United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
BRITTANY S. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
GESTAMP ALABAMA, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
E. OTT CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
court has before it the October 13, 2017 motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendant Gestamp Alabama, LLC
(“Gestamp”). (Doc. 39). Pursuant to the
court's initial order (Doc. 18), the motion was under
submission as of November 14, 2017. After consideration of
the briefs and evidence,  the motion is due to be granted for the
STATEMENT OF FACTS
manufactures automotive parts and components at its facility
in McCalla, Alabama. (Doc. 41-6 (“Wells Decl.”)
¶ 3). Plaintiff began her employment with Gestamp as a
production associate on March 14, 2011. (Id. ¶
12; Doc. 41-1 (“Phillips Dep.”) at 35). Plaintiff
worked for several years in different positions, and, on
April 1, 2013, she was promoted to the ultrasonic technician
position. (Id. at 50, 58; Doc. 41-2 at 68-69, 75).
Ultrasonic technicians check and ensure the integrity of
welds on automotive parts manufactured by Gestamp before the
parts are shipped to customers. (Doc. 41-21 (“Landry
Decl.”) ¶ 3). Plaintiff was the first female
promoted to this position. (Doc. 5 ¶ 9).
employees such as Plaintiff are paid in accordance with a pay
scale applicable to their position. (Wells Decl. ¶ 11).
The entry level pay rate for an ultrasonic technician is
$14.00 per hour. (Id. ¶ 11a). Employees
transferred or promoted to an ultrasonic technician position
receive a raise at least to the minimum pay rate for the
position. (Id. ¶ 11b). With her promotion to
ultrasonic technician, Plaintiff received a $0.75 raise from
$14.25 to $15.00 per hour. (Id. ¶ 13; Phillips Dep.
at 35, 58; Doc. 41-2 at 75).
employees receive hourly wage increases every six months in
accordance with the pay scale applicable to their position
and based on their length of time working in the position.
(Wells Decl. ¶ 11e). Additionally, Gestamp adjusts the
pay scales upward for all employees to account for market
wage rate increases, cost of living, and inflation.
(Id. ¶ 11f). When adjustments to the pay scale
are made, all employees in particular positions receive a
corresponding hourly pay raise. (Id.).
ultrasonic technician, Plaintiff first worked on the second
shift and Warren Landry was her supervisor or group leader.
(Phillips Dep. at 37, 66-67; Landry Decl. ¶ 8).
Beginning in October 2013, Plaintiff contends Landry harassed
her regarding her work progress, paper left at her work
station, and restroom breaks. (Doc. 42 ¶ 16).
Specifically, during Plaintiff's first week in zone 3, a
particularly difficult area, Landry repeatedly came to her
work station throughout the night and demanded to know her
progress. (Id. ¶ 17; Phillips Dep. at 179-80).
Landry used a hostile tone when speaking with Plaintiff.
(Doc. 42 ¶ 16). Landry began to record the time on
Plaintiff's work log to show her progress, or lack
thereof, throughout her shift. (Id.; Phillips Dep.
Landry questioned Plaintiff regarding her workstation.
Plaintiff testified she left work related documents neatly
under her computer at her workstation. (Doc. 42 ¶ 17;
Phillips Dep. at 182). Landry made her write an essay
explaining why she left documents at her workstation.
(Id.). He also instructed the day shift team leader
to search Plaintiff's workstation in the morning to see
if Plaintiff left anything behind. (Id.). In
contrast, Plaintiff contends male ultrasonic technicians left
trash, candy wrappers, and soda bottles at their workstations
without any repercussions. (Id.). There is no
evidence Plaintiff was ever disciplined for leaving paper at
Plaintiff contends Landry harassed her about the length of
restroom breaks. (Doc. 5 ¶¶ 10-11). In October
2013, Plaintiff received a written warning for leaving her
work station for thirty-eight (38) minutes on October 9,
2013, and thirty-one (31) minutes on October 10,
2013. (Doc. 41-22 at 4). Plaintiff did not
inform anyone she was leaving her workstation and when
questioned, stated the long breaks were necessary because she
had undergone surgery less than a year beforehand and needed
to take longer restroom breaks. (Id.). The warning
stated Plaintiff's performance was slower than her peers
and well-below the required amount of testing.
(Id.). Plaintiff did not comment on her performance,
but stated she would try to take shorter, more frequent
restroom breaks. (Id.). There is no evidence
Plaintiff asked for an accommodation regarding her restroom
also contends Landry treated males more favorably with
respect to overtime assignments. (Doc. 5 ¶¶ 12-14).
The Associate Handbook contains Gestamp's policy for
scheduling overtime. (Doc. 41-8). The policy states
volunteers for overtime will be asked on a rotating basis
when an entire shift is not required to work overtime. (Wells
Decl. ¶ 10; Doc. 41-8 at 23). Further “[w]hen
production requirements exceed the number of those
volunteering to work, the Group Leader [has] the flexibility
to determine the process by which overtime will be
distributed.” (Doc. 41-8 at 3). If volunteers are not
found, employees may be required to work based on
“length of service and skills.” (Id.).
contends Landry temporarily changed the way he assigned
overtime hours to prevent her from being offered overtime
first. Specifically, she argues when she was not the most
senior ultrasonic technician, Landry offered overtime to the
most senior employee first. (Doc. 42 ¶ 21). Near the end
of 2013, the most senior ultrasonic technician regularly
turned down overtime and Plaintiff was “next in line to
receive overtime assignments.” (Id.). The team
leader, David Ward, informed Plaintiff, however, Landry
changed the overtime assignment and was going to assign
overtime evenly among the ultrasonic technicians.
(Id.). According to Plaintiff, Landry changed the
overtime assignment policy back to seniority when Bryant Swan
joined the second shift and became the most senior ultrasonic
2014, Plaintiff began having more problems with Landry. On
July 10, 2014, Landry spoke with Plaintiff regarding her
failure to complete quality checks on a sufficient number of
parts during her shift. (Landry Decl. ¶ 11). Landry
required Plaintiff to write a statement discussing how she
spent her time during her shift that day. (Id.).
Plaintiff wrote a short statement and argued with Landry
regarding her performance. (Id.). Landry instructed
Phillips to clock out for the remainder of her shift and
required her to perform alternative duties in the Quality
Department for a few days when she returned. (Id.).
24, 2014, group leader Alcendo Robinson approached Plaintiff
and asked her to check the welds on a certain part.
(Id. ¶ 12; Doc. 41-25 at 2). She told him she
would check it, but continued work on another part.
(Id.). Robinson told her he needed the quality check
performed immediately because the part at issue was still
being built and could not continue until the check was
performed. (Doc. 41-25 at 2). Plaintiff responded she would
do it “in a little while.” (Id.).
Robinson contacted team leader David Ward and informed him
Plaintiff refused to do a quality check as requested.
(Id. at 3). Ward then asked Plaintiff to stop what
she was doing and perform the check and she again refused.
point, Robinson and Ward informed Landry that Plaintiff
refused to perform a quality check as instructed. (Landry
Decl. ¶ 12). Ward and Landry immediately met with
Plaintiff regarding her denial of the request made by two of
her supervisors. (Id.). Landry asked Plaintiff to
write a statement regarding the incident. (Id.).
Plaintiff wrote: “I have done things the way I thought
they were to be done and I've gotten in trouble. I've
done them the way Warren Landry has told me to and I've
still gotten in trouble. I just don't know what to do
anymore.” (Doc. 41-23 at 2). Landry asked Plaintiff to
clock out for the remainder of her shift. (Landry Decl.
¶ 12). She refused and Landry told Plaintiff she would
be transferred from the second shift to the first shift.
(Id.). The next day, July 25, 2014, Plaintiff
transferred to the first shift and has not been supervised by
Landry since that date. (Phillips Dep. at 37, 66-67).
Plaintiff remains employed at Gestamp as an ultrasonic
technician. (Phillips Dep. at 28, 59-60; Wells Decl. ¶
12.c). She is paid the maximum amount under the pay scale for
her position. (See Phillips Dep. at 188-92).
January 18, 2015, Plaintiff completed an Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) intake
questionnaire. (Doc. 41-5 at 1-4). On January 26, 2015, the
EEOC mailed a Notice of Charge of Discrimination to Gestamp
stating “a charge of employment discrimination has been
filed against your organization under” Title VII based
on race, color and sex. (Id. at 5). The Notice
lists the issues as assignment, discipline, harassment and
terms/conditions and notes the dates as January 1, 2015
through January 15, 2015. (Id.). On the Notice
provided to Gestamp, in the “Enclosure(s)”
section, the “Copy of Charge” box is left
unchecked. (Id.). The Notice states “[a]
perfected charge . . . will be mailed to you once it has been
received from the Charging Party.” (Id.). The
charge of discrimination was signed and perfected by
Plaintiff on May 26, 2015. (Id. at 6). On February
5, 2016, the EEOC dismissed Plaintiff's charge and
notified her of her right to sue. (Id. at 20).
Plaintiff timely filed her complaint on May 5,
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary 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
judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party asking for
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 which
it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Id. at 323. Once the moving party has
met its burden, Rule 56(e) requires the non-moving party to