United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Megan
Brennan's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. #30.
Plaintiff Ernesto Villaflor opposes this Motion. Dkt. #35.
For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion and DISMISSES this case.
Ernesto Villaflor is currently employed as a mail handler of
the United States Postal Service in Seattle, a position he
has held for over 17 years. See Dkt. #31-1
(“Villaflor Dep.”) at 9:24-10:10. Mr. Villaflor
is male, over 60 years of age, and of Filipino and Puerto
Rican descent. See Dkt. #1 at ¶ 20. He has a
shoulder injury necessitating modified duty status.
See Dkt. #8 at ¶ 44.
November 13, 2013, there was an incident between Mr.
Villaflor and his supervisor, Yun Hee Lee. See
Villaflor Dep. at 67:16-69:8. Mr. Villaflor states that while
he was talking with a coworker, Ms. Lee came up and
confronted him about interfering with a postal machine using
a postal sticker to cover up a sensor. Id. Mr.
Villaflor testified in deposition that Ms. Lee “slapped
the sticker on my face, ” and when Mr. Villaflor
removed the sticker, “she snapped it from my hand and
did it a second time.” Id. Lee has denied that
she deliberately touched his face with the sticker, but does
not deny that the interaction took place, that she raised her
voice, and that through the confrontation, the sticker stuck
to his forehead. Dkt #33 (“Lee Decl.”), ¶2;
Dkt. #33-1 at 2.
same day as the incident, Mr. Villaflor reported it to
Lee's supervisor, Manager Distribution Operation
(“MDO”) Julio Rodriguez. Villaflor Dep. at
38:8-12 and 39:25-40:5. According to Mr. Villaflor, Julio
Rodriguez allegedly stated something to the effect of,
“[d]on't tell me you haven't been slapped by a
woman before.” Id. at 83:4-6. Rodriguez called
both Plaintiff Villaflor and Lee into his office to learn
from each of them what had happened. Id. at
39:2-41:7. Plaintiff Villaflor told Rodriguez that there had
been witnesses to the incident, and Rodriguez reviewed
witness statements. See id. 41:8-42:18.
Villaflor testified in deposition that after work he went to
“Naval Hospital emergency” because of continuing
pain. Id. at 69:14-21. He was told to put ice on his
face because he had a bruise and was also given Tylenol.
Id. at 69:22-25. Mr. Villaflor took three or four
days of leave. Id. at 24:19-23. Also of note, the
record shows that from October 2014 through June 2015 Mr.
Villaflor went to a social worker with a background in
psychological counselling to deal with work-related stress.
See id. at 55:22-57:2.
Rodriguez instructed both Plaintiff Villaflor and Lee to have
no further contact with each other. See Lee Decl. at
¶ 6; Villaflor Dep. at 176:18-25. Rodriguez removed Mr.
Villaflor from Lee's supervision. See Lee Decl.,
¶ 1; Villaflor Dep. at 43:10-17. According to Mr.
Villaflor, he was still occasionally required to send
schedule changes to Lee. Id. at 44:15-18.
Villaflor later spoke with the Postal Service's Human
Resources Department. See Id. at 84:12-85:9. Human
Resources contacted the Postal Inspectors, and within two
days of the incident, Postal Inspector Michelle Brooks
interviewed Mr. Villaflor. See id. at 85:19-25.
Inspector Brooks conducted an investigation based on the
allegations. Id. at 88:14-19.
month later, Plaintiff Villaflor initiated the EEO process on
December 16, 2013. Dkt. #31-2.
January 2, 2014, a coworker named Sylvia Woods provided a
statement to Inspector Brooks. This statement indicated that
Ms. Lee, speaking with Ms. Woods, stated that Mr. Villaflor
“is no good and all the supervisors are watching
him.” Dkt. #36-3 at 2.
Inspector Brooks issued an Investigative Memorandum dated
February 24, 2014, in which she recommended that:
“Postal Management should follow up with all parties
and witnesses to determine if action is necessary.”
Dkt. #33-2 at 6.
March 14, 2014, Rodriguez talked to Lee a second time about
the incident and conducted an investigative interview of Lee.
Dkt. #33-3. One week later, on March 21, 2014, MDO Rodriguez
then issued Lee a Letter of Warning and also instructed Lee
to undergo anger management training. Dkt. #33-4. In her
Letter of Warning, Lee was told that: “This letter is
also to inform you that you must refrain from the type of
behavior listed in the charge above. Failure to correct these