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Blackmon v. L-3 Army Sustainment LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 7, 2017




         Before the court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant L-3 Army Sustainment LLC (“L-3”) on June 29, 2017. Doc. 41. Having reviewed the motion, the parties' briefs, the evidentiary record, and the applicable law, the court finds that L-3's motion is due to be GRANTED, as set forth below.


         The facts are derived from L-3's statement of undisputed facts, Plaintiff Janet Blackmon's additional statement of facts, and uncontroverted record evidence. The majority of the facts are taken from the deposition of Blackmon and from the corporate documents of L-3. The court must construe the facts and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to Blackmon as the nonmovant. See Frederick v. Sprint/United Mgmt. Co., 246 F.3d 1305, 1309 (11th Cir. 2001).

         The court has reviewed the record, including the parties' filings and evidentiary submissions, to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist to be tried. However, the court need not “scour the record” to make that determination. Tomasini v. Mt. Sinai Med. Ctr. of Fla., 315 F.Supp. 1252, 1260 n.11 (S.D. Fla. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, the court's June 30, 2017 briefing order requires that “any discussion of evidence in a brief must include the specific reference, by name or document number and by page and paragraph or line, to where the evidence may be found in the supporting evidentiary submission or in any document filed with the court.” Doc. 42 at 2. To the extent the parties' filings do not comply with these directives, the court may refuse to consider the referenced evidence or may strike it from the record entirely. See Doc. 42. Against this backdrop, and for summary-judgment purposes only, see Cox v. Admin. U.S. Steel & Carnegie, 17 F.3d 1386, 1400 (11th Cir. 1994), the court sets forth the following facts:

         A. The Parties and the Relationship Between L-3 and the Ft. Rucker Workforce

         Blackmon is a former aircraft mechanic who was 54 years old at the time of her termination.[1] Docs. 41-2 at 79 & 46-22 at 24. The basis of this lawsuit is Blackmon's alleged discriminatory termination based on her age. Doc. 1.

         L-3 is a military contractor. Doc. 41-1 at ¶ 4. L-3 has a contract with the United States Army to provide aircraft maintenance, support, and logistics services in connection with the Army's operations at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Doc. 41-1 at ¶ 4. L-3 was awarded the contract to provide these services at Ft. Rucker in 2003 and has been the prime contractor for these services since that time. Doc. 41-1 at ¶ 4.

         L-3's workforce at Ft. Rucker is unionized. The bargaining unit is represented by codefendant United Lodge No. 2003, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAMAW”).[2] Doc. 41-1 at ¶ 6.

         The relationship between L-3 and IAMAW is governed by a collective bargaining agreement. Docs. 41-1 at ¶ 7 & 41-3. L-3 and IAMAW have also agreed upon a set of work rules that govern employee conduct. Docs. 41-4, 41-5 & 46-16. These rules encompassed Blackmon's responsibility to keep and to record her time accurately, a responsibility this is “self-policed.” Docs. 41-2 at 29-30, 41-8 & 46-16. Other work rules relevant to Blackmon's claim are:

Work Rule 13 Employees will not leave assigned work area without authorization for reasons not connected with performance of their job.
Work Rule 21 Employees will not leave the facility during working hours without authorization.
Work Rule 38 Employees will not commit any form of dishonesty or fraud; including falsifying facts to management, or falsifying employment application, personal, personnel, company or government records.

Doc. 46-16. The stated consequence for violating Work Rules 13 and 21 is progressive discipline up to discharge. Doc. 46-16. The stated consequence for violating Work Rule 38 is discharge. Doc. 46-16.

         Blackmon testified that she understood L-3's work rules, that it was her responsibility to follow them, and that she understood the consequences if she did not follow them. Docs. 41-2 at 6-9 & 41-6. Blackmon also understood that it was her duty to follow L-3's Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, which provides, among other things, that employees shall accurately record their time and labor charges. Docs. 41-2 at 8-19, 41-7 & 41-9.

         B. Blackmon's Employment with L-3

         Blackmon began working in connection with the contract at Ft. Rucker in 1989. Doc. 46-22 at 3. From then until 2003, she worked for two of L-3's predecessor contractors-Sikorsky and DynCorp. Doc. 46-22 at 3. Blackmon worked on the contract for L-3[3] as an aircraft mechanic from 2003 until July 13, 2015, when she was terminated. Doc. 46-22 at 4. From June 2014 through her termination, Blackmon served as an aircraft mechanic at Lucas Stagefield, which was only 1.1 miles from her residence in Elba, Alabama. Doc. 46-22 at 4-6. Blackmon worked the second shift from 3:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. and had a 30-minute meal break. Docs. 41-2 at 22-24 & 46-22 at 14. As a stagefield mechanic, Blackmon had a large amount of downtime each shift.[4] Doc. 41-1 at 38-39. During this downtime, she would usually sit in the stagefield's fire house and watch television for several hours. Doc. 46-22 at 7.

         Blackmon contends that it was understood that stagefield mechanics could leave when incoming flights were not scheduled. More specifically, Blackmon testified that she was told by her immediate supervisor, Danny Foxworth, that she could leave early on days when inbound flights to her stagefield were cancelled without asking a supervisor first. Doc. 46-22 at 8-9 & 13. Even when stagefield mechanics left the field for an extended period of time or went home early, they still claimed a full eight hours of work, according to Blackmon. Docs. 41-2 at 28-29 & 46-22 at 8-10. She contends this was compensation for hours the stagefield mechanics worked over their shifts without claiming overtime pay. Doc. 46-22 at 8 & 11. While there is no dispute that this procedure was a violation of L-3's labor reporting policy, Blackmon understood it to be the normal operating procedure for stagefield mechanics. Docs. 41-2 at 28-29 & 46-22 at 11-13.

         However, Blackmon had two other supervisors during the relevant time period- Steve Greenwood and Dave Mildenstein. Doc. 46-22 at 9. Blackmon testified that neither Greenwood nor Mildenstein told her that she could leave her stagefield after inbound flights were cancelled without asking permission from her supervisor first. Doc. 41-2 at 32-33. There is also no evidence that Foxworth or any other supervisor instructed Blackmon to claim a full eight hours of work on days she left for an extended period of time or ended her shift early after inbound flights were cancelled.

         C. The Events ...

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