United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on the Motion for Default Final
Judgment and Request for a Hearing to Determine Damages.
(Doc. # 12). For the reasons outlined below, the court finds
that the Motion (Doc. # 12) is due to be granted in part.
Ramada Birmingham Airport, also known as Britney Chau LLC,
(“Defendant” or “Ramada Birmingham”)
hired Plaintiff Larry Brown (“Plaintiff” or
“Brown”), an African-American male, as a driver
in November 2014. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 4, 7). Tom Chau
(“Chau”), owner of Ramada Birmingham,
“engaged in a pattern and/or practice of discriminating
against African-American employees in the terms and
conditions of employment.” (Id. at ¶ 11).
On July 3, 2015, Chau ordered Brown to move three vehicles
from the property which had been parked for thirty days.
(Id. at ¶ 8). Chau had previously asked the
other African-American driver employed by Defendant to move
the vehicles, but he had refused to do so. (Id. at
¶ 10). However, Chau did not ask the Caucasian driver
employed by Defendant to move the vehicles. (Id.).
Brown was subsequently arrested for grand theft auto.
(Id. at ¶ 9). These charges were later dropped.
(Id.). Brown asked Defendant to reimburse him for
the costs he incurred from this arrest, but Defendant refused
to do so. (Id.).
November 24, 2015, Brown filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). (Id. at ¶ 12). Chau
called Brown into a meeting on December 28, 2015 and
aggressively questioned Brown about the November 24, 2015
charge of discrimination. (Id. at ¶ 13). On
January 13, 2016, a co-worker informed Brown that Chau and
the General Manager of Ramada Birmingham were asking
employees to make false allegations of misconduct against
him. (Id. at ¶ 14). January 13, 2016 was
Brown's regularly scheduled off-day. (Id.). When
Brown returned to work on January 14, 2016, Defendant
informed Brown that he was being discharged for not attending
work on January 13, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 15).
September 28, 2017, Brown filed this action against
Defendant. (Doc. # 1). The complaint alleges race
discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count
I) and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
(Count II). (Id.). It also includes a jury demand.
by certified mail was requested pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 4(e)(1) and Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure
4(i)(2). (Doc. # 4). On December 20, 2017, the Clerk of Court
sent a copy of the summons and complaint to Defendant. (Doc.
# 5). The summons was returned executed on December 22, 2017.
(Doc. # 6). On January 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Entry of Default, and the Clerk of Court issued an Entry of
Default as to Defendant the same day. (Docs. # 8, 9). On
March 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Default
Final Judgment. (Doc. # 12).
accordance with Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a court may enter a default judgment against a
party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend. However,
the court has discretion to determine if entry of a default
judgment is appropriate. See Hamm v. Dekalb Cnty.,
774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir.1985). “[A] default
judgment cannot stand on a complaint that fails to state a
claim.” Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123
F.3d 1353, 1370 n.41 (11th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff seeks a
default judgment against Defendant for (1) race
discrimination and (2) retaliation. (Doc. # 1). The court
explores whether the facts pled in Plaintiff's complaint
support each of these claims, in turn.
Plaintiff's Complaint Supports a Race Discrimination
state a claim of race discrimination under § 1981,
plaintiffs must allege facts establishing: (1) that the
plaintiff is a member of a racial minority; (2) that the
defendant intended to discriminate on the basis of race; and
(3) that the discrimination concerned one or more of the
activities enumerated in the statute.” Jackson v.
BellSouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1270 (11th Cir.
2004). Section 1981 “affords a federal remedy against
discrimination in private employment on the basis of
race.” Johnson v. Ry. Exp. Agency, Inc., 421
U.S. 454, 459-60 (1975). Here, Plaintiff alleges that he
“has been discriminated against and treated differently
than similarly situated Caucasian employees solely because of
his race, African-American, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1981” and that “[t]his treatment by the Defendant
has affected the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's
employment.” (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 18). The court finds
that the facts pled in Plaintiff's complaint support a
finding that Defendant is liable for race discrimination in
violation of § 1981.
Plaintiff's Complaint Supports a Retaliation
establish his § 1981 retaliation claims, Plaintiff must
show: (1) that he engaged in statutorily protected
expression; (2) that he suffered an adverse employment
action; and (3) that there is a causal connection between the
two events. See Goldsmith v. Bagby Elevator Co.,
Inc., 513 F.3d 1261, 1277 (11th Cir. 2008). Filing an
EEOC charge of discrimination is a statutorily protected
activity. See Allen v. S. Commc'ns Servs., Inc.,
963 F.Supp.2d 1242, 1250 (N.D. Ala. 2013). Additionally,
termination from employment is considered an adverse
employment action. See Pears v. Mobile Cty., 645
F.Supp.2d 1062, 1094 (S.D. Ala. 2009). Here, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant retaliated against him by terminating
him because he filed an EEOC charge of discrimination. (Doc.
# 1 at ¶ 16). These facts adequately support a
retaliation claim under § 1981. See Allen, 963
F.Supp.2d at 1250; Pears, 645 F.Supp.2d at 1094.
Accordingly, the court finds that Defendant is liable for
Plaintiff's retaliation claim.
Plaintiff Is Entitled to a ...