provide services to Popular Finance.1 Each contract required Medina to comply with Popular Finance's rules, norms, and work schedule. Medina's final contract expired on June 30, 2004. Popular Finance did not renew Medina's temporary employment contract after July 2004.

During her time at Popular Finance, Medina primarily worked as a customer representative at Popular Finance's call center in Ponce. Between January and March 2004, Medina's tasks mainly focused on the Mendoza Finance Project. The Mendoza Finance Project ended in March at which time the volume of call center work began to decrease.

Popular Finance directly employed only one customer representative—Mayra Rodríguez; all other customer representatives including Medina, were temporary employees hired through staffing firms. Rodríguez supervised and evaluated the call center employees. She positively evaluated Medina on six occasions between January and June 2004.2 Anna M. Massol directly supervised Rodríguez. Massol, a Popular Finance administrative official, oversaw the call center group in which Medina and Rodríguez worked.

Medina learned of her pregnancy on January 5, 2004. Soon thereafter she informed her Popular Finance co-workers and supervisor, Rodríguez, of the pregnancy. Medina's co-workers and supervisor congratulated her. Medina also informed Adecco of the pregnancy in January 2004.

Popular Finance required all call center customer representatives to work a rotating schedule and to work "from time to time on Saturdays." Docket No. 75-3, ¶ 25. Medina requested to work on some, not all, Saturdays. Between February 9, 2004 and June 6, 2004, Medina worked at least nine of the seventeen Saturdays. She never refused to work on Saturday and missed only one Saturday Popular Finance scheduled her to work.

On or after May 11, 2004, Medina requested certain pregnancy-related changes in her working conditions. She provided Popular Finance and Adecco with a medical certificate highlighting her medical issues. The certificate stated that Medina had been under the physician's care for prenatal hypoglycemia and that she needed to take breaks to eat snacks and to take lunch at noon. Popular Finance complied with the physician's recommendations.

In response to another request, Popular Finance transferred Medina to the work station closest to the restroom. Medina requested this transfer because she needed to take frequent restroom breaks due to her pregnancy. Also in response to a request, Popular Finance placed Medina on a fixed, rather than rotating, work schedule. This schedule change occurred at some point in May 2004. All other call center employees worked a rotating schedule.

In June 2004, Massol and Rodríguez informed Cardoza of issues they observed with Medina's performance. First, they told Cardoza that Medina continued to complain about her schedule notwithstanding her fixed work schedule. They viewed her complaints as indicating a lack of time flexibility, Second, they described a disagreement Medina had with a training instructor. Finally, they described attitude problems they believed Medina showed toward her co-workers. Specifically, Massol and Rodríguez told Cardoza that Medina did not greet her co-workers when she arrived, she always seemed upset, she did not interact with her co-workers, and she gave the impression that she resented the assignment of task to new employees. Medina denies having attitude problems at work.

The incident with the training instructor occurred in March 2004. One afternoon, a call regarding a client loan came in to the call center. Medina's co-worker prepared to transfer the call to her. Medina declined to take the call because she had already turned her computer off. The training instructor told her that she should have gone the extra mile. Rodríguez witnessed the incident. Medina denies she screamed at or offended anyone during the March incident.

Rodríguez evaluated Medina's performance on a monthly basis. Massol reviewed the evaluations. None of the evaluations mention Medina's lack of flexibility, the March 2004 incident, or attitude problems observed in the workplace. All the evaluations included positive feedback regarding Medina's performance. Medina's most recent evaluation is dated June 2, 2004, just weeks before her termination.

Cardoza ultimately made the decision to terminate Medina's assignment. She did not review Medina's evaluations in making her determination. Cardoza relied upon the information Rodríguez and Massol provided regarding Medina's flexibility, her attitude, and the March 2004 incident. She blindly followed Massol's recommendation that Popular Finance terminate Medina's assignment. Cardoza communicated her decision to Adecco. María Ruíz at Adecco then notified Medina of Popular Finance's decision. Ruíz told Medina that Popular Finance cancelled the contract because she lacked the flexibility the company...

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