101 F.3d 1371 (11th Cir. 1996), 95-9202, Mayfield v. Patterson Pump Co.

Docket Nº:95-9202.
Citation:101 F.3d 1371
Party Name:, 97 FCDR 334, Christopher Todd MAYFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. PATTERSON PUMP COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:December 20, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1371

101 F.3d 1371 (11th Cir. 1996)

, 97 FCDR 334,

Christopher Todd MAYFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

PATTERSON PUMP COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 95-9202.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

December 20, 1996

Page 1372

Willie James Woodruff, Jr., Toccoa, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Allan Robert Ramsay, Elizabeth Felton Moore, McClure, Ramsay & Dickerson, Toccoa, GA, for Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before EDMONDSON, Circuit Judge, FAY, Senior Circuit Judge, and ALDRICH [*], Senior District Judge.

FAY, Senior Circuit Judge:

Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) (1994) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (1994), Appellant, Christopher Todd Mayfield ("Mayfield"), an African-American employee of Appellee, Patterson Pump Company ("Patterson") filed suit against Patterson alleging that he was discriminated against on the basis of race. 1 Patterson moved for summary judgment contending, among other reasons, that Mayfield was fired for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Patterson on all counts. Mayfield appeals only the district court's determination that no issue of fact exists as to whether he was unlawfully terminated on the basis of his race. Because we find that Mayfield was fired for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason and that Mayfield has failed to present any evidence of pretext, we agree with the district court and affirm its order granting summary judgment.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

On November 6, 1989, Mayfield was hired by Patterson, a manufacturer of fire pumps as a Pump Test Mechanic. Approximately one month after being hired, Mayfield was promoted to Test Technician on the recommendation of his supervisor Rod Pelot ("Pelot"). Pelot, pleased with Mayfield's performance as a Test Technician, and the company, believing he had the potential to advance in management, recommended that Mayfield be sent to Patterson's supervisory development training program.

On April 1, 1992, after Mayfield's completion of the supervisory development training program and upon another recommendation from Pelot, Mayfield was promoted to Senior Test Technician, a newly created supervisory position. In this capacity, Mayfield supervised other employees in the cleaning room and test pit. As Senior Test Technician, instead of receiving an hourly wage, Mayfield was paid an annual salary. Pelot further encouraged Mayfield to attend school in order to obtain future promotions, and Mayfield was also allowed to arrange his work schedule to accommodate his school schedule.

According to Pelot, upon Mayfield's promotion to Senior Test Technician his performance began to decline. Noting this decline, Pelot talked with Mayfield about his poor performance. On September 25, 1992, Pelot terminated Mayfield. The written reason for the termination was "[i]ncompetence or failure to meet reasonable standards of efficiency and repeated failure to meet production standards which results in loss of earnings to an entire group of employees." In particular, Pelot pointed to three incidents that resulted in Mayfield's dismissal. The parties disagree on some of the circumstances surrounding the three incidents. Because we

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are legally obligated to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, we will resolve all inferences in Mayfield's favor.

The first incident involved an unexcused absence that occurred in August of 1992. On August 20, 1992, a Thursday, Mayfield asked Pelot if he could be excused from work on Saturday, August 22, 1992, in order to help a local church put a roof on his father's house. Pelot granted the request. The parties agree that it rained on Saturday, making it difficult to put a roof on Mayfield's father's house. On Friday, August 21, 1992, Mayfield asked to be excused from work that day because of an Internal Revenue Service audit taking place in Atlanta. Again, Pelot gave Mayfield permission to miss work. On Monday, August 24, 1992, Mayfield had a friend notify Pelot that he was stranded in Indianapolis, Indiana and would not be able to make work. At this point, Pelot asserts that he realized Mayfield had lied about his plans for the weekend. 2 Based on Mayfield's unexcused absence on August 24th, Pelot issued him a written warning. In part the warning states that the absence on August 24th, "will be considered an unexcused absence because he failed to call me personally, of his absence. Todd is well aware of policy that either myself or Jack Claxton be notified of any absences." Mayfield contends that the reason he did not personally call Pelot on August 24th was because he did not find it necessary to wake up at 5:00 a.m. and place a call through two or three long distance carriers, when a friend could more easily take care of it. Furthermore, upon his return, Mayfield stated he was in Indianapolis interviewing with a competitor of Patterson.

The second incident involved the approval and shipment of a fire pump. Prior to its shipment, Pelot discovered that the test data of this pump, which had been approved by Mayfield for shipment, did not meet the owner's specifications. Pelot had further work done on the pump to meet the owner's approval. Mayfield affirms that the problem with the pump lay with the pump containing an erroneous number for the impeller pattern. As a result of this incident, Pelot issued Mayfield a second disciplinary reprimand.

Finally, the last event Patterson proffers as specific evidence of Mayfield's incompetence is the warranty completion of the "Sandario 2 Pump." The Sandario 2 Pump was one pump out of approximately ten that had been returned to Patterson for repairs. As Senior Test Technician, Mayfield was in charge of the cleaning and testing of the pump. Mayfield's primary responsibility was to polish and grind the Sandario 2 Pump's impeller in a timely fashion.

The final completion date for the Sandario 2 Pump was set for September 21, 1992. The impeller, a part of the pump, needed to be individually tested and installed in the pump prior to September 21, 1992, the date the entire pump would be tested. As supervisor of the cleaning room and test pit, it was Mayfield's responsibility to ensure the project was completed on time.

On Thursday, September 17, 1992, the Sandario 2 Pump's impeller was received in the cleaning room. Two of Patterson's more experienced employees were unavailable to grind and polish the impeller. Terry Metcalfe ("Metcalfe") was assigned by Pelot to perform the task. Mayfield asserts...

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