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Lee v. Rouses Enterprises, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 19, 2018


         SECTION: "A" (3)



         The following motion is before the Court: Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 17) filed by Defendant, Rouses Enterprises, LLC. Plaintiff, Allen Lee, opposes the motion. The motion, submitted for consideration on July 12, 2018, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 22, 2017, Plaintiff Allen Lee initiated this action pro se in state court against his former employer, Defendant Rouses Enterprises, LLC. Lee alleged that he was terminated one year earlier on September 22, 2016, when he was falsely accused of stealing. (Rec. Doc. 1-1, Petition ¶ 4). Lee had been employed with Rouses for 38 years. (Id.). According to the Petition, Lee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on September 19, 2017, which was nearly one year after the termination occurred and only three days before he filed suit.[1] Lee claimed recovery under Title VII/§ 1981 and Louisiana's Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and state tort law (intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, misrepresentation of material facts).

         Rouses now moves for summary judgment on all claims.

         A bench trial was scheduled to commence on July 23, 2018, but the Court continued it in order to allow Plaintiff sufficient time to oppose Rouses' motion for summary judgment (Rec. Doc. 39, Minute Entry). Plaintiff filed his opposition on June 18, 2018 (Rec. Doc. 40), and Rouses filed its reply on June 19, 2018 (Rec. Doc. 41).[2] A bench trial is scheduled for November 28, 2018.


         Summary judgment is appropriate only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Once the moving party has initially shown "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's cause," Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with "specific facts" showing a genuine factual issue for trial. Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993)).

         When faced with a well-supported motion for summary judgment, Rule 56 places the burden on the non-movant to designate the specific facts in the record that create genuine issues precluding summary judgment. Jones .v Sheehan, Young, & Culp, P.C., 82 F.3d 1334, 1338 (5th Cir. 1996). The district court has no duty to survey the entire record in search of evidence to support a non-movant's position. Id. (citing Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1992); Nissho-Iwai Am. Corp. v. Kline, 845 F.2d 1300, 1307 (5th Cir. 1988)).

         Federal Claims

         Plaintiff's references in his pro se pleading to claims under the FLSA, NLRA, and ADA are easily dismissed. As Rouses points out, Plaintiff alleges no facts in support of a claim under any of these federal labor laws. Neither the Petition nor the evidence of record even hints at a potential disability or an issue with overtime pay.

         Assuming that Plaintiff could overcome the problems surrounding the filing of an EEOC charge, see note 1 supra, his discrimination claims under both federal and state law fail as a matter of law.[3]

         Title VII makes it unlawful for a covered employer “to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Moghalu v. Bd. of Supervisors, Univ. of La. Sys., No. 15-30559, 2016 WL 943619, at *3 (5th Cir. Mar. 11, 2016) (unpublished) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1)). Liability on a claim that an employer intentionally discharged an employee because of race or national origin, i.e., a “disparate treatment” claim, ...

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