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Daniel v. Oregon Health & Sciences University

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 16, 2018


          Micah D. Fargey, Fargey Law PC, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Karen O'Kasey and Drew L. Eyman, Hart Wagner LLP, Of Attorneys for Defendants.



         Plaintiff Sarena Daniel filed this lawsuit in state court against her employer, Defendant Oregon Health & Sciences University (“OHSU”), and a supervisor at OHSU, Defendant David Scott (“Scott”). Plaintiff alleges that Scott sexually harassed her and that OHSU and Scott retaliated against her after she reported the alleged sexual harassment. Defendants removed the case to federal court and now move for summary judgment against all of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff concedes all of her claims except her claim for sexual harassment based on a hostile work environment against OHSU. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion against that claim is denied.


         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257 (9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is] insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and quotation marks omitted).


         In August 2014, OHSU hired Plaintiff to work as a cashier in its Food & Nutrition Department. Scott trained Plaintiff during her initial probationary period, and she reported to him during that time. Almost immediately after Plaintiff went to work for OHSU, she was uncomfortable working with Scott. When Plaintiff began with OHSU, Scott was already involved in a sexual relationship with another OHSU supervisor, who was married. That sexual relationship was well known in the workplace.

         Scott sought to leverage his influence and position over Plaintiff to coerce her into a similar sexual relationship. Scott offered to engage in a sexual relationship with Plaintiff, to be her “sugar daddy, ” stating that he would be “nice” to her if she engaged in such a relationship. Plaintiff declined.

         Scott continued to engage in inappropriate conduct with Plaintiff. He commented about how she looked, called her “sexy, ” noted that he wanted to see her in something other than her uniform, asked her what kind of underwear she was wearing, and asked her to “be his sweet candy.” He also embraced her and when she pulled away and told him to stop, he responded that “no one will do anything” if he continued to touch her. Scott also drew a picture of women's underwear. While Plaintiff was looking at Facebook during her break, Scott tried to “zoom in” on a picture of Plaintiff and her breasts.

         On one occasion Scott asked Plaintiff to “send him sexy pictures” of her naked. A few days later, on November 14, 2014, Scott invited Plaintiff to a supply room and indicated that he wanted to have sexual relations with Plaintiff in that room. They were interrupted by another co-worker, but later Scott asked Plaintiff about her “preferred” penis size, making hand gestures to mimic various lengths.

         Plaintiff asked Scott to stop his inappropriate conduct, but he continued. He told Plaintiff that he “liked pussy” and he put his tongue between two fingers, mimicking oral sex. On another occasion he offered to send Plaintiff pictures of his genitals. It was Plaintiff's understanding that Scott had sent such pictures to other coworkers. Plaintiff was offended by Scott's conduct. Plaintiff did not engage in sexual jokes in the workplace, and it is contrary to her culture and her faith.

         Plaintiff, however, did not formally complain about Scott's behavior until after she was no longer a probationary employee. On March 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Scott with OHSU's Action and Employment Opportunity Office (“AEOO”). OHSU placed Scott on leave while it conducted an investigation. OHSU concluded that Plaintiff's complaint could not be substantiated, but nevertheless OHSU transferred Scott away from working with Plaintiff. Shortly thereafter, OHSU reduced Plaintiff's hours.

         Although Scott no longer works in close physical proximity to Plaintiff on a daily basis, he still comes to her work area from time to time. On July 21, 2015, Scott attempted to “run over” Plaintiff with a cart, prompting Plaintiff to file another complaint with the AEOO later that day. OHSU investigated Plaintiff's second complaint and again concluded that her complaint could not be substantiated. According to Plaintiff, OHSU responded to her new complaint by falsely accusing her of engaging ...

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