United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
S. Lasnik United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on “Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment.” Dkt. # 36. The Court has
reviewed the parties' memoranda, declarations, exhibits,
and the remainder of the record. For the following reasons,
the motion is GRANTED.
civil rights case, plaintiff Theresa Ortloff claims that her
constitutional rights were violated when she was terminated
from her job as an oiler with the Washington State Ferries
(WSF). Plaintiff started with WSF in July 2013, after being
hired as an “on call” oiler under a probationary
employment arrangement. Probationary employment is a way for
employers to evaluate employees during a trial period in
order to gauge the employee's job performance before
permanent employment is granted. The terms of plaintiff's
employment were governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement
(CBA), the relevant portion of which provides:
Newly hired employees shall serve a probationary period of
five (5) calendar months. The employee may be terminated
during the probationary period or at the end of a
probationary period for a bona fide reason(s) relating to the
business operation and said employee shall not have recourse
through the grievance procedure.
Dkt. # 38-1 at 3.
claims she was mistreated and eventually terminated because
she advocated for probationary employees and because she was
dating Floyd McLaughlin, a WSF engineer who previously
testified in a widely publicized whistleblower case against
the agency. She relies on a number of interactions and email
conversations as evidence of mistreatment, abuse, and
August 2013, plaintiff had a negative interaction with
defendant David Trimmer, the Chief Engineer aboard the ferry
Chelan. Afterward, Trimmer wrote an email to the oiler
dispatcher and to defendant Elizabeth Kosa, the Senior Port
Engineer and one of plaintiff's supervisors. In it, he
asked that plaintiff not be assigned to the Chelan again
because she lacked “a basic level of understanding of
ship board systems and operations.” Dkt. # 38-1 at 6.
He followed up in that email conversation by listing in
detail plaintiff's shortcomings and the reasons he did
not want her assigned to his vessel again. Dkt. # 38-1 at 5.
also had a dispute with Chief Staff Engineer Michael LaCroix,
who is not a defendant, over the proper pay code for what
appears to be one hour of work in November 2013. See
Dkt. # 38-1 at 14-16 (Ortloff-LaCroix email exchange); Dkt. #
49-2 at 12 (timesheet). Days later, plaintiff called and
cancelled her shift aboard the ferry Kennewick because
LaCroix would also be working aboard. Her last-minute
cancellation drew a complaint from the vessel's captain.
Dkt. # 38-1 at 8-9.
had difficulties with other cancellations and
unavailabilities, which were of concern because the on-call
nature of her position required that she be available in case
dispatch needed to bring her in. In particular, the
dispatcher discussed with plaintiff that she called in as
unavailable because she was driving McLaughlin to the
airport. Dkt. # 37-1 at 30.
the complaints about plaintiffs work performance and
unavailability during her probationary period led management
to decide she should be terminated. Plaintiff was terminated
in a letter dated November 22, 2013, and sent by defendant
Steven Vonheeder, Director of Vessels. The letter read in
I have determined your performance and commitment to
Washington State Ferries during your probation period does
not meet expectations of an On-Call employee by being
available for work at all times. On too many occasions you
have been called to be dispatched and assignments have been
refused or negotiated for a variety of reasons.
Dkt. # 41-1 at 2.
2014, plaintiff again sought to be hired as an oiler but was
unsuccessful. Plaintiff later learned that her name appeared
on a “Do Not Hire” list-a list of individuals
management had ...