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Micheo-Acevedo v. Stericycle of Puerto Rico, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 27, 2018

MARISOL MICHEO-ACEVEDO, Plaintiff, Appellant
v.
STERICYCLE OF PUERTO RICO, INC., Defendant, Appellee, ANGEL RIVERA-MORALES; OSVALDO SANTANA-RIVERA, Defendants.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Jay A. García-Gregory, U.S. District Judge]

          Juan Rafael González-Muñoz, with whom Carlos M. Vergne-Vargas, Juan C. Nieves-González, and González-Muñoz Law Offices, PSC were on brief, for appellant.

          Tacy F. Flint, with whom Luis D. Ortiz Abreu, Javier G. Vázquez Segarra, Goldman Antonetti & Córdova, LLC, Brian J. Gold, Natalie C. Chan, and Sidley Austin LLP were on brief, for appellant.

          Before Torruella, Lynch, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          BARRON, Circuit Judge.

         Marisol Micheo-Acevedo ("Micheo") appeals an order granting summary judgment to Stericycle of Puerto Rico ("Stericycle") and other defendants on her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and dismissing without prejudice her related pendent Puerto Rico law claims. We affirm.

         I.

         Stericycle's services include managing medical waste for hospitals. In April 2012, Stericycle hired Micheo as a field sales representative. A little less than a year later, in March 2013, Stericycle launched a program called "BioSystem," to which Micheo was then assigned in March 2013. Under that program, through contracts with hospitals, Stericycle installed containers to dispose of sharp, biomedical objects like syringes.

         Stericycle terminated Micheo's employment in January 2014. Micheo brought suit against the company and two of its managers in the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico on February 3, 2015. She alleged violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 48 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-54, and six Puerto Rico laws, P.R. Laws Ann., tit. 29, §§ 146 et seq., 185(a) et seq., 194 et seq., 1321 et seq.; P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 1, §§ 501 et seq., 511 et seq.

         On July 11, 2016, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as to all of Micheo's claims. Micheo then filed a motion to strike the defendants' summary judgment motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Local Rules for the District Court of Puerto Rico ("Local Rule 56"), which requires that such motions provide citations to supporting record evidence. The District Court denied Micheo's motion.

         Several months later, on November 14, 2016, Micheo filed an opposition to the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Micheo argued that summary judgment was not warranted on her Title VII claims and her related Puerto Rico law claims, but she abandoned her other federal and Puerto Rico law claims.

         On March 31, 2017, the District Court issued an order that granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Micheo's Title VII claims, dismissed with prejudice the federal and Puerto Rico law claims that Micheo had abandoned, and dismissed without prejudice Micheo's remaining pendent Puerto Rico law claims. This appeal then followed.

         II.

         We start with Micheo's Title VII claim for gender-based disparate treatment. Because Micheo put forward no direct evidence of discrimination, the District Court applied the familiar burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973), in considering the defendants' motion to grant summary judgment as to this claim. Under that framework, to survive summary judgment, Micheo must show that there is a genuine issue of disputed material fact with respect to, among other things, whether her employer subjected her to an adverse employment action. See Lockridge v. The Univ. Of Maine Sys., 597 F.3d 464, 470, 472 (1st Cir. 2010).

         We review the District Court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Colón v. Tracey, 717 F.3d 43, 49 (1st Cir. 2013). In performing that review, we must draw "all reasonable inferences . . . in favor of the non-moving party," but we are "not obliged to accept as true or to deem as a disputed material fact, each and every unsupported, subjective, conclusory, or imaginative statement made to the Court by a party." Torrech-Hernández v. Gen. Elec. Co., 519 F.3d 41, 47 (1st Cir. 2008) (emphasis omitted).

         Micheo argued that the defendants subjected her to an adverse employment action by passing her over for a promotion from her position as a field sales representative in Stericycle's BioSystem Program to the position of "Project Manager" or "Program Manager" of the Integrated Waste Stream Solutions ("IWSS"), [1] an initiative within the BioSystem Program. She contends that the defendants gave the position instead to Jorge Rodríguez-Toro ...


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