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Person v. Bank of America

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

June 6, 2014

MARLA PERSON, Plaintiff,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Defendant.


ROBERT J. BRYAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 21) and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike (Dkt. 28). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the file herein.

In this diversity case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.060.010, et seq., ("WLAD"), when it constructively and wrongfully terminated her employment, or otherwise took an adverse employment action against her, based on her age. Dkt. 1-2. Defendant now moves for summary dismissal of the case. Dkt. 21. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment should be denied.


Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 1975 as a teller in Hawaiian Gardens, California. Dkt. 24, at 3. She eventually moved to Washington and became a personal banker in 2006. Id., at 4. Personal bankers sell banking services and work to retain customers. Id., at 6. She worked at Defendant' Fourth Plain branch starting in 2010. Id., at 4. There was one other personal banker there at the time, Tina King. Id., at 5. By 2011, her branch manager was Melissa Young. Id., at 7. Plaintiff was a successful employee and Ms. Young an able manager. Id., at 7-12. Ms. Young's manager was Brandi Campbell, who oversaw 16 branches in southwestern Washington. Dkt. 25, at 25.

In late January or early February of 2012, Rachel Gustafson, who was under 30 years old, joined the Fourth Plain branch as a personal banker, eventually replacing Ms. King. Dkt. 24, at 15. Ms. Gustafson and Ms. Campbell were friends and met while Ms. Gustafson worked at a local restaurant. Dkt. 24, at 40. Ms. Gustafson has a master's degree in education. Dkt. 29-4, at 3. Plaintiff helped train Ms. Gustafson and felt that "they were feeding [Ms. Gustafson] sales and trying to make her successful" and not doing that for Plaintiff at the "end." Dkt. 29-1, at 11. Although in Plaintiff's opinion Ms. Gustafson was hard working and respectful, Plaintiff also felt that Ms. Gustafson would sometimes ask "inappropriate" questions, like "how old are you" or "when are you going to retire?" Dkt. 24, at 15.

In the spring of 2012, the bank issued a new staffing model, requiring Ms. Campbell reduce one of the personal banker positions at the Fourth Plain branch. Dkt. 25, at 28. Ms. Campbell, believing that the Fourth Plain branch needed two personal bankers, eliminated a personal banker at another branch, hoping that would satisfy the new staffing model requirements. Dkt. 25, at 29-31.

Ms. Young testified that she and Plaintiff had conversations about other career opportunities, and that she was aware Plaintiff wanted to become an assistant manager or possibly a mortgage loan officer. Dkt. 25, at 18. Plaintiff explains that these conversations were related to her husband's potential relocation in the summer of 2012. Dkt. 30, at 5. She states that his job opportunity did not work out and she ceased looking for alternative career options. Id.

In the fall of 2012, Ms. Campbell was told that she had to reduce one of the personal banker positions at the Fourth Plain branch to be in compliance with the Defendant's staffing model. Dkt. 25, at 34-34.

In October of 2012, Plaintiff took a vacation. Dkt. 30, at 2. When she returned, on Monday, October 29, 2012, she discovered that her desk had been cleaned out and someone else was sitting at her desk. Id. Her personal items had been boxed up, the forms she used moved, and her binders and other resources had either been removed or thrown out. Id.

According to Plaintiff, on Thursday, November 1, 2012, Ms. Young informed Plaintiff that she and Ms. Campbell decided to eliminate Plaintiff's personal banking position at the Fourth Plain branch. Dkt. 24, at 18. Plaintiff asked Ms. Young, "why me and not Rachel [Gustafson]?" Dkt. 24, at 19. Ms. Young purportedly replied, "Because Brandi [Campbell] doesn't want to lose Rachel to another market." Dkt. 24, at 19. Plaintiff made "it clear to Ms. Young that [she] loved working at Fourth Plain and did not want to leave." Dkt. 30, at 4.

Ms. Young encouraged Plaintiff to seek other opportunities in the bank, including in the mortgage department. Dkt. 24, at 19-20. The next morning, which was Friday, Ms. Young told Plaintiff that she may have found a position for Plaintiff in the mortgage center. Dkt. 24, at 21-22. After attending the 10:00 a.m. interview, Plaintiff declined the offer to join the mortgage center because the salary was a monthly draw of $2, 500 for one year, plus commissions, and the draw had to be paid back out of earned commissions. Dkt. 24, at 22. Her position of personal banker paid $52, 000 a year plus bonuses. Dkt. 24, at 22.

That night, around 5:30 p.m., Ms. Young called Plaintiff into her office and told her to report to the Cascade Park branch on Monday morning to cover for another personal banker who was out on leave. Dkt. 24, at 24. Plaintiff testified that the manager at Cascade Park "was hard to work with." Dkt. 24, at 26. Plaintiff testified that she felt that Ms. Young wanted her to quit because Ms. Young knew of the negative relationship between Plaintiff and the Cascade Park manager. Dkt. 24, at 25. Plaintiff further knew that there was not an open position for a personal banker at Cascade Park. Dkt. 24, at 25. Although Plaintiff was not told to clean out her desk or when her last day would be, Plaintiff assumed her termination was "effective immediately." Dkt. 24, at 25.

On Saturday, November 3, 2012, Plaintiff went to work at the Fourth Plain branch, and opened the building. Dkt. 24, at 27. She worked until about 10:30-11:00 a.m. Dkt. 24, at 27. When Ms. Young unexpectedly came in, Plaintiff states that her "heart started pounding" and she thought she "was having a heart attack." Dkt. 24, at 27. Plaintiff told Ms. Young that ...

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