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Bermudez v. City of Topeka

United States District Court, D. Kansas

January 14, 2020

AMY BERMUDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TOPEKA, KANSAS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HOLLY L. TEETER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Amy Bermudez sued her former employer, the City of Topeka, for gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and the Kansas Act Against Discrimination (“KAAD”), K.S.A. §§ 44-1001, et seq. Bermudez claims that she was constructively discharged by the Topeka Fire Department (“TFD”) when an allegedly intolerable and hostile work environment forced her to resign. The City moves for summary judgment on all claims and seeks to limit Bermudez to events that occurred within 300 days of, and were included in, her EEOC complaint. Doc. 47. For the following reasons, the Court grants the City's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The TFD hired Bermudez as a firefighter in 1992. As a firefighter, Bermudez was in a “suppression” position, meaning her duties included going to and putting out fires. Doc. 48 at 1. In 1999, Bermudez's title was Fire Inspector I. By the time she left the TFD in 2017, she was a Fire Inspector III. Id. A fire inspector is a “specialty” or “prevention” position at the TFD. Her duties included inspecting buildings and fire-code compliance. Id. at 2. As a fire inspector, Bermudez reported to the fire marshal, Michael Martin. Martin became the fire marshal in 2014. Id. Bermudez did not believe Martin was qualified to be fire marshal because he relied on her to help him carry out his job responsibilities. Id. at 2-3. In 2014, Bermudez filed an EEOC charge regarding the TFD's failure to promote her to fire marshal. Doc. 56 at 16. Following that complaint, Bermudez alleges that Martin mistreated her. Specifically, Bermudez alleges that Martin:

• did not tell her about decisions announced at meetings in March and April 2014, id. at 17;
• sent her some emails between April 21 through May 12, 2014, about how she entered her lunch times in the TFD's new time-clock system, which she viewed as “badgering, ” id.;
• did not inform her about or send her to certain training classes, id. at 16-17;
• in May 2014, asked another inspector to bring him a Knox Box access key for a property that was in Bermudez's territory, id. at 17-18;
• in May 2014, did not forward her an email related a task force Bermudez was on, id. at 18;
• requested and approved plans for a Tough Mudder obstacle course in April and May 2014, even though Martin had assigned Bermudez to do the permitting for the event, id.;
• in May 2014, asked Bermudez three times when an inspection was scheduled and when it would be completed, and then allegedly “responded harshly” to Bermudez's answer, id.;
• did not inform her that a training class she was scheduled to attend in May 2014 was canceled, id.;
• failed to forward a request for a Knox Box key to Bermudez on May 21, 2014, which caused her “professional embarrassment, ” id. at 18-19;
• assigned Bermudez to inspect a property on May 27, 2014, instead of another inspector even though Bermudez was busier, and then asked when the inspection was scheduled and when it was completed, which Bermudez viewed as micromanaging, id. at 19;
• in May 2014, reassigned facilities that were outside Bermudez's territory, but that she normally inspected, to other inspectors, id.;
• wore his gun to work on three occasions in June 2014, id.;
• communicated with Bermudez through other employees after July 2014, id. at 19-20; and
• submitted Bermudez's timecards without authorization or corrected them several times in 2014, and on two occasions in July 2014, did not do Bermudez's “punches” as she had requested, id. at 20.

         All of these actions took place in 2014. Bermudez has not included any allegations about any actions taken against her in 2015 or 2016.

         In January 2017, Bermudez inspected St. Gregory Suites, which is managed by Lew McGinnis. Doc. 48 at 6. McGinnis later complained to Martin that Bermudez acted rude and angry and yelled during the inspection. Id. at 6-7. Although it is not clear when McGinnis made the verbal complaint to Martin, at some point after, Martin asked McGinnis to submit his complaint in writing. Id. at 7. Martin also told McGinnis that, although Bermudez can be “curt” at times, fire safety is taken very seriously. Id. Although Bermudez admitted she can be “direct and blunt” at times, she ...


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