United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Harris filed this lawsuit against Logistics Insight
Corporation (“Logistics Insight”), incorrectly
designated as Universal Logistics, and several of its
employees including, Justin Evans, Chris Pepsin, Crystal
Dixon, and Matt Muesch (hereinafter collectively the
“Individual Defendants”), alleging discrimination
and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq.
(“ADA”) and race discrimination under Title VII
of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2
(“Title VII”). Doc. 1. Defendants have moved for
summary judgment, doc. 8, and Harris responded with what
appears to be a new claim for discrimination against separate
non-parties, doc. 16, and by filing two separate documents
tilted as motions for summary judgment, docs. 17 and 20.
Defendants replied in support of their initial motion and
responded to Harris's motions for summary judgment. Docs.
19; 21; 23. Based on the evidence and consideration of
relevant law, Defendants' motion, doc. 9, is due to be
granted, and Harris's motions are due to be denied.
LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper “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. “Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment,
after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986) (alteration in original). The moving party
bears the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party, who is required to “go
beyond the pleadings” to establish that there is a
“genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A dispute
about a material fact is genuine “if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
summary judgment motions, the court must construe the
evidence and all reasonable inferences arising from it in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v.
S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); see
also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Any factual disputes
will be resolved in the non-moving party's favor when
sufficient competent evidence supports the non-moving
party's version of the disputed facts. See Pace v.
Capobianco, 283 F.3d 1275, 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2002)
(a court is not required to resolve disputes in the
non-moving party's favor when that party's version of
events is supported by insufficient evidence). However,
“mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations
are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326
(11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mountain Park,
Ltd. v. Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)).
Moreover, “[a] mere ‘scintilla' of evidence
supporting the opposing party's position will not
suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the jury
could reasonably find for that party.” Walker v.
Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
following facts reflect an assessment of the record in the
light most favorable to Harris. Since 2016, Harris, an
African American man, has worked for Logistics Insight in
Huntsville, Alabama as a forklift operator and auditor. Docs.
1 at 8; 9 at 2. On March 3, 2017, Harris sustained an injury
when he fell out of a trailer truck onto a loading dock.
Docs. 1 at 8; 8-1 at 2; 9 at 2; 17 at 2. Harris maintains
that although he filed an incident report that day with human
resource representative Crystal Dixon, Dixon denied him
permission to seek treatment despite indications that Harris
was bleeding and in pain. Doc. 1 at 8. Harris contends that
his supervisor, Justin Evans, gave him two options-continue
working or termination. Id. Harris worked for
seventeen days in severe pain until Dixon instructed him to
go to the hospital. Id. Although Defendants deny
this account, see docs 8-1 at 2, the parties agree
that Harris eventually received medical treatment and was
placed on medical leave from late March until mid-December
2017. Docs. 1 at 8; 8-1 at 2-3; 17 at 3.
physician released Harris to return to work with lifting
restrictions beginning on December 12, 2017. Docs. 1 at 8;
8-1 at 3; 17 at 2-3. Within a week of his return, Harris
maintains that Logistics Insight disciplined him and
prevented him from attending physical therapy sessions. Doc.
20. At some point, Dixon and Pepsin (a supervisor) wrote
Harris up for “no call/no show.” Docs. 1 at 8; 17
at 2. In addition, Evans allegedly discharged Harris over the
phone due to misconductand instructed Harris to immediately
return to work and gather his belongings. Doc. 17. When
Harris arrived at work, however, Evans rescinded the
discharge. Doc. 1 at 8.
assert that they have no records of reprimanding Harris for
“no call no show” and Dixon denies ever issuing
any reprimand. Docs. 8-1 at 3; 9 at 3. Both parties submitted
documentation of three “Employee Corrective
Action” forms indicating that Harris “missed
scans on critical parts” on December 17, “moved
material to incorrect locations” on December 19, and
“failed to turn in company property before the end of a
shift” on December 19. Docs. 9 at 3-4; 8-1 at 5-7; 20
at 3-9. However, Logistics Insight denies it discharged
Harris and notes that Harris's hourly pay rate increased
and that Harris is still employed with the company. Doc. 8-1
at 5-7. Indeed, Harris concedes in his declaration opposing
summary judgment that he is “an employee of [Logistics
Insight]” and is “employed by Logistics Insight
Corporation as an Auditor.” Docs. 16 at 2; 17 at 2.
turning to Defendants' summary judgment motion, doc. 9,
the court will address three initial matters regarding a few
of Harris's incognizable claims. First,
“[i]ndividual capacity suits under Title VII [and the
ADA] are . . . inappropriate” because “Title VII
[and the ADA are] against the employer, not individual
employees whose actions would constitute a violation of the
Act.” Busby v. City of Orlando, 931 F.2d 764,
772 (11th Cir. 1991); see also Albra v. Advan, Inc.,
490 F.3d 826 (11th Cir. 2007) (holding that individual
liability is precluded for violations of the ADA's
employment discrimination provision). Therefore, the
Individual Defendants' motion is due to be granted
because “the proper method for a plaintiff to recover
under Title VII [and the ADA] is by suing the employer,
either by naming the supervisory employees as agents of the
employer or by naming the employer directly.”
Busby, 931 F.2d at 772.
Harris's claims in this lawsuit are limited to those he
raised in his EEOC charge, i.e. race discrimination and
disability discrimination and retaliation
claims. Doc. 1 at 8. This is because “[a]n
employee must exhaust administrative remedies before filing a
complaint of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities
Act.” Stamper v. Duval Cty. Sch. Bd., 863 F.3d
1336, 1339-40 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing Wilkerson v.
Grinnell Corp., 270 F.3d 1314, 1317 (11th Cir. 2001)
(Title VII) and Maynard v. Pneumatic Prods. Corp.,
256 F.3d 1259, 1262 (11th Cir. 2001) (ADA)). Moreover, a
failure to mention specific claims or events that gave rise
to that claim “would otherwise preclude the EEOC from
performing its role in obtaining voluntary compliance and
promoting conciliation efforts on that claim.”
Litman v. Sec'y, of the Navy, 703 Fed.Appx. 766,
771-72 (11th Cir. 2017). Thus, the court need not consider
the new claims Harris raised in his complaint, doc. 1, or
response opposing summary judgment, doc. 16.
although “a pro se complaint, however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976), the court may not
“serve as de facto counsel for a party.”
Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd., 760 F.3d 1165, 1168-69
(11th Cir. 2014). Relevant here, Harris's response to
Defendants' motion raises new allegations regarding false
statements and discrimination that are appropriate for a new
claim against the non-parties Athens Thrift Store, Joanna
Thompson, and Ron Dabbs. Doc. 16 at 1-2. Also, in his two
summary judgment motions, Harris contends that there are
“genuine issue[s]” and that he is “entitled
to judgment as a matter of law.” Docs. 17; 20. Because
Harris's motions actually outline his reasons for why he
believes the court should deny Defendants' motion, the
court will treat his motions as responses in opposition to
Defendants' motion under Rule 56(c)(3), which allows the
court to “consider other materials in the record”
including his attached exhibits and declarations. Docs. 17 at
2-3; 20 at 3-9.
addressed these preliminary issues, the court will now turn
to Harris's three surviving claims beginning with the
Title VII race discrimination claim in Section A, ADA