United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
GEORGE D. BAKER, Plaintiff,
L3 TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
George D. Baker (“Baker”) brings this action
against Defendant L3 Technologies (“L3”) alleging
a discriminatory hostile work environment and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Doc. 1). Discovery is complete,
and L3 has moved for summary judgment (doc. 17). The motion
is fully briefed (docs. 18, 19, 21, 22, & 24). For the
reasons stated below, L3's motion for summary judgment
(doc. 17) is GRANTED.
Standard of Review
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.” 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).
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 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).
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 (all justifiable inferences must be drawn in the
non-moving party's favor). Any factual disputes will be
resolved in Plaintiff's favor when sufficient competent
evidence supports Plaintiff's version of the disputed
facts. See Pace v. Capobianco, 283 F.3d 1275,
1276-78 (11th Cir. 2002) (a court is not required to resolve
disputes in the non-moving party's favor when that
party's version of the 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 Mtn. Park, Ltd. v. Oliver, 836
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).
Summary Judgment Facts
Baker's Employment at L 3
L3 is a
defense contractor that is headquartered in New York, New
York, and with approximately 31, 000 employees worldwide.
(Doc. 19-1 at ¶ 4). L3 operates at Fort Rucker in
Daleville, Alabama under a twenty-year-contract with General
Dynamics to supply field support for high-fidelity flight
training simulators for the United States Army. (Id.
at ¶5). L3 has a written policy prohibiting harassment
and retaliation, which Baker received when hired in January
2005. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶¶ 9-11; doc. 19-2 at 100). The
policy expressly requires employees to report any alleged
harassment to their supervisor, Human Resources, or the L3
Hotline. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶¶ 9-11). L3 provided sexual
harassment training to its employees every year, which Baker
admits he received. (Doc. 19-2 at 30 (115:7-116:8)).
is a white man and approximately sixty years old. (Doc. 19-2
at 3 (8:4-7)). Baker states he is homosexual, and the parties
dispute whether L3 management was aware of this fact during
his employment. (Doc. 19-3 at 14 (50:11-18); doc. 19-2 at 25
(93:14-21)). Baker began working for L3 in January 2005, as
an Electronic Technician on flight training simulators in the
RCTD division, initially assembling the simulators in his
first three years and providing technical support on the
simulators thereafter. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶ 12; doc. 19-2 at
9 (31:16-20); doc. 19-3 at 5 (15:10-14)). Baker typically
worked with Steve Bingham and Jake Sammons from 6:00 AM
through 2:30 PM. (Doc. 19-2 at 14 (51:6-21)). A second set of
three Electronic Technicians typically worked from 8:00 AM to
4:30 PM. (Id. (51:22-52:7)). Baker was responsible
for preparing eighteen flight training simulators to use in
training for the Army's flight school students. (Doc.
19-2 at 4 (51:6-21)). The facility in which L3's
Electronic Technicians worked at Fort Rucker is a
primarily-male industrial work setting. (Doc. 19-3 at 24
employee, Baker was described as being “mediocre,
” lacking “troubleshooting skills on the
electronics, ” and having difficulties doing complex
electronics” but was punctual. (Doc. 19-3 at 19-20
(72:10-73:8); doc. 19-4 at 5-6 (14:20-15:6, 18:3-4)). Baker
received several disciplinary write-ups during this
employment, including a written warning for failing to take
off his hat in the building, as strictly required by the
military general contractor, and verbal warnings for
displaying improper workplace temperament. (Doc. 19-3 at 20
(74:3-17); doc. 19-4 at 6 (18:8-19:21)). Baker admits that
everybody, including himself, cussed in the workplace at
¶ 3. (Doc. 19-2 at 26 (100:1-5)). Baker's site
manager from 2006-2015, Mark Smith (“Smith”),
stated that Baker “could be a bully sometimes”
and was also “loud” and “aggressive”
(but not threatening) toward his coworkers. (Doc. 19-4 at 9
(30:23-31:12)). Nestor Torres (“Torres”)
Baker's site manager from 2015 through the remainder of
this employment, testified that during a one-on-one meeting,
Baker used “very nasty, derogatory word[s] to describe
his peers, MF, those MFs.” (Doc. 19-3 at 20 (75:3-16)).
parties dispute whether Baker ever reported any complaints of
harassment to Torres or Smith. (Doc. 19-2 at 17, 19
(64:10-65:19, 71:4-11); doc. 19-3 at 18 (65:7-20); doc. 19-4
at 8 (26:11-18)).
April 15, 2016, Torres received notice from Army Sergeant
First Class Jamil M. Wilson that employees of another
contractor at Fort Rucker had reported observing Baker
watching pornography and pleasuring himself in the public
restroom at the Fort Rucker base. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶ 13).
Baker admits “sometimes [he] would accidently click on
a [news] video and it would come up and [his] cell phone
would be on full blast” while in the bathroom
stall.” (Doc. 19-2 at 20 (76:5-8)). Baker also admits
he commonly made loud “grunting” noises due to
hemorrhoids when using the restroom, which “could be
interpreted as masturbating.” (Id. at 21
(77:4-22)). Torres informed L3's corporate office in New
York about the report, and it was passed along from there to
the central Human Resources office in Arlington, Texas. (Doc.
19-2 at 19 (71:17-72:16); doc. 19-3 at 22 (81:9-84:18)).
Magill (“Magill”), then L3's Human Resources
Director, headed to Fort Rucker shortly thereafter to conduct
an investigation. (Doc. 19-5 at ¶ 3). Through the course
of the investigation, five witnesses (one L3 employee and
four employees of another contractor) corroborated the report
about Baker watching pornography and masturbating in the
restroom on multiple occasions. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶14; Doc.
19-5 at ¶ 6). Additionally, Army Lieutenant Colonel
Waldrop informed Magill that Baker was no longer permitted in
the facility at Fort Rucker where Baker worked on the flight
training simulators. (Doc. 19-5 at ¶ 7). Based on the
investigation and the directive from the Army, L3 began the
process of involuntarily terminating Baker's employment.
(Doc. 19-5 at ¶¶ 8-9). Before Baker was terminated,
he formally resigned on May 11, 2016. (Doc. 19-1 at ¶
17; doc. 19-2 at 21 (78:12-20); doc. 19-5 at ¶ 11).
Baker's Allegations of Harassment ...