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Rodriguez v. Alaska State Comm'n Forhuman Rights

Supreme Court of Alaska

August 14, 2015

LUIS R. RODRIGUEZ, Appellant,
v.
ALASKA STATE COMMISSION FORHUMAN RIGHTS, Appellee

Page 381

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Gregory Miller, Judge. Superior Court No. 3AN-11-11621 CI.

Luis R. Rodriguez, Appellant, Pro se, Anchorage.

William E. Milks, Assistant Attorney General, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.

OPINION

Page 382

WINFREE, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

An airline employee filed a complaint with the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, alleging employment discrimination based on his race. The Commission initiated an investigation as required by statute. After the investigation the Commission concluded tat the employee's racial discrimination allegations were not supported by substantial evidence, and the Commission dismissed the complaint without holding a hearing. The employee appealed to the superior court, and the superior court affirmed the Commission's conclusion that the employee's complaint was not supported by substantial evidence. The employee appealed to us. Because we agree that the employee failed to present the Commission substantial evidence of race-based discrimination, we affirm the superior court's decision affirming the Commission's dismissal of the employee's discrimination complaint.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Luis Rodriguez is a gay Hispanic man employed by Delta Airlines, Inc. In November 2010 Rodriguez filed a complaint with the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, accusing Delta of race-based discrimination. Rodriguez alleged that Delta (1) " did not delete the position of a Caucasian coworker with less seniority," and (2) " recently brought another Caucasian employee with less seniority . . . back from layoff status."

A. Commission-Developed Facts And Decision

The Commission notified Rodriguez and Delta that it had initiated an investigation to determine whether Rodriguez's discrimination complaint was supported by substantial evidence. A Commission investigator interviewed Rodriguez, his union representative, and Delta staff. The investigator also reviewed Delta's position statement and Delta's responses to information requests.

The Commission determined that Rodriguez previously had worked for Northwest Airlines and became a Delta employee when the two airlines merged. Rodriguez had been employed as an equipment service employee (ESE) in cargo operations in Anchorage. In December 2009 Delta had informed Rodriguez and other ESEs that they would be furloughed from their positions as full-time cargo-operations ESEs. Delta explained to the Commission that this furlough " caused [Rodriguez and the other cargo-operations ESEs] to transfer to similar ESE positions working with scheduled passenger flights on the aircraft operations ramp." Furloughed employees were offered part-time temporary positions in Anchorage. But under the ...


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