United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 29). Having thoroughly considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.
Veronica Danielson, a U.S. Postal Service employee, brings
the following claims against the U.S. Postal Service and its
Postmaster General, Megan Brennan: an action for the
non-payment of minimum wages pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §
206(a)(1)(C), a retaliatory workplace action pursuant to 29
U.S.C. § 215(a)(3), and a hostile work environment
action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(2). (Dkt. No. 6 at
10-11.) Plaintiff asserts that her station manager, Thao
Tran, instructed Plaintiff's direct supervisor to delete
Plaintiff's time record entry for .67 hours of overtime
Plaintiff worked without prior management approval. (Dkt.
Nos. 6 at 3, 41 at 2.) Plaintiff further asserts that after
reporting the incident to the Postal Service's Office of
the Inspector General, Tran and Plaintiff's supervisors
engaged in a variety of retaliatory actions, thereby creating
a hostile work environment. (Dkt. No. 6 at 4, 10.)
move for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 29.) They assert
Plaintiff's wage and hostile work environment claims fail
as a matter of law. (Id. at 5, 21.) They further
assert that Plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case
of retaliation. (Id. at 7.) The Court agrees.
Legal Standard: Summary Judgment
Court shall grant summary judgment if the moving party shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the facts and
justifiable inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light
most favorable to the opposing party. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for
summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing
party must present specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986). Material facts are those that may affect the
outcome of the case, and a dispute about a material fact is
genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury
to return a verdict for the non-moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. Ultimately, summary
judgment is appropriate against a party who “fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
threshold matter, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants are
subject to a “clear and convincing” burden at
summary judgment. (See Dkt. Nos. 41 at 2, 8-9)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). This is a
misstatement of Anderson. The burden of proof for
evidence presented at summary judgment is the same as for
evidence presented at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252-53. For most civil cases, this is a “preponderance
of the evidence.” Id. at 252. Only in
instances where a different burden is manDated: trial, such
as the “clear and convincing” standard applicable
to the actual malice determination in the libel suit in
Anderson, would that different burden apply at
summary judgment. Id. at 254; see Avila v. L.A.
Police Dep't, 758 F.3d 1096, 1102 (9th Cir. 2014) (a
preponderance of the evidence burden applies to a retaliation
Minimum Wage Claim
brings a claim for failure to pay the required hourly minimum
wage. (Dkt. No. 6 at 10); 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1). At
issue is the .67 hours of overtime Plaintiff worked for which
she alleges Tran instructed Plaintiff's supervisor to
delete Plaintiff's time entry. (Dkt. No. 41 at 2.) But
Plaintiff admits that she was eventually paid for this time.
(See Dkt. No. 5 at 2) (grievance settlement
agreement). Therefore, she has no claim under 29 U.S.C.
§ 206(a)(1). The Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for
summary judgment on this issue.
FLSA Retaliation Claim
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) prohibits an
employer from discharging or in any other way retaliating
against an employee for filing a complaint or instituting a
proceeding against the employer. 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3).
FLSA's anti-retaliation provision is intended “to
provide an incentive for employees to report wage and hour
violations by their employers” and “to ensure
that employees are not compelled to risk their jobs in order
to assert their wage and hour rights under the Act.”
Lambert v. Ackerley, 180 F.3d 997, 1003 (9th Cir.
1999) (quotation omitted). As a remedial statute, FLSA is to
be construed broadly. Id. at 1003.
prevail on an FLSA retaliation claim, a plaintiff must make a
prima facie showing that (a) the defendant was aware of the
plaintiff's participation in a protected activity (b)
that an adverse employment action was taken against the
plaintiff, and (c) that the protected activity was a
substantial motivating factor in the adverse employment
action as to that plaintiff. Lambert, 180 F.3d at
1007. A plaintiff must establish a prima facie case “by
a preponderance of the evidence.” Tex. Dept. of
Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981). If a
plaintiff meets this standard, the burden shifts to the
employer to offer a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for
the adverse ...