On April 5, 1996, Motel 6 hired Juanita Pope as a housekeeper. Within several months, Motel 6 promoted Ms. Pope to the position of head housekeeper. However, within the first fourteen months of Ms. Pope’s employment she was written up, warned, and suspended multiple times for tardiness and unsatisfactory job performance. In June 1997, Victoria Inman, manager of the Motel 6 where Ms. Pope worked, issued a verbal warning to Ms. Pope, telling her that she was to stop gossiping to other Motel 6 employees. Inman explained to Ms. Pope that such conduct was inappropriate for somebody in a management position, such as head of housekeeping. Allegedly, Ms. Pope continued to say negative things about Inman, and Motel 6 in general. Subsequently, after consulting Motel 6’s regional human resource manager, Inman terminated Ms. Pope’s employment. In support of the decision to terminate Ms. Pope’s employment, Inman produced written statements from three other Motel 6 employees, alleging that Ms. Pope spoke poorly of both Inman and Motel 6. Ms. Pope contended that following her termination, Inman falsely accused both her and her husband, who also previously worked for Motel 6, of stealing several items from Motel 6. In addition, Ms. Pope alleged that Inman falsely accused her and her husband of writing threatening letters to Inman. Ms. Pope claimed that Inman made these false allegations to the local police, as well as a Motel 6 area manager. After Ms. Pope’s employment was terminated, she filed a discrimination charge with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC). The charge asserted that Motel 6 terminated her employment because of previous incidents with her husband. Ms. Pope claimed that she was fired because her husband, during his employment with Motel 6, had complained about a sexual harassment incident at Motel 6, and because he had filed a NERC charge, alleging retaliatory discharge, after Motel 6 terminated his employment. After filing a NERC charge, Ms. Pope filed a complaint in district court. In the complaint Ms. Pope alleged several causes of action. In particular, Ms. Pope brought the following claims: (1) wrongful termination based on race or national origin, (2) failure to promote based on race or national origin, (3) retaliatory termination, (4) defamation, and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, after pretrial discovery, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Motel 6, dismissing all of Ms. Pope’s causes of action. Ms. Pope appealed the district court’s ruling. On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court held that because Ms. Pope only alleged retaliatory discharge in her NERC charge (with no allegations of discrimination), she had not exhausted all administrative remedies before filing her discrimination claim in district court. Furthermore, the court held that Nevada’s anti-retaliation statute did not apply to Ms. Pope because she was not the individual who engaged in the protected activity. In other words, because Ms. Pope alleged retaliatory discharge based solely on her husband’s past conduct, she could not prevail on the claim. Lastly, the court held the district court had properly granted Motel 6’s motion for summary judgment, regarding Inman’s remarks to the police, because Ms. Pope failed to advance any evidence of malice, a requisite element for defamation. However, the court held the district court erroneously granted Motel 6’s motion for summary judgment regarding Inman’s statements to the area manager. The court reasoned that because Motel 6 failed to show that Inman’s comments to the area manager were intracorporate privileged communications, the district court was incorrect in granting summary judgment.
Webster, Collin, "Summary of Pope v. Motel 6, 121 Nev. Adv. Op. 31" (2005). Nevada Supreme Court Summaries. 628.