Farrar v. Town of Stratford

Citation537 F.Supp.2d 332
Decision Date19 March 2008
Docket NumberNo. 3:05CV00105(DJS).,3:05CV00105(DJS).
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
PartiesFranklin FARRAR, Plaintiff, v. TOWN OF STRATFORD, Defendant.
537 F.Supp.2d 332
Franklin FARRAR, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF STRATFORD, Defendant.
No. 3:05CV00105(DJS).
United States District Court, D. Connecticut.
March 19, 2008.

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Albert G. Vasko, Eugene N. Axelrod, Employment Law Group, Woodbridge, CT, for Plaintiff.

Warren L. Holcomb, Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C., Milford, CT, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

DOMINIC J. SQUATRITO, District Judge.


The Plaintiff, Franklin Farrar ("Farrar"), brings this action against the Defendant, the Town of Stratford, Connecticut ("the Town"), alleging the following: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title

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VII") (Count One); (2) a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII (Count Two); (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII (Count Three); (4) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. ("ADEA") (Count Four); retaliation in violation of the ADEA (Count Five); race discrimination in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen.Stat. §§ 46a-60 et seq. ("CFEPA") (Count Six); age discrimination in violation of CFEPA (Count Seven); retaliation in violation of CFEPA (Count Eight); aiding and abetting in violation of CFEPA (Count Nine); a violation of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185 ("LMRA") (Count Ten); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Eleven); and negligent supervision (Count Twelve). Now pending is the Town's motion for summary judgment (dkt.# 38) pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, the Town's motion for summary judgment (dkt.# 38) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. FACTS

Farrar, who is an African-American, was born on August 18, 1942. Since 1978, Farrar has been employed on a regular, full-time, and continuous basis by the Town in the Highway Division of its Public Works Department. He was hired as a full-time laborer, and later worked in several different truck driving positions. From 1995 to the present, Farrar has been employed as a highway crew leader.

At all times during his employment with the Town, Farrar has been part of a bargaining unit represented by the Stratford Public Works Association, Local 134 ("Local 134"), an affiliate of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO. Farrar was elected the President of Local 134 in 1988, and he served in that union office until 1998, when he lost his bid for reelection. The Town and Local 134 have been parties to a number of successive collective bargaining agreements. When Farrar brought this action, the bargaining agreement in effect covered the period from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2007 ("the Local 134 Agreement").

In his capacity as a highway crew reader, Farrar reports to the Superintendent of Highways, who in turn reports to the Director of Public Works. Alan Craig ("Craig"), who is Caucasian and was born on August 18, 1947, was employed by the Town as its Superintendent of Highways continuously from 1986 until his retirement on August 1, 2003. According to Farrar, his working relationship with Craig started out well.

At all relevant times, Craig was a member of a bargaining unit represented by the Town of Stratford Supervisors' Union, Local 3804, Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO-CLC ("the Supervisors' Union"). The Town and the Supervisors' Union have been parties to a number of successive collective bargaining agreements. When Farrar brought this action, the bargaining agreement in effect covered the period from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2006 ("the Supervisors' Agreement"). Michael Hudzik ("Hudzik") was employed by the Town as its Director of Public Works from February 1992 to October 26, 2004, when he was given a letter recommending his termination from, the Town Manager and ceased working.

In or about the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Town laid off a number of Local 134 Public Works employees. As a result of these layoffs and other labor-management disputes, a large number of grievances and municipal prohibited practice complaints ("MMPs") were filed by Local 134 during that period. During that same period, Farrar was either the Vice President

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or President of Local 134. Because of the many labor-management disputes between the Town and Local 134, the relationship between Farrar and Craig changed from being friendly to being strictly professional and businesslike. At all times from and after the early 1990s, Farrar and Craig talked to each other very little, and their conversations were limited to work-related matters.

It is Farrar's belief that, from that time onward, Craig viewed him as an "obstacle," and that even after he lost his reelection bid in 1998 and was no longer involved in union matters, Craig continued to regard him as a union advocate. Farrar claims that, in October 1998, after he lost the reelection bid, Craig said, "It's open season," which Farrar perceived to be a threat against him.

From 1995 to late January 2000, the two highway crew leaders were Todd Whitlock ("Whitlock") and Farrar. Whitlock, who had more seniority than Farrar, retired on January 21, 2000. He was replaced by Lou Gallick, Jr. ("Gallick"). When overtime was available, Craig asked Whitlock or, after Whitlock's retirement, Gallick to canvass the employees to see who was available to work the overtime. Farrar claims that he was treated differently than the other crew leaders because he was not asked to canvass employees to see who was available to work the overtime. According to Farrar, he was the senior crew leader after Whitlock retired, and thus he should have been the one to canvass the employees.

At the beginning of each workday, Farrar routinely received his daily work assignments from Craig, although according to Farrar, once he became crew leader, he received his assignments from the Superintendent of Highways. Generally, Farrar did not communicate with Craig during the course of the work day until the end of the day. On relatively infrequent occasions, when problems arose on job sites, Farrar would radio Craig to inform him of the problem. Normally, Craig trusted Farrar's ability to resolve any problems on the job sites. On occasion, though, Craig would visit the job sites. At the end of each workday, Farrar reported to Craig regarding the progress he had made on his daily job assignments.

The parties admit that each weekend, one of the crew leaders is on call and receives standby pay. If an emergency arises and the individual is called into work, he receives overtime pay. For many years, there have been three individuals in the standby overtime rotation, two highway crew leaders and a pay loader operator. On occasions when one of the three regular members in the standby overtime rotation had been absent from work because of an extended medical leave, an acting crew leader was added as the interim third member of the rotation. On one specific occasion, when the pay loader operator retired, the standby weekend overtime was rotated for a brief period of time between Farrar and Gallick. Bob Beaudry ("Beaudry") subsequently became the new pay load operator, and was added to the weekend overtime rotation.

In 2002, Gallick took an extended workers' compensation leave of absence, and Jay Davidson ("Davidson") became the acting crew leader in his place. While Gallick was on leave, only Farrar and the pay loader operator were in the rotation for standby weekend overtime. Also in 2002, Craig sent Farrar to a management course one day per week for six weeks at Housatonic Community College during his regularly scheduled work hours.

Under the "own's Pension Plan, an employee's retirement benefit is calculated based on the employee's earnings for the twenty-four months immediately preceding his or her retirement. Craig claims that,

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in the spring of 2002, he heard a rumor that Farrar was considering retiring in May 2003. According to Craig, he had a conversation with Farrar in which he asked Farrar whether he was going to retire in May 2003. Craig claims that he made this inquiry because if Farrar was going to retire, Craig would try to delay placing acting crew leader Davidson in the standby overtime rotation in order to increase Farrar's earnings and retirement benefit. Farrar admits that he had a conversation with Craig, but he asserts that Craig asked him to retire. In addition, Farrar asserts that Craig's proffered reason for making his inquiry is false because, under Local 134 Agreement, Craig did not have the authority to increase Farrar's overtime. The parties admit that the Local 134 Agreement contains a provision requiring that over the course of each contract year, overtime pay must be equalized among employees in the same job classification, i.e., that employees in the same job classification be offered the same amount of overtime.

When Farrar informed Craig that he was not planning on retiring, Craig told Farrar that he was going to add Davidson to the standby overtime rotation. Farrar's interpretation of what Craig told him was that, if Farrar did not retire, Craig would take "his overtime." Both sides admit that during this conversation, no voices were raised, and Craig and Farrar treated each other respectfully.

After this conversation with Craig, acting crew leader Davidson was added to the weekend standby rotation. Farrar claims that he was not assigned weekend standby and overtime for eight months following Craig's conversation with him. Farrar does not recall, however, exactly when this treatment began, and he does not know how much standby and overtime pay he should have received. According to Farrar, the standby and overtime pay he should have received went to Davidson.

In January 2003, Craig gave Farrar the...

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