The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Charles Griffin, an African-American male, filed a six-count
complaint against Defendant Daubert Chemical Company for race harassment
(Counts I and II), race discrimination (Counts III and IV), and retaliation
(Counts V and VI) under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Before the Court are
the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and the parties' Cross-Motions
to Strike. The Court does not specifically cite to the record in evaluating
the motions because a large part of the record was filed under seal.
A. Employment Description
Defendant hired Plaintiff as a maintenance welder and repairman
beginning on or around March 9, 2000, and he remains an employee
to date. Since his date of hire, four of his five performance
reviews have indicated that Plaintiff met Defendant's overall
standards. Only Plaintiff's most recent review (January 2004) indicated that he had "some improvement needed," and Defendant placed
him on a wellness plan. Defendant also has placed three Caucasian employees
with similar reviews on wellness plans.
Plaintiff has consistently been the third highest paid employee
in the maintenance department. Since he was hired, Plaintiff has
received four pay raises: December 2000, January 2002, January
2003, and January 2004. Plaintiff was also the maintenance
department employee with the highest overtime pay in December
2003 and January 2004, and had the second highest amount of
overtime overall in 2003. Plaintiff did not receive any overtime
in February 2004, but was only eligible for overtime during two
weeks of the month.
In his second amended complaint (the "complaint"), Plaintiff
alleges that Caucasian co-workers and supervisors continuously
made racially derogatory comments to him. Specifically, Plaintiff
alleges that Caucasian co-workers called him a "nigger" and
"coon" on a daily basis; humiliated him on a daily basis; said "I
can't see you. You're too dark"; said "who put a quarter in you"
when he tried to speak; said "some Blacks are just niggers and
coons"; wore a shirt with the word "Klan" displayed; told him to
make a "barbeque grill, nigger"; said "you can pull that mask
off, Halloween is over"; said "I don't wanna be a brother, I want
to be a police officer so I can beat down black people"; asked if
he was "trying to turn himself white" when he was covered by PVC dust;
and taped a pornographic picture to his locker. Plaintiff also
alleges that Supervisor Rob Sobkowiak said once, "I wouldn't go
to Indiana that is where the Klan's headquarters are" and asked
him on multiple occasions if he was "on crack" cocaine.
Defendant disputes nearly all of these allegations. Based on
the parties' submissions, only the following allegations are
undisputed. Supervisor Rob Sobkowiak testified that asked
Plaintiff and the other maintenance employees (including
Caucasians) if they were "on crack." Co-worker Greg Kozicki
admitted that on a few occasions before and after his shift, he
wore a T-shirt with a hooded figure on it, which said "Clan."
Kozicki testified that the shirt was for his baseball team and
referred to an Irish clan. After learning of the shirt, Defendant
suspended Kozicki for three days, gave him six months probation,
and documented the incident in his personnel file. Defendant also
suspended other employees for failing to report the shirt.
Finally, co-worker Patrick Sherrick admitted that he said once
that he "want[ed] to be a police officer so [he] c[ould] beat
gangbangers" and that he may have added "black people." As a
result, Defendant suspended Sherrick for five days without pay
and provided him additional harassment training. Defendant
disputes the complaint's remaining allegations, as well as
similar allegations from the Statement of Additional Facts. Beginning on April 8, 2002, Plaintiff contends that he
complained to various supervisors about his co-workers' actions,
including Sobkowiak (his direct supervisor), Mark Palmer (a
supervisor), Brian Bell (Plant Manager), Mark Pawelski (Vice
President), and Ginny Winkle (Corporate Human Resources).
Defendant acknowledges that Plaintiff met with these individuals
and complained about his employment, but denies the substance of
the complaints. The supervisors testified that Plaintiff never
complained to them or mentioned the alleged race-based comments
and actions of his co-workers. To the contrary, Defendant
contends that in these meetings, Plaintiff only complained about
his workload, job assignments, the lack of opportunity to express
repair ideas, and that he and Patrick Adams (a Caucasian
employee) received more "dirty jobs" than other workers.
Defendant insists that it did not learn of any of Plaintiff's
racial harassment, discrimination, or retaliation complaints
until after it received Plaintiff's EEOC charge in February 2004.
On September 17, 2003, Plaintiff punched in at 6:00 a.m. He
went to the boiler room with coffee, a McMuffin, and a newspaper.
At approximately 6:35 a.m., supervisor Palmer made rounds at the
plant and could not locate Plaintiff. He looked in the boiler
room and found Plaintiff reading the newspaper, eating, and
drinking coffee. At that time, Plaintiff was not on break and had
not been instructed to check the salt dispenser in the boiler room. Palmer
told Plaintiff to punch out and go home. Plaintiff left before
7:00 a.m. and was suspended for one day. Plaintiff acknowledges
that under company policy, employees are not allowed to read the
newspaper or eat unless they are on a break. Plaintiff contends
that the rule is inequitably enforced.
On October 14, 2003, Plaintiff was paid for the entire day and
worked an extra hour of overtime. He spent roughly four hours
that day (from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 1:00 p.m.) on a
personal project he built a barbeque grill. That morning,
Sobkowiak observed Plaintiff cutting a drum. Plaintiff asked
Sobkowiak if he could take the drum home, and Sobkowiak agreed.
Due to this interaction, Plaintiff contends that Sobkowiak knew
about the grill. Sobkowiak testified that he did not know until
later in the day that Plaintiff was using the drum to build a
grill on company time. Regardless, Plaintiff testified in his
deposition that he did not seek or receive permission to build
the grill on company time. Sobkowiak and Brian Bell confronted
Plaintiff at the end of the day about the grill, and suspended
him for five days.
D. EEOC Charge and Response
Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge on January 15, 2004 alleging
race discrimination and retaliation, alleging he had been
subjected to a hostile-work environment based on my
race, including . . . racially derogatory remarks and
. . . disparate terms and conditions of my employment
compared to my similarly situated non-African
American co-workers . . . I have been called a `nigger' and a `coon' on
several occasions and many times when I have
complained to my supervisors about the remarks they
are dismissed as jokes. However, soon after making
complaints about the harassing remarks, I have been
falsely disciplined for reading the paper while other
non-African American co-workers are not discipline
[sic] for reading the paper.
After receiving the EEOC charge in late February 2004, Defendant
commenced an investigation and enacted several changes. It hired
an independent investigator to interview Plaintiff's ...