9th Circuit reinstates workplace sexual orientation discrimination claims

Dawson v. Entek International, No. 09-35844 (9th Cir. Jan. 10, 2011)

Before WILLIAM A. FLETCHER and RAYMOND C. FISHER, Circuit Judges, and DAVID C. BURY, District Judge.*
Kevin T. Lafky and Haley Percell, Lafkey and Lafkey, Salem, OR, for the plaintiff-appellant.Patricia K. Runkles-Pearson and Dennis Westlind, Stoel Rives LLP, Portland, OR, for the defendant-appellee.

OPINION

OVERVIEW

Shane Dawson (Dawson), a male homosexual, appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of his former employer, Entek International (Entek), on claims of discrimination arising from his termination. Entek is an Oregon-based company that manufactures polyethylene battery separators.

On appeal, Dawson argues that the district court erred when it applied the McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), burden-shifting framework to analyze state claims under Or.Rev.Stat. § 659A.030 for retaliatory discharge, sex hostile work environment, and sexual orientation hostile work environment. Dawson also claims that the district court erred when it granted summary judgment in Entek’s favor on Dawson’s claims of retaliatory discharge and sex hostile work environment under both Title VII and Or.Rev.Stat. § 659A.030, as well as sexual orientation hostile work environment under Or.Rev.Stat. § 659A.030. Finally, Dawson alleges that the district court erred when it granted summary judgment against Dawson on his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Dawson produced circumstantial evidence of retaliatory discharge and sexual orientation hostile work environment, such that resolution of this action by summary judgment was error. We reverse and remand.