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Clark v. Vivint Solar Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

March 15, 2019

ADRIANA CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
VIVINT SOLAR, INC., Defendant.

          Jill N. Parrish District Judge

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          PAUL M. WARNER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          District Judge Jill N. Parrish referred this case to Chief Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).[1] Before the court are (1) Plaintiff Adriana Clark's (“Clark”) motion to compel[2] and (2) Defendant Vivint Solar, Inc.'s (“Vivint”) motion to compel Clark's appearance at a deposition.[3] The court has carefully reviewed the written memoranda submitted by the parties. Pursuant to Civil Rule 7-1(f) of the Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Utah, the court has concluded that oral argument is not necessary and will decide the motions on the basis of the written memoranda. See DUCivR 7-1(f).

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         Before addressing the above-referenced motions, the court sets forth the following general legal standards governing discovery. Rule 26(b)(1) provides:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “The district court has broad discretion over the control of discovery, and [the Tenth Circuit] will not set aside discovery rulings absent an abuse of that discretion.” Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. Merrill Scott & Assocs., Ltd., 600 F.3d 1262, 1271 (10th Cir. 2010) (quotations and citations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Clark's Motion to Compel

         In her motion, Clark seeks compelled responses from Vivint to her Interrogatory Nos. 2, 6, 8, 9, and 11, as well as her Request for Production Nos. 1, 3, 9, 10, and 11. Those discovery requests can be generally grouped into the following five categories: (A) salary and related information for 181 Vivint employees (Interrogatory Nos. 2, 11; Request for Production Nos. 1, 3); (B) Vivint employee pay complaints from 2013 to the present (Interrogatory Nos. 8, 9; Request for Production Nos. 1, 10); (C) information about separations of certain former Vivint employees (Interrogatory No. 6; Request for Production No. 1); (D) documents regarding complaints made by Clark to Vivint (Request for Production No. 9); and (E) documents regarding all complaints of discrimination made by any employee to Vivint from 2013 to the present (Request for Production No. 11). The court will address those categories in turn, followed by (F) Vivint's request for an award of reasonable expenses incurred in connection with Clark's motion.

         A. Salary and Related Information

         The discovery requests that are the subject of this category seek salary and related information for 181 of Vivint's employees.[4] Clark argues that she is entitled to that information because it is relevant and proportional. In response, Vivint argues that Clark entitled to only salary and related information for employees who worked in Clark's employing unit. Vivint further asserts that it has already provided to Clark the salary and related information for the 58 employees who worked in Clark's employing unit, the Vivint Solar Human Capital Department.

         “In employment discrimination cases, discovery is usually limited to information about employees in the same department or office absent a showing of a more particularized need for, and the likely relevance of, broader information.” Haselhorst v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 163 F.R.D. 10, 11 (D. Kan. 1995) (quotations and citations omitted); see Condor v. W. Bountiful City, No. 2:07CV924, 2008 WL 4200605, at *2 (D. Utah Sept. 9, 2008) (same); see also Earley v. Champion Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1084-85 (11th Cir. 1990) (“‘[I]n the context of investigating an individual complaint the most natural focus is upon the source of the complained of discrimination-the employing unit or work unit.'” (quoting Marshall v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 576 F.2d 588, 592 (5th Cir. 1978)) (alteration in original)); Prouty v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 99 F.R.D. 545, 547 (D.D.C. 1983) (citing and quoting Marshall for the same proposition stated in Earley). “When the employment decisions were made locally, discovery may properly be limited to the employing unit.” Haselhorst, 163 F.R.D. at 11 (quotations and citations omitted); see also Scales v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 925 F.2d 901, 907 (6th Cir. 1991); Earley, 907 F.2d at 1084. “In the absence of any evidence that there were hiring or firing practices and procedures applicable to all the employing units, discovery may be limited to plaintiff's employing unit.” Haselhorst, 163 F.R.D. at 11 (quotations and citation omitted); see also Joslin Dry Goods Co. v. Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n, 483 F.2d 178, 183-84 (10th Cir. 1973).

         Importantly, Clark does not dispute the propositions set forth in the above-referenced authorities. Instead, apparently recognizing those propositions, Clark asserts that pay decisions within Vivint were centralized and, therefore, that she is entitled to salary and related information beyond her employing unit. The court disagrees. As noted by Vivint, Clark's assertion concerning centralized pay decisions is directly contradicted by Vivint's discovery responses and certain deposition testimony, which indicate that pay decisions were not centralized.[5] Consistent with the foregoing authorities, because Clark has failed to demonstrate to the court that pay decisions were applicable to all employing units within Vivint, the court concludes that Clark is entitled to only the ...


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