United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JAMES A. MOORER, Plaintiff,
ROOMS TO GO ALABAMA CORP., Defendant.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, Senior District Judge.
This case is before the court on defendant Rooms to Go Alabama Corp.'s Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 15.) Upon consideration of the record, the submissions of the parties, the arguments of counsel, and the relevant law, the court is of the opinion that defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 15), is due to be denied.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate "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); Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); see Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). A dispute is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); see also Clark, 929 F.2d at 608 ("[I]t is never enough simply to state that the non-moving party cannot meet its burden at trial").
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court's function is not to "weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "[C]ourts are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the [summary judgment] motion.'" Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) ( per curiam )). Nevertheless, the non-moving party "need not be given the benefit of every inference but only of every reasonable inference." Graham v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 193 F.3d 1274, 1282 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing Brown v. City of Clewiston, 848 F.2d 1534, 1540 n.12 (11th Cir. 1988)).
II. STATEMENT OF FACTS
A. MOORER'S EMPLOYMENT WITH ROOMS TO GO ALABAMA CORP.
Plaintiff James A. Moorer, an African-American male, became an employee of defendant Rooms to Go Alabama Corp., a retail furniture store, at its Hoover, Alabama location in April 2005 and worked as a sales associate until his discharge on May 16, 2012. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 4, 8-10; Doc. 17-1 ¶ 1.) Elliot Kalick, the Vice President of Rooms to Go Alabama Corp., was responsible for hiring and discharging sales associates during plaintiff's employment,  (Doc. 17-5 ¶ 3), and Scott Fleisig, a Store Manager and an Assistant Manager, worked with plaintiff, (Doc. 17-1 at 173-74). Brenda McDew was a Human Resources Representative during plaintiff's employment period. ( See Doc. 17-6.)
Defendant employed an "Up" system for greeting customers, whereby a sales associate is "up" to greet a customer when it is his turn, and then the next sales associate becomes "up" when the next customer enters the store. (Doc. 17-1 at 72-77; Doc. 17-4 ¶ 1.) On May 5, 2012, plaintiff assisted a customer for whom he was "up." (Doc. 17-1 at 83, 235.) After the customer asked for time to look, plaintiff left the customer, and another sales associate, Ryan Files (a white employee), began working with the customer. (Id. at 236.) Plaintiff paged Files to get him away from the customer, and Files walked away, but he returned and "crashed" the customer after plaintiff resumed working with the customer. (Id. at 83-84.) The customer made a purchase, and plaintiff received the commission. (Id. at 84.) Files talked with Fleisig about the situation, and when Fleisig discussed the situation with plaintiff on the morning of May 12, 2012,  plaintiff asked Fleisig to review the floor rules. (Doc. 17-3 at 39-40.) Fleisig responded by stating that the company's rule is that the customer is a Rooms to Go customer, not plaintiff's customer. (Id. at 38-39.)
Later on the morning of May 12, 2012, Fleisig held a store meeting, and during the meeting, plaintiff asked Fleisig to go over the store rules. (Doc. 17-1 at 71-72.) Fleisig asked the sales associates in the meeting if anyone wanted to review the floor rules, and no one responded. (Id. at 86.) Plaintiff then excused himself and went to the restroom. (Id. ) After the meeting, Fleisig called Kalick to discuss plaintiff's leaving the meeting. (Doc. 17-3 at 47.) Defendant contends that the meeting went as follows:
Mr. Fleisig... was running the meeting, and plaintiff stood up and said "I want to go over floor rules." [(Doc. 17-3 at 48.)] Mr. Fleisig responded that he had already indicated that they were not going to talk about floor rules but that he would make time for it at a future meeting. [(Id. ]) Plaintiff sat down and about 3-5 minutes later, he stood up and said again that he wanted to go over floor rules. [(Id. at 44, 48.)] Mr. Fleisig again stated that they were not going over floor rules, and plaintiff threw his hands up and said "Well, then, I'm leaving the meeting." [(Id. )] Plaintiff then left the meeting. [(Id. )]
(Doc. 16 ¶ 31.) The following day, plaintiff came to work, greeted the first customer, and then Fleisig asked plaintiff to leave work for interrupting the meeting. (Doc. 17-1 at 89.) Plaintiff asked Fleisig for Kalick's number, and Fleisig gave him the number. (Id. ) However, plaintiff could not reach Kalick then and did not talk with Kalick at any point thereafter. (Id. at ...