Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sasser v. Salt Lake City Corp.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

December 1, 2017

QUENTIN L. SASSER, Plaintiff,
v.
SALT LAKE CITY CORPORATION, a Utah municipal corporation; DAVID TERRY, in his individual capacity; and LYNN LANDGREN in his individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER • GRANTING [42] DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT • MOOTING [41] PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          David Nuffer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Quentin L. Sasser (“Mr. Sasser”), an African-American male, worked as a longtime seasonal employee at municipal golf courses run by Defendant Salt Lake City Corporation (“the City”). Former[1] Defendant David Terry (“Mr. Terry”) served as the Golf Program Director for the City and Former Defendant Lynn Landgren (“Mr. Landgren”) was the Head Professional at the Wingpointe Golf Course (“Wingpointe”). In the spring of 2011, Mr. Sasser applied for a permanent position as the First Assistant Professional (“the Position”) at the City-run Mountain Dell Golf Course. Mr. Terry and Mr. Landgren sat on the hiring committee. Mr. Sasser was not invited to interview for the Position, and the Position was eventually filled by another City employee.

         Mr. Sasser's complaint (“Complaint”)[2] alleges that the City's refusal to promote Mr. Sasser represents discrimination on the basis of race and color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, [3] and discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.[4] The City moves for summary judgment on the racial and age discrimination claims (“Motion”).[5] Mr. Sasser responded only partially to the Motion.[6] The City replies in support.[7]

         Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED because Mr. Sasser concedes that summary judgment on the age discrimination claim is appropriate[8] and because he fails to raise a genuine issue of material fact for his racial discrimination claim.

         Table of Contents

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD ...................................................................................... 3

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS ............................................................................................ 4

         DISCUSSSION ............................................................................................................................. 11

         1. Mr. Sasser Has Evidence of a Prima Facie Case. . ................................................ 12

         2. The City Has Articulated Legitimate Nondiscriminatory Reasons for Its Employment Action. . ............................................................................................ 13

         3. Mr. Sasser Has Failed to Proffer Evidence That the City's Reasons are Pretextual. ............................................................................................................................... 14

         ORDER ......................................................................................................................................... 18

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”[9] A material fact is a fact that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing [substantive] law.”[10] A factual dispute is genuine when “there is sufficient evidence on each side so that a rational trier of fact could resolve the issue either way.”[11] In determining whether there is a genuine dispute as to material fact, the court should “view the factual record and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom most favorably to the nonmovant.”[12] The moving party “bears the initial burden of making a prima facie demonstration of the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”[13]

         UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

         1. Mr. Sasser was employed by the City for two separate periods: from 1993-2000 and from 2006-2012.[14]

         2. On March 7, 1993, Mr. Landgren hired Mr. Sasser as a part-time seasonal “Golf Cart/Driving Range” employee at the City's Wingpointe Golf Course.[15]

         3. The following year, the City rehired Mr. Sasser, this time as a part-time seasonal “Golf Starter” at Wingpointe. Mr. Sasser described this position as providing “counter help, ” picking up empty ball baskets from the driving range; refilling the range dispenser with golf balls; and moving golf carts.[16]

         4. On January 8, 1995, the City again re-hired Mr. Sasser as a part-time seasonal Golf Starter at Wingpointe.[17]

         5. Mr. Sasser held this position at Wingpointe for the next six seasons (i.e. 1995-2000).[18]

         6. In late September 1995, Tammy Nakamura (“Ms. Nakamura”), the President of the Beehive Ladies Golf Association (an organization comprised primarily of Japanese-Americans) submitted a letter to the City's golf director describing an incident that occurred at Wingpointe during a tournament.[19]

         7. Specifically, Ms. Nakamura overheard three golf starters in the clubhouse struggling with pronouncing the tournament participants' Japanese names. Ms. Nakamura offered to help with the pronunciation. One of the starters informed Ms. Nakamura that her help was not needed, contending they were doing a good job with pronunciation of the names.[20]

         8. When Ms. Nakamura shrugged in reaction to the starter's response, Mr. Sasser remarked to another starter that it would be easier if the players had American names. Ms. Nakamura overheard Mr. Sasser's comment and was offended. She subsequently informed the City that she found Mr. Sasser's behavior to be “extremely inappropriate, particularly for a starter who maintains direct contact with the public.”[21]

         9. Mr. Sasser told Mr. Landgren about the incident.[22]

         10. On August 17, 2000, Mr. Sasser resigned from his City employment to accept a position at Coral Canyon Golf Course (“Coral Canyon”) in St. George, Utah.[23]

         11. Mr. Sasser served as the tournament director, which he described as like a first assistant to the head professional, at Coral Canyon from August 2000 through April 2002.[24]

         12. On November 1, 2006, Mr. Landgren rehired Mr. Sasser as a part-time seasonal Golf Starter at Wingpointe.[25]

         13. On February 25, 2007, Mr. Sasser was reclassified as a part-time seasonal “Golfer Relations Specialist, ” with job responsibilities nearly identical to those of a Golf Starter.[26]

         14. The City rehired Mr. Sasser the following season but as a part-time seasonal “Golf Teaching Professional.”[27]

         15. A Golf Teaching Professional, Mr. Sasser's primary job duties were: i) providing golf instruction for City-sponsored junior and adult group clinics, camps, and orientations; and ii) providing individual and group lessons (on personal time and in compliance with golf program policy) to interested members of the public.[28]

         16. While Golf Teaching Professionals might assist on an as-needed basis in the pro shop, the position's focus is-as its title implies-on teaching, and the job responsibilities are quite different from those of Golf Starter or Golfer Relations Specialist.[29]

         17. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Mr. Sasser worked as a part-time seasonal Golf Teaching Professional at the City's Wingpointe and Nibley Park Golf Courses.[30]

         18. At Nibley Park, Mr. Sasser taught golf lessons to children as part of the City's Junior Golf program. Mr. Sasser also performed maintenance work on the grounds crew at Wingpointe during this same time period.[31]

         19. On March 29, 2010, Mr. Sasser applied for, and was hired for, a part-time seasonal position of Golf Groundskeeper.[32]

         20. As a Golf Groundskeeper, Mr. Sasser's duties included performing maintenance work, including maintaining grounds, gardens, equipment, or buildings on golf courses.[33]

         21. Mr. Sasser continued to teach at Nibley Park while also serving as a Golf Groundskeeper.[34]

         22. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Mr. Sasser retained his employment as a Golf Groundskeeper and continued to teach at Nibley Park.[35]

         23. On February 4, 2011, Mr. Sasser applied for an Assistant Professional position with the City.[36]

         24. The Assistant Professional position is the second-highest-ranking employee at a City golf course. The Position's job summary stated that the Assistant Professional “Assists Golf Club Professional in managing course play, practice range and pro shop operations for a Salt Lake City municipal golf course. Provides administrative backup in the Golf Club Professional's absence. Gives golf lessons and instructions. Advises the professional on problems and suggestions for improvement.”[37]

         25. The Position's job description outlined that the typical duties of an Assistant Professional included being responsible for “[a]ssisting in the day-today management of [a] municipal golf course, ” including “managing course play, practice range[, ] and pro shop operations.” The typical duties also include “preserving order in and around [the] pro shop premises, ” “giv[ing] golf lessons and instructions, ” “assist[ing] [the head professional] in scheduling play and administering City-sponsored tournaments, ” keep[ing] golf carts clean, ” “keep[ing] [the] driving range in working order, ” and “coordinat[ing] with golf course maintenance . . . in monitoring [the] condition of the golf course.”[38]

         26. When evaluating job applicants for Assistant Professional positions, the City placed significant emphasis on the following key areas: providing quality customer service to the golfing public; merchandizing and handling pro shop inventory; operating a computerized point-of-sale system; and organizing and running group golf events (such as leagues, associations, and tournaments).[39]

         27. In Mr. Sasser's online application, he referenced only two previous jobs (none prior to 2002): his maintenance and teaching positions.[40]

         28. First, he indicated that, from October 27, 2002 through October 30, 2006, he worked as a part-time employee on the maintenance crew at Fore Lakes Golf Course, where his job duties consisted of “[a]ssist[ing] with maintenance of the golf course” and teaching “[p]rivate and individual lessons, [j]unior golf clinics[, ] and camp.” Second, he noted that, from November 28, 2006 onward, he served as a part-time employee on the maintenance crew at Wingpointe and described his job duties there as being identical to those at Fore Lakes.[41]

         29. The City received a total of 28 applications for the Position. Of those 28 applications, five applications (including Mr. Sasser's) did not include a resume along with their online application.[42]

         30. The hiring committee for the Position consisted of the following four individuals: David Terry, Lynn Landgren, Mike Brimley, and Derek Schmehl. As the first step in the hiring process, the four committee members each independently reviewed the application materials submitted and provided their individual lists of the top ten candidates. The purpose of conducting this initial ranking was to select approximately eight candidates for interviews.[43]

         31. Mr. Terry ranked Mr. Sasser tenth. Mr. Landgren, Mr. Brimley, or Mr. Schmehl did not rank Sasser in their top ten candidates. Consequently, Mr. Sasser was not selected for an interview for the Position.[44]

         32. Mr. Landgren indicated he did not rank Mr. Sasser in his top ten because he thought there were more-qualified candidates. Mr. Landgren also questioned Mr. Sasser's customer service skills, noting that, based on his experience working with him, Mr. Sasser “sometimes . . . comes over a little hard to people” and “[a] little rough, ” which, in Mr. Landgren's estimation, was not ideal for an Assistant Professional.[45]

         33. While Mr. Brimley indicated Mr. Sasser was a “good player” and “good teacher, ” he believed Mr. Sasser lacked sufficient knowledge of computerized point-of-sale systems and tournament software to rank as one of his top ten candidates.[46]

         34. With respect to Mr. Schmehl, he did not rank Mr. Sasser in his top ten because he had been informed to only consider the written application materials. Mr. Sasser's application solely referenced maintenance work and teaching Junior Golf, which were not key job responsibilities of an Assistant Professional.[47]

         35. Mr. Schmehl would have selected Mr. Sasser for an interview if he could have reviewed Mr. Sasser's resume.[48]

         36. The City ultimately selected Jeremy Miller (“Mr. Miller”), who had continuously worked for the City since 2006 as a part-time seasonal Golf Starter and Golfer Relations Specialist, for the Assistant Professional position.[49]

         37. Although Mr. Miller's resume was not included with his online application, Mr. Terry communicated to Mr. Miller that his resume was not included in his online application.[50]

         38. Mr. Miler submitted a hard copy resume to the City's Human Resources Department, which was included in the application materials and reviewed by the four members of the hiring ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.