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Stewart v. Alliedbarton Security Services

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

March 5, 2014



LOUIS GUIROLA, Jr., Chief District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT are the Motion for Summary Judgment [38] filed by Singing River Mall, LLC, and the Motion for Summary Judgment [40] filed by AlliedBarton Security Services. The defendants have also filed three Motions to Strike [47, 51, 55] that concern evidence and pleadings submitted by Edward Stewart in opposition to the Motions for Summary Judgment. After reviewing the submissions of the parties and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motions for Summary Judgment should be granted.


AlliedBarton agreed to provide security officers to one of its clients, Singing River Mall. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 2 at 2-3, ECF No. 40-2). In November 2011, AlliedBarton, by and through its Area Manager Steven Robinson, hired Stewart, an African-American male, to serve as one of the security officers at the mall. ( Id. at 3). On January 4, 2012, Robinson promoted Stewart to site supervisor, a position that had been vacant since October 2011. ( Id. at 2-3).

Stewart claims he overheard AlliedBarton Lead Officer William Gennero complaining to a fellow security officer about Stewart's promotion on or about January 6, 2012. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 3 at 85-6, ECF No. 40-3). According to Stewart, Gennero said he was not going to work for a "nigger, " and he claimed to be a house dragon in the Ku Klux Klan. ( Id. at 86-7). Gennero and the other officer were unaware that Stewart overheard the conversation. ( Id. at 86).

Gennero complained that he was not selected for the site supervisor position because he was on an approved medical leave. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 4 at 3, ECF No. 40-4). Claire Balfour, AlliedBarton's Regional Director, investigated the circumstances surrounding Stewart's promotion, determining that the position had not been posted, and Stewart was merely selected for the position without having to formally apply. ( Id. ) Balfour testifies, "After concluding this investigation, I determined that the selection process was not conducted in the best possible manner. Accordingly, I decided to re-open the position and allow any interested party to apply." ( Id. ) Balfour claims she was not aware of the race of either Gennero or Stewart when she made this decision. ( Id. )

After the position was reopened, both Gennero and Stewart submitted applications. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 2 at 4, ECF No. 40-2). Area Manager Robinson interviewed both men before selecting Gennero for the position. ( Id. ) Robinson cited Gennero's longer tenure with AlliedBarton, his more extensive knowledge of company policies, and other similar factors as reasons for his decision. ( Id. ) After Gennero was selected, Stewart was not demoted to his former position of security officer but he was placed in a new position, shift supervisor. ( Id. )

In his deposition, Stewart claimed that he reported Gennero's alleged racist statements before the site supervisor position was reopened, but in his Charge of Discrimination submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stewart stated that he reported the incident after he was demoted, on January 16, 2012.[1] (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 3 at 91-92, ECF No. 40-3; AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 14 to Ex. 3, ECF No. 40-3). AlliedBarton Area Manager Robinson has testified that Stewart reported the allegations to him on January 16, 2012, after he selected Gennero for the site supervisor promotion. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 2 at 4, ECF No. 40-2).

Cassandra DeGraffenried, AlliedBarton's Human Resources Coordinator, has provided the following description of her investigation of Stewart's allegations against Gennero:

On or around January 16, 2012, Allied Barton Area Manager Steve Robinson reported to me that... Plaintiff alleged to him that he [sic] another employee, William Gennero, made a comment about his race.
Shortly thereafter, I interviewed each of AlliedBarton's employees at the Mall. None of the employees, including Mr. Gennero and Mr. Lambert, corroborated Plaintiff's allegations. During my investigation, I noted a reason not to credit Plaintiff's allegations (other than the fact that no employee corroborated the allegations). Specifically, Plaintiff did not report his allegations until ten days after the alleged comments, and finally made the report only after Mr. Gennero was selected over him for the Site Supervisor position. Additionally, the reason that Plaintiff gave for being at the office at a time when he was not scheduled to work was vague. Accordingly, I determined that Plaintiff's allegations were unfounded, and instead were "sour grapes" resulting from Mr. Gennero's selection for the Site Supervisor position.

(AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 5 at 1-2, ECF No. 40-5).

Stewart filed his first EEOC Charge against AlliedBarton on March 1, 2012, alleging race discrimination due to Gennero's comments. (AlliedBarton's Mot., Ex. 14 to Ex. 3, ECF No. 40-3). Stewart claims that Gennero retaliated against him for filing the EEOC Charge by requiring Stewart to work multiple shifts within a twenty-four hour period. (Compl. at 1-2, ECF No. 1).

On March 20, 2012, Gennero sent the following email to AlliedBarton District Manager Scott ...

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