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Kaiser v. Gallup, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Nebraska

December 11, 2014

SUSAN KAISER, Plaintiff,
v.
GALLUP, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

F.A. Gossett, United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (filing 53). For the reasons expressed below, Plaintiff’s motion will be granted, in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as an Outbound Telephone Interviewer for approximately eight years. Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant was terminated in June, 2012. At the time of her termination, Plaintiff was a member of Defendant’s “Premier Team, ” a high-performing interviewing team limited to the interviewers with the best technical interviewing skills. As a member of the Premier Team, Plaintiff received benefits and privileges not available to non-Premier Team Members.

Following her termination, Plaintiff filed an administrative charge of discrimination against Defendant with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights (“LCHR”). Plaintiff alleged she was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment, denied a reasonable accommodation, and terminated based on disability and in retaliation for complaining about discrimination. Plaintiff’s claim referenced events taking place between September, 2011 and June, 2012. In the course of responding to the LCHR’s investigation, Defendant produced approximately 800 pages of documents. The LCHR’s file, which included the documents provided by Defendant, was subsequently produced to both parties in this lawsuit.

Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in the District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska on June 13, 2013, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability, retaliation and wrongful termination. (Filing 1.) Defendant removed the action to this Court on July 16, 2013. (Id.) To date, and in addition to the documents produced by the LCHR, over 1, 600 pages of documents have been produced by Plaintiff, 200 pages of documents have been produced by Defendant, and approximately 1, 000 pages of documents were subpoenaed from non-parties and produced by Defendant.

Plaintiff now seeks an order compelling Defendant to respond to multiple Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents (“RFP”). These discovery requests include Interrogatory Nos. 4-9 and 11-16, [1] as well as RFP Nos. 19-26, [2] 28, and 43-46.

DISCUSSION

Under the federal rules, parties to a lawsuit may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to a claim or defense of any party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at trial “if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Id. “Relevancy is broadly construed, and a request for discovery should be considered relevant if there is any possibility that the information sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any party.” Moses v. Halstead, 236 F.R.D. 667, 671 (D. Kan. 2006) (footnote omitted).

Defendant contends that Interrogatory Nos. 4, 7, and 9, and RFP No. 43, which inquire into Plaintiff’s work performance, seek irrelevant information because the “quality” of Plaintiff’s overall work performance is not at issue in this case.[3] According to Defendant, Plaintiff was terminated for her behavior and attitude, not due to concerns with the quality of her work. The Court disagrees with Defendant’s contention that the requests seek entirely irrelevant information. Although the quality of Plaintiff’s work performance may not be at issue, responses to these discovery requests could encompass information reflecting upon Plaintiff’s overall attitude and behavior in the workplace.

Nevertheless, though these requests seek relevant information, Interrogatory Nos. 7 and 9, as well as RFP No. 43, are overly broad. For starters, the requests are not properly limited in time. Interrogatory No. 9 asks for communications from 2008 through the present, even though Plaintiff’s employment was not terminated until 2012, and Plaintiff’s Complaint references events which took place between 2011 and 2012. Interrogatory No. 7 extends over an eight-year period. Moreover, Interrogatory Nos. 7 and 9, and RFP No. 43 are so broad that they are virtually impossible to answer thoroughly and completely. For instance, the term “awards” could include both formal and informal praise, as well as documented and undocumented events. Therefore, responding to the request could require countless interviews and extensive document review. Consequently, the Court will not compel responses to Interrogatory Nos. 7 and 9, and RFP No. 43 as presently written.

However, the Court finds that Defendant can sufficiently respond to Interrogatory No. 4 as currently drafted. Defendant should be able to identify known persons supporting its contention that Plaintiff’s work performance was unsatisfactory and the facts and documents underlying any such contention. Moreover, if, as Defendant claims, the quality of Plaintiff’s work is not at issue, a request for the identification of individuals, facts and documents supporting the contention that Plaintiff’s work performance was unsatisfactory due to her behavior in the workplace is sufficiently narrow so as to not be overly burdensome.

Defendant claims that Interrogatory Nos. 5 and 8 are overly broad. These discovery requests seek the identification and description of conversations between individuals over an extended period of time. Interrogatory No. 8 asks that Defendant “describe in detail each conversation the Plaintiff had with any supervisor or manager regarding any issue raised in the Plaintiff’s pending complaint.” (Filing 55-3.) Similarly, Interrogatory No. 5 requests a description of all known conversations between management level employees and any other person regarding Plaintiff’s medical conditions, requests for reasonable accommodation, allegations of retaliation, and allegations of discrimination. (Id.) Again, the information sought could be relevant, but there is no way Defendant, a company having thousands of employees, can provide a complete answer. Therefore, the Court will not compel responses to these requests as presently drafted.

Defendant objects to Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 14, as well as RFP Nos. 21-26, 28 and 46, on the basis of relevance, arguing that the requests seek information about current or former employees who are not “similarly situated” to Plaintiff in all material respects. Interrogatory No. 6 and RFP Nos. 21, 22, and 23 seek information from 2008 to 2012 regarding all requests for reasonable accommodation made by any employee who worked at the four facilities where Plaintiff worked. (Id.) RFP Nos. 24 and 25 seek documents related to any reports of discrimination, harassment and/or failure to provide reasonable accommodation made by any current or former employee from 2008 to the present at all of Defendant’s Nebraska facilities. (Filing 55-4.) RFP No. ...


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