United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment as to All 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Counts of
Plaintiff's Complaint (Motion for Summary Judgment),
filed March 4, 2019. (Doc. 51). Plaintiff filed a response on
April 15, 2019, and Defendants filed a reply on May 13, 2019.
(Docs. 55 and 62). Having reviewed and considered the Motion
for Summary Judgment, the accompanying briefing, and
exhibits, the Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1)
a former police officer with the Farmington Police Department
(FPD), brings this employment lawsuit against the FPD, the
City of Farmington, FPD Chief of Police Steven Hebbe (in his
individual capacity), and FPD Corporal Brian Johnston (in his
individual capacity). Plaintiff's claims arise from
alleged issues she had beginning in January 2017 and ending
in July 2017 related to her ability to express breast milk
while employed by the FPD. Johnston was Plaintiff's
direct supervisor during the times relevant to this lawsuit.
Motion for Summary Judgment only pertains to Counts IV and V
of the Complaint, Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims.
Plaintiff brings Counts IV and V against, presumably, all
Defendants for violations of her Fourteenth Amendment right
to equal protection. In Count IV, Plaintiff specifically
alleges that Defendants subjected her “to an
intentional hostile work environment and unlawful harassment
because of her status as a nursing mother with protected
federal rights.” (Doc. 1) at ¶ 83. In Count V,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants subjected her to gender
discrimination by their deliberate indifference to her
“rights and privileges as a nursing mother.”
Id. at ¶ 94. The Court notes that Plaintiff
also brought a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claim in Count
I in which she claims Johnston failed to accommodate her need
to express breast milk at work. Id. at ¶¶
November 2016, Plaintiff returned from maternity leave to
work in her FPD patrol position during the swing shift. (Doc.
1) at ¶ 14. Plaintiff's supervisor on the swing
shift, Tamara Smith, complied with Plaintiff's request
for breaks to express breast milk. Id. at ¶ 15.
January 8, 2017, the FPD moved Plaintiff to a day shift.
Id. at ¶ 16. Johnston supervised Plaintiff
beginning in mid-January 2017. (Doc. 55-1) at 21, depo. at
164. Johnston told Plaintiff to express breast milk during
her lunch break. Id. at 1. Plaintiff, however, often
could not do so due to the call load. Id. Because
Plaintiff was not able to express enough breast milk at work,
her milk supply dwindled causing health problems for her
to Plaintiff, Johnston would “shut her down” when
she tried to speak to him about breaks to express breast
milk. Id. at 20, depo. at 113. Johnston would also
“ignore” Plaintiff, glare at her, give her
“dirty looks, ” and wrote her “up for
everything that in the past happened….”
Id. at 21, depo. at 164-65; (Doc. 51-1) at 3, depo.
April 17, 2017, Johnston contacted Lt. Casey Malone about
Plaintiff's work performance. (Doc. 55-1) at 1. Malone
advised Johnston to speak with Plaintiff. Id.
Johnston spoke with Plaintiff later that day and reported to
Malone that Plaintiff mentioned she had post-partum
depression. Id. Malone then met with both Johnston
and Plaintiff noting that he sensed Plaintiff was
uncomfortable in Johnston's presence. Id.
Malone, therefore, asked Johnston to step out of the room.
Id. Plaintiff opened up to Malone, stating she was
feeling overwhelmed. Id. Plaintiff also stated was
unable to express breast milk at work often enough, which
caused her milk to dwindle and issues with her baby.
Id. Plaintiff told Malone that Johnston asked her to
express breast milk at lunch but because of the call load she
was unable to do so. Id. Moreover, because Plaintiff
moved outside of the city limits, Plaintiff could no longer
go home to express breast milk and had to use the women's
locker room and the “ICC sub station.”
Id. Plaintiff did not feel comfortable expressing
breast milk at those locations because people walked in.
Id. Malone told Plaintiff that whenever she needed
to express breast milk she would be permitted to do so.
spoke with Johnston shortly thereafter about the
situation. Id. Malone then spoke with Hebbe
and they came up with a better place for Plaintiff to express
breast milk. Id. Hebbe further stated that, if
necessary, Plaintiff could be temporarily reassigned to a
“light-duty schedule.” Id.
next day, April 18, 2017, Malone again met with Plaintiff.
Id. at 2. He told Plaintiff she could use a vacant
office with a couch and other furniture, and locks, to
express breast milk. Id. Malone also offered the
option of a four to six-week temporary reassignment.
Id. Plaintiff told Malone she would think about the
temporary reassignment and get back to him in a few days.
April 19, 2017, Malone spoke with Sgt. Brandon Lane who
previously met with Plaintiff and discussed with Plaintiff
the time she needed for expressing breast milk. Id.
Lane indicated that Plaintiff “was free to do so
whenever she needed to.” Id. Plaintiff also
told Lane that she could use her mother-in-law's
residence for expressing breast milk. Id.
April 21, 2017, Plaintiff contacted Malone and advised him
that she wanted to be temporarily assigned to a modified duty
status for about a week and possibly longer. Id.
Plaintiff indicated that the modified duty status assignment
might help her regain her milk supply. Id.
began the temporary assignment, an administrative position,
on April 24, 2017. Id. The administrative position
provided Plaintiff with a predicable schedule and access to a
private room. Id. at 4, depo. at 39-40. Plaintiff
spent five weeks working in the administrative position.
Id. at 21, depo. at 164. Johnston resumed his
supervision of Plaintiff after she returned to her regular
patrol position and supervised Plaintiff until mid-July 2017.