Cross v. Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc., No. Civ.A.4:97CV0118-HLM.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
Writing for the CourtHarold L. Murphy
Citation17 F.Supp.2d 1362
PartiesVelda CROSS, Plaintiff, v. SOUTHWEST RECREATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INC., d/b/a Astroturf Manufacturing Company, Defendant.
Decision Date08 May 1998
Docket NumberNo. Civ.A.4:97CV0118-HLM.
17 F.Supp.2d 1362
Velda CROSS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHWEST RECREATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INC., d/b/a Astroturf Manufacturing Company, Defendant.
No. Civ.A.4:97CV0118-HLM.
United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Rome Division.
May 8, 1998.

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Mary Faye McCord, Office of Mary F. McCord, Cartersville, GA, for Plaintiff.

Christopher Harper Steger, Jeffrey S. Norwood, Kelly L. Weston, Miller & Martin, Chattanooga, TN, for Defendant.

ORDER

HAROLD L. MURPHY, District Judge.


This is an employment discrimination case in which Plaintiff claims that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and that Defendant violated the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), codified at 29 U.S.C.A. § 2601 et. seq. The case is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [11-1].

I. Background

Defendant is a corporation organized under the laws of Texas that operates a manufacturing plant located in Whitfield County, Georgia. Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 1989 in its Whitfield County plant as a "creeler." (Aff. of Pl. ¶ 2.) In 1995, Bruce Layman, Defendant's Plant Manager, promoted Plaintiff to the position of Statistical Process Control Coordinator ("SPCC"). (Aff. of Bruce Layman ¶ 4.) Plaintiff's new SPCC position consisted of implementing the

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Statistical Process Control ("SPC") system, developing charting systems, training supervisors and operators in the SPC system, reviewing SPC charts, and supervising the people who were assigned to measure processes and construct charts. (Dep. of Bruce Layman at 19-20.)

Layman, at the time he promoted Plaintiff, told Plaintiff that her new SPCC position was permanent. (Pl.Aff.¶ 11.) Layman intended to implement the SPC process throughout all departments in Defendant's Whitfield County plant. (Layman Dep. at 10-12.)

In July or August 1995, Pat Gorham, Plaintiff's supervisor, yelled and cursed at Plaintiff. (Dep. of Pl. at 137-140.) After Plaintiff threatened to tell the Plant Manager about Gorham's conduct, Gorham told Plaintiff that he would fire her if she did so. (Id.) In addition, Gorham insulted Plaintiff by remarking that Plaintiff's hormones were out of balance because she was pregnant. (Layman Dep. at 57-59.) Gorham often made such gender-related insults toward women. (Pl.Aff.¶ 14.)

On October 1, 1995, Plaintiff commenced family leave due to the birth of her child in accordance with the FMLA. (Pl.Dep. at 115-16.) Approximately one week prior to Plaintiff's return to work, Defendant notified Plaintiff that her SPCC position was eliminated and Plaintiff would have to return as a creeler. (Pl.Aff. ¶¶ 15, 20-22; Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot.Summ.J.Ex. 4; Layman Aff. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff protested Defendant's decision to eliminate her job while she was on family leave both verbally and in writing. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot.Summ.J.Ex. 4.) Defendant nonetheless forced Plaintiff to work as a creeler when she returned. (Layman Aff. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff, however, had arranged for child care during the hours that are required for the SPCC position, and she was unable to change the arrangements to accommodate the hours required by the creeler position. Plaintiff thus resigned her employment with Defendant a week after returning from her family leave. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Summ.J.Ex. 4.)

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and, on January 31, 1997, the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter to Plaintiff. On April 30, 1997, Plaintiff sued Defendant, alleging that Defendant's conduct violated the FMLA, constituted pregnancy discrimination, constituted FMLA retaliation, violated the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 206(d), and constituted constructive discharge. On January 6, 1998, Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. On January 28, 1998, Plaintiff filed a response to Defendant's Motion as well as a voluntary dismissal of the Equal Pay Act claim.

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) authorizes summary judgment when all "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." A district court "can only grant summary judgment `if everything in the record ... demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists.'" Tippens v. Celotex Corp., 805 F.2d 949, 952 (11th Cir. 1986) (quoting Keiser v. Coliseum Properties, Inc., 614 F.2d 406, 410 (5th Cir.1980)).

It has long been established that the party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); Bingham, Ltd. v. United States, 724 F.2d 921, 924 (11th Cir.1984). The moving party's burden is discharged by "`showing' — that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In assessing whether the movant has met this burden, the district court must view the evidence and all factual inferences in the

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light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Reynolds v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 989 F.2d 465, 469 (11th Cir.1993). Once the moving party has supported its motion adequately, the nonmovant has the burden of showing summary judgment is improper by coming forward with specific facts that demonstrate there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

When considering motions for summary judgment, the court does not make decisions as to the merits of disputed factual issues. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Ryder Int'l Corp. v. First American Nat'l Bank, 943 F.2d 1521, 1523 (11th Cir. 1991). Rather, the court only determines whether there are genuine issues of material fact to be tried. Applicable substantive law identifies those facts that are material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ("[I]t is the substantive law's identification of which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant that governs."). Disputed facts which do not resolve or affect the outcome of a suit will not properly preclude the entry of summary judgment because such facts are not material. Id.

In addition to materiality, courts also must consider the genuineness of the alleged dispute. "[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is `genuine.'" Id. (emphasis added). A dispute is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Moreover, for factual issues to be genuine, they must have a real basis in the record. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. The nonmovant "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Id. at 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)). "[T]his standard mirrors the standard for a directed verdict." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "[T]he inquiry under each is the same: whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

B. Summary Judgment in Employment Discrimination Cases

The Eleventh Circuit has stated that "[i]n general, summary judgment is an inappropriate tool for resolving claims of employment discrimination." Grigsby v. Reynolds Metals Co., 821 F.2d 590, 595 (11th Cir.1987); Hairston v. Gainesville Sun, 9 F.3d 913, 921 (11th Cir.1993) ("the grant of summary judgment, though appropriate when evidence of discriminatory intent is totally lacking, is generally unsuitable in Title VII cases in which plaintiff has established a prima facie case"). Other decisions, however, have weakened this broad proposition, concluding that "despite the general presumption against using summary judgment to resolve the largely factual questions concerning discriminatory intent, it is possible for the defendant to present such strong evidence of a nondiscriminatory rationale that summary judgment is warranted." Brown v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 939 F.2d 946, 950 (11th Cir.1991); see also Howard v. BP Oil Co., Inc., 32 F.3d 520, 525 (11th Cir.1994).

Consequently, the essential inquiry for courts considering summary judgment in employment discrimination cases is whether the plaintiff has produced "sufficient evidence to support an inference that defendant employer based its employment decision on an illegal criterion." Jameson v. Arrow Co., 75 F.3d 1528, 1531 (11th Cir.1996) "The function of the court ... is to determine whether the proffered admissible evidence shows circumstances that would be sufficient to permit a rational finder of fact to infer a discriminatory motive." Id. at 1531 n. 1 (quoting Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 203-04 (2d Cir.1995)).

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C. Plaintiff's Family Medical Leave Act Claims

1. Summary of the FMLA Provisions

As pertinent here, the Family Medical Leave Act entitles an eligible employee to twelve workweeks of leave during any twelve month period "[b]ecause of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the [employee's] position," such as a pregnancy and...

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12 practice notes
  • Bozeman v. Per-Se Technologies, Inc., No. 1:03-CV-3970-RLV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • October 16, 2006
    ...that he has failed to put forth any evidence that the defendants wanted him to quit. See Cross v. Southwest Recreational Indus., Inc., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga. 1998). Instead, the undisputed evidence shows that Per-Se continued to communicate with the Plaintiff while he was on appro......
  • Smith v. Akstein, No. 104CV1002WSDCCH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • December 30, 2005
    ...that is, they `must have been taken with the intention of forcing the employee to quit.'" Cross v. Southwest Recreational Ind., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga.1998) (citation omitted); Richio v. Miami-Dade County, 163 F.Supp.2d 1352 (S.D.Fla.2001) (claim under the Americans with Disabiliti......
  • Kimsey v. Akstein, No. 104CV1001WSDCCH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • December 30, 2005
    ...that is, they `must have been taken with the intention of forcing the employee to quit.'" Cross v. Southwest Recreational Ind., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga.1998) (citation omitted); Richio v. Miami-Dade County, 163 F.Supp.2d 1352 (S.D.Fla.2001) (claim under the Americans with Disabiliti......
  • Barcikowski v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., No. 04-CV-01009-EWN-MEH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • February 24, 2006
    ...the benefit if the statutory requirements are satisfied, regardless of the intent of the employer."); Cross v. Southwest Rec. Indus., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1368 (D.Ga.1998) ("The FMLA thus imposes strict liability upon employers who deny a FMLA entitlement to a qualified employee."). The McDon......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Bozeman v. Per-Se Technologies, Inc., No. 1:03-CV-3970-RLV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • October 16, 2006
    ...that he has failed to put forth any evidence that the defendants wanted him to quit. See Cross v. Southwest Recreational Indus., Inc., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga. 1998). Instead, the undisputed evidence shows that Per-Se continued to communicate with the Plaintiff while he was on appro......
  • Smith v. Akstein, No. 104CV1002WSDCCH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • December 30, 2005
    ...that is, they `must have been taken with the intention of forcing the employee to quit.'" Cross v. Southwest Recreational Ind., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga.1998) (citation omitted); Richio v. Miami-Dade County, 163 F.Supp.2d 1352 (S.D.Fla.2001) (claim under the Americans with Disabiliti......
  • Kimsey v. Akstein, No. 104CV1001WSDCCH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • December 30, 2005
    ...that is, they `must have been taken with the intention of forcing the employee to quit.'" Cross v. Southwest Recreational Ind., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1376 (N.D.Ga.1998) (citation omitted); Richio v. Miami-Dade County, 163 F.Supp.2d 1352 (S.D.Fla.2001) (claim under the Americans with Disabiliti......
  • Barcikowski v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., No. 04-CV-01009-EWN-MEH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • February 24, 2006
    ...the benefit if the statutory requirements are satisfied, regardless of the intent of the employer."); Cross v. Southwest Rec. Indus., 17 F.Supp.2d 1362, 1368 (D.Ga.1998) ("The FMLA thus imposes strict liability upon employers who deny a FMLA entitlement to a qualified employee."). The McDon......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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