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Taing v. Camrac, LLC

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 2, 2019


          Argued November 28, 2018

         Procedural History

         Actiontorecover damages for, inter alia, alleged pregnancy discrimination, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the court, Noble, J., granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Matthew Muttart, with whom, on the brief, was James V. Sabatini, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Tanya A. Bove´ e, with whom, on the brief, was Justin E. Theriault, for the appellee (defendant).

          Sheldon, Bright and Harper, Js.


          HARPER, J.

         This appeal arises from a pregnancy discrimination action brought by the plaintiff, Mouy Taing, under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act[1]against the defendant, CAMRAC, LLC, after she was terminated from her employment with the defendant.[2]On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Specifically, she claims that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant's proffered reason for her termination was pre-textual. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following undisputed facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The plaintiff was hired by the defendant in April, 2013, for a position that entailed renting cars to customers. Despite issues with tardiness, the plaintiff was promoted in January, 2014, to the position of account executive, in which she sold cars to customers. Throughout the plaintiff's employment with the defendant, the plaintiff received numerous performance evaluations documenting that she was habitually tardy for her shifts. On July 18, 2014, the plaintiff received a written warning for arriving late to work on multiple occasions without notifying management, in violation of the defendant's attendance and punctuality policy.[3] The warning informed the plaintiff that her tardiness was unacceptable and that, if her attendance record did not improve, she would be subject to further discipline up to and including termination. Matthew Fisher, the plaintiff's manager, and Kevin Hill, a supervisor, met with the plaintiff to assist her in planning out her daily schedule so that she could avoid being tardy. Moreover, the defendant twice permitted the plaintiff to alter her work schedule to better accommodate her child care needs.[4]

         On or about December 16, 2014, the plaintiff notified the defendant's human resources department that she was pregnant. The plaintiff also notified her supervisors, Hill and Fisher, of her pregnancy. On December 19, 2014, the plaintiff received a final written warning, noting that she continued to be habitually tardy despite adjustments made to her work schedule.[5] Additionally, the warning stated that her position would be terminated if she was tardy again. On December 22, 2014, however, the plaintiff was again late. On December 24, 2014, Fisher sent the plaintiff home after she arrived late to work. On December 29, 2014, the next day that the plaintiff was scheduledtowork, she was terminated. At that time, Fisher informed the plaintiff that she was being terminated for tardiness.

         After obtaining a release of jurisdiction from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, [6] the plaintiff filed a three count complaint against the defendant, alleging, inter alia, pregnancy discrimination in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2013) § 46a-60 (a) (7), now § 46a-60 (b) (7).[7] The defendant subsequently moved for summary judgment on all counts of the plaintiff's complaint. In a memorandum of decision, the court granted the defendant's motion, agreeing with the defendant that the plaintiff had failed to produce any evidence that raises a genuine issue of material fact that the defendant's proffered reason for terminating the plaintiff was pretextual. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.

         We first set forth the relevant standard of review and legal principles that guide our analysis. ‘‘Practice Book § 17-49 provides that summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, affidavits and any other proof submitted show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. . . . The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of showing . . . that the party is . . . entitled to judgment as a matter of law. . . . Our review of the trial court's decision to grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment is plenary.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Hopkins v. O'Connor, 282 Conn. 821, 829, 925 A.2d 1030 (2007).

         Although the plaintiff's claim is based solely on Connecticut law, ‘‘Connecticut anti discrimination statutes should be interpreted in accordance with federal antidiscrimination laws.'' Curry v. Allan S. Goodman, Inc., 286 Conn. 390, 407, 944 A.2d 925 (2008). ‘‘In defining the contours of an employer's duties under our state antidiscrimination statutes, we have looked for guidance to federal case law interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal statutory counterpart to § 46a-60.'' Brittell v. Dept. of Correction, 247 Conn. 148, 164, 717 A.2d 1254 (1998).

         ‘‘The legal standards governing discrimination claims involving adverse employment actions are well established. The framework this court employs in assessing disparate treatment discrimination claims under Connecticut law was adapted from the United States Supreme Court's decision in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), and its progeny. . . . Under this analysis, the employee must first make a prima facie case of discrimination. . . . In order for the employee to first make a prima facie case of discrimination, the plaintiff must show: (1) the plaintiff is a member of a protected class; (2) the plaintiff was qualified for the position; (3) the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances that give rise to an inference of discrimination. . . . The employer may then rebut the prima facie case by stating a legitimate, nondiscriminatory justification for the employment decision in question. . . . The employee then must demonstrate that the reason proffered by the employer is merely a pretext and that the decision actually was motivated by illegal discriminatory bias.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Feliciano v.Autozone, Inc., 316 Conn. 65, 73-74, 111 A.3d 453 (2015). ‘‘[T]o defeat summary judgment . . . the ...

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