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Rico v. Davis Bancorp

December 16, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Judge


Plaintiff Araceli Rico filed a one-count complaint alleging pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Defendant Davis Bancorp, Inc. ("DBI") answered and the parties completed discovery. Presently before us is DBI's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, we grant the motion.


DBI is in the business of transporting bank checks. (Def. Facts ¶ 3.) Each day, DBI delivery drivers pick up, process, and deliver checks to and from various destination banks and processing centers. (Id. ¶ 8.) As part of its business, DBI tracks its delivery drivers, provides directions to them when they are lost, and maintains records regarding deliveries. (See id. ¶¶ 8, 25.) At all relevant times, J.R. Davis was the CEO of DBI. (Id. ¶ 7.)

In 2004, DBI contracted with software consultant Metastorm to develop a customized software package to automate parts of DBI's business. (Id. ¶ 11.)*fn2 Before the Metastorm software became operational, DBI required its drivers to call the DBI office if they were fifteen minutes late on a delivery. (Id. ¶ 15.) The drivers also called in for directions when lost, (see id. ¶ 33), and kept handwritten receipts of each delivery, which were manually collected and logged at DBI's office, (see id. ¶ 29). At the end of each day, DBI compared the delivery logs to client orders to ensure that all checks had been accounted for. (See id. ¶ 25.) As a result of problems with these driver-tracking and manual record-keeping processes, DBI began losing customers. (Id. ¶¶ 9--10.) This business slowdown motivated DBI to approach Metastorm about creating a more automated system. (See id.)

From 2004 until around April 2006, Metastorm built and tested the new software package at a cost to DBI of over $500,000. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 13--14, 38.) Once the software was implemented, each driver received a customized, GPS-enabled phone to automatically track the driver's position, provide directions, and allow the driver to communicate bilingually with the DBI office. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 16, 31--33.) This automated tracking system eliminated the need for drivers to call the office when late or with questions. (Id. ¶¶ 31--33.) The software also automatically collected and stored pickup and delivery information, replacing handwritten receipts and manual record-keeping. (Id. ¶¶ 27, 30.)

On November 17, 2004, Rico applied for a job at DBI and was hired the next day. (Id. ¶ 18.) Rico had no official job title. (See Gazda Dep. at 16.) Her job duties included:

* sorting, verifying, and filing paper courier receipts;

* answering and routing internal phone calls, primarily from drivers;

* comparing the daily totals of checks brought in by drivers and checks issued by the banks;

* observing drivers at the DBI office to ensure that they picked up the correct bags of checks and were dressed appropriately;

* notifying her supervisor if a driver received an incorrect bag or did not show up for work; and

* along with other employees, answering the secured office door and screening visitors with a handheld, wand-style metal detector.

(Def. Facts ¶¶ 25--26; Rico Dep. at 51--58.) Rico's immediate supervisor at DBI was Naybe Parra, who reported to DBI Vice President Christine Gazda. (Def. Facts ¶ 21.) During all relevant times, Rico satisfactorily performed all of her job duties. (Ans. ¶ 9.)

Around March 2006, Rico learned she was pregnant and so advised supervisor Parra. (See Rico Dep. at 62.) According to Rico, Parra told Rico that she should not tell anyone at DBI that she was pregnant because, if she did, DBI would fire her. (Pl. Facts ¶ 4; Rico Dep. at 62--63.) Around the beginning of May 2006, Rico told another DBI employee, Vice President of Security Gerry Lino, that she was pregnant, and Lino told Rico that she should inform Gazda. (Rico Dep. at 62, 69.) On or about May 15, 2006, Rico told Gazda that she was pregnant. (Ans. ¶ 7; Pl. Facts ¶ 5.) According to Rico, Gazda congratulated Rico and then the conversation ended. (Rico Dep. at 62.)

On May 19, 2006, DBI CEO J.R. Davis met alone with Rico and fired her. (Def. Facts ¶ 39.) According to Rico, during this meeting, Davis informed Rico that her position had been created for her when she was hired and was now being closed. (Rico Dep. at 60.) According to DBI, Rico was fired because her job duties had become redundant once the Metastorm software became fully operational. (Def. Facts ¶ 38.) No one was hired to replace Rico. (Id. ¶ 48.)*fn3 After her termination, Metastorm performed approximately 90% of Rico's duties; her remaining duties, including answering the office's secured door, were shared by all employees. (Id. ΒΆ 37.) Davis alone made the decision to fire ...

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