United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert White (“White”) brought suit against his
former employer, Crop Production Services, Inc.
(“CPS”) for alleged violations of the Louisiana
Whistleblower Statute (“LWS”), La. Rev. Stat.
§ 23:967, et seq.,  and the Louisiana
Environmental Whistleblower Statute (“LEWS”), La.
Rev. Stat. § 30:2027. Pending before the Court is a
Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 38] filed by CPS.
following reasons, CPS's Motion for Summary Judgment is
GRANTED, and White's claims against it are DISMISSED WITH
Facts and Procedural History
was employed by CPS for approximately three years at its
Waterproof, Louisiana location. At the time of his
termination, he was the Operations Manager.
sells treated seed, fertilizer, and chemicals to farmers.
Typically, a farmer will contact CPS to order seed treated
with fertilizers and other chemicals. CPS then treats the
seed with the chemicals and delivers the treated seed to the
Operations Manager, White took orders for seed, chemicals, or
fertilizer from customers, prepared the orders for
processing, and ensured that the orders were properly loaded
on the trucks for delivery to the farmer. He was also
responsible for tracking the inventory of seed, fertilizer,
and chemicals stored at the facility.
processing an order of treated seed, White would first
complete a form known as a “treat sheet” and then
input the order into the computer system. The treat sheet is
provided to the employees who will be actually applying the
chemicals to the seed. The treat sheet shows the amount of
seed to be treated, the chemicals to be applied to the seed,
and the amount of chemicals to be applied to the seed. In
order to complete the treat sheet, White had to determine the
type of chemicals to apply and calculate the correct amount
of chemicals to be used based on the order.
his duties as Operations Manager, White was designated by CPS
as the location's safety coordinator, which also required
him to coordinate monthly safety meetings for the employees
at which he showed a video and gave a standardized test. The
meetings and the content of the meetings were organized by a
third-party vendor and required by company policy.
his employment, White reported directly to Facility Manager,
Ricky Slaughter (“Slaughter”). Slaughter was the
highest-ranking employee at the Waterproof facility. White
alleges that Slaughter engaged in actions that were against
company policy and/or illegal.
to White, Slaughter did not attend safety meetings, but
instructed him to falsify records to show that Slaughter was
present. White did not report this concern to anyone at CPS
prior to his termination.
White testified in his deposition that some time in 2016 he
and Slaughter had a conversation about treating seeds with
off-label chemicals. According to White, Slaughter said that
this process was “illegal, ” and White responded
that “We probably shouldn't do it.” [Doc. No.
38-4, White Depo., p. 71]. While White is “sure”
that he and Slaughter had other conversations about treating
seed in this manner, he could not recall any other specific
occasions. Id. at p. 72. After this conversation,
White continued to complete treat sheets ordering treatment
of seeds with chemicals that he believes were being used
off-label after this 2016 conversation. In particular, White
completed treat sheets on which he calculated chemical
applications for orders using chemical products Acephate,
Quadris, and Wrangler. He believes these chemicals were used
for an off-label purpose in those orders. White did not
report any concerns about off-label use of chemicals prior to
about April 13, 2017, White and Slaughter had an altercation
regarding a change in a customer's seed order. Slaughter
asked White to make a change to an order in the computer and
White responded that the computer would not allow him to do
it. According to White, Slaughter wanted him to delete some
seed that had already been designated as treated and replace
it with the treated seeds sold by a competing distributor,
Tensas Farm Services, to one of its customers. The computer
would not allow him to delete the entry because it had been
entered one month prior to this time. The seed that Slaughter
wanted to be entered had already been treated by Tensas Farm
Services, and the customer did not need it. Either Tensas
Farm Service or the customer would have been
“stuck” with the treated seed. Slaughter intended
to sell it. While White thought this action was against
company policy, he never though it was illegal. White
speculated that Slaughter was selling the seed because that
would financially benefit a seed representative who takes
Slaughter on several expensive hunting trips each year.
the altercation, Slaughter suggested several times that White
go home. White became angry and shouted “Fk You”
to Slaughter. White knew that conduct such as saying
“Fk You” to his supervisor violated CPS policy
and that it could result in his termination. White contends
that this type of language is not uncommon among co-workers
at the Waterproof facility. However, White offers no evidence
that such language is commonly used by an employee to his
supervisor at CPS, or that any other employee spoke this way
to Slaughter or another supervisor and remained employed at
contacted his supervisor, Marketing Manager Mark Matthews
(“Matthews”), to discuss the altercation and
decide what to do about it. Matthews agreed that termination
was an appropriate response.
April 20, 2017, Slaughter discussed the altercation with his
Division Manager, Tony Anderson (“Anderson”).
Anderson agreed that termination was the appropriate
response, but also wanted Slaughter to speak with Region
Human Resources Manager, Marilyn Major (“Major”),
to make sure she agreed. Slaughter spoke with Major, who also
agreed that termination was the appropriate response.
discussing the event with Matthews, Anderson, and Major,
Slaughter made the decision to terminate White. Slaughter
terminated White on April 21, 2017.
3, 2017, White called Anderson to request a meeting to
discuss his termination. Anderson agreed to meet with White,
along with Matthews, the following day at his office. At the
meeting with Anderson and Matthews, White admitted to saying
“Fk You” to Slaughter and admitted he knew he
could be fired for doing it. White told Anderson and Matthews
that he was sorry and wanted his job back. Anderson told
White that he agreed with the decision to terminate him and
would not overturn the termination.
Anderson told him that he would not overturn the termination
decision, White told Anderson and Matthews that they needed
to know about certain activities at the Waterproof location.
He specifically mentioned that he was concerned about missing
inventory, that he did not believe Slaughter took safety
meetings seriously, and that he had concerns about seed being
treated with chemicals off-label. With regard to the missing
inventory, White told Anderson and Matthews that there was a
pallet of product that had been missing since early fall, and
that when he asked Slaughter about it, he would respond by
saying he knew where it was. White never reported this
concern to Anderson or Matthews prior to their May 3, 2017
meeting. Although he was concerned about the missing
inventory, White did not know whether any laws were violated.
regard to the safety meetings, White told Anderson and
Matthews that Slaughter did not participate in the safety
meetings and would ask White to fill out his test for him.
regard to seed treatment, White told Anderson and Matthews
that Slaughter was treating seed with products not labeled
for that use. Although White had complained to Slaughter
previously about the seed treatment, he had not reported any
of these concerns to Anderson or Matthews prior to this May
3, 2017 post-termination meeting.
also had not reported any of these concerns to Major prior to
an anonymous hotline through which White could have reported
any of his concerns, but never did so.
initially brought suit in state court. In his Petition, White
alleged that he was terminated after he “repeatedly
questioned business practices which were illegal and outside
the ordinary course of business for CPS.” [Doc. No.
1-2, p. 3, Petition, ¶ 6]. He alleged four improper
(1) Slaughter failed to attend mandatory safety meetings,
and, when White questioned him, Slaughter ordered White to
falsely report that he had attended;
(2) White raised concerns to Slaughter several times
concerning the “improper seed treatment
(3) White raised concerns to Slaughter about missing
inventory and discrepancies in the inventory; and
(4) Slaughter directed White “to accept and input seed
purchased from a different distributor into CPS's
inventory so that the seed could be treated and re-sold as a
CPS product.” When White told Slaughter he could not do
so because the seed was purchased from a different
distributor, Slaughter demanded that he do so and threatened
to fire him and find someone who would input the seed.
[Doc. No. 1-2, pp. 3, Petition, ¶¶ 6-12].
August 11, 2017, the action was ...