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SHIVERS v. HONEYWELL

May 28, 1996

BETTIE SHIVERS, Plaintiff,
v.
HONEYWELL, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant Honeywell, Inc.'s ("Honeywell") Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the motion and enters judgment in favor of Honeywell and against Plaintiff Bettie Shivers ("Shivers").

 I. Facts1

 Shivers is an African-American female born in 1928. Defendant Honeywell hired Shivers in 1963. Shivers is a member of Local 1114, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America ("Union"). On August 29, 1994, Honeywell terminated Shivers and Paul Carbone ("Carbone"), a Caucasian male over the age of forty, for telephoning another labor union and Burlington Air Express ("Burlington") after being directed not to do so. At the time of her termination, Shivers worked as a Tool Crib Attendant, a job that involved the storage and distribution of parts, but did not involve preparing merchandise for shipping, loading merchandise onto trucks, or making telephone calls to other companies or unions.

 At the time of Shivers' termination, Shivers was the Assistant Chief Steward for the Union as well as a member of the Union's executive board. The Chief Union Steward at Honeywell was Lutisha Havard ("Havard"), an African-American female over the age of forty. George Brown, an African American male over forty, was President of Local 1114; however, Brown did not work for Honeywell. The President, Chief Steward, and Assistant Chief Steward positions are elected by Union members. Not all Union members work for Honeywell and Honeywell plays no role in Union functions and activities.

 The Union has an established procedure for reporting alleged collective bargaining agreement violations. An employee who witnesses or gains knowledge of a violation must first complain of the violation to the Union steward, who then communicates the problem to the Chief Steward. The Chief Steward prepares a written grievance and files the grievance with the appropriate supervisor. If the Chief Steward is absent or otherwise unable to prepare the written grievance, the Assistant Chief Steward must do so in the Chief Steward's stead.

 Notwithstanding Schupp's apparent direction not to call Local 705, Shivers called Local 705 and complained about their union member truck drivers performing work for which Local 1114 members were contracted to perform. Shivers then passed the telephone receiver to Carbone who spoke further with the Local 705 representative. Shivers then obtained the telephone number for Burlington. Shivers dialed the number, identified herself by name and indicated that she was from Honeywell, and asked to speak with a sales representative. The Burlington operator transferred the call to a sales representative, at which time Shivers gave the telephone to Carbone. Carbone then spoke with the representative.

 On August 29, 1994, Shivers attended a meeting with Schupp, Havard, George Brown, Terri Brown, Carbone and her immediate supervisor. At that meeting, Shivers' and Carbone's supervisors informed them that they were terminated as a result of them making the call to Burlington against Schupp's orders. Shivers proclaimed that the terminations were unjust but admitted to calling Burlington. Honeywell generated a termination memoranda, which stated:

 
On Friday, August 26, 1994, you called and gave a directive to a Honeywell service supplier after being specifically told not to so by Wayne Schupp, Manager of Distribution. This was an insubordinate act. This behavior was totally inappropriate and will not be tolerated. Therefore, effective immediately, your employment with Honeywell is hereby terminated.

 Honeywell's Operating Work Rules provide that "Insubordinate Conduct" and "Unauthorized use of Company telephones" are serious offenses for which immediate discharge is appropriate.

 The Union filed a grievance on behalf of Shivers and Carbone on August 29, 1995. Havard signed the grievance. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, a "third step meeting" took place on September 15, 1994. The dispute was not resolved. On September 20, 1994, Havard and Terri Brown informed Shivers and Carbone that the Union had agreed not to arbitrate the grievance in exchange for Honeywell's agreement to reinstate Carbone with a fourteen-day suspension; yet, Honeywell did not agree to reinstate Shivers due to her disciplinary record. Compared to Carbone, who had only one instance of prior discipline, Shivers had eleven documented incidents of insubordination for which she was suspended three times. The decision to arbitrate a grievance is made by the Union. Honeywell has no involvement in that decision.

 Shivers then filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which then authorized her to bring suit in federal court. Shivers filed a three-count Complaint, alleging that she was terminated based on her race, gender and age. Honeywell now moves the ...


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