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BOYD v. FIBERGLASS

August 12, 2005.

DONNIE E. BOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
OWENS CORNING FIBERGLASS and TEAMSTERS UNION LOCAL #408, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSE LINARES, District Judge

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.] OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on the motion of Defendant Owens Corning Fiberglass (hereinafter "Defendant" or "Owens Corning") for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Plaintiff Donnie E. Boyd (hereinafter "Plaintiff" or "Boyd"), who is pro se, commenced suit against Owens Corning on various claims of discrimination and wrongful termination. This Court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This motion is resolved without oral argument pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

  For purposes of the instant motion, the relevant facts are as follows. Owens Corning is a international company, involved in, among other things, the production of roofing shingles. (Defendant's Local Civil Rule 56.1 Statement of Uncontested Facts (hereinafter "Def.'s Statement"), ¶ 1). Owens Corning operates a roofing shingle production facility in Kearny, New Jersey. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 2). On May 5, 1998, Boyd, an African-American male, began employment as a Mat Tender at the Kearny facility. (Id. ¶ 3). His duties included placing mats of raw shingles onto the production line and ensuring that the mats did not contain holes or other noticeable defects. (Id. ¶ 15).

  The terms and conditions of Boyd's employment at Owens Corning were governed by a collective bargaining agreement (hereinafter the "CBA") that existed between Owens Corning and the Building Materials, Heavy Highway & Construction Industries, Drivers, Helpers & Warehousemen Teamsters Union Local 408 (hereinafter the "Union"). (Def.'s Statement ¶ 4; Certification of Thomas Masselli (hereinafter "Masselli Cert."), Ex.A at Article II, Section 1(E)). Under the terms of the CBA, Owens Corning retained "the right to promote, demote, discipline, suspend, discharge for just cause, layoff, and transfer" any employee governed by the CBA. (Id. ¶ 6). Owens Corning had a progressive discipline policy in place that covered job performance as well as employee attendance and lateness issues. (Masselli Cert. ¶ 4). Under this policy, verbal warnings were followed by written warnings, and if the problems continued to persist, suspensions were imposed. (Id. ¶ 5). A suspension could range from one to three days in duration, depending upon the infraction, and successive suspensions could range from three to five days. (Id. ¶ 6).

  On December 2, 1998, Boyd received an attendance warning for being late to work. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 21). Boyd acknowledged the attendance warning by signing an Owens Corning Personnel Action Form ("Personnel Action Form") in accordance with Owens Corning policy. (Id.; Masselli Cert. Ex.B). On February 5, 1999, Boyd received a verbal job performance warning and again, acknowledged the warning by signing another Personnel Action Form. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 22; Masselli Cert. Ex.C). On June 29, 1999, Boyd received another verbal warning for arriving to work late and/or leaving work early, and again signed a Personnel Action Form. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 23; Masselli Cert. Ex.D).

  On January 18, 2000, Boyd received a written attendance warning that covered five separate attendance-related incidents within a nine-month period. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 24; Masselli Cert. Ex.E). Thereafter, in April 2000, Boyd was suspended from work for three days following a series of eight unexcused absences that covered an eleven-month time period. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 25; Masselli Cert. Ex.F). Although Boyd does not recall the details of the three-day suspension, he acknowledges signing the Personnel Action Form advising of the suspension. (Certification of David E. Strand (hereinafter "Strand Cert."), Ex.A at 52; Masselli Cert. Ex.F).

  In February 2002, Owens Corning terminated the employment of James Redding, an African-American male, who worked as a Back End Relief operator. (Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 27-28). The Union advised Owens Corning of its intent to arbitrate Redding's termination with the understanding that Redding would return to the position in the event of a favorable decision. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 43-44). Consequently, Owens Corning announced Redding's available Back End Relief position on a temporary basis. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29). Both Boyd and Octavio Guzman, a Hispanic employee, bid for the open Back End Relief position in March 2002. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 30; Masselli Cert. ¶ 15). Thereafter, pursuant to the CBA, the temporary position was awarded to Boyd based on seniority. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 31). This position constituted a promotion for Boyd.

  According to Boyd's supervisors, Joseph Barone and Thomas Masselli, Boyd's performance during the first forty-five day training period as a Back End Relief Operator was substandard. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 32; Certification of Joseph Barone (hereinafter "Barone Cert."), ¶ 7; Masselli Cert. ¶ 16). By letter of June 17, 2002, Barone advised the Union that Boyd's performance as back End Relief operator was not acceptable, and that Boyd would be returned to the previous position of Mat Tender. (Barone Cert. ¶ 8 and Ex.A). In June 2002, Boyd was demoted to Mat Tender, and Guzman was promoted into the Back End Relief operator position. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 35). Thereafter, Boyd filed a grievance over the demotion on or about June 15, 2002. (Id. ¶ 36; Barone Cert. Ex.B).

  On August 1, 2002, while Boyd's grievance was still pending, he received a verbal job performance warning, and acknowledged same by signing another Personnel Action Form. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 37). On August 16, 2002, Boyd was suspended for one day from his Mat Tender position for abandoning his work station at the end of a shift. (Id. ¶ 38). Boyd apparently refused to sign the Personnel Action Form in connection with this incident; it was therefore signed by Barone, the Union shop steward. (Id.; Barone Cert. Ex.D). On August 30, 2002, Owens Corning reached an agreement with the Union regarding Boyd's grievance and removal from the temporary Back End Relief operator position, and he was consequently given a second opportunity at the position. (Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 39-40). Barone notes, however, that "Boyd's second attempt at training and qualifying for the temporary Back End Relief position was not better than his first and his performance was again substandard and not acceptable." (Barone Cert. ¶ 15).

  In October 2002, an Arbitrator issued an Opinion and Award in connection with Redding's prior termination from the Back End Relief operator position. (Masselli Cert. ¶ 23 and Ex.H). The Arbitrator found that there was not proper cause for the termination, and ordered that Redding be reinstated. (Masselli Cert. Ex.H). Redding was restored to the position of the Back End Relief operator, and Boyd was returned to the Mat Tender position. (Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 44-45).

  On October 25, 2002, Boyd received yet another verbal warning for excessive absenteeism. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 46). Thereafter, on November 21, 2002, Boyd abandoned the Mat Tender work station for a second time and was suspended for five days. (Id. ¶ 51). This five-day suspension was reduced to three days as the result of grievances filed by both Boyd and the Union. (Id. ¶ 52). Boyd also received a separate three-day suspension for falsification of work data. (Id. ¶ 54).

  On November 30, 2002, upon return to work from the aforementioned three-day suspension, Boyd ignored workplace procedure and entered the company exercise room without disabling the security alarm system, prompting local law enforcement to respond. (Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 56-57). As a result, Boyd was suspended pending further investigation. (Id. ¶ 58). There was an internal investigation, and Owens Corning determined that Boyd ignored instructions given by the Human Resources Leader as well as the immediate supervisor. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 59). Owens Corning consequently terminated Boyd's employment on December 2, 2002 due to insubordination and continued substandard job performance. (Id. ¶¶ 60, 63). Boyd unsuccessfully grieved the termination and the Union elected not to arbitrate. (Id. ¶¶ 61-62).*fn1

  On April 23, 2004, Boyd filed a charge of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging that Owens Corning discriminated against him by failing to promote him "because [he was] Black," and further, that it terminated him based upon his race. (Def.'s Statement ¶ 72-73; Strand Cert. Ex.C). On August 7, 2003, Boyd commenced the instant action on various claims of discrimination and/or retaliation, premised on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.*fn2 Boyd's handwritten Complaint alleges, inter alia, both racial and religious discrimination on the part of Owens Corning.*fn3 (Compl. ¶ 10). Boyd's religious discrimination claim is grounded in Owens Corning's failure to include certain Islamic ...


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