United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON COUNT I: FAIR PAY FOR
WOMEN ACT AND COUNT III: INSPECTION OF PUBLIC RECORDS
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion and
Memorandum in Support of Partial Summary Judgment on Count I:
Fair Pay for Women Act and Count III: Inspection of Public
Records Act, filed on September 26, 2019. [Doc. 230].
Defendant State of New Mexico General Services Department
(“GSD”) timely responded on October 30, 2019.
[Doc. 253]. Plaintiff replied on November 14, 2019. [Doc.
262]. No. other Defendant responded to the Motion, and none
is needed because Count I and Count III assert claims against
only GSD. See [Doc. 94] at 30, 33. The Court held
oral argument on the Motion on January 9, 2020. [Doc. 288]
(clerk's minutes). The parties consented to have the
undersigned conduct dispositive proceedings and enter final
judgment in this matter. [Doc. 104]. The Court has considered
the briefing, the relevant portions of the record, the
relevant law, and the oral argument. Being otherwise fully
advised in the premises, the Court will DENY the
employed Plaintiff as an Information Technology
(“IT”) Generalist II from 2013 to 2016. [Doc. 94]
at 3 (Third Amended Complaint). Normally, an IT Generalist II
provides technology support within the State of New Mexico,
such as by overseeing day-to-day operations of computer
networks, troubleshooting technology issues, backing up data,
and ensuring network security. See [Doc. 230-2] at
5-6. GSD employed two IT Generalist IIs during
Plaintiff's tenure at GSD: Plaintiff, a woman, and
Maurice Bonal, a man. Id. at 5-8, 13.
began working at GSD as an IT Generalist II on November 1,
2010. [Doc. 253-2] at 1. He received a starting salary of
$35.50 per hour. Id. Plaintiff began working at GSD
on January 22, 2013. Id. at 2. She received a
starting salary of $32.50 per hour. Id. Upon her
hiring, Plaintiff “primarily handle[d] computer desktop
responsibilities for GSD because she lacked the requisite
level of experience and knowledge of the GSD infrastructure
and systems to handle the server, storage, and network
responsibilities that Mr. Bonal was already responsible
for.” Id. As Plaintiff continued working at
GSD, she gradually gained additional duties, eventually
“[taking] on some of the server, storage, and network
responsibilities.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff and
Bonal each received various raises throughout their tenure at
GSD. By 2014, Plaintiff earned $70, 324.28 annually, while
Bonal earned $76, 815.75 annually. [Doc. 253-2] at 3.
Defendant Karen Baltzley supervised both Plaintiff and Bonal.
Id. at 2. Defendant Edwynn Burckle served as the
Cabinet Secretary for GSD during the events underlying this
lawsuit. [Doc. 253-2] at 11.
April 18, 2016, Plaintiff emailed GSD Director of
Communications Estevan Lujan requesting “a copy of
emails sent and received between Karen Baltzley and Maurice
Bonal of the General Services Department . . . from
2013-present” under the New Mexico Inspection of Public
Records Act (“IPRA”). [Doc. 230-3] at 1. Later on
April 18, 2016, she added to this request, requesting
Bonal's hiring documents as well. Id. at 2.
Lujan responded on April 20, 2016, stating that he
“[would] require additional time to research and
respond to [Plaintiff's] request.” Id.
filed her Complaint, pro se, against the State of New Mexico
and various employees on April 21, 2016, in New Mexico state
court. [Doc. 1-2] at 1. Among other claims, she alleged that
Defendants violated the New Mexico Fair Pay for Women Act
(“FPWA”) by paying her a lower annual salary than
Bonal. See [Doc. 1-8] at 10-11.
2, 2016, Plaintiff again expanded her IPRA request,
requesting documents showing GSD staff's overtime hours
and the amount of money that the State of New Mexico has paid
to settle (1) whistleblower claims from 2010 to the present,
(2) and civil-rights claims from the prior 15 years. [Doc.
253-6] at 1. Thus, at this point, Plaintiff had outstanding
requests for four categories of documents: the emails between
Baltzley and Bonal, Bonal's hiring documents, overtime
documentation, and documents showing the above settlement
amounts. On May 3, 2016, Lujan again informed Plaintiff that
he “[would] need more time to process [her]
request.” [Doc. 230-3] at 4.
13, 2016, Lujan emailed Plaintiff a letter formally
responding to her IPRA requests. [Doc. 230-3] at 5. Lujan
attached to the email documents responsive to the
overtime-hours request. Id. at 6. He found
Plaintiff's request for all emails between Bonal and
Baltzley between 2013-2016 to be “‘broad and
burdensome' . . . requir[ing] additional time to
produce” because the emails “[were] voluminous
and require extensive review to ensure compliance with IPRA
that no information that is prohibited from release is
contained within the documents.” Id. Lujan in
part denied Plaintiff's request for the settlement
amounts. Id. at 7. He found the remainder of the
request for the settlement amounts broad and burdensome.
Id. at 6-7.
concluded his letter by stating, “Given all of these
facts, we are still happy to provide you with regular
installments of [the] information you request[ed]. Please
contact us with what would be the best way to start an
installment schedule. In the alternative, if you make your
request less broad the process will be expedited.”
Id. at 8. Lujan stated that he would “continue
to be in touch with [Plaintiff] regarding the outstanding
remaining in [her] portfolio of requests” and that he
would “be in touch [with her] no later than May 20,
2016.” Id. Lujan did not contact Plaintiff by
May 20, 2016. On May 22, 2016, Plaintiff emailed Lujan
asking, “When will the other records be provided to
me?” [Doc. 253-7] at 1. Lujan never responded to this
email. Plaintiff never responded to Lujan's offer to
begin inspecting the requested records on an installment
submitted a formal IPRA grievance with the New Mexico Office
of the Attorney General at some time after one of her
communications with Lujan. See [Doc. 253-9] at 3-5.
She alleged that she never received the emails (among other
documents) and never received a written explanation for their
non-production within 15 days. Id. at 4-5.
removed this case to federal court on May 23, 2016. [Doc. 1].
Plaintiff resigned from her position at GSD on July 5, 2016.
[Doc. 253-2] at 3. On May 15, 2017, the Office of the
Attorney General sent Lujan a letter determining that GSD had
violated the IPRA by “not timely providing the emails
between [Ka]ren Baltzley and Maurice Bonal for
inspection.” [Doc. 230-3] at 11. The Office of the
Attorney General concluded this letter by stating, “It
is the expectation of this office that if the emails have not
yet been produced for inspection, that they will be produced
to [Plaintiff] immediately.” Id. at 15.
filed her Third Amended Complaint on July 11, 2018. [Doc.
94]. In Count I, she asserts an FPWA claim and a federal
Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) claim against GSD.
Id. at 30-32. In Count III, she asserts an IPRA
claim against GSD. Id. at 33-34. Plaintiff filed the
instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on September 26,
2019, arguing that she is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on her FPWA claim and IPRA claim. [Doc. 230]. To date,
Plaintiff has not received all emails between Baltzley and
Bonal that she requested under the IPRA. Id. at 7.
court shall grant summary judgment 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 applying this standard, the court
must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Tolan, 572 U.S. at 657.
“[W]here the moving party has the burden-the plaintiff
on a claim for relief or the defendant on an affirmative
defense-[her] showing must be sufficient for the court to
hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than
for the moving party.” Paul v. Monts, 906 F.2d
1468, 1474 (10th Cir. 1990) (first alteration in original)
(quoting Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254,
259 (6th Cir. 1986)). A court must deny summary judgment if a
reasonable trier of fact could find for the non-movant.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
proceeds pro se. Courts liberally construe pro se filings.
Calhoun v. Att'y Gen. of Colo., 745 F.3d 1070,
1073 (10th Cir. 2014). Yet, courts cannot act as advocates
for pro se parties. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106,
1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
The Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion as to her FPWA
claim because, in relying solely on general
job descriptions of the work allegedly performed by her and
Bonal, she fails to establish that she and Bonal performed
substantially equal work.
argues that the Court should deny Plaintiff's Motion
related to her FPWA claim for four reasons. First, GSD
contends that Plaintiff improperly relies solely upon job
descriptions to show that she performed substantially equal
work as Bonal. [Doc. 253] at 15-17. Second, it argues that
Plaintiff wrongly compares her salary only to Bonal, ignoring
47 other IT Generalist IIs employed by the State of New
Mexico. Id. at 17-18. Third, it argues that it paid
Plaintiff according to a merit-based compensation system, an
affirmative defense under the FPWA. Id. at 18-23.
Finally, it contends that if the Court finds that GSD did not
pay Plaintiff according to a merit system, it ...