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Planadeball v. Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 17, 2015

CARMEN PLANADEBALL, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
WYNDHAM VACATION RESORTS, INC., Defendant, Appellee, SHAWYN MALEY, Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Jay A. García-Gregory, U.S. District Judge.

Juan R. Dávila Díaz, with whom Mendoza Law Offices and Enrique J. Mendoza-Mendez were on brief, for appellant.

Shiara L. Diloné Fernández, with whom Schuster Aguiló LLC and Carl Schuster were on brief, for appellee.

Before Thompson, Barron, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

Carmen Planadeball appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment on her claim of retaliation against Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. (" Wyndham" ) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Planadeball contends that Wyndham retaliated against her for making informal and formal complaints against her then-supervisor Shawyn Maley after he subjected her to a hostile work environment on the basis of her race and national origin. Adopting the magistrate judge's recommendation, the district court granted Wyndham's motion for summary judgment. Because we agree that Planadeball has not presented sufficient evidence to establish a retaliation claim under Title VII, we affirm.

I.

We recount the facts in the light most favorable to Planadeball, who was the non-moving party at summary judgment. See Santana-Concepción v. Centro Mé dico del Turabo, Inc., 768 F.3d 5, 7 (1st Cir. 2014).

Planadeball was born in Puerto Rico and identifies as Hispanic. She was hired by Wyndham in June 2009 as a sales representative at the Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. Planadeball and the other sales representatives sold family vacation packages and vacation ownership products. In January 2010, she was transferred to the regional office at the Wyndham Rí o Mar Beach Resort in Rí o Grande, Puerto Rico. At the time, she was supervised by sales manager Anngelo Sánchez. In December 2010, Wyndham hired Shawyn Maley as a sales manager in the Rí o Grande office. Subsequently, Planadeball was supervised by both Sánchez and Maley. On February 15, 2011, Sánchez began a period of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, making Maley the sole supervisor for Planadeball and the other Rí o Grande sales representatives.

During his time as the sales manager of the Rí o Grande office, Maley made many derogatory comments about Puerto Ricans and African-Americans in front of Planadeball and her co-workers. For example, he said that the sales representatives should not waste their time with Puerto Rican customers because they " don't have any money." He also called Puerto Ricans " stupid" and said that they " don't have education." He referred to Puerto Rico as " a trash can" and said " that everything is dirty." Additionally, he referred to African-Americans as " niggers" and instructed the sales representatives to avoid dealing with them because " they were more than likely to have bad credit."

Maley also made many sexist comments, directed primarily at Planadeball's co-workers Michelle Pérez and London Miles. For example, he said, " the perfect woman is [Miles's] tits . . . and [Pérez's] ass." He would also repeatedly call Miles into his office to discuss his sexual relationships with women, make derogatory comments about other women's bodies, and stare at her breasts.

Sometime in February or early March 2011, Planadeball went to Maley's office on two to three occasions to complain to him about the way he was treating her, Pérez, and Miles. She told Maley to stop making derogatory comments and " that it was inappropriate to speak to my friends the way he was talking to them." On one occasion, Maley responded by calling Planadeball a liar and throwing her out of his office. Around the same time - she did not recall exactly when -- Planadeball also complained about Maley's conduct to Richard Wieczerzak, Wyndham's Vice President of Sales and Marketing for South Florida and Puerto Rico. She told Wieczerzak that " [t]hings have been -- that are happening, are inappropriate, things that Shawyn Maley is saying have been very inappropriate." However, Planadeball did not file a complaint about Maley to the Human Resources Department because she feared that she would lose her job.

From March 15 to April 1, 2011, Planadeball took a medical leave of absence so she could recover from gallbladder surgery. Days after Planadeball had returned, she met with Maley to discuss her work performance. During the meeting, Maley told her " that [she] wasn't selling, that [her] numbers were very low." In her deposition, Planadeball admitted that her sales numbers " were not very good" at the time. After the meeting, Maley approached Planadeball's desk and " started yelling at [her] in front of [her] friends." Maley told her, " You step up or you step out and -- and that's the way it is." Maley was so close to Planadeball that she was afraid that he was going to hit her.

Shortly after this incident, Planadeball gave a ride to work to David Saliceti, another sales representative. During the ride, Saliceti told her, " Be careful, because [Maley] has been saying that the next one who's going to be fired is you." While they were talking in the car, Saliceti received a text message from Maley. The text message stated, " You better tell Carmen that either she steps up or steps out." Saliceti showed Planadeball the message soon after receiving it.

Planadeball and the other sales representatives received commissions on the sales they made for Wyndham. Sometime in April 2011, a few days after returning from her medical leave, Planadeball noticed that her commission check was subject to a chargeback of $4,000. She inquired about the chargeback to Maley, who " couldn't give [her] any details or any information." She was later informed by an administrator that a $40,000 sale that she had previously closed had been cancelled by corporate headquarters. Someone in corporate subsequently entered into a sale with the same client and received the commission on the sale. In addition to impacting negatively Planadeball's sales numbers, the chargeback resulted in " a lot of pain and suffering with regards to [her] finances."

On April 29, 2011, Pérez complained to Wieczerzak about Maley's conduct. Wieczerzak relayed Pérez's complaint to Lisette Lama, Wyndham's Human Resources Director. On May 2, 2011, Pérez and Miles met with Lama and Assistant Human Resources Director Kerania Olmo. Lama and Olmo subsequently began an investigation into Maley. Pursuant to company policy, Maley was suspended from employment pending the outcome of the investigation. As part of the investigation, Lama and Olmo interviewed Planadeball, among other employees in the Rí o Grande office. Planadeball told them that Maley had been sexually harassing Miles and Pérez, that he had asked an employee to purchase Viagra and drugs for him, and that he had made " several comments that were very inappropriate." Planadeball also mentioned that Maley had criticized her work performance, had screamed at her at work, and had sent Saliceti the text message suggesting Planadeball would be fired if she did ...


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