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Landreneau v. Baker Hughes, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

June 3, 2019

CHAD LANDRENEAU
v.
BAKER HUGHES, INC.

          CAROL WHITEHURST MAG. JUDGE

          SEALED RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending here is Defendant Baker Hughes, Inc.&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s (“Baker Hughes”) Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3]. Plaintiff Chad Landreneau (“Landreneau”) filed an opposition [Doc. No. 50]. Baker Hughes filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 51');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1].

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Baker Hughes&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39; motion for summary judgment and dismisses Landreneau&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s claims in their entirety.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Landreneau was employed by Baker Hughes from July 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 until his termination on January 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17. From 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3 until his termination, he worked in the human resources department in Broussard, Louisiana, as an HR Generalist, an HR Generalist Senior, and, finally, as an HR Business Partner. [Doc. No. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3-3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, p. 65');">p. 65]

         Landreneau received annual evaluations each year he was employed by Baker Hughes. In 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, his supervisor, Kathryn Bell (female), rated him as “meets expectations, ” or a “3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3.” In 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, and 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, his supervisor, Jill Shelton (female), also rated him as “meets expectations, ” or a “3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3.” In 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15, he was rated by his supervisor, Brandy Buzzelli (female), as “exceeds expectations, ” or a “4.” [Doc. No. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3-3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, pp. 81');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1-98].

         Landreneau&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 evaluation was conducted by a new supervisor, Angela McPherson (“McPherson”), who rated him as “partially meets expectations, ” or a “2.” [Doc. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3-3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, p. 68-71');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. Baker Hughes contends this lower rating was based in part on the fact that Landreneau had received a verbal warning and a written warning from McPherson during 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16.

         Landreneau received the verbal warning from McPherson for his alleged role in the improper handling of the termination of an employee on a leave of absence. A termination letter, for that employee issued in June 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, but a COBRA notification letter was backdated to March 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16. This action resulted in a legal demand being made against Baker Hughes by the employee alleging that his right to receive COBRA notice was violated. Landreneau, however, contends that McPherson wrongly placed the blame on him for an error that was made by a separate department in Houston. [Doc. No. 50-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3]

         Landreneau received the written warning from McPherson because of his alleged role in the mishandling of a Reduction in Force (“RIF”) involving an employee named Clydia Olivier. According to Baker Hughes, Landreneau incorrectly documented the RIF as a position elimination, when, in fact, two other employees took over her job duties as a result of the RIF. He also allegedly failed to include the two other employees with Olivier as “comparators”, i.e., other employees considered along with Olivier during the decision-making process. A total of four (4) employees, including Landreneau, received discipline for their roles in the incorrectly handled RIF. Two employees received verbal warnings, and a third employee received a final written warning [SEALED Doc. No. 47');">47, P. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12]. According to Landreneau, McPherson was the person responsible for these errors, yet she wrongly shifted the blame [Doc. No. 50-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4].

         Landreneau contends that McPherson made these false accusations against him in her quest to have the human resources department to be 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">100% female. He contends that McPherson hired only females; that the persons that she supervised were 95% female, whereas the national average for a Human Resources Department is 74% female; and that McPherson rated every single person that worked for her no less than a “3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, ” except for himself, the only male working for her. [Doc. No. 50-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 2]

         As a result of declining business in the oil and gas business during Landrenau&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s last few years of employment, Baker Hughes conduced hundreds of RIFs of employees. Landreneau was involved in handling many of these RIFs.

         Due to restructuring in the HR department, a new HR Manager position was created at the Broussard location. Baker Hughes decided that the restructuring should be a headcount neutral or headcount reduction activity. This meant that a HR Business Partner position had to be eliminated at the Broussard location to offset the creation of the HR Manager position.

         By the end of December 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, McPherson had been transferred to a different position in the company; therefore, the recruiting and interviewing for that new position was conducted by Shawna Shelor (“Shelor”), who had replaced McPherson as supervisor over the Broussard location [Doc. No. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3-3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, pp. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">12, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, 79]. However, McPherson spoke to Landreneau about that new position and suggested that he not apply because of his recent disciplinary actions and the fact that he might not be ready for that promotion. Landreneau agreed [Doc. No. 43');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3-3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3, pp. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 44-45].

         Two females, Da&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;Nae Fox (“Fox”) and LaTonya Hawkins (“Hawkins”) went through the interview process for the new position, and Fox was selected.

         To keep the headcount neutral, Baker Hughes needed to terminate one HR employee at the Broussard location under its RIF procedure. Baker Hughes asserts that, even though Fox&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s new position as HR Manager was a higher, supervisory position than Landreneau&#3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">3');">39;s HR Business Partner position, it nevertheless used her as a comparator to Landreneau in conducting the RIF process. [Doc. No. ...


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