United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil action filed by the Plaintiff, Ronald Knight, against
the Defendant, his former employer, General Telecom, Inc.
(“GTI”). The Complaint alleges that: the
Plaintiff was fired (and not reinstated) by the Defendant,
because of his disability, diabetes, in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
12111-12117 (the “ADA”) (Count One); the
Defendant failed to accommodate the Plaintiff's
disability in violation of the ADA (Count Two); and, after
his termination, the Defendant failed to give the Plaintiff
the required notice of his rights pursuant to 29 U.S.C.
§ 1166(a), of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”) (Count
case comes before the Court on the Defendant's motion for
summary judgment on all counts (doc. 23), and the
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to Count
Three, the COBRA Claim (doc. 31). For the reasons stated
herein, both motions will be GRANTED in part
and DENIED in part.
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(e) requires the non-moving party to
go beyond the pleadings in answering the movant. 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.
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.
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).
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.
installs and maintains electric equipment and towers for
cellular telephone communications customers including
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Ericsson, and, in the
past, General Dynamics. The parties agree that, at all
relevant times, GTI employed 19-24 employees. (Doc. 24 at 5,
¶2 (not disputed by Plaintiff)). However, the record
contains evidence that GTI “employed 31 full-time
employees on July 18, 2014, [and] 27 full-time employees on
July 17, 2015.” (Doc. 31-1 at 17). All but four GTI
employees spent most of their time completing work for
customers in the field. All GTI employees worked in the field
from time-to-time. Individuals employed by GTI had different
skill sets, and would perform different duties based on
relevant times, GTI employees have been required to adhere to
policies in GTI's Employee Handbook, which GTI
distributes and explains to all of its employees. GTI's
Handbook includes Equal Opportunity and Americans with
Disabilities Act policies, which, inter alia, call
for reasonable accommodation of employee disabilities and
strictly prohibit discrimination in all employment terms and
conditions based on an employee's disability. Also,
pursuant to GTI's Employee Handbook, employees are
subject to discipline up to and including termination, for:
poor job performance, unsatisfactory quality or quantity of
work, failing to follow instructions or company procedure,
failing to meet safety expectations, insubordination or
refusal to perform work, disorderly conduct or acts of
violence, misusing or destroying company property, and using
illegal drugs or reporting to work under the influence of
was employed by GTI as a “helper” from April 2006
until his termination on June 24, 2015. The duties of a
helper include generator installation, simple directed wire
splicing, and ditch digging.
was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2012. He takes
metformin to control his diabetes and also takes medication
for diabetic nerve damage in his feet. His diabetic condition
constrains his diet, limiting the foods he is able to eat.
Knight has to eat in order to keep his blood sugar up so that
he can work.
Knight's Training, Certifications, and
can only read “some” and cannot write. (Doc. 25-2
at 9(29); doc. 25-1 at 2, ¶8.b.). It is undisputed that
Knight was never certified to perform tower climbs because he
feared heights. Further, he obtained no industry or other
certifications, and he did not attend any training or classes
in the telecommunications field.
relevant times in this case, Knight reported to GTI's
Chief Financial Officer Dr. Lee Chamoun, and Field Manager
Jeff Bowerman. Chamoun states in his affidavit that:
Ron's skill set was the smallest of all employees who
worked for the Company; coworkers reported occasions in which
he aggressively declined to learn how to follow blueprints
and perform even the simplest tasks, and he never pursued
(Doc. 25-1 at 5, ¶12.b.). Accordingly,
“[Knight's] skills were confined to digging ditches
and following specific A-B-C instructions on what wire to
place where.” (Doc. 25-1 at 3, ¶8.c.) Bowerman who
has “worked with Ronald Knight for approximately twenty
years, ” and who was Knight's supervisor at GTI,
states the following in his declaration:
At GTI, Ronald Knight was typically assigned work tasks such
as running pipe and simple electrical wiring. Mr.
Knight's skills and job knowledge were limited in
comparison to other employees under my supervision. Based on
my observation, Mr. Knight was not able to read and/or write
and did not have any desire to learn new technologies or
skills. To my knowledge, Mr. Knight never expressed interest
in attending training or classes to advance in the
Because Mr. Knight was limited with regard to job skills and
knowledge, I had to assign him to jobs that offered simple
electrical work tasks. Unlike employees such as Michael
Jones, Mr. Knight could not perform technical electrical
tasks such as integration and fiber optic work on
telecommunications job sites.
(Doc. 25-7 at 2, ¶¶5-6). Michael Jones, who worked
with Ronald Knight “from approximately 2009 until
[Knight's] employment ended, ” stated:
[Knight's] skills and knowledge of how to properly
perform work tasks was very limited. Unlike other GTI
employees, Ronald Knight did not actively keep up with
changes and technology so that he could add value to the
company. Instead, Ronald Knight was only capable of
performing specific manual labor and simple electrical tasks.
(Doc. 25-9 at 2, ¶¶6, 7).
Knight's inability to communicate effectively in writing,
GTI management primarily communicated with him verbally.
However, there is evidence that Knight does communicate via
text message. (Doc. 25-2 at 20(74); doc. 34-2).Still,
Knight's wife, Kimberly Knight (“Mrs.
Knight”), typically communicated with GTI on
Knight's behalf when something had to be completed in
Knight's Work Efficiency Issues
pertinent times, Knight understood that completing projects
and contract work quickly and efficiently was a top priority
for GTI. In his deposition, Knight testified: “[N]obody
talked to me about work performance or anything. I've
always worked hard, always did my job, and I always did the
best I could.” (Doc. 25-2 at 39(151)). However, his
co-workers and supervisors saw things
differently. In his affidavit, Chamoun states that:
Ron was not efficient with the few skills he possessed when
compared to other employees at a time when a decision had to
be made. . . . Reports persisted that Ron's work was
beyond slow; he took 3 to 4 times longer to perform simple
tasks than did others, and he was reported by co-workers as
having taken extended breaks smoking in posted restricted
areas after being told not to smoke in restricted areas
(Doc. 25-1 at 5, ¶12. a.). Knight testified that he
knows nothing about who might have made any such reports,
when reports might have been made, or any specifics regarding
same. (Doc. 25-2 at 38(145-146)).
Howard was a “Lead Fieldman” responsible for
supervising and directing Knight's work. He stated:
Though Mr. Knight and I were employed at GTI for many years,
we only worked together on projects and at job sites during
approximately the last six months of his employment. During
that period, Mr. Knight and I worked on numerous generator
installation projects. Mr. Knight typically was assigned to
perform electrical work on projects.
 Based on my experience working with Mr. Knight, I would
assess his job performance as subpar. He would either take
way too long to complete a task or would breeze through it
and do it incorrectly. For example, I remember it taking Mr.
Knight approximately 20 minutes to complete tasks that
generally take 2 hours. Mr. Knight also took extended
restroom and other breaks while GTI employees were performing
work and would only reappear when the assigned work tasks
were at or near completion. In addition, Mr. Knight
frequently stood around [job sites] and smoked cigarettes
while other GTI employees performed assigned work.
 I frequently counseled Mr. Knight regarding his slow and
poor job performance. For example, while on a job in
Mississippi installing a power bay, Mr. Knight took
approximately 18 hours to complete 30 minutes of work. During
the project, I requested that he speed up and finish the work
he was performing. Mr. Knight, however, refused to do so. On
other occasions, I told Mr. Knight he would need to redo
certain electrical work that did not meet GTI or the
customer's quality standards and expectations. Mr.
Knight, however, refused to redo such work and I or some
other GTI employee would redo it before leaving the [job
 When I worked with Mr. Knight, he took more frequent and
longer breaks than any other GTI employees. . . . I would
estimate that Mr. Knight spent approximately 75% of his
workdays on break.
 In May/June 2015, Jeff Bowerman discussed with me why my
group was not working as efficiently as expected and
completing job projects and work in a timely manner. In
response, I requested that Jeff Bowerman visit the job site
and observe and assess for themselves the performance of
employees under my supervision. As requested, Jeff Bowerman
visited the job site where my crew was working and observed
the work of myself, Nicholas Gotay, and Mr. Knight.
(Doc. 25-8 at 2-3, ¶¶6-10).
Bowerman stated the following in his declaration:
In May-June 2015, GTI learned that the work crew led by Chris
Howard, which included Chris Howard, Nicholas Gotay, and
Ronald Knight at the time, was taking a long time to complete
projects. I talked with Chris Howard about his crew's
efficiency and he requested that I come observe his
crew's work so that I could see for myself what the issue
was. On June 12, 2015, and at other times, I observed Mr.
Knight working very slowly with no enthusiasm and poor work
ethic. For example, I watched Mr. Knight smoke cigarettes
while Chris Howard and Nicholas Gotay dug a ditch. I
discussed with Mr. Knight that he needed to help his crew
perform assigned work in a timely and efficient
manner. I continued to observe Mr. Knight's
performance and counsel him regarding his need to improve;
however, his performance did not improve and he showed no
desire or willingness to perform GTI's work.
(Doc. 25-7 at 3, ¶12). Bowerman also stated:
Employees frequently complained to me about working with
Ronald Knight. For example, Barry Key, Brandon Reno, Len
Bracken, Mike Jones, Chris Howard, Justin Bowerman, Scylar
Stephenson, and Nick Gotay all raised concerns and complained
to me about working with Ronald Knight because of his poor
work performance, attitude, and ethic. While Mr. Knight was
employed by GTI, I tried to assign employees who did [not]
want to work with Mr. Knight to alternative projects with
other Field Technicians as best possible.
(Doc. 25-7 at 2, ¶7). Bowerman noted that
“employees including Chris Howard and Len Bracken
reported to me that Mr. Knight had used marijuana while
on-the-clock at GTI. After the reports of drug use, Mr. Knight
refused to take a drug test and told me that he would never
stop smoking marijuana.” (Doc. 25-7 at 2,
Len Bracken stated the following in his declaration:
Based on my experience working with Ronald Knight on a daily
basis, his performance was very poor. Ronald Knight was
extremely slow in performing simple work tasks and would
spend a large amount of his time during the shift finding
ways to keep from performing required work. For example, Mr.
Knight frequently and constantly made walks to our work truck
for tools or water while the rest of the crew was performing
manual labor. In addition, Mr. Knight often stood around on a
job site and watched others perform work. Mr. Knight would
try to cut corners on work quality in order to complete job
tasks as quickly and easily as possible. I knew and
understood that whenever I was assigned to a [work site] with
Mr. Knight that he would not perform an equal load of the
required work and therefore I would need to work at a quicker
pace so that we could finish the job in a timely fashion.
 On one occasion while working with Ronald Knight at a [job
site] in Georgia, Mr. Knight was assigned to perform simple
grounding work on a generator disconnect. Though this
particular work task typically takes approximately 15 minutes
to complete, Mr. Knight spent approximately 2 hours working
on it. While performing other work duties, I watched Mr.
Knight and noticed that he was working very slowly on this
simple task. As a result and because Mr. Knight was my
partner, I had to complete other work duties and tasks on the
[job site] that Mr. Knight could have performed himself had
he finished the grounding work in a timely manner.
(Doc. 25-6 at 2, ¶6-7).
Michael Jones stated that:
[u]nless we know the job site will be close to somewhere we
can eat, GTI employees typically bring lunch so that we can
eat quickly and continue working to complete the job. Ronald
Knight, however, refused to bring lunch with him. I believe
that he refused to bring lunch so that he [could] request to
stop working and take a lengthy lunch break.
(Doc. 25-9 at 2-3, ¶9). Jones also described
Knight's job performance as “generally poor,
” and stated that Knight “often refused to
perform certain assigned work and job tasks, ” and
“often would disappear from the [work site] for lengths
of time.” (Doc. 25-9 at 2, ¶8). Jones also noted
that he “personally saw Ronald Knight smoking marijuana
while on-the-clock or at a GTI job site.” (Doc. 25-9 at
Tommy Payton stated in his declaration:
Because I supervise GTI's Tower Crew, I only worked with
Ronald Knight on a few occasions. On several occasions,
however, I heard other GTI employees including Scyler
Stephenson and Len Bracken complain that Ronald Knight's
work performance was poor and that they did not want to work
with Ronald Knight moving forward because Mr. Knight failed
and/or refused to perform assigned work tasks on job sites.
(Doc. 25-12 at 2, ¶7).
Brandon Reno stated:
During my employment with General Telecom, I worked with
Ronald Knight on a daily basis during May and June 2015.
During the [time] I worked with Ronald Knight at [job sites],
he displayed extremely slow and poor work performance. For
example, while performing a generator installation, Mr.
Knight worked in the air conditioned shelter at the job site
while the rest of the crew worked in the sun. On that day,
Mr. Knight took approximately six hours to complete what is
generally two hours of electrical work on the generator.
 At the end of a day's work, the crew working with
Ronald Knight would check his work to ensure that he actually
completed whatever tasks he said he was working on during the
day and that his work met GTI and customer's standards.
The crew at times found Mr. Knight's work tasks were not
completed or did not meet standards and thus had to complete
the tasks for him or redo his work.
(Doc. 25-10 at 2, ¶¶6-7). Reno also stated that:
When I began my employment at GTI, I was assigned to perform
preventative maintenance work on generators with Ronald
Knight. Mr. Knight was expected to train me regarding
preventative maintenance on generators. As part of the job,
Mr. Knight and I were required to change the oil in
generators that had over 50 hours. Mr. Knight, however,
instructed me to not change the oil in the generators and to
falsify the job completion paperwork. In addition, the work
required certain testing of generators and paperwork
certifying the completion of the testing. Mr. Knight told me
to simply complete the paperwork stating that testing on the
generators had been completed even though it had not been
completed. I refused to falsify the paperwork and reported
Mr. Knight's conduct to GTI management.
(Doc. 25-10 at 2, ¶5).
explained that Knight was frequently insubordinate and
disrespectful to him. The following exchange took place in
A. . . . He insulted me and offended me.
Q. How did he do that?
A. “Fucking no.” These were his words. The
“fucking, ” aggressive, violent, verbal abuse was
his constant response to my -- to my communications with him.
Q. When did he do that?
A. On several, several occasions.
Q. Are they noted [in writing]?
A. . . . [T]he “Fucking no” and “Fucking
yes” and “I'll fucking” this -- excuse
my language -- were not recorded maybe in some of these
documents because I feel insulted that these words were
directed toward me.
Q. When you were telling him what to do?
A. No, sir. When I told him what not to do.
Q. Okay. Well, when you gave him instruction, whether to do
it or not do it, he used the curse words toward you?
A. Not curse words. Insulting, violent, abusive language,
Q. When he said “Fucking no, ” that was his
response to you giving him instructions?
A. It was more than that, sir.
Q. Okay. He was aggressive, is what you're -- A. Yes. His
eyes would bulge out, his face will turn red, and he will
say, “Nobody will fucking tell me where to smoke and
where not to smoke.” That was an example, one example
(Doc. 25-4 at 10(35-36)).
Chamoun admits that the Plaintiff was not fired for acts of
insubordination. In his deposition, the following exchange
Q. So, why didn't you just fire him for one of those two
times when he was being insubordinate to you?
A. . . . Thank you for this question. It's an excellent
question that I ask myself that every day, every hour of the
day and the night.
Q. Well, then you must have a really good answer.
A. No. It's stupidity on my part.
A. It's a mistake on my part. And it's out of the
goodness of my heart and love and respect for Mr. Knight.
(Doc. 25-4 at 12(41)).
Knight's First “Termination” and
March 2014, Chamoun decided to terminate Knight after Knight
tested positive for illegal drugs (marijuana). (Doc. 25-1 at
3, ¶10.a.). After Knight was notified of his
termination, Knight “begged and pleaded” to stay.
(Doc. 25-1 at 3, ¶10.a.). Chamoun agreed to let Knight
stay employed, on probationary status, on the condition that
any future policy or procedure violations or performance
issues would result in his immediate discharge. (Doc. 25-1 at
3, ¶10.a.). Knight admitted in his deposition that
he continued to smoke marijuana “at his house”
after the failed drug test and while he was still employed by
GTI. (Doc. 25-2 at 32(121-122)). Chamoun understood that
Knight had stopped using marijuana as part of his continued
The “Fiber Optic Pedestal”
declaration, Bracken describes the following incident:
On or about February 19, 2015, I was assigned to work with
Ron Knight on a job site in Springville, Alabama on Simmons
Mountain for T-Mobile. On that day, Knight and I were
assigned to dig an approximate 60 foot ditch by hand because
heavy machinery was prohibited in the area. Knight became
very upset at the prospect of digging the ditch as required
by hand. Knight told me that he refused to help dig the ditch
by hand and sat in the truck while I began digging. After I
had dug approximately 20 feet of the ditch, Knight got out of
the truck and grabbed a pick axe. Knight began wielding the
axe around wildly and violently. I was afraid for my personal
safety and I personally observed Knight intentionally damage
a fiber optic pedestal with the axe, which I understand GTI
later had to pay to have fixed and/or replaced. As a result,
I reported Knight's behavior to Jeff Bowerman that
afternoon. I further notified GTI management that I could not
work [with] Knight in the future because of his violent
behavior and overall poor work ethic. After Knight broke the
pedestal, he took a break from the job and I dug almost the
entire ditch myself while Knight watched me over an
approximately six hour period. I did not continue to work on
projects with Mr. Knight after this incident.
(Doc. 25-6 at 3, ¶9). Mr. Knight claims that he
damaged the pedestal “accidentally.” (Doc. 25-2
at 36(137)). In his deposition he stated: “I was using
a pickaxe. And, like I said, it was froze [sic] like that
(indicating). It was solid ice. Pick was bouncing off of it.
I just accidentally hit it.” (Doc. 25-2 at
asked in his deposition if there was “a reason you
didn't fire him for that?” Chamoun testified:
“[m]y stupidity, my mistake, and my good heart.”
(Doc. 25-4 at 13(47)). The following exchange also took
Q. And the reason you didn't fire him for that is the
A. I should have fired him ten times already, but I
(Doc. 25-4 at 12(48)).
The Fainting Incident
undisputed that, on June 9, 2015, the Plaintiff passed out,
on a job site, as a result of his blood sugar getting too
low. (Doc. 25-2 at 41(159), 42(163)-43(165)). The Plaintiff
and the rest of his crew had stayed at a hotel the night
before. For breakfast the Plaintiff had only a muffin at the
hotel. Because he understood from Chris Howard that the job
would last only a couple of hours, the Plaintiff had only a
pack of crackers in his lunch box, which he ate early in the
day at around 10:00 am.
took longer than expected however, and, around noon, the
Plaintiff began feeling ill, and told the others he needed to
eat. Knight testified that “when I start to feel really
bad when my diabetes really acts up, the sunlight just is a
big glare and I can't -- I can't see. So I went into
the shelter and I sat down, and next thing I know Chris
Howard was picking me up off the floor.” (Doc. 25-2 at
43(165)). This was around 3:00 pm. (Doc. 25-2 at 43(165)).
The Plaintiff told Chris Howard that he needed food, and
Howard sent another employee down the road to Jack's.
Within an hour, Knight felt better.
called Bowerman, and Bowerman told Howard to bring Knight to
the shop. (Doc. 25-3 at 13(45); doc. 25-7 at 3, ¶10;
doc. 25-2 at 43(166)). Chamoun testified:
After his incident, Mr. Knight came to my office. And as soon
as I saw him, I said, “Ron, you need to get
medical” -- “to be checked out and get a drug
test.” And he said: “No, I don't want to do
that today. Fucking no.” And he walked away.
(Doc. 25-4 at 20(75)). Bowerman testified that he saw Knight
at the shop too and told Knight that he needed to go to the
hospital, but that Knight refused and did not say why. (Doc.
25-3 at 13(47)). In his declaration, Bowerman states:
When Mr. Howard and Mr. Knight arrived at GTI, I instructed
Mr. Knight that GTI needed to take him to the hospital for
treatment and a post-incident drug test. Mr. Knight, however,
told me that he was not going to see GTI's doctor and
would make an appointment with his own personal doctor at his
convenience. I told Mr. Knight a drug test was required by
GTI policy. Mr. Knight then got in his vehicle and left the
(Doc. 25-7 at 3, ¶10).
following exchange took place in the Plaintiff's
Q. . . . And did you ride back to the shop in Bessemer with
Q. When you arrived at the shop, what did you do?
A. Got my tools out of Chris'[s] truck and put them in my
truck. I think I talked to [Dr.] Lee [Chamoun], I'm not
sure, about Lee said I needed to go see a doctor and get it
-- and get a drug test.
Q. But you didn't go on that day, did you?
A. No. It was late when we got back. I explained to Lee that
it was my diabetes is why I passed out. And once I got
something to eat, I was fine. But he still wanted me to go
see a doctor and get a drug test. So I went the very next
(Doc. 25-2 at 43(168)-44(169)). Knight admitted in his
deposition that he knew that after any type of work-related
accident or injury he would be required to take a drug test
immediately. (Doc. 25-2 at 32(123)).
undisputed that, after Knight left, Chamoun sent him a text
message asking him to “[p]lease seek medical treatment
and also please get a drug test done today or tomorrow at the
latest. We need these tests after every incident for ins
[sic] requirement.” (Doc. 34-2 at 4). Although Chamoun
testified that “[w]e have a specified doctor that
he's been to twice when he was injured on the job, and he
went to our company-designated doctor and -- that everyone
goes to” (doc. 25-4 at 20(76)), Chamoun admitted that
at no time did he ever tell Knight specifically to go to this
doctor (doc. 25-4 at 21(77)). Chamoun explained that the
requirement to go to this doctor
was common knowledge and . . . he has been to that same
doctor twice. You just assume this is our doctor, that's
where you go. Unless he wanted to go to an emergency room,
which we wanted him to as soon as the incident happened, to
go to an emergency room. When he refused and showed up at the
office, then I told him go to the doctor if not go to an
(Doc. 25-4 at 21(77)).
next day Knight took a five panel drug test and the results
were negative. (Doc. 25-2 at 46(179-180), 115). When
confronted with these test results in his deposition, Chamoun
A. The drug test that we require people to seek is our
designated drug testing center and workmen's comp
physician. And this was not performed at that center. The
drug test we perform is a ten-panel drug test. If I remember,
this is a five-panel drug test. And comment that Mr. Knight
made to people the day before he took this drug test, or two
or three days before he did it, he “will not go to no
fucking hospital, ” and if his drug test -- and if he
does take a drug test, it will be positive. He wants to go to
a doctor's office where his drug test will be negative.
Q. Did you hear him say that?
A. No, sir.
(Doc. 25-4 at 14(50-51)).
Employee Warning Notices
record contains seven written “Employee Warning
Notices” which were completed by Chamoun and which
report conduct allegedly engaged in by Knight. (Doc. 25-4 at
39-45). The purpose of these “warnings” is
unclear since, even though there is a place for doing so on
each form, none of the forms is signed by the Plaintiff, and
Chamoun admits that he never showed any of the forms to the
Plaintiff.Chamoun stated that he “told them
to him verbally” (doc. 25-4 at 10(33)) since the
Plaintiff could not read. Although it is unclear from the
record the date each of these notices were created, Chamoun
testified that “these were things I witnessed
specifically on these dates.” (Doc. 25-4 at 13(48)).
Again, Knight testified that no rules violations were ever
discussed with him. (Doc. 25-2 at 34(129)).
December 12, 2014
warning, Chamoun has written:
I saw Ronnie Knight smoking at GTI as he was talking to James
Stephenson. When I approached them, Ronnie threw down his
cigarette as he cursed me. I told him that smoking is not
allowed at GTI. And to please remember that. He walked away.
So I asked James Stephenson what was Ronnie talking to him
about and James said, [“]Oh he just wanted to talk
about shit and stuff.[”]
(Doc. 25-4 at 39). The applicable “Violation”
marked was “Conduct.” The Plaintiff disputes that
this conversation took place. (Doc. 25-2 at 34(131)).
Referring to this warning, the following exchange took place
in Knight's deposition:
Q. It refers to you smoking on General Telecom's premises
and that Dr. Chamoun told you that smoking was prohibited.
Q. Do you remember that discussion in December 2014?
(Doc. 25-2 at 34(131); see also doc. 25-2 at 100
(December 12, 2014, warning notice). Regardless, it is
undisputed that Knight repeatedly broke the smoking
January 15, 2015
warning, Chamoun has written: “Ron has not been to work
for 4 days and has not presented to us a vacation or time off
request as per GTI policy.” (Doc. 25-4 at 40). The
applicable “Violation” marked was
“Attendance.” Chamoun confirmed that this write
up was not created on January 15, 2015. (Doc. 25-4 at
13(45)). Knight states that the facts stated in this warning
are not true and that he “wouldn't be a no show
person.” (Doc. 25-2 at 35(133)).
February 19, 2015
On this warning, Chamoun has written:
Ronald Knight was working with Lynn Bracken at a Springville
job site today. Ron refused to work, complained and cursed
GTI and while Lynn was digging the ditch of 55', Ron was
calling and getting mad and sitting in his truck on the phone
making phone calls. He finally got an axe and went into a
tirade and started swinging the axe. Lynn was afraid for his
safety. Ron swinging at the fiber optic pedestal and broke
it. GTI now [has] to send a crew to repair the damage that
was negligently caused by Ron.
(Doc. 25-4 at 41). The applicable “Violations”
marked were “Carelessness, ” “Gross
Mis-conduct, ” “Insubordination, ”
“Personal Work, ” “Safety, ” and
“Willful Damage to Company Property.” As noted
previously, the Plaintiff admits that he damaged the
pedestal, but that it was an “accident.” (Doc.
25-2 at 36(137)).
February 20, 2015
On this warning, Chamoun has written:
After damaging the fiber optic pedestal[;] [a]fter cursing
and complaining all day[;] [a]fter swinging an [a]xe in a
tirade[;] [a]fter refusing to work[;] [a]fter negligently
[d]amaging customer property[;] Ron did not show up to work
(Doc. 25-4 at 42). The applicable “Violations”
marked were “Attendance, ” and
“Unauthorized Absence.” The Plaintiff states that
he remembers showing up for work on that day. (Doc. 25-2 at
April 13, 2015
On this warning, Chamoun has written:
I observed Ron smoking inside the warehouse building as he
stood right next to gasoline red gallons, spray cans,
solvents, paints, [and] compressed gases containers. A sign
of [sic] non smoking was facing him on the shelf. I
approached him in a hurry and asked not to smoke and that it
is dangerous to smoke here. He turned his back to me, smoked
more, and mumbled [“]no one can tell me whether I can
smoke or not.[”] He walked slowly as ...