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Johnson v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc.

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

December 12, 2017

JACQUELYN JOHNSON PLAINTIFF
v.
HUNTINGTON INGALLS, INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          LOUIS GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT is the Defendant's [27] Motion for Summary Judgment in this employment discrimination case. The issues have been fully briefed. After due consideration of the parties' submissions and the relevant law, it is the Court's opinion that there is no question of material fact for the jury. The Motion will be granted and Plaintiff's claims dismissed.

         Background

         Johnson is a female African American who has been employed by Huntington Ingalls for almost three years as of this date. She filed this lawsuit pro se, alleging that she worked as a welding instructor from June 2014 to July 2015. When she complained about not receiving bonuses, she was reassigned to work in the shipyard. She alleges that males with less experience than her worked as instructors. She alleges Huntington Ingalls retaliated against her when it reassigned her to work in the shipyard, and also terminated her “in retaliation for providing testimony against the Defendant in a Title VII race discrimination lawsuit.” (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1). She referred to Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 as bases for her claims.

         In her February 18, 2016 Charge of Discrimination, Johnson stated:

I am Black. I was hired by the Respondent on January 24, 2014 as a Welder. I believe I am being disciplined and harassed because of my race, (Black) and because I complained in June 2015 about not receiving a bonus.
In June 2015 I filed a complaint with Edmond Hughes (Black, HR Director) in-regards to not receiving bonuses for recommendations. I believe I was denied a bonus in October 2014 due to my sex and race. In August 2015 I was sent to work in the yard. I believe that because of my race and sex I was sent to work in the yard as punishment for a complaint made regarding safety suggestions.
In August 2015 male employees were allowed to become Instructors without having the welding experience I was told I needed in-order to work as an Instructor. I worked as an Instructor during the time period June 2014-July 2015.
I have been retaliated and discriminated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

(Def. Mot. Ex. 14, ECF No. 27-14). She alleges she received a notice of right to sue on May 19, 2016. (Compl. 3, ECF No. 1). Johnson timely filed this lawsuit within 90 days of receipt of the notice.

         Johnson is now represented by counsel, who is “pursuing solely her claim of race discrimination and retaliation relating to the failure to pay her work leaderman's pay and the company's rule change that resulted in her involuntary transfer out of the training center.” (Pl. Resp. 9 n. 2, ECF No. 33). Huntington Ingalls moves for summary judgment of these claims on the grounds that the Title VII claims are time-barred, and Johnson cannot show that she has a viable § 1981 race or retaliation claim.

         Discussion

         1. Title VII Claims

         “In order to file suit under Title VII, a plaintiff first must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. And where a Title VII claim is based on “discrete discriminatory acts” - such as those alleged here - “[t]he charge . . . must be filed within the 180-[ ]day time period after the discrete discriminatory act occurred.” Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 113 (2002); see Tillman v. S. Wood Preserving of Hattiesburg, Inc., 377 F. App'x 346, 349 (5th Cir. 2010) (identifying ‚Äútermination, failure to promote, denial of transfer, and ...


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