United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
S. ZILLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment re Plaintiff's Due Process
Claim, docket no. 13, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment, docket no. 16, and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave
to Amend Complaint, docket no. 22. Having reviewed all papers
filed in support of, and in opposition to, the motions, the
Court enters the following order.
Yolanda Madry, who is African American, was employed by the
King County Department of Transportation in the Metro Transit
division in April 2015. Plaintiff was terminated in October
2015. See Declaration of Donna Bond, docket no. 17, Ex. A,
24:5-7; 27. Plaintiff was initially hired into Transit HR as
a Transit Administrative Assistant III, but after three weeks
she was classified as an HR Associate (sometimes referred to
as Recruiting Coordinator). See Bond Decl., docket no. 17,
Ex. A at 29:13-31:24, & pp. 24-25. Throughout her
employment, Plaintiff was classified as a term-limited
temporary (“TLT”) employee. Id., Ex. A
at 25. Senior HR Analyst Ivette Martinez-Morales reviewed
Plaintiff's job performance in August 2015. See id., Ex.
C at 62:10-72:77 & pp. 13-15. Her review concluded that
Plaintiff should improve in several areas, including timely
completion of tasks, prioritization, communication, ability
to work independently, and problem solving. Id.
Plaintiff views the review as mostly satisfactory, but does
not dispute that it contained two insufficient ratings. See
Pltf.'s Opp., docket no. 24, at 3.
Plaintiff's employment, Transit HR advertised an open
position for a permanent, career service HR Associate.
See Leslie Decl., docket no. 18, ¶ 10.
Management learned that the existing cohort of TLT HR
Associates was experiencing interpersonal difficulties, which
might have been related to competition for the open position.
See Declaration of Susan Eddy, docket no. 20, ¶
5; Leslie Decl., docket no. 18, ¶ 10; Martinez-Morales
Decl., docket no. 19, ¶ 5. Susan Eddy and
Martinez-Morales were tasked with looking into the situation,
and ultimately concluded no investigation was warranted.
Failure to Send Conditional Offer Letter
September 28, 2015, Martinez-Morales reviewed a
pre-employment packet for a Lead Rail Facilities Mechanic
recruitment. See Martinez-Morales Decl., docket no.
19, ¶ 7. Martinez-Morales discovered that the candidate
in question failed to meet certain requirements, and the
offer would need to be rescinded. Id. Unable to
locate a copy of the conditional offer letter in the
candidate's file, Martinez-Morales asked Plaintiff for a
copy. Id. Plaintiff mistakenly had not sent the
candidate such a letter. See Bond Decl., docket no.
17, Ex. A at 81:21-82:4. Plaintiff has testified both that
her failure “was a mistake” and that she
“forgot, ” but also that Martinez-Morales failed
to inform Plaintiff that a verbal offer had been made, which
in turn meant that Plaintiff was not aware that a conditional
offer letter needed to be sent. Compare Id. at
82:2-4 (Plaintiff describing her own mistake) with
Id. at 81:6-7, 92:18-93:9 (Plaintiff testifying that
Martinez-Morales caused the mistake by failing to inform
Plaintiff of the verbal offer). Plaintiff does not dispute
that normally a conditional offer letter is sent.
Id. at 89:16-90:25.
learning that the candidate did not receive a conditional
offer letter, Martinez-Morales became concerned about
potential risk. See Bond Decl., docket no. 17, Ex. C
at 73:9-74:13. Plaintiff testified that at this point,
Martinez-Morales used derogatory, racially-tinged language to
describe the candidate. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that
Martinez-Morales said that the candidate was
“African-American, so you know he's going to use
the race card as to why he didn't get the job.”
Id., Ex. A at 82:10- 12. Martinez-Morales denies
making the comment. See Martinez-Morales Decl.,
docket no. 19, ¶ 7.
Plaintiff's Complaint Regarding the “Race
same day that Martinez-Morales allegedly made the “race
card” comment to Plaintiff, Plaintiff reported the
statement to Employee and Labor Relations Representative
James Moreau. See Bond Decl., docket no. 17, Ex. A
at 91:19-92:17. Moreau testified that he did not tell anyone
about his conversation with Plaintiff until after
Plaintiff's termination. See id., Ex. D at
22:7-27:8. Plaintiff also claims that she spoke about the
“race card” comment to Senior HR Analyst Jose
Dominguez on September 29, 2015 and to Employee and Labor
Relations Representative Anh Hoang on October 5, 2015.
See id., Ex. A at 84:6-19, 100:1-101:7,
113:1-114:11. Hoang does not recall Plaintiff making such an
allegation, and in any event did not convey the allegation to
anyone else. See Declaration of Anh Hoang, docket
no. 21, ¶¶ 4-6, Ex. A. The individuals involved in
Plaintiff's termination have testified that they did not
learn about the alleged “race-card” comment until
after the termination. See Leslie Decl., docket no.
18, ¶ 17; Martinez-Morales Decl., docket no. 19, ¶
8; Eddy Decl., docket no. 20, ¶ 17.
HR officials also identified Plaintiff as having made changes
to their internal recruitment tracking system, Neogov,
without permission. On October 1, 2015, Martinez-Morales
noticed that a candidate for one of Martinez-Morales's
recruitment positions was also listed as a candidate for
another position in the department. Upon further searching,
Martinez-Morales discovered that Plaintiff was also listed as
an applicant for the other position, and that all applicants
for that position had been moved to the testing stage of the
application process. Martinez-Morales referred the matter to