United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MATTER is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment, filed January 18, 2018 (Doc.
44). Having reviewed the parties' pleadings and
the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's
motion is well-taken and, therefore, is
an employment discrimination and retaliation case. Plaintiff
is a former employee of Jacobs Technology, Inc.
(“Jacobs”) and in the Amended Complaint
(Doc. 6) alleges age and disability
discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and hostile
work environment, in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq., and
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.
Court finds that the following material facts are not in
Montoya's Employment Background.
Raymond Montoya began working for Jacobs in 1995 as a test
technician. Test technicians are subject to a collective
bargaining agreement between Jacobs and the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Plaintiff
was subject to “reductions in force” in 2010 and
2012 while working for Jacobs, but both times exercised his
rights under the collective bargaining agreement and retained
positions with Jacobs. During the 2010 reduction in force, he
was the youngest technician affected.
did not complain about discrimination or retaliation with
respect to either layoff, nor did he file any EEOC charges.
From 2011 through the date of his termination, Plaintiff
worked as a systems test mechanical technician. Plaintiff had
multiple supervisors, one of whom was Dennis Smith.
Montoya's Light Duty and Leave
occasionally required short periods of light duty for strains
to his back and knee, and for eye surgery. His requests were
granted. The last time he had any physical limitation was
from February 5, 2014 to February 20, 2014, when he required
two weeks of light duty following eye surgery. Plaintiff took
occasional leave under the Family Medical Leave Act during
his employment, mostly to take care of family members. He
took FMLA leave once for a few days in 2008 for his own
medical condition - an atrial fibrillation. In January 2015,
Plaintiff requested and was approved for leave in mid-July
for his wife's medical leave.
testified that he did not consider himself disabled, but that
he believes Jacobs perceived him as disabled.
Montoya's Claims of Discrimination and
did not believe he was discriminated against prior to 2012.
Montoya identified several alleged acts of discrimination
between 2012 and 2015. In one conversation with Department
Director Brent Adams, he states that Adams told him
“the company was keeping any [sic] eye on [him].”
Plaintiff stated this comment made him feel “very
uncomfortable, ” because he perceived “tension in
the air.” Plaintiff believed this statement to be
retaliatory, but did not indicate what it was in retaliation
for. Plaintiff also stated that he was discriminated against
because he claims younger people received training he did not
receive, and he was not promoted.
testified that the promotions were based on seniority and
governed by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
All positions he applied to were governed by the collective
bargaining agreement. Plaintiff stated that he did not file
any complaints with Jacobs about not being trained or
promoted, but he states that he told “management”
that he was not being promoted because of his age. Plaintiff
did not identify who he told, or when he told them.
Plaintiff asserted he was discriminated against when he was
allegedly hit with a truck on July 10, 2015 and fired
Events of July 10, 2015.
10, 2015, Plaintiff and another employee, Louis Lombardi,
were involved in an incident involving a company truck.
Plaintiff wanted to borrow a truck from Lombardi, the lead
man of a different team. Before Lombardi released the truck
to Plaintiff, he drove it over to check with Plaintiff's
supervisor. When Lombardi came back to the site, Plaintiff
was standing in the middle of the road, facing the truck on
the passenger side of the vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that
Lombardi gunned the truck at him and hit the left side of his
body. Lombardi alleged that he was driving slowly, tried to
move around Plaintiff with two to three feet of clearance,
and that Plaintiff shoved or hit the truck with his arms.
Lombardi stated that he exited the truck and asked Plaintiff
what he was doing. Plaintiff accused Lombardi of hitting him
with the truck; Lombardi denied that happened. Plaintiff and
Lombardi went together to the office of their supervisor,
Investigation of Events of July 10, 2015.
learning of the incident, Smith alerted Human Resources
manager Yolanda Ramos. Smith advised Plaintiff to go to the
on-site dispensary for treatment. At the time, Plaintiff only
complained of bruising on his left arm and leg, and the
hospital released him that same day. The hospital released
him with no restrictions. See Exhibit A, p.
134. That day, Ms. Ramos contacted both Plaintiff
and Mr. Lombardi, and seven witnesses present at the incident
to meet with them. Ms. Ramos met with each individual and
took notes, and advised them that providing false or
misleading information could result in termination. Three
witnesses observed what happened: Plaintiff, Mr. Lombardi,
and Manny Saldivar, a welder who was not employed by Jacobs.
Ramos interviewed Mr. Lombardi, who explained that he tried
to drive the truck around Plaintiff. Mr. Lombardi told Ms.
Ramos, Mr. Smith, Mr. Adams, and union representative Chris
Valdivia that once the front of the truck was past Plaintiff,
Plaintiff “shuffled toward the truck and I don't
know if he threw his hands.”
Ramos also interviewed Manny Saldivar, who stated that
Plaintiff was facing the truck as it approached and that Mr.
Lombardi tried to drive around Plaintiff. Manny Saldivar saw
that Plaintiff stepped forward and slapped the truck with one
hand and punched it with the other. He confirmed that
Plaintiff hit the door with this hands and that Mr. Lombardi
did not strike Plaintiff with the truck.
told Ms. Ramos, Mr. Smith, Mr. Adams, and Chris Valdivia, the
union steward, that he was facing the truck while standing on
the passenger side of the ruck as it approached. Although his
right side was facing the passenger vehicle, Plaintiff states
he was hit on the left thigh and arm. Ms. Ramos believed that
Plaintiff was giving false and misleading testimony about the
events because his physical position did not match up to his
claimed injuries and his story conflicted with the consistent
accounts of both Manny Valdivia and Mr. Lombardi.
admits he never told anyone at Jacobs that he turned around
to have his back facing the truck while it approached him.
Dona Ana Sherriff's Department also conducted an
investigation. Police observed no visible bruising on
Plaintiff's body. The Dona Ana County Sheriff concluded
there was no evidence that an assault with a vehicle
Findings Issued by Jacobs and Termination of
13, 2015, Ms. Ramos wrote up a Memo Regarding Investigation,
summarizing the findings of Jacobs Management. She provided a
summary of each of the accounts she was given by Lombardi,
Plaintiff, and Manny Saldivar. The memo recommended that
Plaintiff be discharged for violating Company Policy 2710:
“(1) being careless or negligent or doing
unsatisfactory work; (2) failing to obey safety rules; (3)
Engaging in assault; and (4) Instigating conflict among
coworkers, unprofessional behavior that disrupts productivity
and undermines teamwork and cooperation.” Furthermore,
the memo also found that Plaintiff made misleading or false
statements during the investigation.
Ramos wrote in the memo that: “we cannot comprehend how
an individual who is facing a vehicle, states that he is
struck by the passenger side of the vehicle yet is injured on
his left thigh and arm.” Ms. Ramos also recommended
that Mr. Lombardi be suspended for three days and removed
from his lead man position, for carelessness.
disciplinary action record issued on July 20, 2015, Defendant
explained that they discharged Plaintiff because he
“acted in a careless unprofessional manner” while
on the roadway near the moving vehicle; that two eye
witnesses saw Plaintiff hit or punch the vehicle; and that
Plaintiff provided false or misleading statement of how the
impact occurred. See Deft's Exhibit
explained that Plaintiff's disciplinary action was more
severe because Defendant believed that he punched or hit the
truck intentionally and provided misleading and untruthful
information on how the incident occurred. Defendant stated
that it believed that Lombardi did not intentionally ...