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Goodley v. Wal-Mart Louisiana LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

August 15, 2017

WILSON GOODLEY
v.
WAL-MART LOUISIANA LLC

          KAY MAG. JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES T. TRIMBLE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is a "Motion for Summary Judgment" (R. #53) filed by defendant, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") wherein the mover seeks to dismiss with prejudice Plaintiffs lawsuit alleging race and age discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 623, et seq. (ADEA).

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         Plaintiff, Wilson Goodley, an African-American born on January 29, 1953, was employed at Wal-Mart Store No. 469 in Lake Charles, Louisiana from June 1986 until his discharge on February 10, 2015.[1] The Store Manager, Keith Duplechin, terminated Mr. Goodley due to long standing problems with attendance and job performance.[2]

         In its statement of material facts, Wal-Mart lists the following complaints Mr. Goodley made for past discrimination:

         1. In 1997, after being disciplined for excessive absenteeism, Mr. Goodley filed a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights; the charge was dismissed.[3]

         2. In 1997, after Mr. Goodly spoke out about alleged mistreatment of Associates, Mr. Goodley complained he was the subject of racially based retaliation.[4]

         3. On August 20, 1997. Mr. Goodley complained of "abusive, oppressive, cruel, harassment, and provocative method of administering" manager's authority over Wal-Mart associates."[5]

         4. On September 10, 1997, Mr. Goodley authored a complaint letter alleging he was harassed and discriminated against by members of the management teams and such harassment was racially motivated and intended for his "eventual termination."[6]

         5. On March 21, 2002, Mr. Goodley authored a letter to the Wal-Mart Regional Vice President complaining that the management team made unreasonable demands and created a hostile work environment and that certain actions were based on racial animus.[7]

         6. In April 2002, Mr. Goodley was terminated for absenteeism. He was later reinstated after producing a doctor's statement reporting that he had been under a doctor's care. Mr. Goodley claims the termination constituted race discrimination.[8]

         7. On March 11, 2004, Mr. Goodley filed a complaint against the Support Manager alleging he was threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to push shopping carts due to other pending job responsibilities.[9] Mr. Goodley believed the manager's actions were based on racial animus.[10]

         8. In May 2012, Mr. Goodley authored a complaint to the Manager about the Department Manager's assignment of tasks which Mr. Goodley believed were out of racial animus.[11]

         The majority of Associates and Managers throughout Mr. Goodley's employment are and have been African-American.[12] Wal-Mart further provides a history of Mr. Goodley's attendance problems through his Annual Performance Evaluations:

         1. In his November 7, 1989 performance evaluation, Mr. Goodley commented "I do need to be at work on time, because it could create a problem and I will do so."[13]

         2. In his May 1991 performance appraisal, Mr. Goodley's "plan of action" was to improve his tardiness by trying to avoid being late and missing too many days.[14]

         3. In his May 1992 performance review, Mr. Goodley stated that he needed improvement on arriving at work on time as scheduled.[15]

         4. In Mr. Goodley's 1994 Associate Self-Evaluation, he stated that he intended to "try to be more consistent on getting to work on time."[16]

         5. Mr. Goodley's 1997 performance review states that he sometimes had a problem reporting to work on time.[17]

         6. In Mr. Goodley's 1998 Associated Evaluation, "attendance" and "punctuality" were areas of needed improvement.[18]

         7. In his 2008 performance review, Mr. Goodley stated that he "will work on punctuality and attendance."[19]

         8. In Mr. Goodley's 2010 performance evaluation, attendance was identified as an area of opportunity.[20]

         9. In Mr. Goodley's 2012 performance evaluation, attendance was identified as an area of opportunity.[21]

         Wal-mart has submitted a history of Mr. Goodley's coaching for improvement as follows:

         1. On December 12, 2003, Mr. Goodley received a First Written Coaching as a result of having 23 unapproved absences in a six month period.[22]

         2. On March 29, 2005, Mr. Goodley received a First Written Coaching for six (6) unexcused absences in one month.[23]

         3. On April 29, 2006, Mr. Goodley received a First Written Coaching after he "missed numerous scheduled days of work in a six month rolling period."[24]

         4. On June 17, 2008, Mr. Goodley received a First Written Coaching for 20 unapproved absences and eight tardies during the pertinent time period.[25]

         5. On August 25, 2009, Mr. Goodley received a First Written Coaching for 19 absences within a 6 month rolling period at which time Mr. Goodley was aware that seven (7) in the six month rolling period should have resulted in termination.[26]

         6. On September 9, 2011, Mr. Goodley was observed to have 14 points assessed for attendance related issues; Wal-mart's policy allowed three (3) points in six (6) months.[27]

         Wal-Mart submits summary judgment evidence of Mr. Goodley's job performance problems as follows:

         1. Wal-Mart used a computerized time management system to monitor productivity of overnight stockers.[28]

         2. Mr. Goodley acknowledged that he consistently had problems meeting benchmark performance levels set by the computerized time management system.[29]

         3. While working as a full-time night stocker, Mr. Goodley also operated a clothing store and worked 30to35 hours a week duringthe day. He was often so tired he frequently slept during breaks while working as a night stocker.[30]

         4. Manager Duplechin spoke to Mr. Goodley on more than one occasion about his job performance issues which Mr. Duplechin opined were accentuated by Mr. Goodley's full time work during the day and full-time night shift.[31]

         5. Mr. Duplechin offered Mr. Goodley a maintenance position that did not utilize the computer based time management system, but Mr. Goodley refused the offer.[32]

         6. On January 3, 2015, the overnight Co-Manager authored an email sent to Mr. Duplechin regarding attendance and performance issues, one of which involved Mr. Goodley and the fact that he was on his third coaching for "attendance/job performance issues." The email reported that Mr. Goodley's performance was "still below expectations" and that he continued to have attendance issues.[33]

         Wal-Mart submits summary judgment evidence as to Mr. Goodley's coachings/progressive discipline which led to his termination as follows:

         1. On July 20, 2013, Mr. Goodley was issued a First Written Coaching due to "Attendance/Punctuality problems." He was advised that the next level of action would be a "Second Written up to and including Termination" if Goodley's attendance/punctuality problems continued.[34]

         2. On February 5, 2014, Mr. Goodley received a Second Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality" wherein it was noted that Mr. Goodley had five (5) tardies and four (4) absences in the preceding six (6) months.[35]

         3. On March 30, 2014, Mr. Goodley received a Third Written Coaching due to "Job Performance" because African-American Assistant Manager Simmons observed that Mr. Goodley had been unable to complete tasks on several occasions and that an increase in productivity was needed.[36]

         4. Between August 11, 2014 and February 10, 2015, Mr. Goodley had ten (10) unapproved absences and five (5) unapproved tardies.[37]

         5. In February 2015, Mr. Duplechin made the decision to terminate Mr. Goodley based on (a) chronic attendance problems that were unabated, (b) unimproved job performance, and (c) Mr. Goodley had been issued a Third Written Coaching.[38]

         6. In his Exit Interview, Mr. Goodley was eligible for rehire by Wal-Mart, and even though he was aware that he was eligible for rehire, he has never reapplied for employment with Wal-Mart.[39]

         Wal-Mart also provides ratios of black to white stockers during the pertinent time periods as follows:

         1. On February 15, 2015 (at the time of Mr. Goodley's termination), 74% of the stockers were either African-American or minority, and 25.7% were Caucasian.[40]

         2. On February 10, 2016, 88% of the stockers were African-American and minority, whereas 12% were Caucasian.[41]

         3. From February 10, 2016, 80% of the stockers were African-American and minority, whereas 20% were Caucasian.[42]

         4. Mr. Goodley was not replaced by a specific new hire, and he is not aware if he was replaced by a white associate.[43]

         5. On February 18, 2015, three (3) night stockers were hired; two (2) were African-American and one (1) was Caucasian. From February 11, 2015 to December 31, 2015, in accordance with Wal-Mart's practice of hiring on a regular and continuing basis, of the eleven newly hired stockers, nine were African-American.[44]

         In his lawsuit, Mr. Goodley attempts to establish racial discrimination based on white associates who allegedly received more favorable treatment than Mr. Goodley. Wal-Mart has submitted evidence of certain Wal-Mart employees that Mr. Goodley relies upon to establish discrimination.

         A.M.

         A.M. is a 53 year-old white co-worker who Mr. Goodley alleges had absenteeism which exceeded Mr. Goodley's absences. Mr. Goodley alleges that A.M. was not disciplined or terminated.[45] A.M. was employed as a sales associate from January 3, 2010 through January 12, 2014. (A.M. was bom in 1965). A.M. was terminated on January 12, 2014 and her discharge is identified as "Assignment Completed."[46] A.M. was rehired as a grocery stocker on March 23, 2014.[47] On August 31, 2014, A.M. was given a "Second Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality.[48] On January 3, 2015, Mr. Duplechin received an email from Ms. Loerwald indicating that A.M. had "19 absences with no coachings - includes 11 no shows. Not including time or requested for LOA - need to coach ASAP."[49]

         Wal-Mart submits undisputed summary judgment evidence that from July 14, 2014 through January 13, 2015, many of A.M. absences should not have been counted as "occurrences" because A.M. was on an intermittent leave of absence and from October 10, 2014 through November 29, 2014, A.M. was on personal leave.[50]Consequently, when A.M. received her first coaching in January 2015, shortly after Loerwald's email, A.M. had between seven (7) and thirteen absences in over thirteen months.[51]

         On January 7, 2015, A.M. received a First Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality" and on April 3, 2015 A.M. received a Second Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality".[52] On June 10, 2015 A.M. received a Third Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality" and was advised that the next level of action would be termination.[53] On August 23, 2015, A.M. was terminated due to excessive absences and tardiness.[54]

         R.W.B.

         R.W.B. is a Caucasian stocker who was born in 1957, just four (4) years younger than Mr. Goodley.[55] R.W.B. worked for Wal-Mart for 12 years and was terminated on February 6, 2012 due to job performance issues.[56] R.W.B. was eligible for rehire and was rehired on July 17, 2012 as a stocker. From August 2004 until April 2015, R.W.B. worked as a Maintenance Associate in a different department than Mr. Goodley with a different supervisor.[57] Consequently, because R.W.B. was not a night stocker in January 2015, Ms. Loerwald would not have reviewed his attendance records to prepare her January 3, 2015 email.

         On September 12, 2013, R.W.B. received a First Written coaching for Respect for the Individual.[58] On October 6, 2013, R.W.B. received a Second Written coaching for meal break violations.[59] On May 1, 2014, R.W.B. received a Third written coaching for Poor Customer Service.[60] Neither Duplechin nor Loerwald were aware that R.W.B. had any attendance issues.[61]

         W.M.

         W.M. (born in 1987) is a white night stocker who Mr. Goodley alleges had excessive absences but was not terminated.[62] W.M. was terminated on June 15, 2009 after three (3) days of unreported absences.[63]W.M. was rehired on March 28, 2010 as a stocker.[64] From December 15, 2013 until November 29, 2015, W.M. worked as a sales associate in the dairy/frozen foods department.[65] On November 29, 2015, W.M. became a night stocker; he received a First Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality" on July 12, 2010[66] and a Second Written Coaching on August 28, 2010.[67] W.M. received a Third Written Coaching for "job performance" on November 28, 2010 which was cancelled following a complaint made by W.M. pursuant to Wal-Mart's "Open Door" policy.[68]

         On April 13, 2011, W.M. received a Third Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality".[69] On May 4, 2012, W.M. received a First Written Coaching for "Attendant/punctuality" which expired on May 5, 2013.[70] On November 28, 2012, W.M. received a Second Written coaching for "Job Performance" which expired on November 28, 2013.[71] On May 9, 2015, W.M. received a First Written Coaching for "Attendance/Punctuality."[72] On January 29, 2016, W.M. received a Second Written Coaching for "Job Performance" which expired on January 28, 2017.[73]

         W.M. performed a different job, in a different department with a different supervisor and did not become a night stocker until nine (9) months after Mr. Goodley's termination.

         B.B.

         Mr. Goodley alleges that B.B. (born in 1983) had excessive absenteeism but was not disciplined or terminated.[74] From August 11, 2013 through November 3, 2013, B.B. was employed as a Food Sales ASC and from November 3, 2013 through May 31, 2015, B.B. was employed as a support manager.[75] Mr. Goodley asserts that someone told him that B.B. falsified attendance ...


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