United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
J. PECHMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 63), Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment, and Defendant's Motion to Strike (Dkt.
No. 80). Having reviewed the motions, the responses (Dkt.
Nos. 69, 70, 76), the replies (77, 78, 82), and all related
papers, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment and Motion to Strike and DENIES Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff Mark Mayes, who is African-American, the problems
began almost immediately after he started working as a
full-time Fulfillment Associate for the Defendant,
Amazon.com.dedc LLC (“Amazon”). (Dkt. No. 1
¶ 6; Dkt. No. 64, Declaration of Jeff Heckel
(“Heckel Decl.”), Ex. D at 40.)
his first week, Mr. Mayes approached an HR Administrative
Assistant, whose shirt said “gangsta napper, ”
thinking that the shirt said “gangsta nigger.”
(Dkt. No. 68, Declaration of Linda Walton (“Walton
Decl.”), Ex. Z at 138:20-139:13; Dkt. No. 65,
Declaration of Keiko Napier (“Napier Decl.”)
¶ 2 Ex. U.) This conversation took place in front of a
message board that Mr. Mayes believed referred to the
exclusively Caucasian managers in the fulfillment center as
“owners.” (Walton Decl., Ex. Z at 138:25,
199:20-25.) Amazon claims the referenced “owners”
are any employee who acts in response to a comment posted on
the board. (Heckel Decl. ¶ 11, Ex. C at 45-47.)
following day, Mr. Mayes received his first write-up for
making four errors, caught by Amazon's automated system
that monitors errors and timing as employees scan products.
(Heckel Decl., Ex. E at 53-54; Id. ¶ 8.) Other
new employees also received write-ups in their first weeks.
(Walton Decl., Ex. Z at 182:6-13, 204:19-205:6.) Between June
11 and June 24, Mr. Mayes received additional write-ups for
not wearing his badge, (Id., Ex. Z at 205:20-25),
taking a break at the wrong time (Heckel Decl. Ex. G), making
quality errors, (Id. Ex. H), and for performing at
only 50% of the speed expectation (Id.).
Mayes also asked his manager “to meet outside in the
parking lot, ” which prompted a response from Senior
Human Resources Assistant, Emily Larsen. (Walton Decl. Ex. Z
at 143:18-22.) Mr. Mayes apologized during a meeting in Ms.
Larsen's office but as he was leaving Ms. Larsen, while
making a gun symbol with her hand, said, “We're
gunning for you.” (Id. at 146:22-24;
148:9-11.) Mr. Mayes took Ms. Larsen's comment as a
threat and was so terrified he “went back to [his]
station and almost passed out.” (Id. at
Mayes called the Kent Police Department to report Ms.
Larsen's comment and another comment from a manager
allegedly telling Mr. Mayes he had “14 bullets”
for him. (Walton Decl., Ex. BB.) Ms. Larsen explained that
she meant she was rooting for Mr. Mayes and did not mean to
threaten him. (Id. at 86.) The manager denied using
the phrase “14 bullets” but said if he had used
the term he was referring to 14 action items that would help
Mr. Mayes succeed. (Id.) Mr. Mayes later
acknowledged that the comment, “I got 14 bullets for
you, ” was a reference to “the bullets of the
topics that he went over.” (Id., Ex. Z at
149:20 22; 200:16 18.) The Kent Police Department closed the
case. (Id. at 227:4-228:23, Ex. BB at 86-87.)
response to the disproportionate HR activity surrounding Mr.
Mayes, a senior operations manager initiated an investigation
that found Mr. Mayes received several unwarranted reprimands.
(Declaration of Aaron Reynolds (“Reynolds
Decl.”), Ex. Y at 8.) The manager concluded, “I
can completely understand how [Mr. Mayes] feels like we are
‘badgering' him, especially with the frequency of
documented feedback in this one week period.”
(Id.) After the meeting, several of Mr. Mayes's
write-ups were exempted and he was reassigned to a new
manager, although his performance remained in the bottom five
percent of all fulfilment center employees. (Id. at
following days, Mr. Mayes met separately with an operations
manager and an HR business partner, making the statements:
“I just can't do this anymore” and “I
don't know how I can keep up.” (Heckel Decl. Ex. P
at 4.) Then, on July 7, 2017-five weeks after Mr. Mayes began
working for Amazon-he told his manager he was unable to work
because of a doctor-prescribed boot he was wearing to ease
pain from an earlier surgery. (Id. Ex. O at 1.) Mr.
Mayes was escorted to the onsite medical office where he was
given paperwork for a worker's compensation claim.
(Id.) He left after the meeting without completing
the paperwork and never returned to Amazon. (Id.
¶¶ 25-27, Ex. R at 151.) Mr. Mayes was notified of
his “voluntary resignation due to job
abandonment” on October 18, 2017. (Id., Ex.
Mayes now brings claims for (1) discrimination on the basis
of race in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil rights
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; (2) creating a hostile
work environment due to race or color in violation of Title
VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq.; (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the 1964
Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, and; (4) race
discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of the
Washington State Law Against Discrimination, RCW chapter
49.60. (Dkt. No. 19.) Both parties seek summary judgment on
all claims. (Dkt. No. 63, 71.)
Amazon's Motion to Strike
initial matter, Defendant moves to strike one of
Plaintiff's many surreplies (Dkt. No. 78), which contains
11 pages of substantive argument. (Dkt. No. 80 at 1-3.) As
there can be no dispute that new arguments raised in a
surreply are improper, see, e.g., Amazon.com LLC
v. Lay, 758 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1171 (W.D. Wash. 2010);
Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 997 (9th Cir. 2007),
the Court GRANTS the Motion to ...