United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
MARK A. BAILEY
GRAPHIC PACKAGING INTERNATIONAL, INC.
L. HAYES, MAG. JUDGE
G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 18]
filed by Defendant Graphic Packaging International, Inc.
Plaintiff Mark A. Bailey opposes the motion in part. [Doc.
No. 22]. For reasons assigned below, the Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February of 1996, Defendant employed Plaintiff at its paper
mill in West Monroe, Louisiana. At all relevant times,
Plaintiff worked as a Coater Tender on Paper Machine No. 7.
The primary duties of a Coater Tender are to ensure that the
paperboard the facility produces receives a coating
application that meets or exceeds product specifications.
Plaintiff was required to understand the coating system and
monitor the coating process.
was an hourly employee whose employment was governed by a
collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between
Defendant and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber,
Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial, and Service Workers
International Union, AFL-CIO, and its Local 13-0364 (the
“Union”). The CBA contains a progressive
disciplinary system covering a number of disciplinary issues,
including an employee's failure to meet job performance
accordance with the CBA, Plaintiff received the following
disciplinary notices: an oral reprimand on February 5');">5, 2014,
a written reprimand on May 16, 2014, and another written
reprimand on February 10, 2015');">5.
April of 2015');">5, Plaintiff filed a charge of race
discrimination against Defendant with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), but he did not
enclose a detailed copy of his allegations. The EEOC issued a
notice of the charge to Defendant on April 22, 2015');">5. [Doc.
No. 18-5');">5, 2');">p. 12].
14, 2015');">5, Defendant issued Plaintiff a three-day disciplinary
12, 2015');">5, the EEOC issued Defendant a second notice of
Plaintiff's charge of race discrimination, which included
a copy of Plaintiff's detailed allegations. [Doc. No.
18-5');">5, pp. 15');">5-17].
1, 2015');">5, according to Defendant, Plaintiff violated the Mill
Rules in the CBA by failing to “monitor the reel
conditions and take appropriate action, ” which
resulted in an “air knife streak” on a reel of
paper. [Doc. No. 18-5');">5, p. 10]. The parties dispute the extent
of the damage Plaintiff allegedly caused.
10, 2015');">5, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment.
According to Ken Scharf, a Senior Product Engineer at the
paper mill and Plaintiff's supervisor, he terminated
Plaintiff's employment because Plaintiff “had
received prior disciplinary action notices such that the
incident of July 1, 2015');">5 in the progressive disciplinary
system was at the termination stage . . . .” [Doc. No.
18-7, 2');">p. 2].
October 16, 2015');">5, the EEOC forwarded Defendant a copy of
Plaintiff's second charge, in which Plaintiff alleged
that Defendant terminated his employment in retaliation for
filing his initial charge of race discrimination. [Doc. No.
18-5');">5, 2');">p. 20-21].
12, 2016, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue, which
permitted Plaintiff to file a lawsuit against Defendant.
Id. at 28. Subsequently, Plaintiff and the Union
submitted his termination grievance to arbitration, and the
arbitrator conducted a hearing on June 16, 2016. Id.
at 33. Following the hearing, the arbitrator found that
Plaintiff “was on the layoff rung of the progressive
disciplinary system  when he failed to observe the streak .