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Brown v. Beverly Industries, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 12, 2015



SARAH S. VANCE, District Judge.

Defendant Beverly Industries, LLC moves to dismiss plaintiff Jerome Brown's pro se claim for hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[1] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion.

I. Background

This is a hostile work environment and retaliation suit by a former employee against his former employer. Defendant Beverly employed plaintiff, Jerome Brown, on its pipe fitting crew from May 3, 2013 until it terminated his employment on August 7, 2013.

Plaintiff has filed a complaint, an opposition to defendant's partial motion to dismiss, and a motion for summary judgment.[2] Because plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the Court considers the facts alleged in plaintiff's complaint, opposition, and motion for summary judgment. See Clark v. Huntleigh Corp., 119 F. Appx. 666,

667 (5th Cir. 2005).

Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his complaint. Plaintiff was hired by defendant at some time in May 2013 as a lead man on the pipe fitting crew.[3] Shortly after, defendant promoted plaintiff to pipe crew foreman.[4] In his opposition, plaintiff clarifies that he was promoted to foreman at some time in June 2013.[5] At a later point, defendant moved plaintiff to the position of foreman of the flat fence line.[6] At this point, an African American co-worker, Brian Scott, and two white co-workers, Blake Chauvenaux and Jeremy Muskenberger, subjected plaintiff to racially discriminatory name calling.[7] Specifically, plaintiff states that they called him "Nigger" and "Uncle Tom ass nigger."[8] Plaintiff also alleges that they called him "Bitch" and "Motherfucker."[9]

In August 2013, plaintiff reported the name calling to his supervisor, Doug Flint.[10] Mr. Flint responded, "That is how they talk around here, " and took no further action.[11] Plaintiff also reported the conduct to Denny Broud, Mr. Scott's supervisor, but again no action was taken.[12] On August 7, 2013, Mr. Flint terminated plaintiff after he complained about a co-worker's violation of machine safety operation protocols.[13] Separately, plaintiff alleges that he was terminated after reporting the racial remarks.[14]

Describing the effect of the alleged remarks, plaintiff alleges: "It was very difficult for me to perform my daily duties as a lead man on the pipe crew because [of the] racial[l]y hostile work environment, harassment and racial discrimination from co-workers."[15]

Plaintiff alleges additional facts in his opposition.[16] Contrary to plaintiff's complaint, where he alleges that Mr. Flint took no action after plaintiff reported Mr. Scott's name calling, plaintiff now states that Mr. Flint called Mr. Scott into his office to discuss the name calling two weeks before plaintiff was terminated, at which time Mr. Flint spoke to Mr. Scott about the name calling and had Mr. Scott sign a disciplinary form, which was placed in his employee file.[17] Again, contrary to plaintiff's complaint where he alleges that Mr. Scott, Mr. Muskenberger, and Mr. Chauvenaux commenced the name calling at the same time, plaintiff now alleges that Mr. Chauvenaux and Mr. Muskenberger did not engage in the name calling until after Mr. Scott was disciplined for his conduct.[18] Given that Mr. Scott was not disciplined until two weeks before plaintiff was terminated, this presents a maximum of a two-week window during which plaintiff was potentially subject to remarks by Mr. Muskenberger and Mr. Chauvenaux. In spite of these specific allegations, plaintiff alleges that he endured the name calling throughout the entire course of his employment.[19] Plaintiff also now states that he reported the conduct to other individuals, including his manager, Brian Kilgen, and another supervisor, Byron Dupre.[20]

Plaintiff also now alleges new facts surrounding an incident between himself and his co-workers on the day he was terminated. Specifically, plaintiff states that in his presence, Mr. Chauvenaux, while using a front loader, knocked over another coworker's materials.[21] Plaintiff then asked Mr. Chauvenaux why he was destroying company property, to which Mr. Chauvenaux responded, "Fuck him, " referring to the co-worker whose materials he had knocked over.[22] At this point, Mr. Chauvenaux attempted to run plaintiff over with the front loader, but plaintiff avoided the collision.[23]

Plaintiff first reported the incident to his supervisor, Mr. Flint.[24] Shortly later, plaintiff reported the incident and the ongoing racial remarks separately to Terry Bolden, another supervisor, and an unnamed "safety man."[25] After plaintiff relayed his account in Mr. Bolden's office in the presence of Mr. Bolden and the "safety man, " Mr. Bolden called Mr. Flint and other senior managers into his office for a meeting.[26] Plaintiff was not asked to stay for the meeting.[27] Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Flint and the other senior managers gave him "a really dirty look" as he left Mr. Bolden's office.[28]

Some forty-five minutes later, Mr. Flint and Mr. Kilgen confronted plaintiff and called him "every name in the book, " including "stupid nigger, " while telling him to "get [his] black ass of [their] property."[29] At this point, Mr. Flint handed plaintiff a termination form.[30] Plaintiff alleges that defendant retaliated against him for reporting the ongoing racial remarks to upper management.[31]

Plaintiff attaches a Disciplinary Form and Separation Notice to his complaint.[32] Both documents list "reduction in work force" as the ...

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