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Caravantes v. State

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 22, 2014

STATE OF OREGON, d/b/a Oregon Commission for the Blind, and OREGON INDUSTRIES FOR THE BLIND, Defendants.


PAUL PAPAK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Maricrnz Caravantes brings this action against defendants State of Oregon, doing business as the Oregon Commission for the Blind ("OCB"), and the Oregon Industries for the Blind ("OIB"), alleging that, during her employment with the OIB, she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex, race, and national origin and was subjected to a hostile work environment on the basis of her race and national origin. Now before the court is defendants' motion for partial summary judgment (#68). For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


"Defendant OCB is a statutorily created Oregon state agency, " Second Amended Complaint, #22, ¶ 2.2, that was responsible for establishing and maintaining Defendant OIB while the OIB was in operation, [2] Declaration of Dacia Johnson ("Johnson Decl."), #70, ¶ 4. "The purpose of [the] OIB was to provide... work training opportunities for individuals with disabilities as part of their vocational rehabilitation." Id. ¶ 5. At all relevant times, Desiree Paschall was the Director of the OIB, Leslie Jones was the Director of Administrative Services at the OCB, and Linda Mock was the Director of the OCB. Declaration of Maricruz Caravantes ("Caravantes Decl."), #74, ¶¶ 1-2; see also Ex. 15, Declaration of Patrick Leo McGuigan ("McGuigan Decl."), #73, at 11, 26. Both Paschall and Jones reported to Mock. Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 28. As Director of Administrative Services, Jones was in charge of the budget for the OCB and the OIB. Id. at 26-27. When the OIB wished to hire an employee, Paschall would contact Jones and ask whether there were available funds. Id. at 30-31; see also Ex. 16, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 25. Jones was also responsible for ensuring that the OIB's building was maintained. Ex. 16, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 75-76. Jones's department was responsible for processing the OIB's payroll. Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 28.

In February 2004, the OIB hired plaintiff as a Caregiver. Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 2. Plaintiffs duties included "providing clients with activities, ... feeding clients who were unable to feed themselves, distributing medications, cleaning and caring for clients with contagious diseases, and assisting clients in the performance of their own jobs with [the] OIB." Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff was also responsible for assisting wheelchair-bound clients use the restroom, including lifting and returning the clients to their wheelchairs. Id. ¶ 5. Shortly after plaintiff was hired, she was transferred to the kitchen. Id. ¶ 6. In June 2004, plaintiff was transferred to another Caregiver position, this time assisting clients "who required the highest level of care and assistance." Id.

In 2006, plaintiff began taking on additional duties. Id. ¶ 7. First, when the OIB's payroll specialist left, plaintiff took over the payroll specialist's job duties. Id. This included recording client and staff timesheets in a computer program and sending the completed forms to the payroll department at the OCB. Id. The "OCB was responsible for reviewing and approving the submitted timesheets and issuing pay checks." Id. Second, plaintiff began assisting Paschall with her duties as Director of the OIB, including performing Paschall's duties when Paschall was absent. Id. ¶ 8.

In 2008, Paschall spoke with Jones about hiring two on-call production workers.[3] Declaration of Desiree Paschall ("Paschall Decl."), #75, ¶ 3. Paschall ultimately hired Cesar Sauceda and Denver Orozco, plaintiffs son, for the positions. Id. ; see also Ex. 11, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1. Jones approved the new hires in her capacity as the director of personnel/payroll. See Ex. 1, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1; Ex. 2, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1. As on-call production workers, Sauceda and Orozco were "paid on a piece rate basis." Paschall Decl., #75, ¶ 4. In 2010, Paschall spoke with Jones regarding the costs associated with hiring contractors to perform maintenance on the OIB's building. Id. ¶ 5. During this conversation, Paschall and Jones discussed the possibility of paying Sauceda and Orozco "a flat rate in exchange" for their maintenance services, as both men had relevant experience. Id. "Jones agreed that this was an acceptable arrangement." Id. In connection with how to pay Sauceda and Orozco, Jones instructed Paschall to "figure it out' and do whatever [Paschall] want[ed].'" Id. ¶ 6. Thereafter, Paschall instructed plaintiff

[t]o pay [Sauceda and Orozco] per hour. Per hour for the hours that they had worked. And to get to the amount that they were supposed to be there. What was done was that the staff [sic] for which they were not paid, the piece rate that the staff was doing that they had-that had to be added to-to their pay so that then they could reach the amount of their salary.

Ex. 13, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 69. Consistent with these instructions, Sauceda and Orozco would provide plaintiff with the hours that they worked each week, and plaintiff would record the hours in a computer program and provide the timesheets to the payroll department at the OCB. Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 10.

Beginning in September 2011, Paschall experienced health problems requiring her to take frequent medical leave. Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff took over many of Paschall's job duties, while still performing her own duties. Id. During this time, Jones announced to the OIB staff that plaintiff would be in charge of the office until Paschall returned from medical leave. Id. ; Ex. 16, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 24. Plaintiff received a 5% pay increase for the months of October, November, and December 2011 to compensate her for the additional work she was performing.[4] Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 11; see also Ex. 3, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1 (noting that plaintiff was to "assume lead worker duties as of 10/1/11 in absence of program director"); Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 78.

In April 2012, plaintiff learned that she was pregnant and that the pregnancy was considered high risk. Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 12. Because her pregnancy was considered high risk, plaintiff saw her doctor every two weeks. Id. Plaintiff informed Paschall, Jones, and Mock of her high-risk pregnancy and provided them with a doctor's note indicating that she could not lift more than twenty pounds due to her pregnancy.[5] Id. ¶ 13; see also Ex. 4, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1.

In early summer 2012, the OIB announced that it had an open Lead Worker position. The Lead Worker was to provide "additional support for the program, " as Paschall was still experiencing health problems and taking frequent leave and plaintiff was pregnant and would presumably have doctors' appointments. Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 85. Among other things, the Lead Worker was to assist in "staff management, including hiring, supervising, evaluating, disciplining, promoting and discharging approximately sixteen staff." Ex. 2, Johnson Decl., #70, at 2. Jones was in charge of recruiting for the position. Ex. 16, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 32; see also Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 76-77; Declaration of Veronica Chavez ("Chavez Decl."), #76, ¶ 14. In June 2012, Jones showed a copy of the job announcement that she was planning to post on Craigslist to Veronica Chavez, an employee at the OIB. Chavez Decl., #76, ¶ 14. The announcement was only one page long and did not include any requirement that the applicant have a bachelor's degree. Id. Jones thereafter posted a job announcement on Craigslist. It is not clear whether the job announcement Jones posted on Craigslist was same job announcement Jones had shown Chavez. A few individuals expressed interest in the position, including plaintiff. Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 85-86. The Craigslist posting that plaintiff saw was only one page long and did not require that the applicant have a bachelor's degree. Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 14. After plaintiff and the other individuals expressed interest, Jones "changed the duties of the position." Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 86. It is not clear what specifically Jones changed in the job announcement, but Chavez later saw a job announcement for the position on Craigslist that was a few pages long and that required the applicant to have a bachelor's degree. Chavez Decl., #76, ¶ 14. Under "Qualifications and Desired Attributes, " the announcement also lists:

• Minimum three years of experience in the rehabilitation field working with MR/DD adults;
• Two years of management experience; or six years in the field of rehabilitation, social services or a related field, including personnel supervision, budget development, program monitoring and evaluation....

Ex. 2, Johnson Decl., #70, at 2. The announcement further indicates that the "[i]nitial appointment will be for three months, with an option for extension depending on need." Id.

Plaintiff applied for the Lead Worker position, but the OIB did not interview her. Ex. 15, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 85-86. Rather, the OIB interviewed and ultimately hired Heather Schoenwald. Schoenwald was an OCB client (she had a vision impairment) who had a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in clinical counseling. Ex. 3, Declaration of Tracy J. White ("White Decl."), #69, at 11, 14. Prior to going to school, Schoenwald had worked as a courtesy clerk at Westwood Thriftway and as a merchandiser and salesperson at Portland Bottling Company. Ex. 17, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 19-20. Prior to being hired as Lead Worker, Schoenwald did not have payroll experience and had never held a supervisory position. Ex. 16, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 44; Ex. 17, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 20. Schoenwald started at the OIB on July 3, 2012. Ex. 3, White Decl., #69, at 12; Ex. 5, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1. Plaintiff and Paschall were responsible for training Schoenwald. Ex. 5, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 1; Ex. 17, McGuigan Decl., #73, at 20.

Shortly after Schoenwald started, Jones informed plaintiff that she would go back to performing Caregiver duties. Caravantes Decl., #74, ¶ 15. At this time, plaintiff was still subject to the weight-lifting restrictions due to her pregnancy. Id. On July 11, 2012, plaintiff asked Schoenwald to assist a client in the bathroom. Id. ¶ 16. Schoenwald refused, stating that assisting clients in the bathroom was not part of her job description. Id. Consequently, plaintiff "was ...

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