United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
G. CORNELIUS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
court has before it the April 28, 2017 motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendant Southland Tube, Inc.
(“SLT”). (Doc. 18). The motion was deemed
submitted without oral argument as of June 27, 2017. After a
thorough review of the briefs and evidence, the motion is due
to be granted for the following reasons.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
a nonunion steel tube manufacturer located in Birmingham,
Alabama. (Doc. 20-3 at 2). Plaintiff began his employment
with SLT on September 20, 1999, as a line coiler. (Doc. 20-1
at 17; Doc. 20-3 at 4). Plaintiff worked for several years in
different positions within the mill and transferred to the
maintenance department in August 2001. (Doc. 20-1 at 17-18).
Plaintiff was promoted to crew leader on October 5, 2006, and
to third shift supervisor in August 2010. (Id. at
17; Doc. 20-3 at 4). Plaintiff and his crew worked largely
unsupervised on the third shift. (Doc. 20-1 at 19; Doc. 20-5
at 1; Doc. 20-6 at 2). Thomas Abney, the maintenance crew
supervisor, was Plaintiffs supervisor from 2013 until
Plaintiff was transferred to the first shift changeover crew
in July 2015. (Doc. 20-6 at 2).
contends Abney sexually harassed him. (Doc. 20-1 at 26, 36).
Plaintiff testified that from early 2014 until July 2014,
Abney made comments to him on a daily basis about the
third-shift employees supervised by Plaintiff. (Doc. 20-1 at
26). Plaintiff stated Abney referred to Plaintiff and his
crew as “girls, ” accused them of sexually
gratifying each other, and routinely asked which one of the
men on the crew was “the best”. (Id.;
Doc. 20-2 at 67). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Abney made
the following remarks:
• “Which is one of my best one [sic]? Which one
knows who [sic] to pull on that thing? . . . Which one knows
how [to] pull the head of that thing [and] get out every last
drop? I bet Kyle Shellnutt, he is real thin and I bet he
really knows how to pull on that thing and get the last drop
• “I think it is Justin who knows how to pull that
thing and get every last drop”;
• “I think Slim is your main squeeze, he can slurp
that thing and get the last drop out.”
(Doc. 20-2 at 67). Plaintiff contends Abney made these types
of comments daily, stalked Plaintiff, leered at him, grinned,
and waved. (Id.).
this time, other employees asked if Plaintiff and his crew
were “queers, ” and Plaintiff believes Abney
started rumors about him. (Id. at 26, 38). Abney
invited Plaintiff to drink alcohol and
“moonshine” and attend “go-go” clubs
with him, but Plaintiff refused these invitations.
(Id. at 29). Plaintiff also testified Abney touched
him and other employees on the shoulder between early 2014
and July 2014. (Doc. 20-1 at 36).
early July 2014, during the time Abney was allegedly
harassing Plaintiff, Abney discovered a break room used by
Plaintiff and the third-shift maintenance crew in a leased
building on adjoining property. (Doc. 20-6 at 2; Doc. 20-1 at
23-25). The break room contained tables, chairs, a radio,
heater, coffee pot, microwave, dishes, and a poster of a
woman in a bikini. (Id.; Doc. 20-2 at 48-50).
Plaintiff was reprimanded for creating of the break room and
not completing certain tasks and was instructed to dismantle
the room. (Doc. 20-6 at 2).
the discovery of the break room, SLT concluded the third
shift maintenance crew was doing very little during their
shift and decided to eliminate maintenance on the third shift
entirely. (Doc. 20-5 at 3; Doc. 20-6 at 2-3). Plaintiff was
transferred to the first shift to a change-over crew. (Doc.
20-1 at 34; Doc. 20-3 at 5). The change-over crew was
responsible for changing the settings in various mills for a
new tube order after an order was completed. (Doc. 20-3 at
5). Abney was no longer Plaintiff's supervisor when he
transferred to the first shift. (Doc. 20-6 at 2).
after Plaintiff's discipline related to the break room
and transfer to the first shift, Plaintiff testified he
reported Abney's comments to Tom Claud, Director of Human
Resources, and Mike Patzke, Director of Operations. (Doc.
20-1 at 25, 27-28). Abney did not make any additional
comments, sexual or otherwise, to Plaintiff after he
transferred to the first shift in July 2014. (Id. at
38). Abney would, however, sometimes drive his truck by a
table where Plaintiff was working, and he would look at
Plaintiff and smile. (Id.). Additionally,
occasionally Abney would walk into Plaintiff's work area,
and Plaintiff felt he was looking to see what Plaintiff was
doing. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, Abney had no
other reason to come to Plaintiff's work area other than
to taunt him. (Id.). Plaintiff also believed
Abney told other maintenance workers to mess up his work
table when Plaintiff was not there. (Id.).
January 2015, Plaintiff was injured when he fell off a
forklift. (Doc. 20-1 at 31). Plaintiff never worked for SLT
again after February 4, 2015, because of his injury and has
been unable to work at all since that date. (Id. at
32-33). In February 2015, Plaintiff went on short-term
disability, and beginning February 23, 2015, Plaintiff took
leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”). (Id. at 33; Doc. 20-2 at
52-62). On July 16, 2015, SLT terminated Plaintiff after he
exhausted his short-term disability and FMLA leave and was
not able to return to work. (Doc. 20-3 at 5; Doc. 20-2 at
63). The termination letter stated if Plaintiff became able
to return to work, he ...