Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


June 2, 2005.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge


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.

  B. Allegations

  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.

  C. Suspensions

  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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.