United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
CALLIE V.S. GRANADE, District Judge.
Evans Dewayne Scruggs ("Plaintiff"), an African American who worked as a Support Operator and Grinder for Berg Spiral Pipe Corp. ("Defendant"), alleges Defendant unlawfully terminated his employment because of a perceived disability and his race. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-7). Consequently, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12117 ("ADA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e17 ("Title VII"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"). (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8). This matter is now before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26) together with supporting materials (Docs. 27, 28), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Docs. 30, 31), and Defendant's Reply. (Doc. 32). After careful consideration and for the reasons set forth herein, the motion is due to be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court must "grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56(c) governs procedures and provides that a party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion. This includes "identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The mere existence of a factual dispute will not automatically necessitate denial; rather, only factual disputes that are material preclude entry of summary judgment. Lofton v. Sec'y of Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004).
The substantive law of the plaintiff's cause of action determines which facts are material and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If a non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case on which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In reviewing whether a non-moving party has met its burden, the Court must stop short of weighing the evidence and determining credibility. Instead, the Court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Tipton v. Bergrohr GmbH - Siegen, 965 F.2d 994, 998-99 (11th Cir. 1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Thus the inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
Plaintiff started working for Defendant on March 28, 2012 as a temporary employee. (Doc. 27, p. 4). Elwood Staffing, a skilled trades staffing company, helped place Plaintiff at Defendant's facility. (Doc. 27, p. 2). Defendant considers temporary employees for permanent openings when positions become available, if the temporary employee passes the Test for Adult Basic Education, and completes a criminal background investigation, drug screen, and medical examination. (Doc. 27, pp. 3-5).
In January 2013, a permanent opening for a grinder position became available. (Doc. 27, p. 4). Defendant considered Plaintiff for the opening. Grinders must operate a handheld grinder and other equipment listed in the job description. (Doc. 27, p. 4; Doc. 27-1, pp. 21-22). Grinders generally tack welding tabs on to pipes, or cut them off, depending on the assignment. (Doc. 27, p. 4). Grinders also roll pipe down the production line, which can require exerting 40 pounds of torque. (Doc. 27, p. 4).
As required for the permanent position, Plaintiff passed the Test for Adult Basic Education on January 17, 2013. (Doc. 27, p. 4). On January 28, 2013, Defendant sent Plaintiff an offer letter for the permanent grinder position. (Doc. 27-1, pp. 18-19). The offer letter described the position, pay, and benefits associated with the job. (Doc. 27-1, p. 18). The letter also stated:
If you are agreeable to our offer you must pass, at Berg's expense, a pre-employment physical examination and drug test prior to starting work. The drug screen must be conducted within 48 hours of receipt of this letter. This employment offer will be withdrawn if the drug screen is not conducted within that 48 hour time period.
(Doc. 27-1, p. 18). The letter continued:
Your employment is contingent on education verification (high school graduation or GED is required), our receipt of a favorable background investigation and pre-employment physical exam, results of a negative drug test, and I-9 verification of authorization to work in the U.S.
(Doc. 27-1, p. 18). The letter concluded by saying, "Your start date is scheduled for as soon as administratively possible." (Doc. 27-1, p. 19).
Plaintiff completed the drug screen and physical examination on January 29, 2013, one day after receiving the letter. (Doc. 27, p. 5). The drug screen results returned negative, meaning Plaintiff did not test positive for any of the drugs screened in the test. (Doc. 30, p. 5). Dr. Terry W. Taylor conducted Plaintiff's physical examination. (Doc. 27, p. 5; Doc. 31-5, p. 2). During the physical examination, Dr. Taylor learned that Plaintiff previously had back surgery. (Doc. 30, p. 7). Plaintiff told Dr. Taylor he did not have any medical restrictions as a result of his back surgery, but he informed Dr. Taylor that he had prescriptions for Lortab and Skelaxin. (Doc. 30, p. 8; Doc. 31-4, p. 3). Plaintiff's pre-placement medical report stated he "is not currently taking Lortab or Skelaxin." (Doc. ...