Medina v. Income Support Div., New Mexico, No. 04-2166.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtTacha
Citation413 F.3d 1131
Decision Date28 June 2005
Docket NumberNo. 04-2166.
PartiesRebecca MEDINA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. INCOME SUPPORT DIVISION, State of NEW MEXICO, Defendant-Appellee.
413 F.3d 1131
Rebecca MEDINA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
INCOME SUPPORT DIVISION, State of NEW MEXICO, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 04-2166.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
June 28, 2005.

Page 1132

Michael E. Mozes, Law Offices of Michael E. Mozes, P.C., Albuquerque, NM, appearing for Appellant.

Daniel Joseph Macke (Kevin M. Brown, with him on the brief), Brown & German, Albuquerque, NM, appearing for Appellee.

Before TACHA, Chief Circuit Judge, LUCERO, and McCONNELL, Circuit Judges.

Page 1133

TACHA, Chief Circuit Judge.


Plaintiff-Appellant Rebecca Medina sued her former employer, Defendant-Appellee Income Support Division, State of New Mexico ("ISD"), alleging gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of ISD on both claims, reasoning that Ms. Medina was not discriminated against "because of sex" and that she had not suffered an adverse employment action or had not demonstrated that ISD's nondiscriminatory reason for taking such action was pretextual. Ms. Medina contests both issues on appeal. We take jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and AFFIRM.

I. BACKGROUND

Ms. Medina is a heterosexual woman who was employed by ISD from August 2001 until September 2002. During Ms. Medina's tenure at ISD, her supervisor was Debie Baca, who is a lesbian. ISD employed other lesbians besides Ms. Baca.

Beginning in January 2002, Ms. Medina began to experience unwelcome conduct from Ms. Baca. That month, Ms. Baca sent Ms. Medina an e-mail titled "Bitchdom." In March 2002, Ms. Baca sent Ms. Medina an e-mail depicting a woman in an aisle at K-Mart bending over in a skirt and exposing her genitals. The e-mail stated that if more women had engaged in similar behavior, K-Mart might not be in financial straits. After receiving the e-mail, Ms. Medina complained to Ms. Baca that it was offensive; Ms. Baca, however, simply responded with laughter. The following May, Ms. Medina sought a promotion to the position of Clerk Supervisor Specialist. She interviewed for the position, and the interview panel gave her the second highest score of all applicants. Ms. Baca ultimately awarded the position to Maria Salinas, who received the highest score. Then, in July 2002, Ms. Baca and her partner, Evelyn Gallegos, sent Ms. Medina an "orgasm e-mail." Ms. Medina describes the e-mail as "consist[ing] of a `female' box and a `male' box which shakes the computer screen when hit—the `female' box shook numerous times and the `male' box once." The final incident occurred on July 31, 2002, when Ms. Baca was conducting a staff meeting about the prevention of workplace sexual harassment. During the meeting, Ms. Baca said, "[A]fter you have finished training, I do not want to hear any more sexual harassment complaints, only sexual advancements." Ms. Medina was offended by this comment.

On August 2, 2002, Ms. Medina wrote a nine-page letter to the Human Resources Department of the State of New Mexico, claiming that Ms. Baca had subjected her to a hostile work environment. The letter included detailed accounts of what Ms. Medina considered to be preferential treatment for lesbians at ISD as well as numerous instances of Ms. Baca's sexually-charged behavior. Mary Beth Pizzoli and Janna Garcia, Human Resources employees, investigated Ms. Medina's claim. Over the course of the investigation, forty-eight ISD employees were interviewed. On August 30, the investigators drafted a written report concluding that a large majority of Ms. Medina's claims could not be substantiated.

During that July or August, Ms. Medina had applied for a position with another New Mexico state agency, the Commission on the Status of Women ("CSW"). On September 11, 2002, Ms. Medina was interviewed for and offered the position at CSW. She resigned from ISD and accepted the CSW position the following day. On September 20, the director of ISD gave Ms. Medina a warning letter for knowingly

Page 1134

or maliciously bringing false claims to the Human Resources Department in violation of ISD's Code of Conduct and Sexual Harassment Policy. The warning was never placed in Ms. Medina's personnel file. Ms. Medina began working for CSW on September 27.

In May 2003, Ms. Medina brought suit against ISD under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliated against because of sex. The District Court dismissed both her hostile work environment and retaliation claims on summary judgment. As to the hostile work environment claim, it held that Ms. Medina had failed to demonstrate that she was discriminated against "because of sex." See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The District Court also concluded that Ms. Medina had failed to make out a prima facie case of retaliation with respect to her allegations of coworker hostility and the warning letter and that she also failed to demonstrate that ISD's nondiscriminatory reason for not promoting her was pretextual.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

We review the District Court's entry of summary judgment de novo, and we apply the same standards used by the District Court. Byers v. City of Albuquerque, 150 F.3d 1271, 1274 (10th Cir.1998). Summary judgment is appropriate "if 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). We view the evidence, and draw reasonable inferences therefrom, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Byers, 150 F.3d at 1274.

B. Hostile Work Environment

Title VII prohibits an employer from "discriminat[ing] against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). To establish the existence of a hostile work environment actionable under Title VII, a plaintiff must show (1) that she was discriminated against because of her sex; and (2) that the discrimination was sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it altered the terms or conditions of her employment and created an abusive working environment. Chavez v. Thomas & Betts Corp., 396 F.3d 1088, 1096 (10th Cir.2005). The District Court concluded that Ms. Medina failed to demonstrate that a reasonable jury could find that Ms. Baca harassed her because of her sex.

In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80, 118 S.Ct. 998, 140 L.Ed.2d 201 (1998), the Supreme Court discussed three evidentiary routes under which a plaintiff in a same-sex sexual harassment suit might prove that she was discriminated against because of her sex. First, she can establish that her harasser's discriminatory conduct was motivated by sexual desire. Dick v. Phone Directories Co., Inc., 397 F.3d 1256, 1263 (10th Cir. 2005). One way to do this is to put forth evidence that her harasser is homosexual and that she proposed sexual activity with the plaintiff. Id. at 1265. Second, a plaintiff might prove that she was harassed because of her sex if she demonstrates that the harasser's conduct was motivated by hostility to the presence of that sex in the workplace. Id. at 1264. Finally, a plaintiff may produce comparative evidence showing that her harasser treated women and men differently in a mixed-sex work environment. Id.; Chavez, 396 F.3d at 1096.

Page 1135

These routes, however, are not exhaustive. The Third Circuit has held that a plaintiff may satisfy her evidentiary burden by showing that the harasser was acting to punish the plaintiff's noncompliance with gender stereotypes. Bibby v. Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co., 260 F.3d 257, 263-64 (3d Cir.2001). This route is rooted in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, a case in which the Supreme Court reviewed the sex...

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191 practice notes
  • Evans v. Ga. Reg'l Hosp., No. 15-15234
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 10, 2017
    ...on sexual orientation is similarly irrelevant, and neither provides nor precludes a cause of action."); Medina v. Income Support Div., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) ("Title VII's protections, however, do not extend to harassment due to a person's sexuality.... Congress has repeatedly......
  • Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Co., No. 18-20251
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 6, 2019
    ...& Co ., 566 F.2d 659, 661 (9th Cir. 1977) ("Title VII does not embrace transsexual discrimination."); Medina v. Income Support Div ., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) (‘‘Title VII’s protections ... do not extend to harassment due to a person’s sexuality."); Evans v. Ga. Reg’l Hosp. , 85......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Boh Bros. Constr. Co., No. 11–30770.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 27, 2013
    ...evidence may be necessary to demonstrate the presence or absence of such an intent. See, e.g., Medina v. Income Support Div., New Mexico, 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir.2005) (finding no sexual harassment based upon gender stereotyping when “there [wa]s no evidence ... that [the plaintiff] d......
  • Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Ind., No. 15-1720
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • April 4, 2017
    ...464, 471 (6th Cir. 2012) ; Williamson v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. , 876 F.2d 69, 70 (8th Cir. 1989) ; Medina v. Income Support Div. , 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) ; Fredette v. BVP Mgmt. Assocs. , 112 F.3d 1503, 1510 (11th Cir. 1997). A panel of the Eleventh Circuit, recognizing th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
188 cases
  • Evans v. Ga. Reg'l Hosp., No. 15-15234
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 10, 2017
    ...on sexual orientation is similarly irrelevant, and neither provides nor precludes a cause of action."); Medina v. Income Support Div., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) ("Title VII's protections, however, do not extend to harassment due to a person's sexuality.... Congress has repeatedly......
  • Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Co., No. 18-20251
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 6, 2019
    ...& Co ., 566 F.2d 659, 661 (9th Cir. 1977) ("Title VII does not embrace transsexual discrimination."); Medina v. Income Support Div ., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) (‘‘Title VII’s protections ... do not extend to harassment due to a person’s sexuality."); Evans v. Ga. Reg’l Hosp. , 85......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Boh Bros. Constr. Co., No. 11–30770.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 27, 2013
    ...evidence may be necessary to demonstrate the presence or absence of such an intent. See, e.g., Medina v. Income Support Div., New Mexico, 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir.2005) (finding no sexual harassment based upon gender stereotyping when “there [wa]s no evidence ... that [the plaintiff] d......
  • Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Ind., No. 15-1720
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • April 4, 2017
    ...464, 471 (6th Cir. 2012) ; Williamson v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. , 876 F.2d 69, 70 (8th Cir. 1989) ; Medina v. Income Support Div. , 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) ; Fredette v. BVP Mgmt. Assocs. , 112 F.3d 1503, 1510 (11th Cir. 1997). A panel of the Eleventh Circuit, recognizing th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • BOSTOCK WAS BOGUS: TEXTUALISM, PLURALISM, AND TITLE VII.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 1, November 2021
    • November 1, 2021
    ...1989) (per curiam); DeSantis v. Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co., 608 F.2d 327, 329-330 (9th Cir. 1979); Medina v. Income Support Div., N.M., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005); Fredette v. BVP Mgmt. Assocs., 112 F.3d 1503, 1510 (11th Cir. 1997); cf. Sommers v. Budget Mktg., Inc., 667 F.2d 748......

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