United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
B. WHITEHURST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion For Summary Judgment filed by
defendant, Linear Controls Inc. (“Linear
Controls”), [Rec. Doc. 29]. Plaintiff, David D.
Peterson, filed a Memorandum In Opposition [Rec. Doc. 33] and
Linear Controls filed a Reply thereto [Rec. Doc. 39]. For the
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion.
is a former employee of Linear Controls who worked offshore
as an electrician on a construction crew and also
periodically performed maintenance work on offshore rigs.
Plaintiff was employed with Linear Controls for approximately
seven (7) years before he submitted a resignation letter on
September 23, 2015.
filed an EEOC Charge against Linear Controls on October 21,
2015 alleging that for an approximately six (6) week period
in 2015, July 15-August 22, 2015, while working for Linear
Controls on the Fieldwood Energy, LLC
(“Fieldwood”) East Breaks 165 platform, he was
discriminated against on the basis of his
race-African-American, and that he was subjected to
discrimination based on his religion-Muslin. Plaintiff also
claimed “retaliation” in his EEOC charge because
he was late for a safety meeting along with two white
employees, but he was the only one written-up for the
violation. R. 29-3, Exh. B. Plaintiff
asserted claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 (42 U.S.C. §2000e) ("Title VII"). After
conducting an investigation the EEOC ruled in Linear
Controls' favor and found that the evidence did not
establish a violation of Title VII on either the race or the
religious discrimination claims.
25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this action
asserting race and religious discrimination claims under
Title VII. Plaintiff also asserted a claim of racial
discrimination under Louisiana's Employment
Discrimination Law and a state law claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
25, 2017, Linear Controls filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment seeking dismissal on the merits of all of
the Plaintiff's asserted federal and state law claims.
Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Linear Control's Motion
for Summary Judgment on June 29, 2017. R. 33.
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is mandated when the movant shows there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Am. Home
Assurance Co. v. United Space Alliance, LLC, 378 F.3d
482, 486 (5th Cir. 2004). A fact is material if proof of its
existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the
lawsuit under the applicable law in the case. Minter v.
Great American Insurance Co. of New York, 423 F.3d 460,
465 (5th Cir. 2005). A genuine issue of material fact exists
if a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the nonmoving
party. Thorson v. Epps, 701 F.3d 444, 445 (5th Cir.
party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility
of informing the court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those parts of the record that it believes
demonstrate the absence of genuine issue of material fact.
Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d 505, 508 (5th Cir.
2007). If the moving party carries its initial burden, the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine issue of a material fact. Id.
In such a case, the non-movant may not rest upon the
allegations in his pleadings, but rather must go beyond the
pleadings and designate specific facts demonstrating that
there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). All facts and
justifiable inferences are construed in the light most
favorable to the nonmovant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may
satisfy its burden by pointing out that there is insufficient
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's claim. Norwegian Bulk Transport A/S v.
International Marine Terminals Partnership, 520 F.3d
409, 412 (5th Cir. 2008). The motion should be granted if the
non-moving party cannot produce sufficient competent evidence
to support an essential element of its claim. Condrey v.
Suntrust Bank of Ga., 431 F.3d 191, 197 (5th Cir. 2005).
However, metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions and those
supported by only a scintilla of evidence are insufficient.
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
employment discrimination case, the focus is on whether a
genuine issue exists as to whether the defendant
intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff. Grimes
v. Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental
Retardation, 102 F.3d 137, 139 (5th Cir. 1996) (and
cases cited therein). As in any case, unsubstantiated
assertions and conclusory allegations are not competent
summary judgment evidence. Hervey v. Mississippi Dept. of
Educ., 404 Fed.Appx. 865, 869 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing
Ramsey v. Henderson, 286 F.3d 264, 269 (5th Cir.
2002)) (“conclusory allegations, speculation, and
unsubstantiated assertions are inadequate to satisfy the
nonmovant's burden on a motion for summary
judgment”). In response to a motion for summary
judgment, it is therefore incumbent upon the non-moving party
to present evidence-not just conjecture and speculation-that
the defendant retaliated and discriminated against plaintiff
on the basis of his race. Grimes, 102 F.3d at 140.
Controls publishes and distributes company policies
addressing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Linear Controls's Equal Employment Opportunity
(“EEO”) Policy stated in pertinent part:
Linear Controls, Inc. provides equal employment opportunities
without regard to race, color, age, sex, national origin,
religion, disability or veteran status. Linear Controls,
Inc.'s commitment to equality extends to all personnel
actions including: recruitment, advertising or soliciting for
employment, selection for employment, determining rates of
pay or other forms of compensation, performance evaluation,
upgrading, transfer, promotion, demotion, selection for
training or education, discipline, suspension, termination,
treatment during employment, and participation in social and
R 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 2, citing R. 29, Exh. R,
Declaration of Clemons; Exh. S, Employee Handbook.
Controls also prominently displays at its facilities EEO
posters published by the U.S. Department of Labor. These
posters provide that discrimination, harassment and
retaliation are prohibited. The posters also provide contact
information for the U.S. Department of Labor, Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). In
addition, Linear Controls has a written grievance or
complaint policy. Linear Controls' management also
maintains an open door policy under which employee complaints
or concerns can be raised. Employees may raise complaints or
concerns with supervisors or with Human Resources. R.
29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 3, citing Exh. R, Declaration of
Clemons; Exh. S, Employee Handbook.
acknowledged receipt of copies of the above-referenced
policies as shown by the signed Receipt and Acknowledgment
forms dated October 28, 2008 and March 28, 2012, copies of
which are marked as Exhibit T, in globo. R. 29-2,
Undisputed Fact No. 4, also citing Plaintiff's Depo.,
Exh. D, pp. 175-179.
Controls originally hired Plaintiff on October 28, 2008 as a
Helper earning $9.00/hr. Plaintiff's employment was
separated in March of 2009 due to lack of work. R. 29-2,
Undisputed Fact No. 5 citing Exh. R, Declaration of
the time period relevant to this litigation, Plaintiff worked
offshore for Linear Controls as an Electrician on a
construction crew. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 8 citing
Exh. R, Declaration of Clemons.
13, 2015, while offshore in the Grand Isle area on a job for
Linear Controls' customer, Fieldwood Energy, LLC
(“Fieldwood”), Plaintiff was late for a safety
meeting. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 9 citing Exh. O,
7/13/15 Employee Disciplinary Report.
admits he was late for the meeting. R. 29-2, Undisputed
Fact No. 10 citing Exh. D, Plaintiff's Depo., pp.
152-159, 233-235, 246.
next day, July 14, 2015, Plaintiff was sent in from the Grand
Isle job. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 11 citing Exh. P,
07/14/2015 Employee Disciplinary Report.
became confrontational with Linear Controls' Maintenance
Supervisor, Michael Book, when Plaintiff learned that he was
being sent in from the job. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No.
14 citing Exh. Q, Depo. of Davis, pp. 21-25; Exh. P,
07/14/2015 Employee Disciplinary Report. Michael Book
and Plaintiff were the only Linear Controls' employees on
the job. Id. citing Exh. Q, pp. 21-25.
being sent in from the Grand Isle job, Plaintiff was put back
to work immediately by Linear Controls on another location.
R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 15 citing Exh. R,
Declaration of Clemons.
admits he was late for a safety meeting in August 2015 on the
East Breaks 165 project. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 17
citing Exh. E, 8/13/2015 (p. 12/100) notes submitted by
Plaintiff to EEOC.
disciplinary action was incurred by any employee, including
Plaintiff, in August 2015 on the East Breaks 165 project as
Linear Controls did not receive any reports from Fieldwood
that either Duhon, Hammett or Plaintiff were late for any
safety meeting in August 2015. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact
No. 18 citing Declaration of Clemons.
September 15, 2015, Plaintiff called Tim Davis, Linear
Controls' Construction Project Manager, asking to have
his employment terminated by Linear Controls. Davis declined
since the company was not conducting layoffs at the time and
had a project coming up and needed Plaintiff to work. R.
29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 21 citing Depo. of Davis, pp.
19-20; Plaintiff's Depo., pp. 160-169.
September 23, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a letter to Linear
Controls stating: “I will like to resign from Linear
Control's, due to I am continuing my education as an
electrician to further my career.” R. 29, Exh. C,
Plaintiff's 09/3/2015 letter.
resignation letter makes no reference to discrimination or
harassment based upon race or religion or to any other
alleged unlawful discriminatory acts or conduct. R. 29-2,
Undisputed Fact No. 25 citing Exh. C, Plaintiff's
his resignation, Plaintiff did continue his education,
receiving additional training and/or education through the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IB
EW”) and otherwise. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 26
citing Plaintiff's Deposition, pp. 10, 41-43,
filed his Charge of Discrimination on October 28, 2015, and
the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue at Plaintiff's
request, due to the passage of time, on February 22, 2016.
R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 27 citing Exh. B,
EEOC Charge, Exh. F, EEOC Notice of Right to Sue.
worked for Linear Controls on Fieldwood's East Breaks 165
platform from July 16, 2015 to July 26, 2015 and from August
2, 2015 to August 22, 2015. From July 27, 2015 to August 1,
2015, Plaintiff was off. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 28
citing Declaration of Clemons.
denies making any comments to Plaintiff about being a Muslin.
R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 31 citing Exh. I, Depo of
Duhon, pp 21-22.
description for an Electrician on a Linear Controls'
construction crew, as was Plaintiff, called for working
outdoors including exposure to “a typical offshore
site” and the “ability to work in a work area
where work temperatures may be affected by outside
temperatures.” R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 37
citing Plaintiff's Depo., pp. 179-182; Exh. L, Job
Description, Bates Nos. L00720-L000721.
in an outdoor environment was part of Plaintiff's job
description and regular job duties. R. 29-2, Undisputed
Fact No. 38 citing Plaintiff's Depo., pp. 179-182; Exh.
L, Job Description, Bates Nos. L00720-L000721;
Declaration of Clemons.
he was an Electrician and a member of Linear Control's
construction crew, Plaintiff was given assignments on
maintenance projects from time to time if the work was within
his capabilities. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 40 citing
Exh. N, Declaration of Macdonald.
was offered a maintenance position within his capabilities
and for which he was qualified, pursuant to an inquiry from
Plaintiff. R. 29-2, Undisputed Fact No. 41 citing Exh. ...