United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Plaintiff's Amended Motion to
Quash Defendant's Subpoenas. (Doc. # 14). The Motion is
fully briefed (see Docs. # 16, 18), and it is ripe
for decision. After careful review, and for the reasons
explained below, the court concludes that Plaintiff's
Motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part.
Factual and Procedural Background
Albert Stevenson, an African-American male, was employed by
Defendant Johnson Bros. as a Project Engineer from
approximately May 2017 to August 18, 2017, when he was fired.
(Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 15, 47). He now brings this action
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 to remedy Defendant's
alleged unlawful employment practices and acts of intentional
discrimination. Plaintiff asserts claims of race
discrimination and retaliation. (See generally Doc.
January 15, 2019, Defendant sent Plaintiff's counsel an
email informing Plaintiff of its intent to serve subpoenas on
seven of Plaintiff's former employers-both before and
after his employment with Defendant. (Doc. # 14-1). The non-party
subpoenas requested the following information from
Plaintiff's former employers:
A certified copy of your entire personnel file, including but
not limited to, any and all employment records, applications,
correspondence, notes, absentee records, payroll records,
evaluations, disciplinary actions, worker's compensation
records, or any other document of whatever nature and type
relating to Albert Stevenson.
(Doc. # 14 at 2). Plaintiff responded two days later,
objecting to the request in its entirety on the grounds that
the information requested from Plaintiff's former
employers (1) was not proportional to the needs of the case,
(2) was overly broad and unreasonable, and (3) could have
been discoverable through other reasonable means like
deposition or written discovery. (Doc. # 14-2). Later than
afternoon, Defendant asked Plaintiff to be more specific in
his objections. (Doc. # 14-3).
replied on January 18, 2019 that he objected to
Defendant's request for the “entire personnel file,
” which included, but was not limited to,
“employment records, applications, correspondence,
notes, absentee records, payroll records, evaluations,
disciplinary actions, worker's compensation records, or
any other document of whatever nature and type relating to
Albert Stevenson.” (Doc. # 14-4) (emphasis added). In
Plaintiff's view, such a request was far too broad and
violated his right to privacy in his personnel files from
former employers. Id.
it did not acquiesce in Plaintiff's characterization of
the request, Defendant agreed to limit the documents
requested to “a certified copy of Albert
Stevenson's application for employment and any documents
showing Albert Stevenson's dates of employment,
compensation earned and reasons for his termination and any
disciplinary actions.” (Doc. # 14-5). Defendant also
agreed to wait to serve the revised subpoenas until
Plaintiff's counsel had a chance to review the new
language the following week. (Doc. # 14-6).
January 30, 2019, Plaintiff responded that he objected to the
requests for any “application for employment, ”
“reasons for his termination, ” and “any
disciplinary actions” from former employers. (Doc. #
14-7). Plaintiff asserted that such information was not
relevant to the needs of the case and would not prove or
disprove any material fact in the case. (Id.).
However, Plaintiff did not object to Defendant asking his
former employers (after his employment with Defendant) to
produce “documents showing [his] dates of
employment” or “compensation earned.”
Plaintiff acknowledged that this information could be used
“for the purposes of determining [his] interim
did not agree to so limit the subpoenas. (Doc. # 14-8).
Instead, Defendant notified Plaintiff that it intended to
serve the subpoenas on February 1, 2019. (Id.).
After warning Defendant of his opposition, Plaintiff filed
the instant Motion to Quash on February 5, 2019. (Doc. # 14).
As of February 11, 2019 (the date on which Defendant filed
its response), the subpoenas still had not been served on the
non-party former employers. (Doc. # 16 at n. 1).
parties' disagreement revolves around three categories of
information in the possession of Plaintiff's former
employers: (1) Plaintiff's prior employment applications,
(2) his previous dates of employment and the amount of
compensation earned, and (3) his earlier disciplinary record
and reasons for termination. Specifically, Plaintiff objects
to the issuance of the subpoenas pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 45(d)(3)(A)(iii)-(iv). (Doc. # 18 at 1).
These provisions mandate that a court quash or modify a
subpoena that either “requires disclosure of privileged
or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver
applies” or “subjects a person to undue
burden.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
45(d)(3)(A)(iii)-(iv). The scope of discovery that may be
sought through a Rule 45 non-party subpoena is the same
permissible scope under Federal Rule of Civil procedure
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its ...