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Santiago-Diaz v. Rivera-Rivera

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 17, 2015

VÍCTOR SANTIAGO-DÍAZ,; CARMEN RIVERA-SANTIAGO,; CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP SANTIAGO-RIVERA, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
MAGALY RIVERA-RIVERA, in her individual and official capacity as Regional Director of the Bayamón School Region of the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of P.R.; MIRNA LÓPEZ, in her individual and official capacity as Human Resources Director and Associate Secretary of Special Education of the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of P.R.; GLORIMAR ANDÚ JAR, in her individual and official capacity as Associate Secretary of Special Education of the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of P.R.; MARÍA ORTIZ-MOJICA, in her individual and official capacity as Director of the Special Education Center in Bayamón, of the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of P.R., Defendants, Appellees

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. José Antonio Fusté, U.S. District Judge.

Julio Cé sar Alejandro-Serrano, on brief for appellants.

Susana I. Peñagarícano-Brown, Assistant Solicitor General, with whom Margarita L. Mercado-Echegaray, Solicitor General, were on brief, for appellees.

Before Torruella, Lipez, and Thompson, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Víctor Santiago-Díaz (" Santiago" ) claims that, as a result of his membership in the Popular Democratic Party (" PDP" ), he was subject to impermissible political discrimination after the New Progressive Party (" NPP" ) came to power in Puerto Rico in January 2009. At the time of that transition, Santiago was a supervisor of the Programmatic Area of the Department of Education's (" DOE" ) Special Education Center in Bayamón. He claims that political motivation prompted his reassignment to a new position, a diminution of his supervisory responsibilities, and other adverse employment actions.[1]

Specifically, Santiago alleges political discrimination at the hands of María Ortiz-Mojica (" Ortiz" ), the Director of the DOE Special Education Center and Santiago's direct supervisor, when she reassigned him to serve as supervisor of the Academic Area, allocated his previous job duties to an NPP sympathizer, humiliated him in the presence of his co-workers, and demanded the reasons for his absence from work.

He claims that the Human Resources Director and Associate Secretary of Special Education, Mirna López, an NPP member, was aware of and approved his reassignment and the stripping of his duties. He further asserts that Glorimar Andú jar, the Associate Secretary of Special Education of the DOE and an NPP member, was copied on various complaint letters sent to Ortiz in which Santiago attributed his reassignment to an alleged pattern of political harassment. She failed to respond to these letters.

Finally, Santiago claims that Magaly Rivera Rivera (" Rivera" ), the Regional Director of the Bayamón School Region of the DOE and a member of the NPP, " empowered" Ortiz and Andú jar " to humiliate [Santiago] and permit[ed] the taking of his functions to be given to NPP sympathizers."

Santiago's claims of political discrimination fail. He has not raised a genuine issue of material fact that his party affiliation was a factor in his reassignment or that his job responsibilities were diminished. His remaining allegations of workplace discrimination are insufficient to constitute adverse employment actions. Consequently, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment for appellees.

I.

A. Factual Background

We recount the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Santiago.[2] Adamson v. Walgreens Co., 750 F.3d 73, 76 (1st Cir. 2014).

Santiago has worked for the DOE for twenty-seven years, fifteen of which have been in the teaching or " Academic Area." A lifelong member of the PDP, he was mayor of the Municipality of Toa Baja from 2001 until 2004. During the PDP administration that held power from 2004 through 2008, Santiago held a number of government positions, including service as the Regional Director of the DOE, a trust position, which he left in early 2008. In February 2008, Santiago was appointed Academic Facilitator IV in the DOE's Center for Special Education's (" the Center" ) Programmatic Area of the Bayamón School Region, a career position.[3] He held this position at the time of the 2008 elections. The Center consists of three divisions: the Programmatic Area, the Academic Area, ...


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