798 F.2d 679 (4th Cir. 1986), 85-2239, Ardrey v. United Parcel Service

Docket Nº:85-2239.
Citation:798 F.2d 679
Party Name:, 5 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1223 Marcus ARDREY, James Cherry, Bessie Easterling Brown, Louis Funderburk, Horace Jenkins, Joyce Massey, Jerome Morrow, Sr., Eugene Neal, Matthew Smith, Jr., Henry Tyson, Sr., Cheryl Pettigrew, Carl Watts, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants, v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, a corporation, Appellee.
Case Date:August 18, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 679

798 F.2d 679 (4th Cir. 1986)

, 5 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1223

Marcus ARDREY, James Cherry, Bessie Easterling Brown, Louis

Funderburk, Horace Jenkins, Joyce Massey, Jerome Morrow,

Sr., Eugene Neal, Matthew Smith, Jr., Henry Tyson, Sr.,

Cheryl Pettigrew, Carl Watts, individually and on behalf of

all others similarly situated, Appellants,

v.

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, a corporation, Appellee.

No. 85-2239.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 18, 1986

Argued May 6, 1986.

Michael A. Sheely, Charlotte, (Russell, Sheely & Hollingsworth on brief), for appellants.

William W. Sturges (Weinstein, Sturges, Odom, Groves, Bigger, Jonas & Campbell, P.A., Charlotte, N.C., on brief), for appellee.

Before MURNAGHAN and WILKINSON, Circuit Judges, and HAYNSWORTH, Senior Circuit Judge.

MURNAGHAN, Circuit Judge:

I

Numerous plaintiffs employed by the West Carolina district of United Parcel Service ("UPS"), which encompasses the western part of North Carolina and all of South Carolina and is centered in Charlotte, North Carolina, by complaint dated May 20, 1982 moved for class certification, filed individual discrimination claims pursuant to 29 U.S.C. Sec. 621, Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), Sec. 1981 of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The plaintiffs alleged class discrimination against them as a race. Specifically, they alleged that UPS had engaged in a "policy and practice whereby UPS deprives blacks of their rights to equal employment opportunities." On information and belief plaintiffs alleged four ways in which UPS's policy and practice operated, namely through 1) termination, discipline and suspension; 2) promotion; 3) transfer of employees from

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part-time to full-time positions; and 4) racist atmosphere. 1

The instant appeal concerns the district court's handling of the discovery phase of the case. In their first set of interrogatories the named plaintiffs requested information related to their individual claims, as alleged in their complaint. UPS answered these interrogatories and provided information not only about the specific UPS employee in question, but also about others who had been promoted, transferred or qualified for various positions. 2 At the same time as they served their first set, plaintiffs served a second set of interrogatories seeking "class pattern/practice information" about the Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters of the UPS West Carolina region. Plaintiffs sought information about the employment history of all employees who had worked in the Charlotte headquarters since January 1, 1979, about all vacancies which occurred in all job titles since January 1, 1979, the name and race of each person who filled the vacancies and the date the vacancies occurred and were filled, about transfer and promotion system policies, and the names, race and job titles of persons with knowledge of various personnel practices, including hiring, promotion and transfer and the methods by which employees were disciplined and the ways employees were transferred from part-time to full-time positions. Plaintiffs also requested information about the number of whites and blacks who were promoted, transferred, employed, or qualified for full-time jobs.

In response to the second set of interrogatories, UPS filed many answers and documents, but objected to interrogatories seeking information about the employment history of employees, statistics, and duties, pay grades and minimum qualifications for jobs that were not related to the claims of individual plaintiffs. 3

Before these two sets of interrogatories were served on defendant, UPS had moved for (and the district court had granted on October 22, 1982) a limitation on initial discovery which restricted plaintiffs to discovery about information related to their individual claims as opposed to information regarding their class action. In granting such a limitation, the court stated that "[o]nce such individual action or actions are established, the Court will consider requests for further discovery of a class-wide nature. The plaintiffs have failed to allege or show how they would be prejudiced by this bifurcated discovery process." The

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court noted it agreed with counsel for UPS that plaintiffs would be required "to establish viable individual actions" before class discovery would be allowed. The court relied on East Texas Motor Freight System, Inc. v. Rodriguez, 431 U.S. 395, 403, 97 S.Ct. 1891, 1896, 52 L.Ed.2d 453 (1977) and General Telephone Co. of Southwest v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 102 S.Ct. 2364, 72 L.Ed.2d 740 (1982) in so deciding. 4

Subsequent to UPS's refusal to answer various of their second set of interrogatories, plaintiffs filed motions to compel. On April 1, 1983, the court denied these motions on the ground that the information requested (e.g., name and race of all persons qualified to be package drivers, statistical information about promotions to other jobs, movement from part-time to other full-time jobs, which were not sought by plaintiffs), was "hardly germane to [the individual plaintiffs'] claims in view of the statistical data already furnished in respect to the specific jobs they sought." (Emphasis provided). The court reasoned that because UPS had already provided information about individuals and their claims pursuant to the first set of interrogatories, UPS was not required to produce the "comprehensive employment history" requested in the second set which was not relevant to individual claims. The court also noted such information would be inordinately burdensome for defendant to prepare.

Plaintiffs served defendant with a third set of interrogatories on April 6, 1983. UPS objected to providing disciplinary information about the number of blacks and whites who had received warnings, or who were suspended or disciplined, and limited its responses to the information about individual employees which it had already provided. 5 A third motion to compel ensued which the district court denied. The plaintiffs moved for reconsideration, on the grounds of our opinions in Lilly v. Harris-Teeter, 720 F.2d 326 (4th Cir.1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 951, 104 S.Ct. 2154, 80 L.Ed.2d 539 (1984), and Knighton v. The Laurens School District, 721 F.2d 976 (4th Cir.1983). The district court subsequently modified its order and compelled UPS to provide the names of those in the Charlotte office who made various employment decisions, pursuant to our decision in Lilly, 720 F.2d at 338, which held that where the "same ... managerial personnel were responsible for decision making" in several allegedly discriminatory contexts, a case of discriminatory intent might be made out. In other regards, the district court reaffirmed its earlier order.

The case was heard by the court without a jury and trial was limited to plaintiffs' individual claims. The district court found for UPS on all issues and dismissed plaintiffs' claims. 615 F.Supp. 1250. The court found no evidence that individual black plaintiffs had been discriminated against in regard to warnings, suspensions, terminations, promotions, or moves into full-time jobs, or had been treated in any way different from whites. After lengthy findings of fact, the court examined the relevant law as set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973) and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981), which establishes a shifting burden for Title VII discrimination suits. The court examined the specific legal elements of the individual plaintiffs' claims and found that "Defendant offered substantial evidence that the alleged adverse employment actions concerning the Plaintiffs were based upon legitimate, nondiscriminatory business considerations." In addition, the court found that plaintiffs had not shown

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that the reasons offered by defendant to explain its employment actions were pretextual. The district court concluded that defendants had not discriminated against plaintiffs on account of race or sex in violation of Title VII or Sec. 1981. Because it only reached plaintiffs' individual allegations of discriminatory treatment, the court did not discuss plaintiffs' class-based pattern/practice claim, i.e., that UPS had a "policy and practice whereby [it] deprives blacks of their rights to equal employment opportunities."

The district court retained jurisdiction of the case as a possible class action for fourteen days in order to allow preparation by plaintiffs of a class certification motion. Because the parties did not submit a schedule for class certification, the court dismissed that portion of plaintiffs' case and entered judgment for the defendants on September 6, 1985.

II

On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the district court's limitation of discovery to their individual discrimination claims thwarted their efforts to establish that UPS engaged in a "pattern and practice" of discrimination against blacks. Because "class-wide" discovery was not allowed, plaintiffs were unable to establish pattern and practice discrimination according to Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 331, 335-36, 97 S.Ct. 1843, 1852, 1854-55, 52 L.Ed.2d 396 (1977). Teamsters discrimination differs from a McDonnell Douglas/Burdine Title VII claim in that it allows a plaintiff, by preponderance of the evidence, to show that an employer had "a pattern or practice of employment discrimination" or that "disparate treatment" of black employees was the "company's standard operating procedure--the regular rather than the unusual practice." Teamsters, 431 U.S. at 336, 97 S.Ct. at 1854. For a Teamsters claim, the plaintiff, after establishing a prima facie case of...

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