United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HAYES
the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
Defendants Southern Components, Inc. ("Southern")
and Matt Kral ("Kral"). [Record Document 20]. For
the reasons given below, the motion is
GRANTED, and all claims against Defendants
are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Eric Traylor ("Traylor"), a forty-four-year-old
African-American man, applied for work as a night forklift
operator at Southern, a company that produces roof and floor
trusses. [Record Documents 1 at 4, 7 and 20-2 at 1]. After he
was hired by Kral, Southern's Production Manager, on July
12, 2016, [Record Document 20-2 at 2], Traylor began training
under Britney Wells ("Wells"), an African-American
woman and Southern's senior forklift operator, [Record
Document 20-5 at 3]. Although Wells supervised Traylor's
training, she was not a manager at Southern and had no
authority over hiring or firing. [Record Document 20-2 at 2].
During this training period, Southern expects new forklift
operators to learn the skills necessary to handle and load
Southern's specialized products. [Record Document 20-5 at
1- 2]. The position for which Traylor was training
"requires someone able to handle a large amount of
responsibility and who is able to work independently."
[Record Document 20-2 at 1].
applied for his position, Traylor indicated that he was in
good physical health with no medical restrictions and that
his only medical condition was asthma; he also provided
Southern with a copy of his military discharge paperwork
which indicated "disability" as the reason for
separation. [Record Documents 20-2 at 1-2, 20-3 at 36, and
23-1 at 24]. While working with Wells, Traylor told her that
he could not stand for long periods because "I have pain
in my legs and they well up." [Record Document 20-3 at
42]. She replied that being able to stand for long periods
was a part of the job. [ Id. at 43]. Traylor never
requested accommodations, such as being allowed to sit more
frequently, nor did he inform Kral of any need for
accommodations. [Record Documents 20-3 at 43 and 20-5 at 3].
Traylor was older than some of the other employees, and Wells
told him that he was old. [Record Document 20-3 at 53-54].
Traylor also believes that Wells received preferential
treatment because she was a woman. [Id. at 52].
August 10, 2016, Southern terminated Traylor because he
"was not learning at an acceptable pace and did not
exhibit the level of skill, responsibility, and independence
necessary to believe that he would be able to successfully
fulfill the duties of a night forklift operator."
[Record Document 20-5 at 3]. Traylor believes that his
discharge was the result of racial and age discrimination
because he was replaced by a white man in his forties.
[Record Document 20-3 at 50]. He also believes that his
discharge was in retaliation for telling Wells that he
intended to file an EEOC charge because she was not training
him appropriately. [Id at 56-57]. Kral did not know
that Traylor had expressed an intention to file the EEOC
charge. [Record Document 20-5 at 4]. Following his discharge,
Traylor filed a charge, and the EEOC issued a right-to-sue
letter on March 19, 2018. [Record Document 20-2 at 3].
now asserts discriminatory termination claims under the race
and gender discrimination provisions of Title VII, hostile
work environment and discriminatory termination claims under
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the
"ADEA"), unlawful termination and failure to
accommodate claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(the "ADA"), and wage discrimination claims under
the Equal Pay Act. [Record Document 1 at 4,
12-13]. Defendants have moved for summary
judgment. [Record Document 20]. Traylor has filed an
opposition, and Defendants have filed a reply, rendering this
matter ripe for decision. [Record Documents 23 and 24].
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to "grant
summary judgment 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." Summary judgment is
appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that
there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party,
the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the
elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need
only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See
Id. at 322-23.
movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is
no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must
demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial
by going "beyond the pleadings" and
"designating] specific facts" for support.
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325).
"This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts," by conclusory or
unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere "scintilla of
evidence." Id. (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). However, "[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (citing
Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
158-59 (1970)). While not weighing the evidence or evaluating
the credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary
judgment where the critical evidence in support of the
nonmovant is so "weak or tenuous" that it could not
support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor.
Armstrong v. City of Dall., 997 F.2d62, 67 (5th Cir.
Local Rule 56.1 requires the movant to file a statement of
material facts as to which it "contends there is no
genuine issue to be tried." The opposing party must then
set forth a "short and concise statement of the material
facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be
tried." W.D. La. R. 56.2. All material facts set forth
in the movant's statement "will be deemed admitted,
for purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required
by this rule." Id.
Claims Against Kral
has sued Kral in his capacity as a supervisor at Southern.
[Record Document 1 at 2]. "[T]itle VII does not permit
the imposition of liability upon individuals unless they meet
[T]itle VII's definition of 'employer.'"
Grant v. Lone Star Co., 21 F.3d 649, 653 (5th Or.
1994). A Title VII "employer" is "a person
engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or
more employees ... and any agent of such a person." 42
U.S.C. § 2000e(b). Although the latter phrase could
suggest individual liability, the Fifth Circuit has
approvingly cited a Ninth Circuit case that concludes that
the "any agent" language "incorporate
[s]" respondeat superior liability into [T]itle
VII." Grant, 21 F.3d at 653 (citing Miller
v. Maxwell's Int'l Inc., 991 F.2d 583, 587 (9th
Cir. 1993)). Because no evidence suggests that Kral
personally employs anyone, he is not liable under Title VII.
The same logic also applies to Traylor's ADEA claims.
See Stults v. Conoco, Inc., 76 F.3d 651, 655 (5th
Cir. 1996) (applying Grant to ADEA claims).
the Fifth Circuit has not spoken directly on this issue, the
"virtually universal view" is that the
employment-discrimination provisions of the ADA do not expose
supervisors to individual liability. Roman-Oliveras v.
P.K Elec. Power A.uth., 655 F.3d 43, 52 (1st Cir. 2011);
see Parker v. Benteler Steel Tube Mfg. Corp., No. CV
17-1453, 2018 WL 3685383, at *3 (W.D. La. July 18, 2018)
(concluding that the Fifth Circuit would follow the consensus
view of the other circuits), report and recommendation
adopted, No. CV 17-1453, 2018 WL 3672744 (W.D. La. Aug.
2, 2018). A Title VII employer is a "person engaged in
an industry affecting commerce ... and any agent of such a
person," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b), while an employer
under the ADA is "a person engaged in any industry
affecting commerce . . . and any agent of such person,"
42 U.S.C. § 12111(5)(A). As the ADA's definition of
employer is identical to Title VIFs, this Court concludes
that Title I of the ADA does not impose individual liability
on supervisors and hence that Kral is not liable for any of
Southern's alleged ADA violations.
consensus is lacking regarding individual liability under the
Equal Pay Act. Some courts hold that individual supervisors
are not liable for Equal Pay Act violations, while others
conclude the opposite. Compare Harris v. Harvey, 992
F.Supp. 1012, 1013-14 (N.D. 111. 1998) with Boy kin v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., C/A No. 3:18-599, 2018 WL
4999780, at *2 (D.S.C. Aug. 14, 2018), report and
recommendations adopted, 2018 WL 4962077 (D.S.C. Oct.
12, 2018). In an unpublished opinion, the Fifth Circuit
affirmed a district court's grant of summary judgment to
an individual supervisor on an Equal Pay Act claim.
Souter v. Univ. of Tex. at San Antonio, 459
Fed.Appx. 506, 511-12 (5th Cir. 2012) (per curiam)
(unpublished). The district court had concluded that the
claim against the supervisor "was a remedial
redundancy" when the plaintiff "already had a claim
against the [employer] under the Equal Pay Act."
Id. at 511 n.4. Because Traylor cannot recover twice
for the same alleged act of discrimination, this Court
concludes that Traylor's Equal Pay Act claim against Kral
is also redundant of his claim against Southern. Therefore,
the Court grants summary judgment for Kral on all claims
raised against him under Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, and
the Equal Pay Act.
Equal Pay Act Claims
has alleged a violation of the Equal Pay Act because Wells
"went inside the office and got his wage information and
went out and told it to other employees which created a
hostile work environment." [Record Document 10 at 5].
With a few exceptions not relevant here, under the Equal Pay
No employer . . . shall discriminate . . . between employees
on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees ... at a
rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees
of the opposite sex . . . for equal work on jobs the
performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and
responsibility, and which are performed under similar working
29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). A prima facie case under the
Equal Pay Act has three elements: (1) the employer must be
subject to the Equal Pay Act; (2) the employee's work
must "require[e] equal skill, effort, and responsibility
under similar working conditions" to that of an
opposite-sex comparator; and (3) the employee must be paid
less than the comparator. Chance v. Rice Univ., 984
F.2d 151, 153 (5th Cir. 1993) (quoting Jones v. Flagship
Int'l, 793 F.2d 714, 722-23 (5th Or. 1986)).
his filings are not entirely clear, it appears that Traylor
has pointed to Wells as the appropriate comparator, as he
asserts that she was treated more favorably than he was.
[Record Document 20-2 at 2]. There is no dispute that Wells
had more experience with the company. [Record Document 20-3
at 52-53]. Moreover, Traylor was paid $12.00 per hour,
[Record Document 20-2 at 2], and no summary judgment evidence
establishes Wells's compensation. Therefore, Traylor has
satisfied neither the second nor third prongs of his prima
facie case, and so this Court must grant summary judgment to
Southern on Traylor's Equal Pay Act claim.
Title VII Unlawful Termination Claims
Traylor's pro se complaint and other documents in the
record liberally, the Court concludes that Traylor has
asserted that his termination resulted from race and gender
discrimination. [Record Documents 1 at 4 and 20-3 at 51-53].
An employer may not "discharge any individual. . .
because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).
Where, as in the instant case, a plaintiff offers only
circumstantial evidence of discrimination, the three-step
McDonnell Douglas framework applies. Wallace v.
Methodist Hosp. Sys., 271 F.3d 212, 219 (5th Or. 2001)
(citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 792, 802
(1973)). To survive summary judgment within that framework, a
plaintiff must first make out a prima facie case. Manning
v. Chevron Chem. Co., 332 F.3d 874, 881 (5th Cir. 2003).
To do so, a Title VII plaintiff must establish that he or
(1) is a member of a protected group; (2) was qualified for
the position at issue; (3) was discharged or suffered some
adverse employment action by the employer; and (4) was
replaced by someone outside [the] protected group or was
treated less favorably than ...