United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
E. SELF, III, JUDGE
Eltred Bond claims that his former employer, Defendant
Georgia Power Company, discriminated against him because of
his race. Plaintiff brought claims against Georgia Power
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
Defendant seeks summary judgment contending that all claims
raised by Plaintiff are both legally and factually deficient,
and as a result, no genuine dispute of material fact exists
to be tried on this case. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 15].
Power hired Bond as a Truck Operator on January 14, 2013.
[Doc. 17, at 59:2-9]. The Truck Operator position is an entry
level, probationary position covered under the Collective
Bargaining Agreement with the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers Union, Local 84. [Doc. 15-3, at 148;
¶ 4]. Truck Operators are part of a statewide, traveling
construction crew responsible for assisting linemen and other
Georgia Power employees in constructing new and replacing
existing transmission lines. [Id. at 149; ¶ 6].
his hire, Bond completed orientation at Georgia Power's
training facility and began job training throughout his
assignment to his traveling construction crew. [Doc. 17, at
71:7-9]; see also [Doc. 15-3, at 148; ¶ 6].
Although clearly qualified for his job, Bond, from the
outset, frequently retrieved the incorrect tools and
struggled with tying knots and “barreling armour [sic]
rods, ” all of which were integral parts of Bond's
duties as a Truck Operator. [Doc. 15-3, at 149; ¶¶
9, 10, 11]. When compared to other entry level Truck
Operators who typically barrel rods within five minutes, Bond
took almost 40 minutes. [Id. at 150; ¶ 14].
Despite more experienced Georgia Power employees'
attempts to help Bond, he refused their help. [Id.
at 150; ¶ 11]. For example, Nick Tinsley, Bond's
direct supervisor, witnessed Bond's lack of initiative to
improve his knot tying skills, and in response, cut Bond a
piece of rope for practice. [Id. at 150; ¶ 10].
After telling Bond to practice with the rope, Tinsley later
saw Bond leave the rope at their work site rather than take
the rope with him to practice. [Id.]. This, along
with Bond's desire to “bid out” to other
positions within Georgia Power, displayed to Tinsley,
“a lack of initiative and drive required of an entry
level truck Operator.” [Id.]; see
also [Doc. 15-3, at 150; ¶ 12].
March 19, 2013, while installing spacers on three phase
transmission lines, an incident occurred. See [Doc.
17, at 110:12-112:5]. In order to install spacers on a
transmission line, a lineman must work from a transmission
cart approximately 90 feet above the ground. [Doc. 15-3, at
151; ¶ 16]; see also [id., at 157;
¶ 9]. The transmission cart moves along the wire by
pulling it with a rope attached from the transmission cart to
an all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”). [Id.].
While driving an ATV with a rope attached to Lineman Chuck
Raper's transmission cart, Bond drove across a creek at
an abrupt and accelerated rate of speed. [Id.];
see also [Doc. 17, at 113:19-22]. This burst of
speed caused Raper's cart to travel suddenly down the
line, nearly throwing Raper from the transmission cart. [Doc.
15-3, at 151; ¶16]; see also [id., at
157; ¶ 9]. Although Bond did not hear Raper's yells,
Raper yelled at Bond because he was allegedly going too fast.
[Doc. 17, at 115:19-116:3]. Clearly upset by the incident,
and after Bond explained to Raper that he did not hear him
yell anything, Raper replied, “[I]f [I] had had a gun
[I] would have shot [you].” [Id. at
118:15-19]. When discussing the incident with Jody Tillman,
another Georgia Power employee, Tillman told Bond “if
[you] were pulling [me] that fast [I] would have thrown a
wrench and hit [you] in the head.” [Id. at
118:6-14]. Following this incident, Bond never acknowledged
making a mistake or apologized to Raper or Tinsley for the
way he pulled the transmission cart. [Id. at
next day, Tinsley, reported the incident to Transmission Line
Construction Manager, Ben Webb. [Doc. 15-3, at 152; ¶
19, 155; ¶ 3]. Shortly thereafter, Webb consulted with
two other members of Georgia Power's management, and they
ultimately decided to terminate Bond based on his work
performance, probationary status, and his lack of
understanding regarding safety protocols. [Id. at
157; ¶ 10]; [id. at 152; ¶ 19].
Consequently, Plaintiff filed suit.
support of his claims, Bond contends that three co-workers
made racial comments relating to his employment and work
ethic. [Doc. 1, at ¶¶ 9, 10]. Bond claims that
fellow entry level Truck Operator, Justin McAllister, stated
that, “the company's not going to fire you because
you're black.” [Doc. 17, at 143:19-22].
Additionally, McAllister allegedly stated that, “[I]
ha[ve] to work ten times harder than [you] because [you are]
black.” [Id. at 143:23-144:2]. On another
occasion, Bond asserts that he overheard co-worker, Tillman
say, “the only reason you got hired is because you are
black.” [Id. at 143:15-18]. Next, Bond asserts
that DJ Ray's comment, “two out of three is not
bad” when referring to the “three new
hires” (Bond, McAllister, and Satcher) was an
indication that Bond was “not doing a good job.”
[Id. 148:4-25]. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that
“[the crew] lied about how [Bond] did [his] job”
to Tinsley and presumably upper management. [Id. at
149:13-20]. However, when questioned about these alleged lies
in regards to his work ethic Bond believes he “did a
great job” and that his performance as a Truck Operator
“went above and beyond what they asked.” [Doc.
17, at 141:24-142:1].
opportunities as a Truck Operator, Bond alleges that his
fellow entry level Truck Operators (Justin McAllister and Jay
Satcher) received unwarranted training opportunities that he
did not. [Id. at 130:15-22]. In essence, Bond
contends that neither he, McAllister, nor Satcher should have
been driving certain vehicles without proper training or a
commercial driver's license. Moreover, Bond complains
that his fellow entry level co-workers drove certain
commercial vehicles in violation of Georgia Power's
policy. [Id.]; see also [id. at
129:23-25]. Lastly, Bond alleges that certain discriminatory
acts extended to off-duty social activities. However, Bond
states that “some nights [he] participated” and
“some nights [he] didn't.” [Id. at
133:5-15]. The foregoing facts encompass Bond's claims
against Georgia Power. In making its ruling, the Court
examines each instance and its relation to federal law, in
judgment may be granted only “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.”
determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists
to defeat a motion for summary judgment, “the evidence
of the [nonmovant] is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in [the nonmovant's]
favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party “bears the
initial burden of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Jones v. UPS Ground
Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal
quotation omitted); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A fact is material if
it is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A factual dispute is
genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to
return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
burden then “shifts to the [nonmoving] party to rebut
that showing by producing affidavits or other relevant and
admissible evidence beyond the
pleadings.” Jones, 683 F.3d at 1292 (11th Cir.
2012) (quoting Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence
Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1315 (11th Cir. 2011)
(emphasis added)). The nonmovant fails to “satisfy its
burden if the rebuttal evidence ‘is merely colorable,
or is not significantly probative' of a disputed
fact.” Jones, at 1292 (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (1986)). Moreover, a
“mere ‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the
[nonmovant's] position will not suffice; there must be
enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for
[the nonmoving party].” Walker v. Darby, 911
F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990). Courts “are required
to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party, not all possible inferences.” Horn v.
UPS, 433 F. App'x. 788, 796 (11th Cir. 2011).
the Court's local rules, a party moving for summary
judgment must attach to its motion “a separate and
concise statement of the material facts to which the movant
contends there is no genuine dispute to be tried.” M.D.
Ga. R. 56. Those facts must be supported by the record. The
respondent to a summary judgment motion must respond
“to each of the movant's numbered material
facts.” Id. “All material facts
contained in the movant's statement which are
not specifically controverted by specific citation to
particular parts of materials in the record shall be deemed
to have been admitted, unless otherwise inappropriate.”
AUTHORITY AND ANALYSIS
Plaintiff's Race Discrimination Claims Under Title
VII and § 1981
Plaintiff Failed to Establish a Prima Facie Case of Race
employment context, § 1981 provides for protection
against discrimination based on race. Standard v.
A.B.E.L. Services, Inc., 161 F.3d 1318, 1330-34 (11th
Title VII prohibits an employer from discharging or otherwise
discriminating against a person based on his race. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2(a)(1). Therefore, courts analyze § 1981
claims using the same evidentiary requirements and analytical
framework as claims brought under Title VII. See
Standard, 161 F.3d 1318, 1330 (11th Cir. 1998).
Disparate treatment claims can be proven using direct
evidence (requiring no inference or presumption) or
circumstantial evidence. Burke-Fowler v. Orange County,
Fla., 447 F.3d 1319, 1323 (11th Cir. 2006). If racial