United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Defendant Amazon.com's
(“Amazon”) motion for summary
judgment. (MSJ (Dkt. # 27).) Plaintiff Ismahan
Ismail opposes the motion. (Resp. (Dkt. # 37).) The court has
considered Amazon's motion, the parties' submissions
in support of and in opposition to the motion, the relevant
portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully
advised,  the court GRANTS Amazon's motion for
summary judgment on Ms. Ismail's claims.
case arises from Ms. Ismail's employment at Amazon's
Global Security Command Center (“GSCC”) in
Phoenix, Arizona. (See Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 22)
¶¶ 4.1-4.2; Blatt Decl. (Dkt. # 30) ¶ 3, Ex. 2
(Dkt. # 30-2) (“Ismail Dep.”) at
67:23-68:11.) Ms. Ismail began working full-time for
Amazon's GSCC in December 2013. (Ismail Dep. at
17:15-18.) Ms. Ismail was responsible for “protect[ing]
[Amazon's] people, brand[, ] and property, ”
putting “together safety reports, ”
“answer[ing] alarms, ” “deal[ing] with
incoming phone calls, ” and “assist[ing] security
officers.” (Id. at 68:23-69:3.) During the
relevant period, Ms. Ismail worked the 12-hour night shift on
GSCC's Team 4 with Saul Chavez, Migail Graves, J'Dyn
Banks, Kyle Pearson, and Halle Matteson. (Peterson Decl.
(Dkt. # 33) ¶ 2; Ismail Decl. ¶ 7; Ismail Dep. at
85:8-10.) Mr. Chavez, Mr. Graves, and Mr. Banks had the same
job title as Ms. Ismail. (See Peterson Decl. ¶
2.) Mr. Pearson was the assistant manager, and Ms. Matteson
had a supervisory role over Ms. Ismail. (See
Peterson Decl. ¶ 2; Ismail Dep. at 86:14-87:18.) When
Ms. Ismail first started working at the GSSC, Charles Wyatt
was her manager, followed by Levy Bland,  and then Braden
Peterson. (See Ismail Decl. ¶ 6; Bland Decl.
(Dkt. # 29) ¶ 2; Peterson Decl. ¶ 1.)
relevant times, Amazon policy “provided that full-time
associates working twelve-hour shifts received a minimum of
three, ten-minute paid breaks and a thirty-minute unpaid meal
period.” (Renner Decl. (Dkt. # 34) ¶ 2; see
also id., Ex. 66 (“Break Policy”) at 4-5.)
In addition, associates could not work “longer than
twelve hours at a time.” (Renner Decl. ¶ 2;
see also Break Policy at 3.) Amazon further allowed
a five-minute “grace period” for unanticipated
situations that would delay or hasten an employee's
clock-in or clock-out time and a three-minute grace period
for a meal break. (Feulner Decl. (Dkt. # 39), Ex. 504 at 56.)
The parties refer to the paid breaks as 15-minute breaks,
presumably because after accounting for the ten minutes
provided by Amazon policy and the five minutes of grace time,
the total time was 15 minutes. (See, e.g., Ismail
Decl. ¶ 8.)
Ismail was aware of Amazon's formal policy that she
receive three 15-minute paid breaks and one unpaid 30-minute
lunch break, but contends that “there was little
guidance given to [Team 4 members] about breaks and
expectations about breaks.” (Ismail Decl. ¶ 8.)
She attests that Amazon did not “strictly
enforce” the policy and employees often took more
than three breaks. (Id.) As examples, Ms. Ismail
states that “[p]eople on [her] team would take breaks
to go smoke a cigarette, go get food from the local
restaurants, or go to the break room.” (Id.)
She believed such breaks were permitted if she “got
coverage before going on a break from other employees on the
team.” (Id.) In addition to breaks, Ms. Ismail
states that “employees on the night shift were
permitted to be away from their desk[s] or doing other tasks
during slow periods.” (Id. ¶ 9.) During
those slow periods, employees watched TV, played video games,
played miniature golf, did their homework, or used their
phones. (See id.; see also Ismail Dep. at
Ismail is a practicing Muslim and prays five times a day.
(Ismail Decl. ¶ 3.) To her knowledge, she was the only
practicing Muslim on Team 4. (Id.; see also
Id. ¶ 10 (Ms. Ismail “was not secretive about
wearing . . . prayer clothes” and believed “that
every employee on Team 4 saw [her] change into prayer clothes
at some point during [her] time at GSCC.”).) Because
Ms. Ismail worked the night shift at Amazon, she “could
not do the prayers during the day and did the prayers while
[she] was awake during [her] shift.” (Id.
¶ 3.) Ms. Ismail contends that her co-workers knew she
used her breaks to pray, and states that she stored her
“prayer materials” in a “cubby . . . where
employees were expected to store their stuff.”
(Id.) // The facts in this case center on Ms.
Ismail's interactions with her coworkers and supervisors,
Ms. Ismail's breaks, and Amazon's investigations of
Ms. Ismail's complaints and behavior at
work. In roughly chronological order, the court
recounts below the events giving rise to Ms. Ismail's
leave of absence from Amazon and her claims.
October and November 2014, while Mr. Bland was Ms.
Ismail's manager, he “coached” her several
times about matters related to her performance. (Bland Decl.
¶ 4, Ex. 41 (“Coaching”) at 2.) On October
10, 2014, Mr. Bland told Ms. Ismail not to leave Amazon
“to get food for lunch while still on the clock,
” not to have her “cell phone out on the
operations floor, ” not to have social media websites
“constantly up on [her] computer, ” and not to
play games on work computers. (Id.) Mr. Bland also
advised Ms. Ismail that he expected her to log into her
computer at the time that her shift started and that
“[t]he time clock grace period is to protect pay[, ]
not attendance.” (Id.) On October 16, 2014,
Mr. Bland addressed with Ms. Ismail errors she had made in
processing notifications and told her that continued errors
would result in her being demoted. (Id.) On November
8, 2014, Mr. Levy “coached” Ms. Ismail about her
excessive tardiness, which arose because of medical and car
problems. (Id.; Ismail Dep. at 229:5-13.) Ms.
Ismail's time cards reflect that she was early for 13 of
15 shifts during the remainder of November 2014, early for 13
of 16 shifts in December 2014, and early or on time for 14 of
15 shifts in January 2015. (Feulner Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 500
(Dkt. # 39-1) at 7 (summarizing Ms. Ismail's work start
November 2014, Amazon promoted Ms. Ismail to Escalation
Specialist.(Ismail Decl. ¶ 15.) After her
promotion, Ms. Ismail experienced difficulties with Migail
Graves, the other Escalation Specialist on Team 4.
(Id.) She states that Mr. Graves was
“incredibly rude and abusive” to her.
(Id.) She informed Mr. Bland and Mr. Pearson about
Mr. Graves' behavior. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16,
20.) Despite Mr. Graves's alleged verbal abuse, Ms.
Ismail contends that neither manager reprimanded him.
(Id. ¶¶ 16-17, 19-20.) However, on January
23, 2015, Mr. Bland coached Ms. Ismail on what he determined
was her unprofessional behavior related to her interactions
with Mr. Graves. (Coaching at 2.)
January 2015, Amazon moved Ms. Ismail back into her previous
role, which Ms. Ismail characterizes as a demotion. (Ismail
Decl. ¶ 21; see also Resp. at 6 (stating that
Ms. Ismail was demoted after complaining about Mr. Graves).)
When Mr. Bland told Ms. Ismail about the decision, Ms. Ismail
informed him that she “was primary on everything”
and “doing the majority of the work.” (Ismail
Decl. ¶ 21.) In addition, Ms. Ismail asked Mr. Bland
whether he considered moving Mr. Graves back to his former
role instead, and, according to Ms. Ismail, Mr. Bland told
her that Mr. Graves “was better than [her] as an
Escalation Specialist.” (Id.) Mr. Bland moved
J'dyn Banks into the role of Escalation Specialist during
the night shift. (Id.) Mr. Bland said that Mr. Banks
had seniority, but Ms. Ismail contends that Mr. Banks
“did not have any seniority over” her.
(Id.) Ms. Ismail did not further contest the move.
the same general timeframe as those events, Ms. Ismail
applied for four internal transfers-two in December 2014 and
two in January 2015. (Feulner Decl. ¶ 16, Ex. 514 (Dkt.
# 39-2) at 15-17.) To interview for an open internal
position, Amazon policy requires manager approval for
employees who were not meeting standards. (Bland Decl. ¶
5, Ex. 42 at 2 (providing an Amazon policy that states that
“[e]mployees who are not currently meeting performance
standards must obtain manager approval before
interviewing”).) Mr. Bland declined to give Ms. Ismail
the necessary approval, stating that he would support a
transfer only after “a sustained period of
improvement.” (Bland Decl. ¶ 5; see also
Feulner Decl. ¶ 16, Ex. 514 at 15 (stating that Mr.
Bland denied Ms. Ismail the opportunity to interview for a
transfer because “several leadership principles . . .
need[ed] improvement”); id. ¶ 3, Ex. 501
at 30.) Amazon's transfer team told Mr. Bland to
“ensure that performance comments are limited to those
that are formally documented in performance management
systems.” (Feulner Decl. ¶ 16, Ex. 514 at 15.)
According to Ms. Ismail, despite Mr. Bland's coaching
regarding her performance, her first two managers never
expressed concern with the length of breaks she took. (Ismail
Decl. ¶ 6; see also Ismail Dep. at 73:20-23;
Feulner Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. 507 at 182.)
Braden Peterson became the manager of Team 4 on or around
February 20, 2015 (Peterson Decl. ¶ 1), and took a
different approach to Amazon's break policy (see
Peterson Decl. ¶ 3; Ismail Decl. ¶
According to Mr. Peterson, “[o]ne of the first things
[he] noticed after taking supervision of [his] team was that
there was little communication surrounding break times, and
even less structure about when it was appropriate to take
them.” (Peterson Decl. ¶ 3; see also
Feulner Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. 505 at 53 (quoting Amazon Human
Resources (“HR”) Manager Erin Klump as stating
that “[b]reaks and lunches have not been defined for
the GSCC. People come and go as they please.”).)
Shortly after moving into the supervisory role, Mr. Peterson
“made [his] expectation surrounding breaks very
clear.” (Peterson Decl. ¶ 3) His
“expectation was that everyone would take three
15[-]minute breaks and a 30[-]minute lunch, and would [be]
back in their seats . . . to ensure that they were ready to
work again.” (Id.) He further states that he
also told Team 4 “that anything outside of [the policy]
would require escalation to [him], so that [he could] ensure
proper coverage across the team.” (Id.)
emphasizing compliance with Amazon's break policy, Mr.
Peterson began to focus on Ms. Ismail. (See Id.
¶¶ 5-6.) He “observed that Ms. Ismail often
took 45-minute lunch breaks and paid breaks lasting up to 46
minutes and that she took paid breaks during every four-hour
work segment.” (Id. ¶ 5.) Mr. Peterson
further attests that Ms. Ismail “often left the
premises” and returned with “food from local
restaurants.” (Id.) In addition to the longer
breaks, Mr. Peterson also observed Ms. Ismail work longer
than her maximum 12-hour shift. (Id. ¶ 7;
see also id., Ex. 48A.) However, Ms. Ismail counters
that she “had the fewest number of [lunch] breaks that
went over 30 minutes between February 1, 2015, and May 8,
2015.” (Resp. at 7 (citing Feulner Decl. ¶ 23, Ex.
521 at 142-45).)
March 6, 2015, Mr. Peterson and Ms. Ismail had an
introductory meeting. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 4; Ismail Decl.
¶ 22.) During that meeting, they discussed Ms.
Ismail's breaks, and Ms. Ismail told Mr. Peterson that
she took extended breaks to accommodate her prayer schedule.
(Peterson Decl. ¶ 4.) Ms. Ismail told Mr. Peterson that
she “prayed during [her] breaks” and “used
the conference room” to do the prayers. (Ismail Decl.
¶ 22.) At that time, Ms. Ismail believed that Mr.
Peterson had no problems with her taking extended breaks.
(Id.) Mr. Peterson states that, based on the
meeting, he “assumed that Ms. Ismail was combining some
of her paid breaks to accommodate her prayers.”
(Peterson Decl. ¶ 4.) It does not appear that they
agreed to any plan concerning Ms. Ismail's breaks during
this meeting. (See generally Peterson Decl.; Ismail
March 12, 2015, Mr. Peterson “reached out to [his]
manager, who reached out to [HR], and requested
guidance” about Ms. Ismail's need to take longer
breaks. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 6; see also id., Ex.
48.) Amazon's HR department advised Mr. Peterson
“to have a conversation with Ms. Ismail concerning
[his] expectations around break times and seek to understand
the reasons she was taking such long breaks.”
(Id. ¶ 6.) A couple of weeks later, Mr.
Peterson also notified HR that Ms. Ismail worked 20 minutes
past her maximum 12-hour shift. (Id. ¶ 7;
see also id., Ex. 48A.)
Peterson and Ms. Ismail met again on March 27, 2015.
(Peterson Decl. ¶ 8; Ismail Decl. ¶ 24.) During
that meeting, Ms. Ismail informed Mr. Peterson that
“she combine[d] prayers, not breaks as [he] had
assumed, and because she combined prayers, she needed
slightly longer breaks.” (Peterson Decl. ¶ 8.)
According to Mr. Peterson, slightly longer breaks were
permissible but he wanted to “establish clear
expectations concerning how much time she would be
taking.” (Id.) Ms. Ismail states that it
“was difficult for [her] to identify a specific amount
of time” she needed for prayers because she did not
“necessarily spend [her prayer time] watching the
clock.” (Ismail Decl. ¶ 24.) Mr. Peterson states
that Ms. Ismail agreed that 20 minutes per break and a
30-minute lunch break would suffice (Peterson Decl. ¶
8), while Ms. Ismail states that she “agreed to
try” the 20-minute breaks (Ismail Decl. ¶ 24).
After the meeting, Mr. Peterson emailed Mr. Butler to
memorialize his understanding that Ms. Ismail take 20-minute
breaks going forward. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 8; see also
id., Ex. 49 at 2 (emailing Mr. Butler a summary of the
March 28, 2015, Mr. Peterson states that Ms. Ismail took a
42-minute lunch break. (Id. ¶ 9; see also
id., Ex. 50 (stating that although Ms. Ismail clocked in
at the 30-minute mark, she remained on break-and did not
work-for an additional 12 minutes).) Ms. Ismail disputes that
contention. (Resp. at 7.) Mr. Peterson emailed Ms.
Ismail to remind her of the agreement from the previous day,
and emailed Mr. Butler to inform him that Ms. Ismail's
break extended beyond the agreed 30 minutes. (Peterson Decl.
¶¶ 9-10.) Ms. Ismail responded that 20-minute
breaks were in fact not long enough and said she needed three
30-minute breaks instead. (Id. ¶ 10; see
also Ismail Decl. ¶ 25 (“ . . . I indicated
that I felt like 20 minutes was too short. . . . and that I
needed thirty minutes.”).) Mr. Peterson conveyed that
request to HR. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 10.) Ms. Ismail then
emailed Mr. Butler on March 29, 2015, because she felt that
Mr. Peterson “was becoming increasingly hostile and
fixated about wanting to talk about [her] breaks.”
(Ismail Decl. ¶ 25.)
March 29, 2015, Ms. Ismail took another a 42-minute lunch and
again worked past her 12-hour shift. (Peterson Decl.
¶¶ 11-12.) During this same general timeframe, Ms.
Matteson reported to Mr. Peterson that Ms. Ismail had called
her coworkers “lazy asses, ” which Ms. Ismail
disputes. (Id. ¶ 13; Ismail Decl. ¶ 27
(“. . . I never said that people were lazy
asses.”).) On March 31, 2015, HR “approved giving
Ms. Ismail a documented verbal coaching concerning her long
lunch breaks.” (Peterson Decl. ¶ 12; see
also Renner Decl. ¶ 4.) On April 2, 2015, Mr.
Peterson met with Ms. Ismail to deliver the
“coaching.” (Peterson Decl. ¶ 12.)
the April 2, 2015, coaching session, Mr. Peterson asked Ms.
Ismail to sign a document stating that she had violated
Amazon's rules because she took long lunches. (Ismail
Decl. ¶ 30; Peterson Decl. ¶ 12.) She refused to
sign because she thought the document was incorrect.
(Id.; see also Peterson Decl. ¶ 12.)
At this time, Ms. Ismail asked Mr. Peterson to involve HR in
future meetings and told him she felt he was discriminating
against her by “treating [her] breaks differently than
others[' breaks].”(Ismail Decl. ¶ 30.)
other events also occurred on April 2, 2015. First, Ms.
Ismail met with Mr. Butler to discuss Mr. Bland's
“favoritism toward other employees, Mr. Peterson's
discrimination and harassing [her] related to [her] prayer
breaks, and the lack of teamwork in Team 4.” (Ismail
Decl. ¶ 28.) She initially thought the “meeting
went well because Mr. Butler told [her] that there were lots
of issues that the GSCC needs to fix and that he would work
on it.” (Id.) Second, later in the day, Ms.
Ismail noticed that her prayer cloth was “in a
different cubby and was folded in a different way” and
“saw that there was a big boot mark” on
it. (Id. ¶ 29; see
also Ismail Dep., Ex. 19 (showing the marks on Ms.
Ismail's prayer cloth).) She felt “terrified and
traumatized” and could not complete her prayers because
her “prayer items must be clean in order for [a] prayer
to be accepted.” (Id.) Ms. Ismail infers that
Mr. Peterson intentionally stepped on her prayer cloth
because she noticed that he wore boots that night and he had
been focused on her breaks. (Id.) By the end of
her shift that day, Ms. Ismail felt that her earlier
conversation with Mr. Butler had been futile because she
continued “to feel discriminated against.”
(Ismail Decl. ¶ 31.)
April 7, 2015, Mr. Butler sent an email to Kristen Macklin in
Amazon's HR department, reporting Ms. Ismail's
“insubordination” and “highly
recommend[ing]” that Amazon “move to
termination.” (Feulner Decl. ¶ 19, Ex. 517 at
54-55.) Ms. Macklin, however, informed Mr. Butler that
termination could result only from an investigation into Ms.
Ismail's conduct. (Id. at 53.) Accordingly,
Paige Renner from HR met with Ms. Ismail that same day to
interview her. (See Renner Decl. ¶ 5; see
also id., Ex. 67 (notes of the meeting).) During that
meeting, Ms. Renner discussed Ms. Ismail's breaks, her
need to adhere to 12-hour shifts, her coworkers' reports
of unprofessional conduct, and her failure to complete the
self-review. (See MSJ at 11; Renner Decl. ¶ 5,
Ex. 76 (attaching notes from the meeting).) Ms. Renner told
Ms. Ismail that she would look into the policy regarding Ms.
Ismail taking additional break time to allow for her prayers
and that Ms. Renner thought any additional time would be
unpaid. (Renner Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 76, at 2.) Ms. Renner
also “coached” Ms. Ismail regarding not working
longer than 12 hours unless she had her manager's
approval. (Id. at 2-3.) Ms. Renner also asked Ms.
Ismail about her coworkers' reports of
“outbursts” and her refusals to follow her
supervisors' instructions. (Id. at 3.) Finally,
Ms. Ismail explained that she had completed her
self-evaluation but a computer glitch had erased it.
(Id.) Ms. Ismail nevertheless agreed to complete the
evaluation during that shift. (See id.)
after the April 7, 2015, meeting, Ms. Ismail worked on her
self-evaluation. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 14; Ismail Decl.
¶ 33.) The parties offer differing accounts of Mr.
Peterson's interactions with Ms. Ismail while she was
working on the evaluation. (Compare Peterson Decl.
¶¶ 14-15, with Ismail Decl. ¶ 33.)
Mr. Peterson states that he asked Ms. Ismail if she was going
to respond to her alarms when she returned to her desk after
meeting with Ms. Renner. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 14.) Ms.
Ismail told him no because “she was working on
something” for HR. (Id.) Mr. Peterson then
asked her whether she could do that while she answered
alarms, and she said she could not. (Id.) Ms. Ismail
contends that Mr. Peterson had an “aggressive and
intimidating” tone during this incident and
“became more aggressive” as he questioned her
about answering the alarms. (Ismail Decl. ¶ 33.) She
also states that Mr. Peterson told her to cover the alarms
while she worked on the evaluation. (Id.) Ms. Renner
told Ms. Ismail to have Mr. Peterson call Ms. Renner.
(Id. ¶ 34.) After Mr. Peterson spoke to Ms.
Renner, Mr. Peterson told Ms. Ismail to “do what [she]
was originally doing.” (Id.) She states that
she missed her prayer that day because she “was trying
to complete [her] review.” (Id.)
April 12, 2015, Mr. Bland issued Ms. Ismail her first
performance review as an Amazon employee and rated her as
“needing improvement.” (Bland Decl. ¶ 10,
Ex. 45; Feulner Decl. ¶ 19, Ex. 517.) Mr. Bland also
rated Mr. Chavez as needing improvement. (See
Bland Decl. ¶ 6; see also id., Ex. 43
(referencing a performance improvement plan for Mr. Chavez));
Feulner Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. 501 at 26.) Ms. Ismail refused to
acknowledge that she had received her review, and Mr. Bland
reported that refusal to HR. (Bland Decl. ¶¶ 10-11,
Exs. 46-47.) After this meeting, Ms. Matteson reported to Mr.
Peterson that Ms. Ismail made the following comments when she
returned to her work station after the performance review:
“The nerve”; “Waste of my fucking
time”; “This place gets funnier and funnier by
the minute”; “Retarded ass”; and
“This place was pure fucking comedy.” (Bland
Decl. ¶ 16.) Ms. Ismail states that she never used that
language or caused a disruption. (See Ismail Decl.
April 13, 2015, Mr. Butler again asked HR for approval to
terminate Ms. Ismail based on her failure to timely complete
the self-evaluation portion of her performance review,
refusal to meet with Mr. Peterson, and her disrespect toward
her managers and coworkers. (Renner Decl. ¶ 7.) HR
instead decided to further investigate those matters.
(Id.) Thus, on April 20, 2015, Ms. Renner and HR
“business partner” Amanda Berggren interviewed
Ms. Ismail and the other Team 4 members. (Id.;
see also id., Ex. 69 (attaching notes of the
interviews).) During the interviews, most of Ms. Ismail's
coworkers reported that Ms. Ismail had made inappropriate
comments or been rude to other Team 4 members. (See,
e.g., id., Ex. 69 at 5-6, 12-13.) Saul Chavez,
however, stated that he had not witnessed any
“inappropriate” behavior on Team 4. (Id.
at 7; see also Id. at 9-10.)
April 20, 2015, Ms. Matteson complained to Mr. Peterson that
Ms. Ismail lacked professionalism in an interaction.
(See Peterson Decl. ¶ 17; see also Id.
¶¶ 13, 16 (describing other incidents of
unprofessional behavior).) Based on that complaint, on April
21, 2015, Ms. Berggren and Steven Jensen, Senior Program
Manager for Global Security Operations, interviewed Ms.
Ismail about the incident involving Ms. Matteson. (Renner
Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. 70 at 2-3.) On April 23, 2015, Ms. Renner
and Ms. Berggren concluded their investigation and
“recommended that Amazon end its employment
relationship with Ms. Ismail based on her violations of
Amazon's standards of conduct.” (Id.
¶ 9.) On April 24, 2015, they forwarded their conclusion
to Ms. Klump. (Id., Ex. 72.) Instead of terminating
Ms. Ismail, however, Amazon decided to issue her a final
written warning on May 18, 2015. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 18,
April 24, 2015, Ms. Ismail made her first complaint with
Amazon's Ethics Hotline. (Renner Decl. ¶ 10, Ex.
74 (“1st Ethics Compl.”) at 2.) She reported that
Mr. Peterson was discriminating against her because of how he
treated her breaks. (Id. at 4.) She said she had
been “denied overtime or a transfer, ” not
“given any projects, ” and “isolated from
her team.” (Id.) She reported that Mr.
Peterson was “fine” with her prayer breaks at
first, but “later started asking why [the] breaks were
taking so long” and “tried to write [her] up for
taking prayer breaks.” (Id.)
April 26, 2014, Ms. Matteson again reported that Ms. Ismail
had made unprofessional comments. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 19;
id. ¶ 19, Ex. 59 at 2.) Mr. Peterson attempted
to meet with Ms. Ismail “to seek to understand what had
occurred, ” but Ms. Ismail refused to meet.
(Id. ¶ 19.)
5, 2015, Amazon confirmed that it would treat the additional
time Ms. Ismail needed for her breaks as it treated
additional break time for nursing mothers: Any additional
break time beyond the paid 15-minute break periods would be
allowed but unpaid. (Berggren Decl. (Dkt. # 28) ¶ 4;
see also id., Ex. 76 at 2 (“[T]his is a
religious accommodation and should be handled just like a
nursing mother. Any time [s]he takes for this accommodation
should be coded as unpaid.”); Renner Decl. ¶ 2;
see also Id. ¶ 6, Ex. 68.)
8, 2015, Ms. Berggren and Mr. Peterson met with Ms. Ismail to
relay that arrangement. (Berggren Decl. ¶¶ 4-5;
Peterson Decl. ¶ 20; Ismail Decl. ¶ 38.) Ms.
Berggren told Ms. Ismail that Amazon would
“allow” Ms. Ismail to pray and would accommodate
her prayer by providing her with additional “excused,
” unpaid time in addition to her paid
breaks. (Berggren Decl. ¶ 5; Ismail Decl.
¶ 37.) Ms. Ismail was offended by Ms. Berggren's
comment that Amazon would “allow” Ms. Ismail to
pray. (Ismail Decl. ¶ 38; see also Berggren
Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 77 at 2.) Ms. Ismail refused the unpaid
break time because she felt that “was being treated
differently than other employees by being required to clock
out” for prayer breaks, which would decrease her pay.
(Id.; Berggren Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 77 at 2)
According to Mr. Peterson, Ms. Ismail became “irate,
hostile, and raised her voice.” (Peterson Decl. ¶
20; see also id., Ex. 62 (Dkt. # 33-16) at 2-3.) Mr.
Peterson contends that he enforced Amazon's break policy
consistently across the department and had spoken
specifically with three other employees about the
expectation. (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. 62 at 2.) Mr.
Peterson denied knowing about the damage to Ms. Ismail's
prayer cloth. (Id. at 3.)
Ismail terminated the meeting to phone in a second complaint
to the Ethics Hotline. (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. 62 at 2;
Ismail Decl. ¶ 38; Berggren Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. 78
(“2d Ethics Compl.”).) Ms. Ismail identified
three other Amazon employees who she believed were paid for
their prayer time and stated that she believed it was unfair
that Amazon paid those employees for their prayer time but
would not pay her. (2d Ethics Compl. at 3.) Ms. Ismail also
stated that Mr. Peterson had stepped on her prayer cloth,
leaving a boot mark on it. (Id.) Ms. Ismail also
complained that Mr. Peterson yelled at her to clear a
security alarm at the time she was writing a statement for
the May 8, 2015, meeting, Mr. Peterson contends that Ms.
Ismail's breaks for the rest of that shift were longer
than allowed. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 21, Ex. 63 (Dkt. #
33-17); id. ¶ 21, Ex. 64 (Dkt. # 33-18);
id. ¶ 2, Ex. 65 (Dkt. # 33-19).) Specifically,
he stated that she spent 80 minutes “off task . . .
away from [her] work station, while clocked in.”
(Id. ¶ 21, Ex. 63 at 2; id. ¶ 22,
Ex. 65 (stating that Ms. Ismail spent 126 minutes “off
task” during that shift).) Ms. Ismail asserts that Mr.
Peterson knew she was calling the Ethics Hotline during that
time. (Resp. at 11.)
on the May 8, 2015, ethics complaint, Amanda Murrow, an HR
“business partner” at Amazon, conducted a second
investigation and interviewed all of the Team 4 members.
(Murrow Decl. (Dkt. # 32) ¶¶ 1, 3, 5-7.) Ms. Murrow
could not substantiate Ms. Ismail's allegations.
(Id. ¶ 3; see also id., Ex. 81
(“5/25/15 Rep.”) at 2.) Of the five employees
interviewed, only one-Saul Chavez-reported that Mr. Peterson
was unfair. (Id. at 6.) Mr. Chavez cited Mr.
Peterson's “coaching” of him for coming back
late after a lunch break and Mr. Peterson asking Ms. Ismail
to multitask. (Id.) The other employees reported
that Mr. Peterson treated everyone fairly and that they had
never witnessed Mr. Peterson yelling at any employees.
(See Id. at 5-7.) In addition, Ms. Murrow
interviewed the three other Muslim employees Ms. Ismail
identified about their prayer break time. (Id. at
5.) Those employees reported that they did their prayers
during the three paid breaks and the one unpaid lunch break
and did not need additional time. (Id.)
on her interviews, Ms. Murrow concluded that she could not
substantiate Ms. Ismail's claims that (1) Ms. Ismail had
been unable to observe her regular prayer times, (2) Mr.
Peterson had discriminated against Ms. Ismail, (3) other
Muslim employees were paid for their prayer time beyond the
three paid breaks Amazon provided to every employee, (4) Mr.
Peterson stepped on her prayer cloth, or (5) Mr. Peterson
yelled at Ms. Ismail. (Id. at 8-9.) Finally, Ms.
Murrow concluded that there was a hostile work environment,
but “not for the reasons” Ms. Ismail identified.
(Id. at 8.) Ms. Murrow determined that Ms.
Ismail's “verbal outbursts and erratic behavior
over the last few months have created an uncomfortable and
stressful environment for five out of the seven members of
the team.” (Id.)
result of the investigation, on May 18, 2018, Amazon issued
Ms. Ismail “a Final Written Warning for her
unprofessional behavior.” (Id. at 9;
see also Peterson Decl. ¶ 18, Ex. 58.) The
warning stated that “[o]ver the course of the last two
months, you have exhibited a trend of inappropriate behavior
that violates Amazon's published Standards of Conduct.
Specific examples include an outright refusal to cooperate or
communicate with your manager and/or supervisor including
intentionally disregarding instructions.” (Id.
Ismail did not go back to work after May 8, 2015, and remains
formally on leave from Amazon. (Ismail Decl. ¶ 39.) She
“felt too traumatized and stressed about work”
and “ended up going to a mental health provider in
Washington, ” who told her she “should not go
back to work.” (Id.)
22, 2015, Ms. Ismail filed a charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (See
Blatt Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1 (Dkt. # 30-1) (“EEOC
Letter”) at 2.) On August 2, 2016, the EEOC determined
that it was “unable to conclude that the information
obtained establishes violations of the statutes, ” and
issued a Right to Sue letter. (Id.; see
also Feulner Decl. ¶ 22, Ex. 520, (Dkt. # 39-2) at
October 28, 2016, Ms. Ismail filed this lawsuit pro
se. (See IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1); Compl. (Dkt. #
3).) On January 12, 2017, Ms. Ismail moved for the
appointment of counsel (MTA (Dkt. # 12)), and per the Western
District of Washington's Pro Bono Screening
Committee's recommendation, the court appointed counsel
on March 23, 2017 (3/23/17 Order (Dkt. # 15); see
also 2/23/17 Order (Dkt. # 14)). After counsel for Ms.
Ismail appeared, Ms. Ismail amended her complaint on June 30,
2017, asserting seven claims against Amazon. (See
FAC (Dkt. # 22); see also Stip. (Dkt. # 20).) Ms.
Ismail brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 for disparate treatment based on her race and
religion, for a hostile work environment based on her
religion, and for retaliation. (FAC ¶¶ 5.1-5.7,
5.12-5.13); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a)(1), 2000e-3(a).
She also brings claims for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
based on racial discrimination and retaliation. (Id.
¶¶ 5.8-5.11); 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Finally, she
brings claims for racial and religious discrimination and
retaliation under the Arizona Civil Rights Act
(“ACRA”), Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1461, et
seq. (Id. ¶¶ 5.14-5.15.)
moves for summary judgment on all of Ms. Ismail's claims.
(See generally MSJ.) The court now addresses the
judgment is appropriate if the evidence 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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Galen v. Cty. of L.A., 477
F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). A fact is
“material” if it might affect the outcome of the
case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). A factual dispute is “‘genuine'
only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact
finder to find for the non-moving party.” Far Out
Prods., Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 992 (9th Cir. 2001)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49).
moving party bears the initial burden of showing there is no
genuine dispute of material fact and that it is entitled to
prevail as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. If the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of
persuasion at trial, it can show the absence of a dispute of
material fact in two ways: (1) by producing evidence negating
an essential element of the nonmoving party's case, or
(2) by showing that the nonmoving party lacks evidence of an
essential element of its claim or defense. Nissan Fire
& Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1106
(9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party will bear the burden of
persuasion at trial, it must establish a prima facie showing
in support of its position on that issue. UA Local 343 v.
Nor-Cal Plumbing, Inc., 48 F.3d 1465, 1471 (9th Cir.
1994). That is, the moving party must present evidence that,
if uncontroverted at trial, would entitle it to prevail on
that issue. Id. at 1473. If the moving party meets
its burden of production, the burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify specific facts from which a fact
finder could reasonably find in the nonmoving party's
favor. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Anderson,
477 U.S. at 252.
court must “view the facts and draw reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the [nonmoving]
party.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378
(2007). The court may not weigh evidence or make credibility
determinations in analyzing a motion for summary judgment
because these are “jury functions, not those of a
judge.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
Nevertheless, the nonmoving party “must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no ...