Mondero v. Salt River Project, 400 F.3d 1207 (9th Cir. 2005)

Sylvia Mondero sued the Salt River Project under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging gender discrimination associated with the Project’s failure to give her the opportunity to serve as an operations journeyman in an experimental program offered to several male employees that provided on-the-job training and a guarantee of a permanent assignment. The Project contended that it had not offered the position to Mondero because it did not want to pay journeyman-level wages for serviceman-level work and because the program, which was experimental and ultimately abandoned, was still being evaluated. Additionally, the Project contended that allegedly biased comments made by two working foremen who served as trainers were “stray remarks” and not direct evidence of discriminatory animus. The district court granted the Project’s motion for summary judgment, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that “stray remarks not acted upon or communicated to a decision maker are insufficient to establish pretext.” Additionally, the Court held that a favorable prior determination by the EEOC finding “reasonable cause” to believe there was gender discrimination did not create a genuine issue of material fact.