United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
JAMES M. BLAIR, Plaintiff,
CITY OF MERCER ISLAND, Defendant.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 52). Having thoroughly considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS in part and
DENIES in part the motion for the reasons explained herein.
filed a pro se complaint with this Court against his
former employer, the City of Mercer Island (Dkt. No. 1).
Plaintiff worked for the City's Right of Way
(“ROW”) Department. (Id. at 4.) He
alleges that he was wrongfully terminated without due process
after complaining of a “discriminatory culture, racial
slurs, and hostile working conditions.” (Id.
at 5.) Liberally construed,  the complaint states the
following causes of action: race-based Title VII violations
and a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process
violation. (Id. at 1-2, 7-9.) The complaint
also asserts a First Amendment claim. (Dkt. No. 1 at 1-2,
7-9.) But the complaint fails to allege supporting facts
separate and apart from those supporting the Title VII claim.
(Id. at 6.) Therefore, the First Amendment claim is
preempted by Plaintiff's Title VII claim. See Ethnic
Employees of Lib. of Cong. v. Boorstin, 751 F.2d 1405,
1415 (D.C. Cir. 1985); see also Casselle v. Foxx,
195 F.Supp.3d 270, 275 (D.D.C. 2016) (preempting a First
Amendment claim against an employer where the same facts
supported a Title VII claim).
moves for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims.
(Dkt. No. 52 at 23.) Defendant noted its motion for
consideration on May 18, 2018. (Id. at 1).
Plaintiff's response in opposition was due by May 14,
2018. W.D. Wash. Local Civ. R. 7(d)(3). Plaintiff failed to
Summary Judgment Standard
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In doing so, the Court must view the
facts and justifiable inferences in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for
summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing
party “must come forward with ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (emphasis
in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
Plaintiff's Failure to Respond
Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant's motion for
summary judgment, so long as Defendant presents sufficient
evidence to “negate an essential element” of
Plaintiff's claims, summary judgment for Defendant is
warranted. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
331 (1986). While Plaintiff is proceeding pro
se and the Court must “liberally construe his
pleadings, ” it need not undertake special endeavors to
inform Plaintiff of his obligations under Rule 56.
Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1235 (9th Cir.
1984) (citation omitted); see Jacobsen v. Filler,
790 F.2d 1362, 1366 (9th Cir. 1986)
(“[P]ro se litigants in the ordinary
civil case should not be treated more favorably than parties
with attorneys of record . . . the present federal rules . .
. apprise litigants of their summary judgment
Title VII Claims
VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the
basis of several protected classes, including race. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2(a)(1). Liberally construed, Plaintiff's
complaint alleges the following forms of actionable Title VII
racial discrimination: disparate treatment, a hostile work
environment, and retaliation.
disparate treatment claim, Plaintiff must first make a
prima facie showing that: (1) he is a member of a
protected class; (2) he performed his or her job
satisfactorily; (3) he experienced an adverse employment
action; and (4) similarly situated individuals outside of his
protected class were treated more favorably. Cornwell v.
Electra Cent. Credit Union, 439 F.3d 1018, 1028 (9th
Cir. 2006). Defendant provides uncontroverted evidence that
(1) Plaintiff was first employed by the City in 2012 as a
seasonal employee; (2) he became a full-time at-will employee
on November 24, 2014, subject to a one-year probationary
period; (3) he did not perform his job
satisfactorily; and (4) the City terminated him on this
basis on November 19, 2015 ...