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Lindsey v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

July 17, 2019




         This Order addresses Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.'s ("Defendant" or "UPS") Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 21]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to Special Order 3-318, this case was transferred from the docket of Judge Jane J. Boyle to the docket of this Court on March 8, 2018.

         Plaintiff Alvoid Lindsey ("Plaintiff) brings this lawsuit alleging age discrimination in connection with the termination of his employment with UPS. Plaintiff worked for Defendant from September 1985 until his termination on March 25, 2014. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 11. Plaintiff was promoted twice while working for Defendant. Def.'s Revised Br. ("Rev. Br.") 4. At the time of his termination, Plaintiff held the position of Day Sort Supervisor. Id. In this position, he supervised approximately seventy employees. Compl. ¶ 7; Pl's App. 2.

         Defendant utilizes Employee Engagement Surveys ("Surveys") to give employees an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback to the company, Rev. Br. 5. In early March 2014, the Day Sort Supervisors received a list of Day Sort employees that needed to complete the Survey. Id. On or about March 4, 2014, Day Sort Manager Layne Blinco learned that none of the designated employees had completed a Survey. Id. at 6. Blinco instructed the supervisors to have five employees per day complete a Survey so that all Surveys could be completed by the deadline. Id.; see also Compl. ¶ 7. Plaintiff "heard Donise Wilkey . . . speak up stating that she can have Tunisia Banks ... do [the Surveys] while she is in the scanning room." Pl's App. 2. Plaintiff "sought assistance from [Banks] to complete the [S]urveys." Compl. ¶ 8; see also Rev, Br. 6. Wilkey also instructed Banks to complete Surveys for her employees. Rev. Br. 6; Pl's App. 17. Banks completed the Surveys for Plaintiffs and Wilkey's employees as instructed but reported her concerns with Plaintiffs instructions to Pat Griggs, a full-time supervisor. Rev. Br. 6.

         On or about March 6, 2014, Blinco instructed Plaintiff and Wilkey to meet with him. Compl. ¶ 9. "Blinco claimed that [Plaintiff] and Wilkey were not following the proper procedure on completing the [S]urveys." Id. On or about March 17, 2014, Lindsey was instructed to meet with Ricky Joiner, Area Human Resources Manager, and Melissa Heinen, Security Manager. Id. ¶ 10; see also Rev. Br. 7. Hub Division Manager Jon Korn had directed Joiner and Heinen to investigate the incident. Rev. Br. 7. On or about March 25, 2014, Korn, Joiner, and Jeff Stucker, Day Sort Manager, met with Plaintiff, and Korn advised Plaintiff that he was being terminated.[1] Id. at 7-8; see also Compl. ¶ 11. Wilkey was terminated the same day. Rev. Br. 8. The stated reason for the termination was "violation of policy by allowing a part time supervisor to help complete some of the [Surveys]." Compl. ¶ 12.

         Defendant has an Employee Dispute Resolution ("EDR") program that non-union employees can use to challenge employment decisions. Rev. Br. 8. Plaintiff requested that an EDR Peer Review Panel review his termination. Id.; Pl's App. 2. Plaintiff selected two coworkers to sit on the panel with Defendant's designated representative. Rev. Br. 8. Plaintiff submitted a position statement and appeared in person to testify. Id. The panel upheld his termination, Id.; Pl.'sApp. 3.

         Plaintiff filed a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Compl. ¶ 5. Plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter on September 29, 2016. Id. On December 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit, alleging age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.[2] On February 14, 2018, Defendant advised the Court that, on January 29, 2018, District Judge Sam A. Lindsay had issued an opinion granting UPS's motion for summary judgment in Wilkey's age discrimination case against UPS. See ECF No, 37 (citing Wilkey v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., Civ. A. No. 3:16-CV-3486-L, 2018 WL 588245 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 29, 2018)). On March 13, 2018, after the case was transferred to the docket of this Court, the Court held a Status Conference. See ECF Nos. 39, 40, At the Status Conference, the parties informed the Court that Wilkey had appealed Judge Lindsay's decision, On March 30, the Court administratively closed this case pending the Fifth Circuit's decision in Wilkey, See ECF No. 41.

         On October 15, 2018, Defendant notified the Court that the Fifth Circuit "issued a per curiam opinion affirming summary judgment for UPS 'essentially for the reasons comprehensively elucidated by the district court,' and entered Judgment for UPS." ECF No. 42 (citing Wilkey v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 740 Fed.Appx. 51, 52 (5th Cir. 2018) (per curiam)). On October 16, the Court (1) administratively reopened the case; (2) ordered counsel for both parties to confer regarding the impact of the Fifth Circuit's decision in Wilkey; and (3) set deadlines for both parties to submit revised briefing related to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 43. Both parties submitted revised briefing, and the matter is ripe for determination.


         Courts "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). In making this determination, courts must view all evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its belief that there is no genuine issue for trial. Cebtex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         When a party bears the burden of proof on an issue, he "must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in his favor." Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Cir. 1986). When the nonmovant bears the burden of proof, the movant may demonstrate entitlement to summary judgment either by (1) submitting evidence that negates the existence of an essential element of the nonmovant's claim or affirmative defense, or (2) arguing that there is no evidence to support an essential element of the nonmovant's claim or affirmative defense. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-25. Once the movant has made this showing, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact so that a reasonable jury might return a verdict in its favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Moreover, "[c]onclusory allegations, speculation, and unsubstantiated assertions" will not suffice to satisfy the nonmovant's burden. Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc). Factual controversies are resolved in favor of the nonmoving party "only when an actual controversy exists, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Olabisiomotosho v. City of Houston, 185 F.3d 521, 525 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting McCallum Highlands, Ltd. v. Wash. Capital Dm, Inc., 66 F.3d 89, 92 (5th Cir. 1995)).

         III. ...

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