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ARMSTRONG v. UNITED AIR LINES

May 2, 1995

JOHN G. ARMSTRONG, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED AIR LINES, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is the motion of Defendant United Airlines Inc. ("United") for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 FACTS1

 United, a Delaware corporation, employed Plaintiff from July 31, 1989, until March 23, 1994, when he was involuntarily discharged. Plaintiff was hired as a Senior Staff Specialist in United's Corporate Training Department. Plaintiff's duties included the design and production of employee training materials. Daniel Kafcas, a now deceased white male, was Plaintiff's immediate supervisor until March 1993 when Dennis Armstrong ("D. Armstrong"), a white male, replaced Kafcas. Chaille Maddox, an African-American female, is the Director of Corporate Training. *fn2" Plaintiff claims that the above named supervisors discriminated against him on the basis of his race, African-American, and gender, male, in that he was allegedly not allowed to transfer to other positions, not promoted or awarded for his participation in a project called the FOCUS project, not given opportunities in the Training Department, demoted, and eventually terminated from United. Plaintiff further alleges that many of these events occurred in retaliation for filing claims of discrimination against United. In addition, plaintiff contends that D. Armstrong intended to inflict emotional distress on him.

 In 1989, shortly after joining United, Plaintiff worked on a training project called FOCUS for a few months until January of 1990. Other United employees participated in the project for as long as three or four years. Four individuals who worked on the project through its duration received an award. Plaintiff was among those employees, many of whom were white, who did not receive an award. In his first performance review, which covered January 1989 through December 1989, Plaintiff was generally rated as "effective," *fn3" but was criticized for problems he had in achieving consistent accuracy in the FOCUS project.

  In 1990, both Plaintiff and a non-black male, Mark Produce ("Produce"), interviewed for the same position with United in Denver, Colorado. However, neither Plaintiff nor Produce were ever transferred to that job. *fn4" In a memorandum dated October 18, 1990, Kafcas discussed specific aspects of Plaintiff's performance that were, in his view, "unsatisfactory." Kafcas warned that Plaintiff's failure to improve could lead to dismissal. *fn5" A memorandum dated November 13, 1990, signed by Plaintiff, also discusses the need for Plaintiff to improve his job performance.

 In his annual performance review for 1990, Plaintiff received an overall rating of "needs improvement" in both the Responsibilities and Management Skills categories. The evaluation was based on his work on two projects, Flight Dispatch and Account Services Representative Training. Although Plaintiff received a "highly effective" rating for the first project, his work on the second project was given an "unsatisfactory" rating. In June 1991, Plaintiff met with Scott Gilday, Employee Services Manager, to discuss matters presented in an agenda written by Plaintiff which raised questions about the 1990 Denver transfer, his poor performance reviews, and promotional opportunities for himself and for minority males as a group.

 At the end of 1991, Plaintiff's performance rating dropped to "unacceptable" for Management Skills and did not improve from the "needs improvement" evaluation Plaintiff received the previous year in the Responsibilities category. In particular, Plaintiff was informed that although he had "talent" and "a strong desire to do well," his performance fell far short of the expectations associated with his position. On March 5, 1992, Plaintiff was demoted from the Senior Staff Specialist position to the position of Staff Specialist.

 On March 14, 1992, Plaintiff filed his first EEOC charge. In his 1992 performance review, Plaintiff received better overall ratings from his supervisors than in the previous year, going from "unacceptable" to "needs improvement" in the Management Skills area and from "needs improvement" to "effective" in the Responsibilities area. Additionally, Kafcas commented that although Plaintiff demonstrated a willingness to meet deadlines, he continued to be unreceptive to constructive feedback.

 Beginning in late July 1993, a flurry of memoranda written by D. Armstrong and plaintiff chronicle an intense conflict between the two over the plaintiff's job duties and performance. On August 9, 1993, Plaintiff filed a second EEOC charge alleging retaliation for filing his prior charge. On August 13, 1993, Plaintiff applied for a job opening in San Francisco. Throughout 1993, the friction between D. Armstrong and plaintiff continued.

 Plaintiff filed this action on November 12, 1993. The complaint has since been amended and currently consists of six counts. Counts one and three allege a cause of action for disparate treatment based on race under § 1981 and Title VII respectively. Counts two and five allege a claim for retaliation for filing charges of discrimination under § 1981 and Title VII respectively. Count four alleges a claim under Title VII for disparate treatment ...


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