Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Strong v. Creameries

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

January 27, 2017

JAMES STRONG, Plaintiff,
v.
BLUE BELL CREAMERIES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This is a civil action filed by the Plaintiff, James Strong, against the Defendant, Blue Bell Creameries. The Complaint alleges that the Defendant discriminated against Strong on the basis of his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Count One). The Complaint also alleges that the Defendant has discriminated against Strong due to his disability, and failed to reasonably accommodate his disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq. (the “ADA”), and the amendments thereto. (Count Two).[1] Both counts arise out of the Plaintiff's employment with the Defendant.

         On June 21, 2016, this Court held that “the Plaintiff has failed to properly allege facts which plausibly support a claim for wrongful discharge, ” and dismissed any such claim. (Doc. 29 at 13). The Plaintiff subsequently flied a motion to amend the Complaint (doc. 31), which this Court denied (doc. 33 at 11). The parties now agree that the Complaint alleges only two claims-one for an alleged discriminatory demotion asserted under Title VII and Section 1981 (Count One), and one for constructive discharge asserted under the ADAAA (Count Two).[2] The Plaintiff admits that the only remaining claim in this case is Count One, alleging race discrimination under Title VII and Section 1981, based upon his alleged demotion.[3]

         This case comes before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by the Defendant. (Doc. 34). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         II. STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (“[S]ummary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The party requesting summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(c) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings in answering the movant.[4] Id. at 324. By its own affidavits - or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file - it must designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

         The underlying substantive law identifies which facts are material and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of the non-movant. Chapman, 229 F.3d at 1023. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. If the evidence presented by the non-movant to rebut the moving party's evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may still be granted. Id. at 249.

         How the movant may satisfy its initial evidentiary burden depends on whether that party bears the burden of proof on the given legal issues at trial. Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). If the movant bears the burden of proof on the given issue or issues at trial, then it can only meet its burden on summary judgment by presenting affirmative evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact - that is, facts that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial. Id. (citation omitted). Once the moving party makes such an affirmative showing, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce “significant, probative evidence demonstrating the existence of a triable issue of fact.” Id. (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         For issues on which the movant does not bear the burden of proof at trial, it can satisfy its initial burden on summary judgment in either of two ways. Id. at 1115-16. First, the movant may simply show that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-movant's case on the particular issue at hand. Id. at 1116. In such an instance, the non-movant must rebut by either (1) showing that the record in fact contains supporting evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion, or (2) proffering evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the alleged evidentiary deficiency. Id. at 1116-17. When responding, the non-movant may no longer rest on mere allegations; instead, it must set forth evidence of specific facts. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 358 (1996). The second method a movant in this position may use to discharge its burden is to provide affirmative evidence demonstrating that the non-moving party will be unable to prove its case at trial. Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1116. When this occurs, the non-movant must rebut by offering evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict at trial on the material fact sought to be negated. Id.

         III. FACTS[5]

         James Strong began working for Blue Bell in the year 2000 and took the position of over-the-road Truck Driver beginning in 2005. Strong was employed by the Defendant for approximately fourteen years in the following positions, General Laborer, Palletizer, Yard-Dog, and finally over-the-road Truck Driver.

         Strong was informed on May 14, 2014, that he was being moved to a Palletizer position. Strong received the same hourly rate of pay as a Palletizer that he received as a truck driver. (Doc. 36-1 at 1, ¶4). However, as a truck driver Strong “routinely worked 5 to 6 hours of overtime per day.” (Doc. 39-1 at 3). The Defendant told Strong that he was being moved “because of working too much overtime.” (Doc. 39-1 at 3, ¶8). When Strong was moved to the Palletizer position, but before he began working in that position, Blue Bell “informed [Strong] that [he] would not receive any more overtime.” (Doc. 39-1 at 3-4, ¶9).

         Strong first reported to work as a Palletizer on May 22, 2014, and worked that day and the next day, May 23, 2014. Strong was clocked in for approximately nine hours on both May 22 and May 23, 2014. (Doc. 36-1 at 2, ¶6). Beginning May 24, 2014, Strong did not report to work again, and resigned in July 2014 without ever returning to work at Blue Bell. In other words, Strong only worked two days in the Palletizer ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.