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Ingram v. Pine Bluff National Bank

April 20, 2007

KEVIN INGRAM PLAINTIFF
v.
PINE BLUFF NATIONAL BANK DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Leon Holmes United States District Judge

OPINION

This is an employment discrimination case. Kevin Ingram, an African-American male, brought claims against his former employer, Pine Bluff National Bank, alleging race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The defendant has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, this motion is granted.

A court should grant summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of its motion and identifying the portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Group Health Plan, Inc. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 344 F.3d 753, 763 (8th Cir. 2003). When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), the non-moving party must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1985) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). The non-moving party sustains this burden by showing that "there are 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." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. When a non-moving party cannot make an adequate showing on a necessary element of the case on which that party bears the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Boerner v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 260 F.3d 837, 841 (8th Cir. 2001). If the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party, summary judgment should be denied. Derickson v. Fidelity Life Assoc., 77 F.3d 263, 264 (8th Cir. 1996).

The Eighth Circuit has said that summary judgment should seldom be granted in discrimination cases where inferences are often the basis of the claim. Duncan v. Delta Consolidated Indus., Inc., 371 F.3d 1020, 1024 (8th Cir. 2004); Bassett v. City of Minneapolis, 211 F.3d 1097, 1099 (8th Cir. 2000). But see Bainbridge v. Loffredo Gardens, Inc., 378 F.3d 756, 762 (8th Cir. 2004) (Arnold, J. dissenting).

I.

Kevin Ingram applied for employment with Pine Bluff National Bank (the "Bank") in December 2003. He began working for the Bank as a "runner" the following month and continued in this position until his termination in July 2005. A runner is an employee who goes to the Bank's various branches, picks up work for those branches and brings it back to the main branch, prepares the mail, and takes the mail to the post office.

Ingram was trained to do this job by Brad Coburn, another runner, who is white. Coburn then left his position at the Bank to attend college, but returned to work during the summer and school breaks. The record does not reflect Coburn's work hours. Ingram worked year-round. His hours were 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Ingram's starting rate of pay was $6.00 an hour, and his ending rate of pay was $6.25 an hour. He did not receive any benefits. According to his W-2 Wage and Tax Statements, Ingram earned $7967.57 in 2004 and $3951.06 in 2005. The record does not reflect the total number of hours he worked for the Bank during either year.

According to Coburn's W-2 Wage and Tax Statements, he earned $4617.04 in 2004 and $4452.53 in 2005. The record does not reflect Coburn's rate of pay, whether he received any benefits, or the total number of hours he worked for the Bank.

In addition to Coburn and Ingram, the Bank employed four other runners, all of whom are African-American. One of these runners, Christine White, supervised Ingram on the job. The record does not reflect the rates of pay or work hours of these four runners.

Ingram testified in his deposition that he was "shuffled around"and his work hours were reduced when Coburn came back to work during the summer and school breaks. Specifically, he stated that he would be instructed to come in at 12:00 instead of 10:00. When asked how his job duties changed when Coburn returned to work at the Bank, Ingram testified that he and Coburn would split the duties up between the two of them. Ingram also testified in his affidavit:

When Brad Coburn came home from school, he was given preferential assignments and duties. He was allowed to have as his work area the book keeping office and the mail room, while I was confined largely to the store room, a place where supplies and equipment were maintained. When Brad Coburn left, I was still not allowed to be around the bookkeeping department because [Carol Ann Rogers, who is in charge of bookkeeping,] did not want me there. Ms. White told me that on more than one occasion. When I told [Larry Davis, the Bank's Vice President,] about it, he did not indicate any concern and made it appear that I should be happy because I had a job. Ingram testified that during his employment with the Bank he sought to advance to the position of teller or bookkeeper, which are entry-level positions but are better paid than runners. Ingram stated that he spoke to Joyce Reed, Operations Manager, about a teller position on November 16, 2004. Reed advised him that no teller positions were available at that time but that she would let him know if anything became available. In March 2005, Ingram let Reed know that he was still interested in a teller position, but she again told him that no positions were available. Ingram also testified that he spoke to Rogers about a bookkeeping position in March 2005. Rogers told him that no bookkeeping positions were available.

The Bank's employee handbook states that "[r]esumes are accepted in Human Resources and retained for a period of 30 days," but that "[a]pplications are taken only if there is an opening and the applicant must apply for a specific job." (emphasis in original). The handbook further provides: "Job postings are at the discretion of Management." (emphasis in original). Ingram did not apply for a teller or bookkeeper position through the Bank's human resources department.

The Bank asserts that Ingram had performance problems on the job, but Ingram denies that his performance was deficient. The defendant and Ingram dispute the number of occasions on which Davis spoke to Ingram about Ingram's job performance, but Ingram admits that Davis "discussed with him that he had work that was late coming in" and that Davis talked to him "about the mail not getting to the Post Office." Ingram also testified in his deposition that he may have had other conversations with Davis that he could not recall. Davis indicated in his deposition that he wrote memoranda on these issues and placed them in Ingram's personnel file, but ...


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