Catrina D. Blackwell, Plaintiff - Appellant
Alliant Techsystems, Inc., Defendant Ron Baker, Individually and as Agent and Employee of Alliant Techsystems, Inc.; David Bales, Individually and as Agent and Employee of Alliant Techsystems, Inc.; Tracy Bradehoft, Individually and as Agent and Employee of Alliant Techsystems, Inc.; Alliant Techsystems Operations, LLC, Defendants - Appellees Division of Employment Security, State of Missouri, Respondent
April 13, 2016.
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City.
Catrina D. Blackwell, Plaintiff - Appellant: Basil L. North
Jr., Basil L. North, JR & Associates, Lee's Summit, MO.
Baker, Individually and as Agent and Employee of Alliant
Techsystems, Inc., David Bales, Individually and as Agent and
Employee of Alliant Techsystems, Inc., Tracy Bradehoft,
Individually and as Agent and Employee of Alliant
Techsystems, Inc., Alliant Techsystems Operations, LLC,
Defendants - Appellees: Landon Wade Magnusson, Bridget B.
Romero, Robert Kent Sellers, Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, MO.
WOLLMAN, BEAM, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
Blackwell sued Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC (ATK) and
several ATK employees for race, gender, and age
discrimination after the company fired her for elbowing
another employee in the back. The district
court granted summary judgment to the
defendants, concluding that Blackwell had not demonstrated a
prima facie case of discrimination and that ATK had a
legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her.
Blackwell now appeals, and we affirm.
who is African American, was employed as a worker on an
assembly line at ATK's ammunition plant in Lake City,
Missouri. From 2004 to 2011 she received positive reviews and
had a good record. Then, in August 2011 Blackwell had a
verbal altercation with her coworker Michael Buie. Human
resources manager Ron Baker investigated the incident and
gave both employees a written warning. In November 2011
Blackwell and Buie had a second dispute. Blackwell alleged
that Buie had rammed into her with his shoulder as they
passed each other in the hallway. Baker again investigated.
He concluded that the contact had been inadvertent and that
Buie had not done anything improper after witnesses stated
that Buie " barely brushed" or " bumped
February 2012 Blackwell and her coworker Leona Yardley
exchanged insults during an incident at work. Blackwell did
not report it. Then, on February 17 Blackwell and Yardley
were involved in a second incident. Yardley reported to ATK
management that Blackwell had elbowed her in the back just
after the start of their shift on the assembly line. Jeff
Peters, the supervisor of the line, reported the incident to
human resources but told Yardley that he could not do
anything without corroboration. Tyler Johnson later stepped
forward as a witness and provided oral and written statements
corroborating Yardley's accusations. In his signed
written statement, Johnson wrote that Blackwell had elbowed
Yardley and that it was intentional. He also drew a diagram
of the scene. ATK interviewed Blackwell who denied the
allegations. After Johnson gave his statement, ATK suspended
Blackwell on March 15. ATK's human resources
investigation concluded on March 20 without having discovered
any other witnesses, and Blackwell was terminated on April 4
based on the accounts of Yardley and Johnson.
March 16, the day after Blackwell was suspended, she called
an ATK ethics hotline to complain about her suspension and
the two incidents with Yardley. ATK's ethics committee
began a separate investigation. Blackwell sent a follow up
email to David Bales, a member of the committee, on the
morning of April 4. She was terminated that same day, and
Bales concluded his investigation on May 8. In his report, he
concluded that ATK management and human resources had not
violated any company policies, but that Blackwell herself had
violated at least three policies by acting violently.
sued ATK for race, gender, and age discrimination,
retaliation, and defamation, under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Missouri
Human Rights Act. In November 2014, after the lawsuit was
filed, Tyler Johnson recanted his earlier statements and
claimed that he had not seen the incident between Blackwell
and Yardley. Johnson did confirm however that he had written
the 2012 report which described the incident. The district
court granted summary judgment to all defendants on each of
Blackwell's claims. Blackwell appeals the judgment with
respect to her Title VII and ADEA discrimination and
review de novo the district court's grant of summary
judgment, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
Blackwell and giving her the benefit of all reasonable
inferences. Robinson v. Am. Red Cross,753 F.3d 749,
754 (8th Cir. 2014). We may affirm " only if there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and ...