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Flowers v. United Parcel Service

January 16, 2007

DEBRA FLOWERS PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC. DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garnett Thomas Eisele United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Debra Flowers alleges that she was fired from her position as a preferred customer associate with United Parcel Service ("UPS") because of her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 ("Title VII"). Plaintiff seeks money damages for backpay, lost benefits, and emotional distress. Defendant has moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Title VII claim. For the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that UPS is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

I.

Summary judgment should be entered if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if there is sufficient evidence from which a jury can return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510.

In this case, to avoid summary judgment the plaintiff's evidence must show:

(1) that the stated reasons were not the real reasons for discharge; and

(2) that [race] discrimination was the real reason for the discharge.

Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 153, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2112, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000)(quoting the district court's jury instructions as accurately stating the law).*fn1

As the Supreme Court further instructed in Reeves: Whether judgment as a matter of law is appropriate in any particular case will depend on a number of factors. Those include the strength of the plaintiff's prima facie case, the probative value of the proof that the employer's explanation is false, and any other evidence that supports the employer's case and that properly may be considered on a motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Reeves, 530 U.S. at148-49, 120 S.Ct. at 2109.

II.

Plaintiff Debra Flowers worked for UPS as a Preferred Customer Associate ("PCA"), a non-management position, in the Business Development Department of UPS Little Rock operations. UPS had several policies governing employee use of UPS computers, one of which instructed UPS employees: "Do not view, send, upload, download, or store sexually explicit or pornographic materials."

On April 8, 2004, UPS audited the computers of all 25 employees in the Business Development Department. The computer audit was conducted in response to UPS learning that one of Plaintiff's co-workers, Kizmet Whitaker, was using her USP computer and company time to start a side business. The audit revealed that the following four people had sent sexually explicit or degrading materials: the Plaintiff; Valerie Thomas; Cynthia Hildreth; and Kizmet Whitaker. All of the terminated ...


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