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Scott v. Waste Management of Arkansas South

August 30, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R. Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge


This is an action for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief brought by Plaintiff against his former employer, Waste Management, and his union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO ("AFSCME" or "the Union"). Plaintiff argues that he was subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Arkansas Civil Rights Act ("ACRA"),*fn1 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. By Order*fn2 entered May 16, 2006, AFSCME was dismissed. Pending is Defendant Waste Management's Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn3 Plaintiff has responded.*fn4 The Motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

Plaintiff, an African American, began his employment with Waste Management as a driver on June 6, 2003, and became a full-time residential rear-load driver on July 21, 2003.*fn5 During the six weeks that Plaintiff was considered a "driver in training," his pay was administered by CPST, Inc., a temporary employment services firm.*fn6

George Whale, an African American, was the Site Manager and Plaintiff's boss.*fn7 Mr. Whale noted several incidents of insubordination during Plaintiff's employment, including: (1) in August or September 2003, Plaintiff was disrespectful to Mr. Whale and Cathy Dardenne, the dispatcher, when he yelled at them after learning that his car had been vandalized while he was working;*fn8 (2) in March 2004, Plaintiff threw his clipboard across the room and shouted at one of his co-workers;*fn9 (3) and also in March 2004, Plaintiff refused a direct order to return to a customer's residence to pick up leaf bags.*fn10 Plaintiff was represented at the discharge meeting by his union representatives.*fn11

Despite Plaintiff's discipline problems, Mr. Whale offered Plaintiff the heavy-items position in May 2004.*fn12 The position would have required Plaintiff to obtain more training, but it paid more than Plaintiff's rear-load driver position; therefore, it was considered a promotion. Angrily, Plaintiff immediately refused the position and walked out on Mr. Whale.*fn13 Another employee, Mr. Rudolph Morgan, witnessed the incident.*fn14 In August 2005, Mr. Whale hired an African American to fill the heavy-items position.*fn15

In June 2004, Plaintiff asked Ms. Brenda Law, the office manager, to look into what he believed were errors in his pay rates. Plaintiff had a heated discussion with Ms. Law when she could not solve the matter to his satisfaction.*fn16 On June 11, 2004, Ms. Law, spoke with Mr. Whale about the incident. While they were speaking, Plaintiff arrived and angrily exclaimed "You need to get that woman to do her job!"*fn17 Plaintiff explained that his check was wrong and blamed Ms. Law for the oversight. In an attempt to solve the problem, Mr. Whale had Plaintiff turn in his paperwork and explain how he believed that he had been short-changed.

On June 15, 2004, Plaintiff called Defendant's Integrity Help Line to formally complain about his compensation issues.*fn18 In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he had not been paid for at least 50 hours of work.*fn19 On June 23, 3004, Plaintiff was terminated by Mr. Whale for "continued incidents of insubordination and disrespect" in violation of Waste Management employee conduct rules.*fn20 Due to the proximity of the call, Plaintiff believes he was terminated for contacting the Integrity Help Line.

Plaintiff asserts that he contacted the EEOC by phone on July 6, 2004, to initiate a charge of discrimination.*fn21 Plaintiff's counsel assisted him in completing the EEOC Charge Information Form filed on September 13, 2004.*fn22 On November 18, 2004, during an interview with Plaintiff, the EEOC investigator prepared and had Plaintiff sign the document title "Charge of Discrimination."*fn23

Plaintiff did not allege retaliation in his Charge of Discrimination. A Dismissal and Notice of Rights Form was mailed to Plaintiff on November 24, 2004.*fn24

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact, so that the dispute may be decided on purely legal grounds.*fn25 The Supreme Court has established guidelines to assist trial courts in determining whether this standard has been met:

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.*fn26

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has cautioned that summary judgment is an extreme remedy that should only be granted when the movant has established a right to the judgment beyond controversy.*fn27 Nevertheless, summary judgment promotes judicial economy by preventing trial when no genuine issue of fact remains.*fn28 I must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.*fn29 ...

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