Banks v. Igov Technologies, Inc., 092816 FED11, 15-14943

Docket Nº:15-14943
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:MIQUIEL BANKS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. IGOV TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before WILLIAM PRYOR, JULIE CARNES, and FAY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 28, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

MIQUIEL BANKS, Plaintiff-Appellant,


IGOV TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 15-14943

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 28, 2016


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 8:14-cv-02701-EAK-JSS

Before WILLIAM PRYOR, JULIE CARNES, and FAY, Circuit Judges.


Plaintiff-Appellant Miquiel Banks ("Plaintiff") appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant-Appellee iGov Technologies, Inc. ("Defendant") on his pro se employment action for race discrimination and retaliation asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. After careful review of the briefs and record, we affirm.


I. Factual Background

A. Plaintiff's Hiring

Plaintiff, who is African-American, began working as a technical writer supporting the Combat Operations Command ("COC") project in Defendant's Tampa, Florida office in October 2012. Plaintiff originally reported to Sean Kenney, the Program Manager for COC. Beginning in March 2013, Plaintiff reported to Joey Williams, the Deputy Program Manager. Plaintiff was hired as the only full-time salaried technical writer. As such, Plaintiff's work was expected to be "substantially error free, grammatically correct, and properly formatted." Plaintiff does not contest this expectation, but he asserts that he was held to a higher standard than the other writers in the office. It is undisputed, however, that the other writers were subcontractors who were paid by the hour and had different duties and responsibilities than Plaintiff.

When he was hired, Plaintiff signed an acknowledgement form indicating that he had read Defendant's employee handbook outlining its policies and procedures. The handbook stated that employees must work eight hours a day, five days a week during their designated core work hours. Plaintiff's core work hours were from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Because Plaintiff was enrolled as a college student when he was first hired, Defendant temporarily accommodated his work schedule on the days that he had class. After Plaintiff's first semester, Kenney granted Plaintiff's request to extend the temporary accommodation through the spring semester.

Apart from his accommodated schedule, Plaintiff was expected to follow the policies laid out in the handbook. Included among those policies was the expectation that every employee work 40 hours a week. Further, an employee was expected to notify a manager and obtain approval for any anticipated tardiness or absence. The handbook emphasized that regular attendance and punctuality were essential conditions of employment and that poor attendance or excessive tardiness would lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

B. Plaintiff's Initial Misconduct and Human Resources Complaint

Just a few months into Plaintiff's employment, in February 2013, Williams and Kenney began noticing problems with his work product, dress, and attendance. On February 25, 2013, Kenney reminded Plaintiff of Defendant's attendance policy and made clear that Plaintiff needed to discuss absences ahead of time with Williams. On April 1, 2013, Plaintiff informed Williams at 3:56 P.M. that he was leaving for the afternoon and would be gone the next day. Williams advised Plaintiff that he needed to request time off prior to taking it, and then he reported his concerns about Plaintiff to Human Resources Vice President Kim Schmitt on April 3, 2013. On that same date, Plaintiff sent an email to human resources stating that "something [wa]s amiss at igov."

On the morning of April 5, 2013, Williams met with Plaintiff to address his concerns.[1] Williams subsequently emailed Schmitt and Kenney a summary of the meeting. According to the summary, Williams informed Plaintiff that he needed to adhere to the handbook regarding requests for time off and personal appearance- specifically advising him that sweatpants are inappropriate "even on Casual Friday."[2] Williams also provided Plaintiff examples of his poor work product. In addition, Williams informed Plaintiff that (1) he was not the "lead" technical writer, (2) everyone was held to the same standards, and (3) Plaintiff would need to meet with Williams again in 30 days to assess Plaintiff's improvement.

Three days later, Plaintiff filed a human resources complaint. The complaint verified the summary of Plaintiff's meeting with Williams and asked for clarification as to whether Plaintiff was the lead technical writer and whether he was required to quit school to continue his employment with Defendant. The complaint did not allege any discrimination by Defendant; rather it centered on Plaintiff's annoyance with various co-workers.3

Defendant took multiple steps to address the problems Plaintiff raised in his complaint, including holding a mandatory staff meeting to address "respect in the workplace." Additionally, Schmitt met with Plaintiff to review his human resources complaint on April 12, 2013. A copy of Schmitt's notes from the meeting show that she informed Plaintiff that (1) he was not the lead technical writer, (2) his school hours were a temporary accommodation that had ended and would not be extended, (3) all of Plaintiff's work, including drafts, must be approved by Williams before being released, and (4) Plaintiff should work with Williams and Kenney to remain a productive member of the team. After the meeting, Plaintiff sent an email to Schmitt stating, "Thanks again for the incredible phone call and walking me through how to...

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