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Rosales v. Spencer

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

June 4, 2019

LOUIE M. ROSALES, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD V. SPENCER, Secretary of the United States Department of the Navy, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Richard Spencer's (“Government”) motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 25. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the motion for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 29, 2017, Plaintiff Louie Rosales (“Rosales”) filed a complaint against the Government asserting a claim for breach of contract and retaliation. Dkt. 1. On May 11, 2018, Rosales filed an amended complaint asserting the same claims and adding additional requests for relief. Dkt. 13.

         On March 27, 2018, the Government filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 25. On April 15, 2019, Rosales responded. Dkt. 33. On April 19, 2019, the Government replied. Dkt. 36.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Rosales has worked as a civilian employee of the Department of the Navy (the “Department”) for nearly 37 years. Dkt. 34, Declaration of Louie Rosales (“Rosales Decl.”), ¶ 2. Since at least the late 1990s, Rosales has worked in various positions as a shipfitter in Shop 11 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA. Id. At all relevant times, Jeremy Feldbush (“Feldbush”) was the Trade Superintendent for Shops 11 and 17 and Cassandra Pruitt (“Pruitt”) was the Resource and Skills Manager for the non-nuclear trades in Shops 11 and 17.

         On March 16, 2016, Rosales filed a complaint with the Department's Equal Employment Office (“EEO”) alleging discrimination and harassment based on his race, ethnicity, and national origin. Id. ¶ 3. On March 20, 2016, Pruitt demoted Rosales from his position as a Work Leader. Id. ¶ 4. On August 15, 2016, the Department engaged in formal mediation with Rosales regarding his EEO complaint. Id. ¶ 5. Rosales asserts that he and Feldbush reached an agreement as follows:

         We reached a verbal agreement that the Department would do the following: (1) assign me a mentor; (2) promote me back to a Work Leader position, where I had been before Ms. Pruitt demoted me; (3) put me on a list to attend First Level Supervisor (1LS) training; and (4) restore 24 hours of sick leave I had used when dealing with the harassment and discrimination. Elizabeth Anderson (“Anderson”), who was a Human Resource Specialist, was not there when Mr. Feldbush and I agreed to the settlement terms.

Id.

         On August 19, 2016, Rosales and his union representative, Mark Leighton (“Leighton”), met with Feldbush and Anderson to sign a written settlement agreement.When Feldbush and Anderson presented the draft, Rosales immediately objected to the provision stating that he would be promoted to Work Leader for only a temporary period that was not to exceed 120 days. Id. ¶ 6. Rosales asserts that the conversation was as follows:

When I looked at the settlement agreement, it was different than what I agreed with Mr. Feldbush. Mr. Feldbush had agreed that I would be returned to a Work Leader position, but the document said that I would only be promoted as a Work Leader for 120 days. Mr. Leighton and I told Mr. Feldbush that a temporary promotion would not work because that is not what we agreed. Mr. Feldbush told me that he understood but that this was the only “legal” way he could put me back as Work Leader. However, he specifically promised that when the 120 days was over, he would personally select me from a certification list, or “cert, ” and that I would remain a Work Leader going forward. I believed Mr. Feldbush. Mr. Leighton told Mr. Feldbush that if he did not keep his promise, the union would sue on my behalf. Mr. Feldbush assured me again that he would personally make sure that I kept my promotion after the 120 days.

Id. Rosales signed the agreement, which provides as follows:

The Agency agrees to:
(1) Assign a mentor to Mr. Rosales within ten work days from the last signature of this Agreement.
(2) Place Mr. Rosales on a temporary promotion to a WL-3820-10 Shipfitter Leader position, not to exceed 120 days. This action will be initiated by the shop within ten work ...

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