28 F.3d 446 (5th Cir. 1994), 93-1257, Garcia v. Elf Atochem North America

Docket Nº:93-1257
Citation:28 F.3d 446
Party Name:Freddy GARCIA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ELF ATOCHEM NORTH AMERICA, d/b/a Ozark Mahoney & Co., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:July 29, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 446

28 F.3d 446 (5th Cir. 1994)

Freddy GARCIA, Plaintiff-Appellant,


ELF ATOCHEM NORTH AMERICA, d/b/a Ozark Mahoney & Co., et

al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 93-1257

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 29, 1994

Page 447

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 448

Ronald P. McCluskey, El Paso, TX, for appellant.

A.J. Harper, II, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston, TX, Don L. Graf, McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf, Lubbock, TX, for Elf Atochem, A.J. Harper and Jerry Mowell.

Don C. Dennis, Lubbock TX, for Rayford Locke.

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

Before GARWOOD, SMITH and DEMOSS, Circuit Judges.

GARWOOD, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-appellant Freddy Garcia (Garcia) filed this suit against defendants-appellees Elf Atochem North America, Inc. (Elf), Jerry Mowell (Mowell), and Rayford Locke (Locke) (collectively, the defendants), alleging that he had been sexually harassed during his employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e, et seq. (Title VII). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants and dismissed Garcia's case. Garcia now appeals. We affirm.

Facts and Proceedings Below

Garcia began working at the Seagraves, Texas, plant of the Ozark Mahoney Company (Seagraves Ozark) in December 1984. Seagraves Ozark is a Delaware corporation, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delaware Chemicals Corporation, which in turn is a subsidiary of Elf. Mowell was a plant manager at Seagraves Ozark during Garcia's employment there. Locke was a plant foreman at Seagraves Ozark during this same period, but left the plant in February 1992 and did not return. Although Locke was a supervisor at Seagraves Ozark, he was not Garcia's supervisor.

Garcia's employment at Seagraves Ozark was governed by a collective bargaining agreement between Seagraves Ozark and Local 826 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (the Union). The agreement contains provisions prohibiting sex discrimination and establishing a grievance and arbitration procedure.

On May 3, 1991, Garcia reported to his Union steward, Vick Cornett, who then reported to Mowell, that Locke had "sexually harassed" Garcia. Garcia alleged that on several occasions between March and May of 1991, Locke had approached Garcia from behind and "reach[ed] around and grab[bed] [Garcia's] crotch area and ma[de] sexual motions from behind [Garcia]." In response to Garcia's complaint, Seagraves Ozark reprimanded Locke and informed him that any further incidents would result in his termination. After he was reprimanded, no further incidents occurred between Locke and Garcia and Garcia continued to work at Seagraves Ozark.

Prior to Garcia's complaint, Seagraves Ozark had received two other arguably similar complaints about Locke's conduct: one in 1986 and one in 1988. The conduct complained of was viewed as "horseplay" and was not alleged to be sexually motivated. After these complaints, Locke was counselled about his behavior and informed that his conduct was not appropriate for a supervisor. Following this counselling, no further complaints

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were reported to Seagraves Ozark until Garcia's May 3, 1991, complaint.

On June 4, 1991, Garcia filed a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). Thereafter, on June 30, 1992, Garcia filed the instant action. In his complaint, Garcia alleged that he had been sexually harassed in violation of Title VII, and named as defendants Elf, Mowell, and Locke. Garcia's complaint also alleged several state law causes of action. He sought compensatory and punitive damages, as well as costs, fees, and any "[i]njunctive relief the Court may deem just."

On February 1, 1993, Mowell and Elf filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims. Locke filed a separate motion for summary judgment on that same date. On March 1, 1993, the district court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment as to the Title VII claim. The court based its decision on its conclusions that (1) neither Garcia nor Locke were employees of Elf, but were instead employees of Seagraves Ozark; (2) Mowell took immediate corrective steps in response to Garcia's May 3...

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