Mayes v. WinCo Holdings, Inc., No. 14-35396 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff was fired for theft and dishonesty from WinCo after twelve years of employment because she took a stale cake from the store bakery to the break room to share with fellow employees and told a loss prevention investigator that management had given her permission to do so. WinCo also determined that plaintiff's behavior rose to the level of gross misconduct under the store's personnel policies, denied plaintiff and her minor children benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), 29 U.S.C. 1161(a), 1163(2), and denied plaintiff credit for accrued vacation days. Plaintiff filed suit for gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., a claim under COBRA; and wage claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., as well as corresponding state law claims. The district court granted summary judgment for WinCo. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's discrimination claims where ample circumstantial evidence, as well as powerful direct evidence of a supervisor's discriminatory comments, raise a material dispute regarding pretext; if WinCo fired plaintiff for discriminatory reasons, she may be entitled to COBRA benefits and thus the district court erred in dismissing that claim; and, likewise, the district court erred in dismissing the wage claims. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.