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Turner v. Southeastern Freight Lines, Inc.

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

July 6, 2015

LEE D. TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN FREIGHT LINES, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

TOM S. LEE, District Judge.

This cause is before the court on the motion of defendant Southeastern Freight Lines (SEFL) for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, Lee D. Turner, proceeding pro se, has responded to the motion and the court, having considered the memoranda of authorities, together with attachments, submitted by the parties, concludes the motion is well taken and should be granted.

Plaintiff, a former employee of SEFL, brought the present action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., alleging claims of race discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment based on race and/or retaliation. In general, plaintiff states that in 2003, he filed a charge of race discrimination based on an alleged altercation in which a supervisor first assaulted and then fired him. He alleges that because of his race (African-American) and because he filed that 2003 EEOC charge, he has been denied breaks, given reduced hours, issued unfounded and/or unwarranted disciplinary actions, and further, has been subjected to racially derogatory comments. Defendant denies plaintiff's allegations and contends that based on the evidence of record, each of his claims is due to be dismissed.

Background

SEFL is a transportation company that operates a fleet of trucks used to transport goods to various locations in the southern United States. Plaintiff was employed by SEFL as a truck driver for twelve years, commencing in December 2001. When he was first hired, his job involved picking up and delivering goods for customers. In 2005, he moved to a "linehaul" position, in which he transported loads between SEFL service centers. While plaintiff was initially a "wild driver, " with no dedicated run, he eventually (no later than 2011) successfully bid on a dedicated run between Jackson and Baton Rouge. Each night, plaintiff would make the round-trip drive between SEFL's Jackson Service Center and the Baton Rouge Service Center. While at the Baton Rouge Service Center, he would perform various duties at the dock, including loading and unloading freight.

Based on his deposition testimony and his declaration submitted in support of his response to SEFL's motion, plaintiff complains of a number of incidents which he contends occurred because of his race and/or because of his 2003 complaint of race discrimination, as follows:

• In September 2004, despite being in the lead in a company-wide contest for which the grand prize was an all expense-paid trip, another employee with fewer leads was declared the winner;
• In 2004, he was written up for clocking in six minutes early while two Caucasian coworkers' time cards were adjusted by supervisors to prevent a violation;
• In 2009, he was removed from a temporary assignment two weeks early;
• In January 2013, he was issued a First Level Corrective Action relating to a "fifth wheel" accident in which his trailer became separated (as SEFL attributed the accident to operator error), and he was issued a Final Level Corrective Action for failure to report the incident and for misleading or deceptive conduct.
• In February 2013, he was "not allowed to work on the dock in Baton Rouge, " or rather was given reduced hours, whereas two Caucasian coworkers, Ed Johnson and W. Porter, were allowed to work.
• Beginning around February 2013, he was not allowed to take breaks in Baton Rouge while other workers were allowed to "break at leisure."
• In April 2013, he was issued a First Level Corrective Action for carelessness and failure to properly perform policy and procedure relating to an incident in which the forklift he was operating pierced a drum containing hazardous material.
• On July 9, 2013, Andrew Albertson, the dock supervisor in Baton Rouge, referred to him in a racially derogatory manner by twice calling him "boy."
• In August 13, 2013, he was issued a First Level Corrective Action after backing his trailer into a pole.
• Following an October 23, 2013 verbal altercation with Andrew Albertson, he was issued a Final Level Corrective Action for uncooperative attitude and ...

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