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Moultrie v. Penn Aluminum Int'l, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 10, 2014

SUSAN I. MOULTRIE, as Executor of the Estate of LEVIA MOULTRIE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PENN ALUMINUM INTERNATIONAL, LLC, Defendant-Appellee

Argued December 9, 2013

Page 748

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 11-CV-00500-DRH-DGW -- David. R. Herndon, Chief Judge.

For SUSAN I. MOULTRIE, as Executor of the Estate of LEVIA MOULTRIE, Plaintiff - Appellant: Jana Lynn Yocom, Attorney, Jana Yocom. P.C., Mt. Vernon, IL.

For Penn Aluminum International, Llc, Defendant - Appellee: Susan Lorenc, Attorney, Thompson Coburn, Chicago, IL.

Before WILLIAMS, SYKES, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 749

Sykes, Circuit Judge.

Levia Moultrie was demoted from his position as a forklift operator at Penn Aluminum's plant in southern Illinois. According to Penn, Moultrie was demoted because of performance problems. Moultrie, however, attributes Penn's decision to racial discrimination and retaliation. He also claims that Penn's conduct violated its obligations under the collective-bargaining agreement applicable to his employment. The district court entered summary judgment for Penn, and we affirm. Moultrie's breach-of-contract claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and he has failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his discrimination and retaliation claims.

I. Background

Moultrie began working at Penn Aluminum in 1990. Over the next two decades, he moved between different positions at the plant, including forklift operator, block operator, utility coiler, and scrap chopper. The events giving rise to this litigation began on September 2, 2008, when Moultrie used his seniority to move back into the position of forklift operator. The collective-bargaining agreement gave him two days to show he could perform the job adequately.

Moultrie soon began experiencing performance problems. On September 8 he

Page 750

allegedly hooked up some wires backwards, which caused a delayed shipment. Though Moultrie denies that he made any mistake, he admits something happened that caused the late shipment. Because of this incident, Moultrie began receiving counseling for inadequate job performance from one of his supervisors, Ken Sizemore. On September 10 he received a warning for an unsafe incident involving an oven; a rod sticking out of his forklift damaged the oven door. Moultrie claims this damage was nothing more than a small crease that was not repaired. The record also suggests another performance lapse on September 22: thermocouple wires were cut because Moultrie hooked them up improperly. This brought another counseling session.

At this point Moultrie had a meeting with another of his supervisors, Paul Crawford, that was documented in a letter placed in Moultrie's file. They discussed his performance problems, and Crawford recounted his initial reservations about Moultrie's ability to keep up in this fast-paced position. The letter goes on to state that " I told Levia that I knew he had a very long, very good work record and that I would hate to have to ...


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