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Coleen A. Mcneill v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

September 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge



On November 7, 2011, Plaintiff Coleen A. McNeill ("Plaintiff") filed this action against her former employer, Defendant Kaiser Foundation Hospitals ("Defendant"), asserting claims for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and state law concerning her alleged disparate treatment and constructive discharge due to her race and disability, and for retaliation.

Currently before the court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as to her claims for disability discrimination, disability hostile work environment, and retaliation. In opposition, Plaintiff agrees to dismissal of any claims for disability discrimination including those for hostile work environment and retaliation based on disability discrimination. At the September 4, 2012 hearing, Plaintiff further agreed to dismissal of her claim asserting that she was retaliated against for reporting illegal Medicare activities, with leave for Plaintiff to clarify the basis of this claim.*fn1

As a result, remaining at issue is whether Plaintiff has exhausted her claim that she was retaliated against after reporting race discrimination. Based on the following, the court finds that Plaintiff's EEOC/HCRC Charge of Discrimination ("Charge") adequately described this claim such that she exhausted her administrative remedies. The court therefore GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.


On November 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed her Complaint against Defendant asserting claims for: (1) disparate treatment and constructive termination on the basis of race and disability; (2) hostile work environment on the basis of race and disability; (3) infliction of emotional distress; (4) retaliation; (5) defamation; (6) invasion of privacy; and (7) violation of Hawaii's Whistleblower's Protection Act, HRS § 378-61.

On June 15, 2012, Defendant filed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on August 14, 2012, and Defendant filed a Reply on August 21, 2012.*fn2 A hearing was held on September 4, 2012.


Summary judgment is proper where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Rule 56(a) mandates summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Broussard v. Univ. of Cal. at Berkeley, 192 F.3d 1252, 1258 (9th Cir. 1999).

"A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323); see also Jespersen v. Harrah's Operating Co., 392 F.3d 1076, 1079 (9th Cir. 2004). "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56[(a)] its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts [and] come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (citation and internal quotation signals omitted); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (stating that a party cannot "rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading" in opposing summary judgment).

"An issue is 'genuine' only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact finder could find for the nonmoving party, and a dispute is 'material' only if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." In re Barboza, 545 F.3d 702, 707 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). When considering the evidence on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences on behalf of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587; see also Posey v. Lake Pend Oreille Sch. Dist. No. 84, 546 F.3d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 2008) (stating that "the evidence of [the non-movant] is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor" (citations omitted)).


For the court to have federal subject matter jurisdiction over a Title VII claim, Plaintiff must have first exhausted her EEOC administrative remedies with respect to that claim. EEOC v. Farmer Bros. Co., 31 F.3d 891, 899 (9th Cir. 1994); see also Sosa v. Hiraoka, 920 F.2d 1451, 1456 (9th Cir. 1990) ("Title VII claimants generally establish federal court jurisdiction by first exhausting their EEOC administrative remedies."). An EEOC remedy has been exhausted for a given claim where "that claim fell within the scope of the EEOC's actual investigation or an EEOC investigation which ...

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