United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
the Court is Praxair's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 56). Plaintiff filed an opposition.
(Doc. 57). Oral argument is not required. For the reasons
stated below, Defendants' motion is
Court will not re-state in its entirety the factual and
procedural history of this case, having set forth the facts
in the Court's prior Ruling and Order (Doc. 63). In
short, this matter arises from allegations of racial
discrimination and unlawful termination made against Praxair,
Inc ("Praxair"), James Willis, Brian Burt, Todd Dunn,
and Vanjia Thomas (collectively "Defendants") by
Plaintiff Jonathan Brown. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that he
was falsely accused of violating company policies, leading to
a reprimand from Brian Burt, one of his supervisors.
(Id. at ¶¶ 5-8). Plaintiff alleges that
despite attempts to complain to Vanjia Thomas and Courtni
Booker, employees within Praxair's Human Resources
Department, his concerns remained unaddressed. Plaintiff
alleges that eventually, he was given the option to accept a
severance package or to participate in a performance
improvement plan ("PIP"). Plaintiff asserts that
after beginning the PIP, he eventually submitted his two
weeks' notice due to the issues he faced at work.
(Id. at ¶ 14). Plaintiff claims that these work
related issues were violations of Title VII, the Louisiana
Employment Discrimination Law
("LEDL"), and 28 U.S.C. § 1983.
moved to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint. The Court granted
Defendants' motion in part, and dismissed Plaintiffs
claims against James Willis, Brian Burt, Todd Dunn, and
Vanjia Thomas ("Individual Praxair Employees") with
prejudice. (Doc. 31). Defendants further moved for
attorney's fees to be awarded. (Doc. 34). The Court
issued a ruling granting attorney's fees and costs to
Defendants, and on its own motion, dismissed Plaintiffs
§ 1986 claims against the individual Praxair employees.
(Doc. 63). The only remaining claims are against Praxiar,
which now moves for summary judgment.
judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]hen a properly supported motion
for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and footnote
summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] fails to make
a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
establish a case for race discrimination under Title VII, a
plaintiff must show that 1) he is a member of a protected
class, 2) he was qualified for his position, 3) he was
subjected to an adverse employment action, and 4) he was
replaced by someone outside the protected class. McCoy v.
City of Shreveport, 492 F.3d 551, 556-57 (5th Cir.
plaintiff establishes the aforementioned factors, the burden
shifts to the defendant to provide a non-discriminatory
reason for the adverse employment action. Id. at
557. Once the defendant offers a non-discriminatory reason
for the adverse employment action the burden then shifts once
more to the plaintiff to establish that the reason offered by
the defendant is a mere pretext for racial animus.
(Id.). The United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit has determined that the Title VII test also
applies to claims brought under the LEDL, See DeCorte v.
Jordan, 497 F.3d 433, 437 (5th Cir. 2007) (noting that
claims of race discrimination under the LEDL are governed by
the same analysis required for Title VII claims).
Praxair is Entitled to Summary Judgment
argues that Plaintiff cannot establish the prima
facie case for race discrimination because he was not
subjected to an adverse employment action. (Doc. 56-1 at pp.
5-6). Praxair claims that Plaintiff resigned rather than be
discharged, and that he has failed to establish that
"working conditions [were] so intolerable that a
reasonable person in the employee's position would have
felt compelled to resign." Nassar v. Univ. of Tex.
Sw. Med. Ctr., 674 F.3d 448, 453 (5th Cir. 2012).
Praxair argues that Plaintiff was reprimanded repeatedly due
to his own poor job performance. (Doc. 56-1 at p. 5).
also alleges that it has a non-discriminatory basis for all
actions taken against Plaintiff. (Id. at p. 11).
Again, Praxair asserts that any complained of behavior was a
direct result of Plaintiffs own poor work performance.
(Id.). Praxair further argues that Plaintiff cannot
establish that the reasons offered for Plaintiffs termination
are pretextual. (Doc. at p. 15). Praxair claims that there
are no facts in controversy that dispute that Plaintiff, in
his own words, "had a bad year." (Id.).
argues that he was offered the choice of being placed on a
PIP for 90 days or accepting a severance package, which
effectively served as constructive termination. (Doc. 57 at
p. 5). Plaintiff cites the deposition of David Schein, a
"liability expert" who opined that Praxair had not
offered any real method for Plaintiff to succeed at his job,