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Madry v. King County Department of Transportation

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 11, 2019

YOLANDA MADRY, Plaintiff,
v.
KING COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (KCDOT), Defendant.

          ORDER

          THOMAS S. ZILLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS 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.

         Background

         1. Plaintiff's Employment

         Plaintiff 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.

         2. Associate In-Fighting

         During 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[1] and Martinez-Morales were tasked with looking into the situation, and ultimately concluded no investigation was warranted.

         3. Failure to Send Conditional Offer Letter

         On 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.

         Upon 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.

         4. Plaintiff's Complaint Regarding the “Race Card” Comment

         On the 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.

         5. Accessing Neogov

         Transit 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 ...


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