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Imeson v. Eagle View Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 14, 2014

CINDY IMESON, Plaintiff,
v.
EAGLE VIEW TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 19.) The Court considered the motion, Plaintiff's response (Dkt. No. 23), Defendant's reply (Dkt. No. 36), and all relevant documents. Embedded in Defendant's reply is an evidentiary objection and motion to strike. (Dkt. No. 36 at 12.) The Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to strike and Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The Court DENIES the motion for summary judgment as to all other claims.

Background

Plaintiff Cindy Imeson began her employment with Defendant Eagle View Technologies, Inc. ("Eagle View") on September 22, 2010. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) Imeson began with Eagle View as an Inside Sales Account Manager in the corporate office. In December of 2011, Imeson was promoted to Inside Sales Senior Account Manager with an increase in her base salary. (Id.) Around the same time, Patrik Parsons became an Inside Sales Manager, serving in a supervisory role to Imeson. (Id. at 4.)

On April 14, 2012, Imeson was rushed to the emergency room because of medical problems that turned into a severe infection. (Dkt. No. 1 at 4.) On April 16, Imeson informed Heidi Ellsworth, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Eagle View, of her medical problems. (Id.) Ellsworth expressed concern and asked Imeson to keep her informed. (Id.) Imeson also notified Parsons. (Id.) Later in April, Plaintiff was informed by Human Resources Director Dana Donaly that she had used all her paid time off and would need to take Family Medical Leave ("FMLA"). (Id.)

Plaintiff returned to work part-time beginning May 9, 2012. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) The following week she increased her time and eventually returned to a full time schedule. (Id.) While Plaintiff was on FMLA leave her largest account, Solar City, was taken from her. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) Defendant contends the decision to remove the Solar City account was made before Imeson took FMLA leave due to Imeson's previously expressed stress levels, but does not dispute this planned removal was not discussed with Imeson prior to her FMLA leave. (Dkt. No. 19 at 10.) After a meeting set up by Ellsworth with Imeson and Parsons to discuss Imeson's concerns regarding the removal of the Solar City account, the account was returned to Imeson. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) During the meeting, Imeson states she was made to discuss her medical problems in front of Parsons. (Id.)

Ellsworth testified Imeson's sales numbers began "downtrending" in the fall of 2011, before she took FMLA leave. (Dkt. No. 22 at 91.) Ellsworth stated she spoke to Imeson about the downtrending, but did not recall documenting any conversations. (Id. at 92.) Ellsworth also stated Imeson's accounts were not lower or further behind than the accounts of other employees. (Id. at 93.) Parsons also testified he had a conversation with Imeson about downtrending accounts, but likewise did not document a meeting. (Id. at 136.) Parsons also stated there were ongoing concerns related to Imeson undermining him as a manager, but due to the "close-knit" nature of the group, all communication was verbal. (Id. at 138.) Parsons does point to an E-Mail from Ellsworth intended to document a July 26, 2012 verbal meeting with Imeson in which a verbal warning was given. (Id. at 168.)

Imeson asserts her performance level was high before and following her leave, and states she was specifically praised for outstanding performance during a performance as late as August 2012. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.) For example, Imeson notes she was asked to travel to San Francisco to the headquarters of Solar City in April of 2012 to meet with representatives to discuss increasing the scope of the partnership between the two companies, as a result of her performance. (Id.) In both March and April of 2012 Imeson was formally recognized for outstanding sales numbers and exceeding sales goals. (Id.)

From September 3-7 of 2012, Imeson took vacation which was approved in advance by Parsons. (Dkt. No. 33 at 6.) On September 24 and 25 of 2012, Imeson was ill and unable to go into work. (Id.) On September 24, 2012, Parsons sent an email to Donaly and Ellsworth asking to speak to them about putting Imeson on probation for attendance. (Dkt. No. 35-4 at 2.) Donaly E-Mailed Parsons on September 25, 2012, putting together an overview of Imeson's absences for the year. (Dkt. No. 35-6 at 2.) The E-Mail stated, "If the average person takes 3 weeks off per year, she is currently at 5.60 weeks. Even though her FMLA was approved, her absences are still excessive' when viewed with the average." (Id.) Donaly followed up with an E-Mail later that day, stating "One more thing: we can't count her FMLA days for excessive absenteeism... only the 7 days that she called out. When thinking about her non-FMLA sick days, is 7 days considered excessive when compared to others on your team? It seems excessive when looked at across the company but I want to make sure it is viewed that way per your specific team." (Id.)

Imeson alleges during the months following her FMLA leave Parsons "gave her a hard time" about taking leave. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.) On September 26, 2012, Imeson brought in a doctor's note for two days missed for illness earlier that month. (Id.) Imeson alleges Donaly told her a doctor's note was unnecessary, but Imeson told Donaly she brought the note because Parsons continued to comment on her absences, including stating in front of other team members that Imeson was "the sickest person [he] has ever known." (Id.) The same day, Imeson says Parsons told her the two of them and Donaly were going to have a one-on-one meeting before the end of the week. (Dkt. No. 33 at 7.)

On September 28, 2012, Imeson spoke to Donaly about her concerns related to Parsons. (Dkt. No. 33 at 8.) She complained Parsons treated her negatively following her leave, and expressed concerns about Parsons referring to female employees as cunts and yelling at them. (Id.) Later that day, Imeson was informed she would not be meeting with Parsons at the previously scheduled time because he took the day off. (Id.) Imeson E-Mailed Parsons expressing her frustration about the meeting cancellation. (Id. at 9.)

On October 1, 2012, Parsons approached Imeson and asked if she had a few minutes, taking her to meet in Donaly's office. (Dkt. No. 33 at 9.) Imeson was given a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"). (Dkt. No. 30 at 7.) Imeson asserts she glanced at the document but did not read it completely. (Id.) At the bottom of each page of the PIP, the words "Proprietary and Confidential" appear. (Dkt. No. 20 at 12-14.) Imeson expressed to Parsons and Donaly she had a hard time respecting Parsons as a manager because he referred to women as cunts. (Dkt. No. 30 at 7.) Parsons first denied the allegation but eventually admitted he did use that language. (Id.) Imeson states at the meeting Parsons produced a calendar to show Imeson's missed days, which included days she alleges she did not miss. (Id.) According to Imeson, there was no policy at Eagle View about missing days and there was no set number of paid time off ("PTO") days.

Imeson alleges one-on-one meetings had never been confidential in the past, and after the PIP meeting she showed a co-worker a note saying she believed Parsons was trying to get her fired within four weeks. (Dkt. No. 30 at 8.) The same day, Imeson says another co-worker asked her how the one-on-one meeting went, and Imeson stated Parsons denied his use of derogatory language towards women until pressed, and that she believed Parsons would try to get her fired within four weeks. (Id.) On October 3, 2012, Parsons E-Mailed Donaly informing her he was approached by Imeson's co-workers and was told Imeson said she was getting fired in four weeks. (Dkt. No. 20 at 18.) Donaly responded stating they had told Imeson this was "a 100% private matter." (Id.) On October 5, 2012, Imeson was given a notice of immediate termination citing "insubordination" and referencing her discussion of the PIP with her co-workers. (Id. at 20.)

Imeson now brings claims for interference with FMLA rights, discrimination for requesting FMLA rights, retaliation under the Washington Law Against Discrimination ("WLAD"), and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress ("IIED"). (Dkt. No. 1 at 7-8.) ...


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