Dudley v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Decision Date10 April 1996
Docket Number94-D-629-N to 94-D-632-N,94-D-650-N and 94-D-656-N.,94-D-649-N,94-D-531-N,94-D-610-N,Civil Action No. 94-D-508-N,94-D-638-N,94-D-643-N,94-D-642-N
Citation931 F. Supp. 773
PartiesLillian D. DUDLEY, Pro Se, Clara L. Robertson, Aurelia Hart, Kumasi Mants, Lola Nowden, Melba Jean Easter, Caroline Glover, Twalla McCree, Calandra J. Cherry, Charlotte Hardy, Corey Crawford, Terri Howard-Stallworth, Stephanie Shields, Plaintiffs, v. WAL-MART STORES, INC., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama










Lillian D. Dudley, Montgomery, AL, pro se.

Lucie U. McLemore and Kenneth W. Underwood, Jr., Montgomery, AL, for Clara L. Robertson, Aurelia Hart, Kumasi Mants, Lola Nowden, Melba Jean Easter, Caroline Glover, Twalla McCree, Calandra J. Cherry, Charlotte Hardy, Corey Crawford, Terri Howard-Stallworth, Stephanie Shields, Yetta Ellis and Winston S. Smith.

Charles A. Powell, III, John W. Sheffield, Barry V. Frederick, William Kennedy Hancock, David W. Proctor, William G. Somerville, III, Spencer A. Kinderman, and Jennifer F. Swain, Johnston, Barton, Proctor & Powell, Birmingham, AL, for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.


DE MENT, District Judge.

This cause is now before the court on twelve motions for summary judgment filed by the defendant, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart").1 The plaintiffs in this consolidated action are either current or former employees of Wal-Mart store # 930 located in Montgomery, Alabama. The plaintiffs allege that Wal-Mart discriminated against them on the basis of race by breaching the terms and conditions of their employment, in violation of 42 U.S.C. ? 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ? 2000e et seq.2

Because Wal-Mart's motions involve similar legal issues and facts, the court will address the motions simultaneously. After careful consideration of the arguments of counsel, the relevant case law and the record as a whole, the court issues the following memorandum opinion.


Based upon 28 U.S.C. ?? 1331, 1343 and 42 U.S.C. ? 2000e-5(f)(3), the court properly exercises subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue.

Additionally, under Title VII and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ("EEOC") regulations, a plaintiff must satisfy two jurisdictional requirements before filing a complaint in federal court. The court finds that all plaintiffs, except Calandra Cherry and Caroline Glover, discussed infra, (1) timely filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and, (2) after receiving right-to-sue letters from the EEOC, timely instituted this action. See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 798, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1822, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).


On a motion for summary judgment, the court is to construe the evidence and factual inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Summary judgment can be entered on a claim only if it is shown "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). As the Supreme Court has explained the summary judgment standard:

The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The trial court's function at this juncture is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (citations omitted). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510; see also Barfield v. Brierton, 883 F.2d 923, 933 (11th Cir.1989).

The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of establishing, based on relevant "portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions in the file, together with affidavits, if any,'" that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53. Once this initial demonstration under Rule 56(c) is made, the burden of production, not persuasion, shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and by his or her own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

In meeting this burden the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is a metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Corp. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). That party must demonstrate that there is a "genuine issue for trial." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. at 1356. An action is void of a material issue for trial "where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Id. at 587, 106 S.Ct. at 1356; see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11.

I. Legal Standard

The plaintiffs bring their discrimination claims under Title VII and/or ? 1981, both of which prohibit racial discrimination in employment. Because both statutes require a showing of intentional discrimination, courts apply the same test for analyzing claims under Title VII and ? 1981. Durham v. Xerox Corp., 18 F.3d 836, 839 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 115 S.Ct. 80, 130 L.Ed.2d 33 (1994) ("The allocation of burdens under Title VII applies to proving intentional discrimination under section 1981 as well.") (citation omitted).

In an action alleging disparate treatment under Title VII, a plaintiff must prove an intentional discriminatory motive by presenting either direct or circumstantial evidence. St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 519-21, 113 S.Ct. 2742, 2754, 125 L.Ed.2d 407 (1993); see e.g., Lee v. Russell County Bd. of Educ., 684 F.2d 769, 771-72 (11th Cir.1982). Absent direct evidence, a plaintiff can establish intentional discrimination under the three-part burden-shifting analysis set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), and Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981).

Under the McDonnell Douglas and Burdine framework,3 the plaintiff first must raise an inference of race discrimination by establishing a prima facie case. Batey v. Stone, 24 F.3d 1330, 1333 (11th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). The purpose of the prima facie case is to show an adverse employment decision that resulted from a discriminatory motive. See Perryman v. Johnson Products Co., 698 F.2d 1138, 1143 (11th Cir.1983). Here, the individual plaintiffs have alleged discrimination in various facets of their employment at Wal-Mart, including promotions, terminations and work environments. Because the elements of the prima facie case vary depending upon the challenged employment decision, the court will discuss the prima facie standards separately when addressing the claims of each individual plaintiff.

If a plaintiff succeeds in showing a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden shifts to the defendant to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason" for the adverse employment decision. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. at 1824. The defendant's burden is "exceedingly light," Perryman, 698 F.2d at 1142, as it "must merely proffer race neutral reasons, not prove them." Meeks v. Computer Assocs. Int'l, 15 F.3d 1013, 1019 (11th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted) (brackets supplied). Once the defendant satisfies its burden of production, the McDonnell Douglas framework, with its presumptions and burdens, drops out of the case, and the only inquiry becomes "whether the plaintiff has proven `that the employer intentionally discriminated against' him because of his race." St. Mary's, 509 U.S. at 511, 113 S.Ct. at 2749. To prove discrimination after the McDonnell Douglas framework drops out, a plaintiff can show (by either presentation of evidence or cross-examination of defendant's witnesses) that the defendant's proffered reason was a pretext for discrimination, "but a reason cannot be proved to be `a pretext for discrimination' unless it is shown both that the reason was false, and that discrimination was the real reason."4 Id. at 515, 113 S.Ct. at 2752.

Moreover, race must be "a determinative factor in the employer's decision, though it need not have been the sole factor." Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc., 833 F.2d 1525, 1528 (11th Cir.1987); see also Monroe v. United Air Lines, Inc., 736 F.2d 394, 402 (7th Cir.1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1004, 105 S.Ct. 1356, 1357, 84 L.Ed.2d 378 (1985) (...

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