Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Folz v. State

Court of Appeals of Oregon

September 7, 2017

Rebecca FOLZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF OREGON, acting by and through the Oregon Department of Transportation, public bodies; and Donna Sandoval Bennett, Defendants-Respondents, and Kathryn LOGAN, John Kroger, and Clyde Saiki, Defendants.

          Argued and submitted May 5, 2016.

         Marion County Circuit Court 11C14781; Vance D. Day, Judge.

          William D. Stark argued the cause and fled the briefs for appellant.

          Judy C. Lucas, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondents. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Paul L. Smith, Deputy Solicitor General.

          Christine N. Moore and Landye Bennett Blumstein LLP fled the brief amicus curiae for Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Judge, and Garrett, Judge.

         Case Summary: Plaintiff appeals a judgment dismissing her claims under several whistleblowing statutes, ORS 659A.199, ORS 659A.203, and ORS [287 Or. 668] 659A.230. Plaintiff assigns error to the trial court's order granting summary judgment to defendants, arguing that the trial court erred in its conclusion that plaintiff, a human resources manager, had not engaged in activity protected by ORS 659A.199 or ORS 659A.203(1)(b)(A) when she expressed concerns about the potential resolution of a personnel matter. Plaintiff further argues that the trial court erred in its conclusion that plaintiff's administrative appeal of her reassignment did not qualify as a "civil proceeding" within the meaning of ORS 659A.230(1). Held: The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to defendants. Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claims under ORS 659A.199 and ORS 659A.203(1)(b)(A) because, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, she neither disclosed nor reported evidence of a violation of law. At most, plaintiff established that she had expressed her opinions in the course of a decision-making process that was part of her day-to-day responsibilities as a human resources manager. Further, regardless of whether an administrative appeal qualifies as a "civil proceeding" under ORS 659A.230(1), defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claim under ORS 659A.230 because plaintiff did not establish a dispute of material fact as to whether defendants took adverse employment action against her in response to her administrative appeal.

         [287 Or. 669]

          GARRETT, J.

         Plaintiff filed a civil complaint against defendants, alleging violations of several whistleblowing statutes, ORS 659A.199, ORS 659A.203, [1] and ORS 659A.230.[2]Plaintiff claimed that defendants engaged in a series of retaliatory employment actions against her for reporting possible violations of disability discrimination laws in the course of her employment with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). The trial court dismissed all of plaintiffs claims on summary judgment and entered a general judgment in favor of defendants. Plaintiff appeals, assigning error to the grant of summary judgment. For the reasons set out below, we conclude that the trial court did not err, and we affirm.

         We state the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the nonmoving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. ORCP 47 C; Huber v. Dept. of Education, 235 Or.App. 230, 232, 230 P.3d 937 (2010).

         Plaintiff was employed as a human resources manager for ODOT. Plaintiff reported to Mark Coolican, who, in turn, reported to the newly appointed Deputy Chief of Central Operations, Clyde Saiki. During the first few months in his position, Saiki conducted an assessment of the department during which some serious concerns were raised about Coolican, and, to a lesser extent, about plaintiff.

         In her role, plaintiff supervised and advised human resources managers in ODOT's five regions, including a manager named Burleigh. In February 2010, an employee in Burleigh's district, "Mr. A, " told his coworkers that he was experiencing side effects from a prescription medication; however, Mr. A later admitted that he had been intoxicated at work. Mr. A's manager reported the incident to Burleigh, who drafted a "last chance" agreement for [287 Or. 670] Mr. A.[3] Burleigh submitted the draft agreement for approval to two other employees, Makalea and Smith, who then contacted plaintiff to express their concerns about moving forward in the absence of any investigation into whether, for example, Mr. A had a medical condition that required him to take prescription medication.

         Plaintiff, Burleigh, Smith, Makalea, and Mr. As manager participated in a conference call to discuss how to proceed. Plaintiff expressed her opinion that a "last chance" agreement was premature, "extreme, " and might place the agency "at risk" unless and until Burleigh first conducted an investigation and interviewed Mr. A. Plaintiff reiterated her concerns in a subsequent call with the same group, and she also followed up with an email on February 26, 2010, suggesting that a more appropriate response would be to employ "normal progressive discipline." In those three communications, although plaintiff expressed concerns about proceeding with the "last chance" agreement, she did not opine that doing so would be "illegal." Later, in her deposition, plaintiff testified that, if it turned out that Mr. A did have a disability and was terminated, Burleigh's plan "could have been illegal, " and that it was "a big unknown" given the lack of investigation. Although the record is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.