Court of Appeals of Washington,Division 2.
Kathryn SCRIVENER, Appellant, v. CLARK COLLEGE, Respondent.
Decided: September 4, 2013
Sue–Del McCulloch, Law Offices of Sue–Del, McCulloch LLC, Portland, OR, for Appellant. Catherine Hendricks, WA Attorney General, Seattle, WA, for Respondent.PUBLISHED OPINION
¶ 1 Kathryn Scrivener, a nonpermanent member of Clark College’s faculty, sought one of two tenure-track positions at the college. When the college hired younger candidates to fill those positions, she sued the college for age discrimination under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination Act1 (WLAD). The trial court dismissed the suit on summary judgment. Because Scrivener does not demonstrate that Clark College’s nondiscriminatory explanations for hiring the other candidates were pretext for discrimination, we affirm.
¶ 2 In 1994, Clark College hired the then 42–year–old Scrivener as a part-time English instructor and, beginning in 1999, she signed annual contracts to be a temporary, full-time’ English instructor. Then, in the 2005 academic year, Clark College sought applications for two tenure-track faculty positions, and Scrivener was one of 156 applicants.
¶ 3 Of the 156 applicants, 50 were over 40 years old, and 106 were younger than 40. The screening committee, comprised of five tenured faculty members, reviewed the 152 applications that met the positions’ minimum requirements. The screening committee narrowed the candidate pool and interviewed 13 candidates, including Scrivener. Of these 13 candidates, 7 were over 40 years old and 6 were under 40.
¶ 4 After observing and evaluating the candidates’ teaching demonstrations, the screening committee identified finalists: Geneva Chao, Jill Darley–Vanis, Scott Fisher, and Scrivener. The screening committee forwarded the names, application materials, and candidate evaluations to Clark College President R. Wayne Branch and its Vice President of Instruction, Sylvia Thornburg.2
¶ 5 Branch and Thornburg reviewed the materials and interviewed the four finalists in May 2006, before hiring Chao and Darley–Vanis, who were both under 40 years old. Branch and Thornburg “agreed that of the four finalist[s], Ms. Scrivener was ranked last.” Clerk’s Papers (CP) at 59.
¶ 6 Scrivener sued Clark College under the WLAD, claiming age discrimination. In a summary judgment motion, Clark College attached declarations from Branch, Thornburg, and Clark College Human Resources Associate Director Sue Williams. Branch, who is older than Scrivener, explained that as president, he made the final decision on faculty hiring, but Thornburg also participated and offered input. Branch and Thornburg hired Chao and Darley–Vanis based on the screening committee’s recommendations of the finalists, candidate interviews, reference checks, and the needs of the English department and college as a whole. Branch stated that candidate interviews involved questions relating to how the finalists would meet the college’s goals and functions; at no point did Branch, Thornburg, or the candidates discuss or consider the candidates’ ages.