United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. DuBOSE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se plaintiff Ronald Jackson has sued his former
employer,  Doubleback Transportation, LLC, for
various claims regarding workplace discrimination and
retaliation he alleges occurred during his five-month tenure
with the company. Jackson has now moved for summary
judgment.Because Jackson's motion does not
demonstrate that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on any of his claims, it is due to be denied.
initiated this action by filing a complaint in August 2017.
Over the course of the next several months, he failed to
properly effectuate service, which led to a significant
delay. (See Doc. 8 (explaining that Jackson did not
effectuate service on Doubleback despite a seven-month
lapse)). In July, the Court extended the time for service
until September 4, 2018. (Doc. 11).
being served, Doubleback moved for judgment on the pleadings
based on Jackson's first complaint. (Doc. 24). The Court
denied Doubleback's motion, reasoning that despite the
complaint's lack of clarity, Jackson should be afforded
“at least one opportunity” to substantively amend
his complaint. (Doc. 33 at 3 (citing Bryant v.
Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001)). Because
the Court saw fit to give Jackson leave to amend his first
complaint, it denied Doubleback's motion to dismiss and
it permitted Jackson to file his amended complaint on or
before February 5, 2019. (Id. at 4).
filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 34). As amended, the
complaint alleges the following claims:
a. Workplace Discrimination on the Basis of Race
b. Hostile Work Environment on the Basis of Race and in
d. Failure to Adequately Train
See (Doc. 42 at 1 (“The Plaintiff is pursuing
claims against Double Back Transportation for hostile work
environment, termination/discharge in regards to same or
similiar [sic] under Section 1981 and Title Vll and failure
to adequately train.”); Doc. 34-1 at 7 (“The
[n]egative appraisal occu[r]red after protected activity on
April 11, 2017, Plaintiff was subjected to adverse
filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 42). The
Court converted his motion into a motion for summary judgment
because it implicated factual issues. The Court afforded
Jackson time within which to supplement his motion, and
entered a briefing schedule for a response to Jackson's
motion for summary judgment. (Docs. 43 & 44).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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). In layman's terms, “To succeed
[on a motion for summary judgment], the moving party bears
the burden of establishing both prongs of the summary
judgment test. The nonmoving party may defeat the motion for
summary judgment by establishing either genuine
issues of material fact or that the movant is not
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Bell v.
U.S., 2003 WL 22697227, at *1 (N.D. Ala. Oct. 8, 2003)
(emphasis in original). “[T]he nonmovant can defeat
summary judgment by showing either a genuine issue of
material fact or that the movant is not entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” U.S. Fid. and Guar. Co. v.
Slate Sec. Sys., Inc., 2006 WL 8437800, at *1 (N.D. Ala.
Jan. 3, 2006).
as the party seeking summary judgment, bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for his motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc.,
929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). If the nonmoving
party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential
element of his case with respect to which he has the burden
of proof-that a genuine dispute of material fact exists-the
moving party is entitled to summary judgment.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “In reviewing
whether the nonmoving party has met its burden, the court
must stop short of weighing the evidence and making
credibility determinations of the truth of the matter . . .
the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”
Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBH-Siegen, 965 F.2d 994,
998-999 (11th Cir. 1992) (internal citations and quotations
hired Jackson as a part-time driver in January
2017. (Doc. 49-1 at 1). During his employment,
Jackson worked on an as-needed basis. (Id.). Becky
Pilkington, who served during the relevant period as
Doubleback's general manager, gave Jackson verbal
span of three days in April, Pilkington received three
unrelated complaints about Jackson. (Id.). In
response to these complaints, he was given a written
reprimand. (Id.; doc. 49-2) The three incidents
initially listed on the written reprimand were: (1) 4/11/17:
Tailgate left open on a truck; (2) 4/13/17: Jackson took the
wrong trailer; and (3) 4/14/17: Anonymous call that Jackson
was driving recklessly. (Doc. 49-2). The second incident was
stricken from the reprimand. (Id.). The reprimand
indicated that any other incidents that required disciplinary
action would result in suspension of employment. (Doc. 42-3).
Jackson refused to sign the written reprimand- twice. (Doc.
49-1 at 1) According to Pilkington, Jackson's demeanor
changed after he received a written reprimand. (Id.)
He arrived late, ineffectively communicated, and walked off
the job on May 22, following an incident (“the May 22
22 incident revolved around Jackson's allegations that a
truck, Truck 57, was unsafe to drive due to the truck
shaking. (Doc. 49-3) According to Pilkington, Jackson claimed
that Truck 57 was unsafe because the front shook and its
cruise control did not work properly. (Doc. 49-1 at 2).
Jackson had driven Truck 57 on the previous three days, and
had not reported any issues with the truck during those days.
asked Doubleback's Safety Manager, Daron Bolen, to
address the problems. (Doc. 49-3 at 1). An inspection
revealed that the front tire had uneven tread, which would
have caused the shaking. (Id.) The tire was
replaced, the truck was test driven, and it was determined to
be safe. (Id.) Bolen also determined that the
defective cruise control did not render the vehicle
inoperable pursuant to the Department of Transportation's
requirements. (Id.) Although Jackson was informed
that the truck was fixed, he refused to drive it.
(Id.) Another driver replaced him, and the
replacement driver drove Truck 57 without incident.
did not report for work on May 24, 2017. Jackson called in
sick an hour after he was scheduled to arrive. As a result of
the incidents described in the written reprimand, subsequent
workplace conduct, Jackson walking off the job following the
May 22 incident, and his refusal to drive Truck 57,
Pilkington determined that Jackson's employment should be
terminated. (Doc. 49-1 at 2). Doubleback terminated Jackson
in a written letter dated May 24, 2017. (Doc. 49-1 at
dated an EEOC Charge of Discrimination (EEOC Charge No.
846-2017-21475) as April 23, 2017. (Doc. 42-4 at
On his Charge, he checked race as the basis upon which
Doubleback discriminated against him. (Id.). The
alleged discrimination is based on the receipt of the written
reprimand dated April 19, 2017. The EEOC dated this Charge as
received on May 23, 2017. (Id.). On June 20, 2017,
the EEOC issued a right to sue letter on the first charge of
discrimination (EEOC Charge No. 846-2017-21475). (Doc. 42-6).
In the letter, the EEOC notified Jackson that it was unable
to conclude that the information obtained established
violations of the statutes. (Id.).
filed a second EEOC Charge that alleged between May 3 and May
24, 2017, Doubleback engaged in retaliation and
discrimination against him. See (Doc. 34-10 (Notice
of Charge of Discrimination)) (EEOC Charge No.
425-2017-00656); (Doc. 16 at 9). On June 29, ...