United States District Court, D. Nebraska
RODOLFO A. QUILES, Plaintiff,
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, INCORPORATED, RODNEY N. DOERR, EDWARD ADELMAN, TRACY SCOTT, and KATHLEEN HUGHES, individually; Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. Bataillon Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on motions filed by both parties
including; defendants' motions for summary judgment,
Filing No. 165 and Filing No. 168, plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment, Filing No. 171, and plaintiff's
motion to dismiss parties, Filing No. 175. Plaintiff alleges
discrimination and demotion by his employer, Union Pacific
Railroad Company, Inc. (“UP”), in willful
violation of USERRA. Filing No. 96, Amended Complaint.
filed a motion for summary judgment, Filing No. 165, seeking
judgment as a matter of law on all claims set forth in the
First Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56.
Filing No. 96. Plaintiff filed a cross motion for partial
summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56 on the
issues of: (1) plaintiff's § 4312 re-employment
claim; (2) plaintiff's § 4316 demotion claims; and
(3) UP's affirmative defenses of impossibility, undue
hardship, and non-conduct just cause for demotion.
Rodolfo Quiles, began employment with UP in February 2014.
Quiles served in the United States Marine Corps from May 12,
2015 to October 18, 2015. While deployed, UP hired Greg
Workman who then assumed most of plaintiff's job
responsibilities. Prior to deployment, plaintiff held the
title of “general manager of safety analysis.”
Upon return, defendants re-employed plaintiff and he held the
new title of “director of safety analysis.”
Plaintiff met with UP's human resources department
regarding his change in title. On November 9, 2015, plaintiff
met with general counsel, Kathleen Hughes, to discuss his
concerns with the change in title. Plaintiff unsuccessfully
applied for employment in other areas of UP during 2015. When
he successfully interviewed for a position in another
department, the Director of Human Resources blocked his
December 18, 2015, Quiles filed a complaint of discrimination
and violation of USERRA with the Department of Labor Veterans
Employment Training Service. During the investigation,
plaintiff received a letter of reprimand from his employer,
Union Pacific, for refusing to attend a calendar meeting
invitation. On March 2, 2016, defendants placed plaintiff on
a performance review plan (“PIP”) with a follow
up date of May 2, 2016. On March 29, 2016, his employment was
terminated. The Department of Labor investigation concluded
on April 22, 2016, and the findings indicated that
Quiles's claims had merit. Four days later, on or around
April 26, 2016, plaintiff received notice from UP that his
2014 bonus stock award of 237 shares of UP were being
forfeited because it had not vested prior to his termination.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment should be granted, “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. “Summary judgment is appropriate when,
construing the evidence most favorably to the nonmoving
party, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Crozier v. Wint, 736 F.3d 1134, 1136
(8th Cir. 2013). Summary judgment is not disfavored and is
designed for every action. Briscoe v. Cty. of St.
Louis, 690 F.3d 1004, 1011 n.2 (8th Cir. 2012).
Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and
the drawing of legitimate inferences from the evidence are
jury functions, not those of a judge. Torgerson v. City
of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en
banc). The nonmoving party must come forward with specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Briscoe, 690 F.3d at 1011.
the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on
a dispositive issue, the moving party need not negate the
nonmoving party's claims by showing “the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Instead, “the
burden on the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing' . . . that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.”
Id. In response to the movant's showing, the
nonmoving party's burden is to produce specific facts
demonstrating “a genuine issue of material fact'
such that [its] claim should proceed to trial.”
Nitro Distrib., Inc. v. Alticor, Inc., 565 F.3d 417,
422 (8th Cir. 2009) (quotations omitted).
existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the
nonmovant's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could conceivably find for the
nonmovant. Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC,
656 F.3d 782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011); see Quinn
v. St. Louis Cty., 653 F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011)
(stating “the mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties” will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis omitted)). “Where the
unresolved issues are primarily legal rather than factual,
summary judgment is particularly appropriate.”
Koehn v. Indian Hills Cmty. Coll., 371 F.3d 394, 396
(8th Cir. 2004).
was enacted prevent employment discrimination based upon
military service. Maxfield v. Cintas Corp No. 2, 427
F.3d 544, 551 (8th Cir. 2005). To qualify for re-employment,
a returning service member need satisfy three criteria for
USERRA's protections to apply: (a) be a member of the
uniformed services of the United States; (b) had given
advance written or verbal notice to his employer of the
impending military obligations; and (c) the cumulative length
of absence including all previous absences from a position of
employment due to duties of uniformed services may not exceed
five years. 38 U.S.C. § 4312(a) (1)-(3) (2015).
USERRA, an employee bears the initial burden to prove that
(a) the plaintiff was subject to an adverse employment
action, and (b) military status or the exercise of rights
afforded by USERRA was a motivating or substantial factor in
the employer's action. Maxfield, 427 F.3d at
551. If the employee makes a showing of adverse employment
action, the employer can defeat the ...