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Cargo v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

December 4, 2014

CLARENCE CARGO, ET AL.,
v.
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY

MEMORANDUM RULING

S. MAURICE HICKS, Jr., District Judge.

Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff Tammye Stinson's ("Stinson") various employment discrimination claims (Record Document 874) filed by Defendant Kansas City Southern Railway Company ("KCSR"). The motion conveys reasons for KCSR seeking dismissal of all claims raised by Stinson. Stinson, in opposition to KCSR's Motion for Summary Judgment, replies "Plaintiff has established a prima facie case of retaliation/ failure to interview for promotion" under the McDonnell Douglas framework." Record Document 882 at 3. Stinson further argues she has established her hostile work environment claim. Id. at 4. Stinson concedes her state law claims. Id. at 8. For the reasons that follow, KCSR's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Accordingly, all of Stinson's claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Stinson is an African American female. Record Document 874-2 at 1. She began to work at KCSR as an Extra Board Clerk in Customer Service on December 30, 1996. On March 28, 1997, Stinson became a full time Customer Service Representative in the Customer Service Center (CSC). (SOF, ¶ 4).

As a Customer Service Representative in the CSC, Stinson's job duties and responsibilities included handling customer calls and locating cars and the schedule of transport of specific cars about which customers inquire. (SOF, ¶ 6). As a Clerk in the CSC at KCSR, Stinson was a member of the Transportation Communications International Union ("TCIU"), who was a signatory to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with KCSR. (SOF ¶7).

KCSR had and has various rules and policies in place governing safety, operating procedures and the responsibilities and job performance of employees. (SOF, ¶ 20). KCSR also had rules and policies in place governing computer usage, prohibiting discrimination and harassment of employees on any basis whatsoever as well as safety which rules include but are not limited to the Use of Information Resources Policy, Anti-Harassment Policy, Business Ethics and Compliance Policy, Safety Through Awareness and Responsibility (STAR), the General Code of Operating Rules and General Responsibilities. (SOF, ¶ 21). Stinson received copies of various rules and policies in effect, at the time she was hired and at various times during her tenure with KCSR, including rules prohibiting harassment and retaliation, and she signed written acknowledgments confirming the receipt of these rules. (SOF, ¶ 27).

In the instant matter, Stinson was subject to formal discipline on one occasion. (SOF, ¶ 36). According to KCSR's records, the computer and email usage of some 300 employees were reviewed during the first round of email audits in the fall of 2002. (SOF, ¶ 37). According to KCSR records, Stinson was included in the employees reviewed in the 2002 Email Audit. (SOF, ¶ 39). On December 11, 2002, Stinson was notified, by letter, of a formal investigation scheduled for December 17, 2002, to ascertain her "responsibility, if any, in connection with: 1) [her] alleged improper use of company electronic mail; 2) [her] alleged inappropriate behavior; 3) [her] alleged failure to devote [herself] to [her] duties; and 4) [her] alleged transmittal of sexually explicit and sexually suggestive material via KCS's electronic equipment." (SOF, ¶ 40). On December 12, 2002, Stinson signed a waiver and acknowledgment accepting full responsibility for this incident and admitting to violations of General Responsibilities Rules, Information Resources Acceptable Use Policy and the Anti-Harassment Policy, and waiving her right to a formal investigation. (SOF, ¶ 41). Pursuant to the acknowledgment and waiver, Stinson was issued a 30-day suspension. (SOF, ¶ 42). Stinson's email audit file included inappropriate and suggestive correspondence in violation of KCSR policies, an example of which is an email transmitted by Stinson entitled "MY SCORE WAS 72" which she forwarded to individuals within the KCSR email system. (Ex. 13, Stinson Email, D060336-D060340). This email refers to a game to play to "see how bad you are!!!" Id . The questions reference explicit sexual activities such as "oral sex, " "screwed someone, " "screwed something, " and "had sexual fantasies" as well as other inappropriate subjects. (SOF, ¶ 43). Stinson admitted at her deposition that "sending or receiving sexually suggestive emails during this time period in time was a violation of Kansas City Southern's company policies." (SOF, ¶ 45).

Stinson was subject to some coaching via email from Amanda Jenson, Manager of Customer Service. In June of 2005, Ms. Jenson sent email correspondence to Stinson and three other employees regarding their missed calls with a ROMAN Monitor record showing that Stinson had three abandoned calls. (SOF, ¶ 48). In March of 2006, Stinson received email correspondence from Ms. Jenson regarding a work order that had not been completed and entered into the system. (SOF, ¶ 50). While coached, Stinson received no discipline for either of these violations. (SOF, ¶ 51).

Stinson remained employed with KCSR until the CSC department was transferred from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Kansas City, Missouri, at which point she declined to follow her position. (SOF, ¶ 5). Stinson was furloughed in April 2009 due to her decision. (SOF, ¶ 8). Stinson remained on furlough until such time as her union seniority expired under the CBA on June 10, 2011. (SOF, ¶ 9). Stinson filed a grievance and appealed the furlough, through the UTU, the Union in which she was a member, pursuant to the CBA and law, in an effort to retain her position in Shreveport, Louisiana, because she admittedly liked her job. (SOF, ¶ 10).

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[1] Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." See Id . "Rule 56[(a)] 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." Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315 (5th Cir.2004). If the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, "the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Gen. Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir.2004). Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir.2005).

LAW AND ANALYSIS

I. Failure to Promote and Discriminatory Discipline Claims

Stinson has filed claims based on failure to promote and discrimination based upon discipline received. There are two separate standards this Court must use in analyzing the claims. The ...


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