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THE BECKER LAW · PDF file See also E.E.O.C. v. Avery Dennison Corp., (6th Cir. 1997) 104 F.3d...

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  • 173

    Plaintiff’s Objections to Proposed Statement Of Decision BC435600

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    William J. Becker, Jr., Esq. (SBN 134545)

    THE BECKER LAW FIRM

    11500 Olympic, Blvd., Suite 400

    Los Angeles, California 90064

    Phone: (310) 636-1018

    Fax: (310) 765-6328

    Attorneys for Plaintiff, David Coppedge

    SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

    FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – CENTRAL DISTRICT

    DAVID COPPEDGE, an individual;

    Plaintiff,

    vs.

    JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, form

    unknown; CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF

    TECHNOLOGY, form unknown;

    GREGORY CHIN, an Individual; CLARK

    A. BURGESS, an Individual; KEVIN

    KLENK, an Individual; and Does 1 through

    25, inclusive,

    Defendants.

    Case No. BC435600

    The Honorable Ernest M. Hiroshige, Dept. 54

    PLAINTIFF DAVID COPPEDGE’S

    OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANT’S

    PROPOSED STATEMENT OF

    DECISION

    [Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1590, subd. (g)]

    Part 5 OF 7

    B. Objections to Conclusions of Law

    Parag.

    Statement Objection

    ¶ 1 A plaintiff bears the burden of proving

    each fact that is essential to his claim

    for relief. Cal. Evid. Code § 500 (“Ex-

    cept as otherwise provided by law, a

    party has the burden of proof as to

    Plaintiff hereby incorporates by refer-

    ence, as though fully set forth herein,

    all prior objections.

    Objection. The Court determined

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    Plaintiff’s Objections to Proposed Statement Of Decision BC435600

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    each fact the existence or nonexistence

    of which is essential to the claim for

    relief or defense that he is asserting.”).

    Plaintiff had met this burden in its Or-

    der on Defendant’s Motion for Sum-

    mary Judgment and is not entitled to

    revisit whether Coppedge proved a

    prima facie case of discrimination at

    trial. See Caldwell v. Paramount Uni-

    fied Sch. Dist., (1995) 41 Cal. App. 4th

    189, 204 (“… [I]f and when the case is

    submitted to the [fact-finder], the con-

    struct of the shifting burdens “drops

    from the case,” and the [fact-finder] is

    left to decide which evidence it finds

    more convincing, that of the employ-

    er’s discriminatory intent, or that of the

    employer’s [protected category]-

    neutral reasons for the employment

    decision.”). In this case, the Court’s

    order on Defendant’s Motion for

    Summary Judgment determined as a

    matter of law that Coppedge met his

    burden of establishing a prima facie

    case of dis-crimination. Accordingly,

    the burden-shifting construct “drops

    from the case,” and the only issue

    properly put to the Court in this case as

    the fact-finder on the issue of employ-

    ment discrimination is whether JPL’s

    decision to demote and to discipline

    Coppedge was motivated by religion;

    the shifting burdens of proof are irrele-

    vant to the Court’s deliberations. Con-

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    Plaintiff’s Objections to Proposed Statement Of Decision BC435600

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    sequently, the Court is not entitled to

    consider McDonnell Douglas’s three-

    stage burden of proof. See id. at 204.

    See also E.E.O.C. v. Avery Dennison

    Corp., (6th Cir. 1997) 104 F.3d 858,

    861 (“The prima facie case is not the

    final inquiry, but rather the first prong

    of analysis which defeats a motion for

    dismissal prior to trial.”) Because the

    Court determined that Plaintiff had es-

    tablished a prima facie case on a sum-

    mary judgment, the Court, seated as

    the trier of fact, cannot then reverse its

    earlier ruling. See Caldwell, supra. In-

    deed, a[n employment discrimination]

    plaintiff’s prima facie burden is mini-

    mal. The amount of evidence that must

    be produced in order to create a prima

    facie case is very little.” Id., at 197 (in-

    ternal punctuation and citations omit-

    ted). Plaintiff presented a preponder-

    ance of evidence far beyond the mini-

    mum threshold required to establish a

    prima facie case of discrimination and

    retaliation.

    As demonstrated by the evidence re-

    ferred to herein, the preponderance of

    the evidence establishes that (1) Wei-

    senfelder complained to Chin that she

    did not wish to discuss religion with

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    Plaintiff’s Objections to Proposed Statement Of Decision BC435600

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    Coppedge at work because it made her

    uncomfortable; (2) Prompted by Wei-

    senfelder’s complaint that she did not

    wish to discuss religion with

    Coppedge, Chin ordered Coppedge to

    stop “pushing” his religious views, in-

    cluding the perceived religious view of

    intelligent design, on co-workers; (3)

    Huntley conducted an HR investiga-

    tion in which, on the basis of state-

    ments made to her by Weisenfelder,

    Vetter and Chin, she concluded that

    Coppedge had crossed a line discuss-

    ing his religious interests and loaning

    out intelligent design DVDs; (4) Wei-

    senfelder, Vetter, Chin and Edgington

    all perceived intelligent design to be a

    religious concept they rejected; (5) on

    the basis of Huntley’s conclusions, she

    recommended Coppedge be disci-

    plined through the issuance of a writ-

    ten warning and removal as team lead;

    (6) Coppedge’s supervisors, Burgess

    and Klenk, adopted and ratified Hunt-

    ley’s conclusions and recommenda-

    tions; (7) Coppedge was issued a writ-

    ten warning in which he was ordered

    not to share his “personal views,” in-

    cluding his religious views and per-

    ceived religious interest in intelligent

    design, with other co-workers; (8)

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    Coppedge was removed from the team

    lead position during a meeting in

    which he was also ordered by Burgess

    and Klenk to refrain from discussing

    his personal views, i.e., religion and

    intelligent design, with co-workers; (9)

    Coppedge was not told he was being

    removed from team lead due to any

    other specific complaint against him;

    (10) team lead carried with it substan-

    tial duties and was recognized as such

    by JPL, so much so that the team lead

    transition was formally announced to

    the entire Cassini project; (11)

    Coppedge was humiliated by the de-

    motion; and (12) Coppedge tried to

    appeal the decision, but was met with a

    standardless process, marked by long

    delays in communications with

    Coppedge and responsive action, re-

    sulting in a meeting with Klenk, the

    same decision-maker who had earlier

    sanctioned disciplining Coppedge.

    ¶ 2 Coppedge bears the burden of proving

    a prima facie case of discrimination.

    To establish a prima facie case,

    Coppedge must show that (1) he be-

    longs to a protected category; (2) he is

    otherwise qualified to do his job; (3)

    he suffered an adverse employment

    action; and (4) there are circumstances

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