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McGuire v. G4S Secure Solutions

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

March 8, 2018

CLYDE C. McGUIRE, Plaintiff,
v.
G4S SECURE SOLUTIONS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this employment discrimination action, plaintiff Clyde C. McGuire claims that his former employer, defendant G4S Secure Solutions or G4S, discriminated and retaliated against him on the basis of his race in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Mr. McGuire is African-American. He contends that G4S paid him less than a similarly-situated Caucasian employee who held the same position as Mr. McGuire and had less experience than Mr. McGuire. Mr. McGuire also alleges that G4S suspended him and ultimately terminated his employment in retaliation for his complaints about discriminatory pay.

         G4S has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 19). The company argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all of Mr. McGuire's claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants summary judgment with respect to Mr. McGuire's pay discrimination claim and denies summary judgment with respect to Mr. McGuire's retaliation claim.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “The court shall grant summary judgment 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). To demonstrate that there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must cite “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). “The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

         When considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. White v. Beltram Edge Tool Supply, Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015). The Court presents the evidence in this opinion accordingly.

         “If the movant bears the burden of proof on an issue, because, as a defendant, it is asserting an affirmative defense, it must establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to any element of that defense.” International Stamp Art, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, 456 F.3d 1270, 1274 (11th Cir. 2006).

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         G4S provides security-related products and services to its clients. The products and services include risk consulting and investigations, systems integration, security software and technology, and security officers. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 2). G4S divides its national operations by region and by local offices. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 3). One of G4S's local offices is located in Birmingham, Alabama. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 3). G4S has a satellite office in Huntsville, Alabama.

         In January 2015, Mr. McGuire applied for a field supervisor position at ¶ 4S's Birmingham, Alabama office. (Doc. 18-2, p. 12; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 4). Area supervisors Leslie Vandiver and Tyler Gray interviewed Mr. McGuire. (Doc. 18-2, pp. 12-14; Doc. 18-3, p. 51). Mr. McGuire did not get the job because G4S already had hired someone for the field supervisor position, but Ms. Vandiver and Mr. Gray were so impressed with Mr. McGuire's experience that they suggested he speak to operations manager Bob Kincaid and general manager Jacob Pugh. (Doc. 18-2, pp. 14-15). Mr. Pugh told Mr. McGuire that G4S would keep his (Mr. McGuire's) resume on file and call him if another position became available. (Doc. 18-2, p. 15; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 4).

         In April 2015, Mr. Kincaid and Mr. Pugh called Mr. McGuire and told him that G4S had an opening for an area supervisor position. (Doc. 18-2, pp. 15-16; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 5). Mr. Kincaid and Mr. Pugh interviewed Mr. McGuire and hired him for the position. (Doc. 18-2, p. 16). When he started the job on May 13, 2015, G4S set Mr. McGuire's salary at $33, 000 per year. (Doc. 18-2, pp. 39-40; see also Doc. 18-13, p. 1).[1] Mr. McGuire tried to negotiate a higher salary, but Mr. Kincaid told Mr. McGuire that G4S “didn't have any wiggle room, but we would look at it [again] maybe after 90 days or 120 days.” (Doc. 18-2, p. 22). Mr. McGuire did not receive a raise while he worked for G4S. (Doc. 18-2, p. 39).

         As an area supervisor, Mr. McGuire managed between 150 and 200 G4S security officers assigned to between 12 and 18 client sites across the state of Alabama. (Doc. 18-2, pp. 23, 47-48; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 6). Mr. McGuire was responsible for payroll, scheduling, hiring officers at his sites, visiting the client sites, and providing training to site officers and site supervisors. (Doc. 18-2, p. 23). Mr. McGuire understood that a good area supervisor is “[s]omeone that's attentive to the customers' needs, the officers' needs. Someone that understands the business and how . . . it runs. . . . Someone that's professional.” (Doc. 18-2, pp. 26-27).

         Nearly three months after G4S hired Mr. McGuire, the company hired Matthew McDonald as an area supervisor in the Huntsville, Alabama office. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 12). Mr. McDonald is Caucasian. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 12). On August 12, 2015, a Wednesday, Mr. McGuire picked up Mr. McDonald's new hire paperwork from a shared printer. (Doc. 18-3, pp. 19, 39; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 16). Mr. McGuire learned that G4S offered to pay Mr. McDonald $37, 440 per year, $4, 440 more than Mr. McGuire's annual salary for the same position. (Doc. 18-3, p. 40; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 14; see also Doc. 18-13, p. 1; Doc. 18-26, p. 1).[2]

         The following day, Mr. McGuire asked Mr. Pugh “why [Mr. McDonald] was getting offered more money for the same position when I had asked for that same salary or higher.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 19; see also Doc. 18-3, pp. 39-41). Mr. Pugh told Mr. McGuire that G4S set Mr. McDonald's salary in part based on Economic Research Institute or ESI salary assessor data for jobs located in the Huntsville, Alabama market. (Doc. 18-3, pp. 40-41; Doc. 18-25; Doc. 18-46, ¶¶ 13-14). Mr. Pugh explained that “based on the Huntsville area and the market . . . they needed to have a higher salary to get a better quality candidate.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 40). Based on Google research, Mr. McGuire believes that the cost of living in Birmingham and Huntsville is “pretty much the same.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 42).

         Mr. Pugh also told Mr. McGuire that G4S paid more money to Mr. McDonald because the Huntsville area supervisor “does not have overhead assistance readily available” like the area supervisors in Birmingham. (Doc. 18-46, ¶ 14; see also Doc. 18-3, p. 43). According to Mr. McGuire, the Huntsville area supervisor “did have support” because “any time that he needed anything, he'd call down and talk with HR, talk with ops, talk with payroll, and they would take care of things . . . for that office.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 43). After Mr. McGuire questioned Mr. Pugh about the pay difference, Mr. Pugh said that “he would talk to his boss and see what he could do about [Mr. McGuire's] pay.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 44).

         The record shows that in the six days following Mr. McGuire's inquiry about the salary discrepancy, five G4S employees who Mr. McGuire supervised submitted complaints about him. At least one of the complaints seems to have been solicited. According to Mr. McGuire, these were the first complaints that G4S employees made about him.[3]

         The day after Mr. McGuire asked Mr. Pugh about the salary discrepancy, Mr. Pugh spent the “whole day” in Angela Warf's office. (Doc. 18-3, p. 20; see Doc. 18-3, p. 57). Ms. Warf is the human resources manager in G4S's Birmingham office. (Doc. 18-2, p. 59). Ms. Vandiver told Mr. McGuire that Mr. Pugh and Ms. Warf probably were “in a closed-door meeting about” Mr. McGuire and that Mr. McGuire probably would be “terminated or suspended because [he] questioned [Mr. Pugh] about the guy in Huntsville.” (Doc. 18-3, p. 58).

         In an undated written statement, Rick Bailes, a G4S site supervisor at DCH Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, reported events regarding a phone conversation that he had with Mr. McGuire the morning after Mr. McGuire asked Mr. Pugh about the salary discrepancy. (Doc. 18-18, p. 1; Doc. 18-46, ¶ 20). Mr. Bailes stated that Mr. McGuire had been “very rude and uncooperative” and “had a very bade attitude” during the phone call. (Doc. 18-18, p. 1). When Mr. Bailes saw Mr. McGuire at the Birmingham office later in the day, Mr. McGuire accused Mr. Bailes of being rude. (Doc. 18-18, p. 1). Mr. Bailes apologized for the misunderstanding, and Mr. McGuire walked away without saying anything. (Doc. 18-18, p. 1). In his written statement, Mr. Bailes expressed concern that Mr. McGuire's “poor attitude and unprofessionalism” could “affect [G4S's] clients.” (Doc. 18-18, p. 1). Until his deposition, Mr. McGuire had not seen Mr. Bailes's statement. (Doc. 18-2, p. 61).

         On August 17, 2015, two G4S employees corresponded with G4S about Mr. McGuire. William DelGrosso, a site supervisor for G4S at Alagasco, wrote Mr. Pugh a letter. (Doc. 18-19). The subject line of the letter is “Repeated Disciplinary Write-ups by Area Supervisor Clyde McGuire.” (Doc. 18-19, p. 1). The letter explains that Mr. DelGrosso had made Mr. Pugh aware of an employee complaint about Mr. McGuire, and Mr. DelGrosso believed that Mr. McGuire disciplined him (Mr. DelGrosso) in retaliation for forwarding the complaint to management. (Doc. 18-19, p. 1). Mr. DelGrosso questioned whether it was “[Mr. McGuire]'s way or the highway, ” and Mr. DelGrosso stated that Mr. McGuire “cannot mask his feelings when he is unhappy.” (Doc. 18-19, p. 2).

         Natalie Bullock, a G4S security officer who worked at Alagasco, sent an email to Ms. Warf on August 17, 2015. (Doc. 18-20). In her email, Ms. Bullock stated that on July 31, 2015, Mr. McGuire contacted her and told her that she should have worked the third shift alone on July 30, 2015. (Doc. 18-20, p. 1). Ms. Bullock told Mr. McGuire that she did not know that she was supposed to work the shift alone because Mr. McGuire did not “inform [her] of this during [her] time in the office when [she] was getting her schedule.” (Doc. 18-20, p. 1). Ms. Bullock's letter documents other scheduling misunderstandings between she and Mr. McGuire that occurred between July 31, 2015 and the middle of August 11, 2015. (Doc. 18-20, pp. 1-2). Ms. Bullock explained that during one of their conversations in early August, Mr. McGuire was “highly unprofessional and hostile.” (Doc. 18-20, p. 1).

         On August 19, 2015, John Chandler, a site supervisor for G4S at St. Vincent's Hospital, sent an email to Mr. Pugh. (Doc. 18-22).[4] The email begins with the following statement: “You asked me if I had any issues with [Mr. McGuire] while serving as the Site Supervisor at St. Vincent's.” (Doc. 18-22, p.

         1). Mr. Chandler's email continues:

I feel that [Mr. McGuire] does not communicate well with me. I do not know if it is an issue of he does not read his emails or that he does not grasp what you are telling him. He does become rather aggressive if you question him about communication issues.

(Doc. 18-22, p. 1). Mr. Chandler's email documents four specific examples of “issues” that he had had with Mr. McGuire. (Doc. 18-22, p. 1). Mr. Chandler noted that “it has been frustrating working with [Mr. McGuire] these past few months.” (Doc. 18-22, p. 1).

         On August 19, 2015, Burl Murrell, a G4S security officer, spoke with Ms. Warf and informed her of “2 separate incidents regarding the way he was treated by [Mr.] McGuire.” (Doc. 18-23). Mr. Murrell reported that Mr. McGuire was “very rude” on two separate occasions when Mr. Murrell requested time off from work. (Doc. 18-23, p. 1).

         While this flurry of complaints amassed, on August 17, 2015, Mr. Kincaid called Mr. McGuire and asked him to come to Mr. Pugh's office for a meeting. (Doc. 18-3, pp. 20, 56). During the meeting, Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Pugh, and Ms. Warf told Mr. McGuire that G4S was suspending him with pay pending an investigation into employee complaints that Mr. McGuire had been rude to them. (Doc. 18-3, pp. 15, 20, 54-56; Doc. 18-47, p. 4). Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Pugh, and Ms. Warf did not show Mr. McGuire documentation or evidence of the employee complaints during the meeting on August 17, 2015. (Doc. 18-3, p. 15).[5]

         After his meeting with Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Pugh, and Ms. Warf, Mr. McGuire filed an EEOC charge alleging race discrimination and retaliation. (Doc. 18-30, p. 1). The charge is dated August 17, 2015. (Doc. 18-30, p. 1). After his suspension, Mr. McGuire tried to call G4S's Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Pattie Marmon. (Doc. 18-4, p. 69; Doc. 18-21, p. 2). Mr. McGuire left three or four messages for Ms. Marmon, but she did not return his calls. (Doc. 18-4, p. 67).

         On August 18, 2015, Mr. McGuire called G4S's employee concerns hotline and spoke with Violet Taylor. (Doc. 18-2, p. 45).[6] Mr. McGuire told Ms. Taylor that he believed his suspension was related to his discussion with Mr. Pugh about Mr. McDonald's salary. (Doc. 18-2, p. 46). Mr. McGuire explained to Ms. Taylor that he had not heard about the employee complaints against him until he asked Mr. Pugh about Mr. McDonald's salary. (Doc. 18-2, p. 46). Ms. Taylor told Mr. McGuire that she would ask Mr. Pugh and Mr. Kincaid about the situation. (Doc. 18-2, p. 46). Mr. McGuire did not hear back from Ms. Taylor. (Doc. 18-2, p. 47). Mr. McGuire tried to call Ms. Taylor “two or three times to find out if she had [heard] anything back, ” but Ms. Taylor did not return Mr. McGuire's calls. (Doc. 18-2, p. 47).

         G4S opened a case file concerning Mr. McGuire's hotline complaint. (Doc. 18-21). The case summary contains an August 17, 2015 entry from Ms. Marmon to Ms. Taylor. (Doc. 18-21, p. 3). The entry reads:

Hi Violet, This is in follow-up to my voicemail. I have something of a conundrum in Birmingham. On Friday, Jacob Pugh and Angie Warf attempted to contact me regarding an “issue” with a relatively new supervisor, Clyde McGuire. Since I was out of the office they spoke with Melinda. Jacob advised Melinda (and later me) that Clyde is outstanding at his job duties but has an “attitude problem” and that he is rude to his subordinates, rude to the HR Manager Angie, and generally causing dissension in the office. [Mr. Pugh] was weighing whether or not to terminate [Mr. McGuire], since he was new or to put him on a performance improvement plan. When I spoke with Jacob today I gave him a third option. I said since he has been receiving complaints about Clyde, he should consider placing him on paid administrative leave for a few days while he looks into the employee complaints as that is typically our general practice. Jacob chose this option. After he suspended Clyde, Jacob sent me the email below. In the interim Clyde has contacted me and I just got off the phone with him. He feels very strongly that Jacob suspended him in retaliation for having brought what he felt like was a pay disparity to his attention. He also felt it was unfair to be suspended when he did not even know what he did wrong, and further claimed that about three weeks ago Jacob mentioned he had received a complaint about Clyde's manner, but at the time Jacob brushed it off saying he understood that was just Clyde's way of talking. He feels that Jacob is bringing up old stuff as an excuse to suspend him. I'd really like another set of eyes on this. Also, since Clyde has mentioned the pay issue to me as well I think it belongs in the Honor system. Clyde's number is []. I've left a message for Jacob to call me and I plan to tell him that Clyde has stated this concern so it will be assigned to the Honor system. Thank you, Patti.

(Doc. 18-21, p. 3).

         The email from Mr. Pugh to which Ms. Mormon referred in her message to Ms. Taylor is dated August 17, 2015. The message states:

We spoke with [Mr. McGuire]. It went about as expected. He disagrees that he has an attitude problem and that it's everyone else's fault.
Early last week he found out what another supervisor's pay was. He saw a 222A form on the printer about the pay and he confronted me. The other supervisor operates a satellite office in another part of the state, the pay is justified based on the ERI. [Mr. McGuire] feels that this whole thing is in retaliation of him confronting me. That may be why he wanted to talk to you.

(Doc. 18-21, p. 1).

         The case summary regarding Mr. McGuire's hotline complaint contains an August 18, 2015 message to Ms. Taylor. (Doc. 18-21, p. 3). The message is marked “CONFIDENTIAL.” The message reads:

Hi Violet. This is to notify you that we have received a complaint via the Employment Concerns Hotline (ECH). We have guaranteed the complainant that his or her confidentiality will be respected by all parties and that there will be no retaliation. G4S requires that you conduct a fact finding review of this complaint, even if the complaint was anonymous. Further, you must submit your findings to Corporate Human Resources prior [to] September 8, 2015. (Note: Persons who have been named in the complaint must not conduct this review.) Upon conclusion of your review of the complaint, please prepare and submit a report with the following information: - A summary of what you learned from your interview of the person who made the complaint and of each person named in the complaint (Note: Use your own judgment relative to if you should conduct an in-person or phone interview. It is highly recommended, however, that the interview of the complainant be made in person.) - Any documents obtained - ...

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