United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Delphine Etienne brings this lawsuit against ARUP alleging
that she was terminated because of her race and national
origin. Before the court is Defendant ARUP Laboratories'
Motion for Summary Judgment.
March of 2015, Etienne, who is black and of Haitian descent,
was hired to work at ARUP in its Genomics Lab as a
Technologist Trainee. Etienne's work in the Genomics Lab
focused on the analysis of blood and tissue samples from
fetuses and cancer patients to assess disease states. As a
Technologist Trainee, Etienne prepared blood and tissue
samples for testing, performed and documented test results,
and trained to become a Technologist.
alleges that on several occasions in April and May of 2015 a
coworker used the word “slave” at work and
referred to herself as a “slave master.” Etienne
also alleges that this coworker told her that her kind is not
about May 5, 2015, Etienne complained to her supervisor at
the time, Jennifer Stocks, about this alleged conduct. Stocks
investigated the complaint, was informed that the coworker
had said to another employee (not Etienne) that she was a
“slave to the lab, ” counseled this coworker not
to use such terms at work and understood that the coworker
apologized to Etienne and that the matter was otherwise
Etienne alleges that ARUP denied her training opportunities
either because of race and national origin or in retaliation
for her complaint. ARUP disputes this assertion and argues
that Etienne received training that is comparable to training
received by other Technologist Trainees who are white, of
American national origin, and who did not complain about
made additional complaints from July 30, 2015 to December 28,
2015, about alleged coworker mistreatment and perceived
unfairness in training. Each time ARUP investigated
Etienne's concerns. Etienne alleges that her complaints
about discrimination caused ARUP to retaliate by issuing
“variances” to her. ARUP issued “Variance
Discussion Forms” to employees to document and correct
mistakes. ARUP issued two Variance Discussion Forms to
Etienne - one on October 21, 2015 and the other on January
11, 2016. Both variances concerned the same test. Moreover,
during the time that Etienne was employed ARUP also issued
Variance Discussion Forms to ten other employees in its
Genomics Lab, including multiple variances to two other
employees. None of the other employees complained about
discrimination, and most of them were white, and of American
ARUP issued its January 11, 2016 Variance Discussion Form,
Etienne made two additional mistakes on the same test in
January of 2016. Including Etienne's prior two variances,
this was now a total of four mistakes on the same test. Patty
Miller, Etienne's supervisor at the time, decided that
Etienne should receive a written warning for her continued
errors. Miller and Johanna Barraco, ARUP's Director of
Human Services, met with Etienne to provide counseling to her
about the additional mistakes. In response to the counseling,
Etienne stated that she was not responsible for the errors
because she had witnessed a coworker try to sabotage her
work. Specifically, Etienne said that she saw a coworker, on
multiple occasions, mix up Etienne's testing solutions to
cause her to make a mistake.
and Barraco demanded that Etienne name the coworker who had
allegedly sabotaged her work. Etienne refused. Miller and
Barraco gave Etienne 24 hours to reconsider her decision not
to name the person she accused of sabotage. The next day
Miller and Barraco asked Etienne again to name the coworker.
Miller and Barraco terminated Etienne because she would not
name the person who she accused of sabotaging her testing.
days that followed Miller investigated the matter by
interviewing employees in the Genomics Lab to see if they had
witnessed the type of misconduct that Etienne alleged. The
employees all denied observing tampering or sabotage.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When considering a motion of summary
judgment, the court views “all facts [and evidence] in
the light most favorable to the party opposing summary
judgment.” S.E.C. v. Smart, 678 F.3d 850, 856
(10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Grynberg v. Total S.A.,
538 F.3d 1336, 1346 (10th Cir. 2008)). The movant must prove
that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Nahno-Lopez v.
Houser, 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010).
Accordingly, to survive summary judgment, “the
nonmoving party must come ...