United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division
VIVIAN M. JONES, Plaintiff,
GLOBE SPECIALTY METAL, INC., a/k/a FERROGLOBE/GLOBE METALLURGIC, INC., and FERROGLOBE METALURGIC, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. MOORER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Globe Metallurgical, Inc.'s
(“Globe” or “Defendant”),
Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. 76, filed April
29, 2019. The motion has been fully briefed (Docs. 76, 80,
& 81) and is ripe for review. Having considered the
motion and relevant law, the Court finds the Motion for
Summary Judgment is due to be GRANTED.
district court has subject matter jurisdiction over the
claims in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
(federal question) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17.
parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and
there are adequate allegations to support both.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
6, 2018, Plaintiff Vivian M. Jones (“Jones” or
“Plaintiff”) originally filed in this Court her
Complaint for Employment Discrimination, in which she brought
against Globe claims of gender and race discrimination,
pursuant to Title VII. Doc. 1. In Jones's Complaint, she
states she filed her charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on
February 18, 2018. Doc 1 at 4. Jones subsequently filed her
Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination and Second
Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination, on June 7,
2018, and June 11, 2018, respectively. Docs. 2, 3.
2, 2018, Defendants Globe, Lee Payssa (“Payssa”),
and Stephen Smith (“Smith”) filed their Motion
for Partial Dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint, in
which they argued Payssa and Smith, who were identified as
employees of Globe by Plaintiff in her Second Amended
Complaint, could not be held personally or individually
liable pursuant to Title VII. Doc. 9, at 1-2. After the
motion for partial dismissal was fully briefed (see
Docs. 13 & 18), the assigned Magistrate Judge entered a
Report and Recommendation, in which she recommended the
motion be granted and the claims against Payssa and Smith be
dismissed with prejudice (Doc. 21). The Report and
Recommendation was subsequently adopted as the opinion of the
Court, which left Globe as the sole defendant. Doc. 24.
January 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Third Amended Complaint
for Employment Discrimination (Doc. 48), which the Court
construed as a motion for leave to file a third amended
complaint (Doc. 49). Globe filed its response to the motion,
in which it stated it did not object to the motion (Doc. 50),
the motion was granted (Doc. 51), and the Third Amended
Complaint was entered as the operative pleading.
April 29, 2019, Globe filed its instant Motion for Summary
Judgment, in which it requests the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's claims. Doc. 76. The Court entered a
submission order for the motion. Doc. 78. Jones timely filed
her reponse, and Globe filed its reply. Docs. 80, 81. The
motion is fully briefed and ripe for review.
an African-American female, worked for Globe at its plant in
Selma, Alabama (“Selma Plant”), from December
2003 until her termination in September 2017. Doc. 76-2 at
6-7. Jones was first placed in the Accounts Payable
Department at Globe through a temporary staffing agency,
Manpower. Id. at 12-13. Jones worked in the Accounts
Payable Department from December 2003 until July 2004, when
Globe decided to employ her in a fulltime position.
Id. at 12.
to her employment with Globe, Jones worked for various
companies, including Stanfast Printing and Hormel Food
Service. Id. at 7-10. Jones was terminated from her
positions with Stanfast Printing and Hormel Food Service for
absenteeism and failure to report to work on time.
Id. at 8-10.
1993, Jones pled no contest to two (2) counts for violations
of the Georgia Employment Security Act for “knowingly
making a false representation to obtain benefits” in
violation of the Act, for which she received twelve (12)
months of probation and was ordered to pay a $1, 186.00 fine,
$946.00 of which was suspended. Id. at 17-20. In
1997, Jones pled gulty to one (1) count of “Allowing
Driver to Violate State Law” in violation of Georgia
Code § 40-1-3, for which she received a $200 fine. Doc.
76-6. Specifically, Jones pled guilty to allowing the driver,
Eddit Walter, of the vehicle she occupied to drive
“while suspended” and assisted Walter with giving
to a law enforcement officer a false name and date of birth.
Id. at 3.
become a full-time employee with Globe, Jones was required to
complete an application for employment, which she completed
on June 21, 2004. Doc. 76-2 at 11-12. On Jones's
application for employment, she indicated she understood and
acknowledged as follows: “I certify that all the
information that I provide on this application and in any
interview will be true and accurate. I understand that if I
am employed and such information is later found to be false
or misleading in any respect I may be dismissed.”
Id. at 14. Despite Jones's acknowledgment in her
application, she represented she left Stanfast Printing for a
“better job;” she had not been terminated, or
asked to resign, from any job; and she had never pled
“guilty” or “no contest” to a crime.
Id. at 15-16, 21-22. Globe was not aware of
Jones's misrepresentations until after she initiated the
instant action. Doc. 76-1 ¶ 14.
1, 2004, Jones began her full-time employment with Globe in
its Accounts Payable Department. Doc. 76-2 at 12. Jones
remained in that position until sometime in 2006 when she was
offered, and accepted, the position of Human Resources
Specialist (“HR Specialist”). Id. at
23-24. As an HR Specialist, Jones reported to Steve Pralley -
the then Selma Plant Manager - and was responsible for
maintaining “harmony between the company and the union,
” and recruiting and conducting interviews, with
direction from the plant manager. Id. at 23-25. As
an HR Specialist, Jones received positive evaluations and pay
increases. Id. at 26-27.
in 2008, Jones was promoted to HR Manager. Id. at
28. As HR Manager, Jones believed she was responsible for
“bring[ing] harmony between the employee and the
company;” assisting the plant manager, director of HR,
corporate director of HR, and any other Globe executives; and
ensuring the enforcement of Globe policies. Id. at
30-31. Jones was also involved in decisions that were related
to discipline and discharge within the Selma Plant and
interviewing employees for open positions. Id. at
31-32. Jones understood, in her position as HR Manager, she
occupied a position of trust, and an important part of her
position was to provide truthful information. Id. at
HR Department is not solely under the management of the
individual plants; as HR Manager, Jones had responsibilities
to both the Plant Manager, Stephen Smith, and the Corporate
Director of HR, Lee Payssa. Doc. 76-3 at 21. For the relevant
time period for this case, Payssa was Jones's direct
supervisor. Doc. 76-2 at 63. Payssa did not typically have
any involvement in the discipline or termination of non-HR
employees within the Selma Plant, although Smith would
sometimes consult with him on such matters. Doc. 76-3 at 25.
Globe does not maintain a written disciplinary or progressive
discipline policy for its non-unionized employees.
Id. at 26; Doc. 76-2 at 63. Globe's practice was
to determine the appropriate discipline on a case-by-case
basis, based on the severity of the conduct. Doc. 76-3 at 26.
Selma Plant Manager, Smith was responsible for supervising
all of the Selma Plant employees, except for Jones, and made
disciplinary determinations for those employees. Doc. 76-2 at
63. Jones routinely consulted with Smith on Selma Plant
employee disciplinary issues. Id. at 50. Smith made
the final decision as to what the disciplinary action would
be, but he typically sought Jones's advice on the subject
and often followed it. Doc. 76-4 at 63-64.
Manager, Jones also participated in the employee hiring
process for the Selma Plant. Doc. 76-2 at 31-32. The hiring
process would begin when Jones would advertise open
positions, then collect resumes from applicants for the
available positions and distribute them to the hiring
committee for review. Doc. 76-4 at 12-13. The hiring
committee, which typically comprises the Plant Manager, HR
Manager, Furnace Department Manager, Shipping Manager,
Bag-House Manager, and any other manager or supervisor for
the specific hiring department, would review the resumes,
conduct interviews, and make collective hiring decisions.
Id. at 10-11 & 13-14. Jones was responsible for
conducting background checks and other necessary
pre-employment investigations for potential employees, and
finalizing employment decisions based on the results of those
pre-employment investigations. Id. at 14-15.
Bess informed Jones that Globe was not allowed to hire anyone
that was previously terminated from the company or had a
prior felony. Id. at 21. On September 17, 2017,
Jones was emailed the same information by Payssa (Doc. 76-3
at 38-39 & 73), but she denies that she received the
email (Doc. 76-2 at 46). Specifically, Payssa's email to
Just a reminder that we need to be aggressive this week to
complete hiring for the furnace 1 startup. I won't have a
chance to there [sic] early this week however possibly later
in the week. Also, I have heard some rumors that we are
hiring people who we have terminated in the past and possibly
have criminal records. I am sure this is not ...