United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Margarita Hernandez was the only Hispanic clinical
psychologist at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School
(“CJTS”), a facility run by the defendant,
Connecticut Department of Children and Families
(“DCF”). Beginning in January 2014, plaintiff
began having significant workplace conflict with her new
supervisor, Gail DeMarco. These conflicts eventually resulted
in plaintiff's firing in January 2016, after nine months
spent on administrative leave. The ostensible basis for
plaintiff's suspension and termination was her violation
of department policy concerning the use of personal printers.
But plaintiff alleges that she was in fact the victim of
racial discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title
VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq.
has moved for summary judgment. Because I find that genuine
fact issues remain for a jury to decide whether
defendant's proffered reason for firing plaintiff was a
pretext for discrimination and retaliation, I will deny the
following facts are set forth in the light most favorable to
plaintiff as the non-moving party. Plaintiff began her
employment with the Department as a clinical psychologist in
2000. Doc. #34-4 at 4. Her allegations chiefly concern the
time after January 2014, when Gail DeMarco became her
supervisor. Doc. #43-3 at 3 (¶ 6). Her allegations fall
into six main categories.
DeMarco became plaintiff's supervisor, she assigned her
an excessive case load, allegedly on the basis of her
Hispanic ethnic background. Ibid. Plaintiff had been
receiving a $1, 000-per-year stipend to compensate her for
providing bilingual services. Id. at 4 (¶ 24).
Plaintiff was asked to take on every case that required
bilingual services, and her workload was not otherwise
reduced to compensate for this. When she complained about her
increased caseload, DeMarco responded by noting the stipend
plaintiff received. Plaintiff then filed a formal complaint
with human resources in August 2014, after which HR
determined she was not meeting the requirements of the
bilingual stipend and stopped giving her that stipend.
Id. at 4 (¶¶ 22-26). Plaintiff argues that
the investigation of her complaint was flawed and that the
determination concerning her eligibility for the stipend was
erroneous. Id. at 4 (¶ 27). Plaintiff later
stopped performing bilingual services, id. at 4
(¶ 28), though she still received requests to perform
bilingual services during the winter of 2014-15. Id.
at 5 (¶ 48).
Time and Degrading Comments
April 2014, DeMarco denied plaintiff the ability to use her
compensation time (“comp time”) as provided by
the union contract. Id. at 3 (¶ 9). Plaintiff
filed a grievance over this and prevailed. Id. at 4
(¶ 11); Doc. #34-4 at 27. At a department meeting the
following month, DeMarco “treated [plaintiff] in a
disrespectful manner in front of [her] colleagues and called
[her] a liar.” Doc. #43-3 at 4 (¶ 12). DeMarco
accused plaintiff of holding an “organized
meeting” concerning on-call policy. Doc. #34-4 at 28.
Plaintiff denied this allegation, and DeMarco said something
to the effect of, “you know, you don't have to lie,
you could just tell the truth.” Id. at 28-29.
Plaintiff subsequently spoke with DeMarco over the phone and
told her she found her behavior disrespectful and
inappropriate; DeMarco told her she was overreacting and that
it (“liar”) was just a word. Id. at
2014, DeMarco failed to submit one of plaintiff's
timesheets to the payroll department promptly, resulting in a
portion of plaintiff's salary being delayed for 13 days.
Doc. #34-4 at 30-31. Standard practice in the department was
to submit timesheets on Wednesday, a couple days in advance
of the deadline. Plaintiff's on-call day was Thursday.
One day plaintiff had to work extra time on Thursday, and she
submitted a revised timesheet the following morning. DeMarco
allegedly failed to deliver the amended sheet to payroll, and
plaintiff did not get paid for the four extra hours she had
worked until 13 days later. Her regular salary was paid on
time. When plaintiff confronted DeMarco about it, DeMarco
said “Why are you making a big deal out of it? You
found the error, it's done. Let it go, ” to which
plaintiff responded that this was a serious matter and could
well happen again. Ibid.
2014, plaintiff was forced to move from her unit at CJTS,
4-B, to unit 6-C. Plaintiff alleges a number of
irregularities as to this transfer, including failure to
follow protocol as to seniority and failure to observe
previous policy concerning temporary replacements for people
on medical leave. Id. at 32-35. Plaintiff also
describes a number of other attempts by DeMarco to reassign
her from her assigned unit. See id. at 35-44.