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Chavez v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co.

*fn* submitted san francisco california: April 16, 1993.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. DC No. CV-90-20484-JW. James Ware, District Judge, Presiding

Before: Ferguson, Canby And Brunetti, Circuit Judges.


Anselmo Chavez appeals pro se the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lockheed Missiles & Space Company in his employment discrimination action under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.*fn1 We review de novo, Yartzoff v. Thomas, 809 F.2d 1371, 1373 (9th Cir. 1987), and we affirm.



In August 1986, Chavez, an Hispanic male then 54 years old, began working for Lockheed. Chavez was employed as a production planner; his primary responsibility was to convert engineering drawings into written manufacturing plans for use by assembly-line workers. In July 1989, Chavez's annual performance evaluation was less favorable than in prior years. In his complaint, Chavez alleged that he received lower performance ratings in retaliation for having filed a charge against Lockheed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and because of his national origin and age. The district court ruled that Chavez had failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation or discrimination, and therefore granted Lockheed's motion for summary judgment. Chavez appealed.



A. Retaliation

Chavez contends that the district court erred by finding that he failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation. We disagree.

To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, Chavez was required to show that (1) he engaged in activity protected under Title VII, (2) Lockheed thereafter subjected him to adverse employment action, and (3) a causal link exists between his protected activity and Lockheed's action. See Jurado v. Eleven-Fifty Corp., 813 F.2d 1406, 1411 (9th Cir. 1987). Chavez satisfied his burden of proof on the first two parts of this test: it is undisputed that (1) he filed a charge with the EEOC in April 1988 regarding his failure to receive a promotion; and (2) he received a less favorable performance evaluation in July 1989 than he had received in previous years.

Chavez failed, however, to present any evidence of a causal link between his 1988 EEOC charge and the 1989 evaluation. To show the requisite causal link, Chavez had to present sufficient evidence to raise an inference that the protected activity was the likely reason for the adverse action. See Cohen v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 686 F.2d 793, 796 (9th Cir. 1982) (citations omitted). We consider both the timing of the adverse evaluation, and whether the persons responsible for it were aware of the EEOC charge, to determine whether a causal link exists. See Miller v. Fairchild Indus., Inc., 885 F.2d 498, 505 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1056 (1990). Fifteen months elapsed between the filing of the EEOC charge and the preparation of the performance evaluation. Moreover, Chavez received a more favorable evaluation in July 1988, only three months after he had filed the charge. The timing of the relevant events therefore does not support an inference of retaliation.

Nor did Chavez demonstrate that the management personnel who knew of his EEOC charge were responsible for the lower ratings in his 1989 evaluation. Chavez worked primarily with Tom Rudolph, his group leader, who drafted the evaluation. Rudolph reported to the planning supervisor, Eric Phelps, who in turn reported to the department manager, Martin Gerbasi. In a declaration in support of the motion for summary judgment, Gerbasi stated that, as of July 1989, he was the only person in the department who knew that Chavez had filed the 1988 EEOC charge.*fn2 Gerbasi reviewed Chavez's performance evaluations in both 1988 and 1989, but he neither prepared the evaluations nor lowered Chavez's ratings. In his deposition testimony, Chavez asserted that Rudolph was not independently responsible for the less favorable review, but that he had been pressured by others to give Chavez an unfavorable review. This argument, unsupported by evidence, is contradicted by Rudolph's declaration in support of the summary judgment motion. Rudolph stated that he drafted the evaluation before a meeting in ...

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