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WOODARD v. CASTING

November 18, 2005.

DAYVED WOODARD, Plaintiff,
v.
PHB DIE CASTING, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SEAN McLAUGHLIN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Presently pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendant, PHB Die Casting.

I. BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff, Dayved Woodard ("Woodard" or "Plaintiff"), started working at PHB Die Casting ("PHB" or "Defendant"), on February 9, 1998. Plaintiff, an African-American male, worked primarily as a Die Cast Punch Operator at PHB's Fairview location. (Complaint ¶ 5). Plaintiff remained at PHB through October 17, 2003.

  Plaintiff contends that, throughout his four years working at PHB, he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment. Plaintiff recounts the following comments and incidents which purportedly took place during his tenure at PHB in support of his allegation of a racially hostile environment.

  Woodard cites two incidents where a co-worker reported to him that another co-worker had used the racially offensive term "nigger." (Complaint ¶¶ 19, 21; Woodard Depo., Dkt. #21, Ex. 3, pp. 33-40). Neither of these comments were made in the presence of Woodard or any other minority employee. (Woodard Depo., pp. 33-34). Woodard further testified that he had never actually overheard that word while working at PHB. (Id. at 39-40).

  Woodard also describes an incident that occurred in 2000 where he and another African-American employee, Jamal Shields, were horsing around and laughing because Shields had hit Woodard with a rubber band. After observing their horseplay, Jay Lewis, a PHB employee, purportedly queried another employee, Al Cropeck, as to "who let the monkeys out?" (Woodard Depo., pp. 42-44). Again, Woodard did not actually hear the comment firsthand, but had it relayed to him by Cropeck. (Id.)

  Woodard testified that a fellow employee, Nick Hazenback, had twice used the phrase, "you people," in Woodard's presence. Sometime in 2000, Hazenback approached Woodard and asked him how many children he had. When Woodard told Hazenback that he had two daughters, Hazenback commented, "I thought you people had a lot of kids." (Complaint ¶ 30; Woodard Depo., pp. 47-48). Although Hazenback told Woodard that he "didn't mean anything by it," Hasenback apparently made the same "joke" about a year later after having forgotten the prior exchange. (Woodard Depo., p. 48). Hazenback also made a comment in 2001 to the effect that Woodard's stocking cap made him look like he was headed out to do a "drive-by shooting." (Id. at 81).

  Another PHB employee, Gordon Phillips, used the phrase "you people" in a conversation with Plaintiff on Martin Luther King Day in 2000. According to Woodard, Phillips expressed surprise that Woodard had shown up for work that day, remarking that "I thought it was a holiday for you people." (Id. at 49-50).

  Later in 2000, Woodard asked a co-employee, Dave Turner, for a bathroom break. Turner responded, "what do you need to do, go handle one of your drug deals?" (Complaint ¶ 32; Woodard Depo., p 54).

  Woodard also recounts three incidents that took place between himself and a PHB electrician, Bill Diehl. Woodard testified that Diehl approached him in 1999 and asked, "what are you?" When Woodard asked what he meant, Diehl rejoined, "well, you're too light to be black, too dark to be white, what are you?" (Woodard Depo., pp. 55-56). Later on, in 2001, Diehl encountered Woodard while looking for an African-American female co-worker, Darlene Jones, and said, "I'm looking for someone. You're the right color, but the wrong sex." (Id. at 57). Finally, in early 2003, Woodard was approached again by Diehl, who queried whether Woodard knew where chitlins came from. When Woodard indicated no, Diehl informed him that chitlins were "what the slaves were allowed to have after the master made them slaughter the pigs." (Id. at 54-55).

  In addition to the aforementioned comments, Woodard testified to once seeing a small graffiti of a "cross with a KKK" in one of the bathrooms at PHB. (Complaint ¶ 27; Woodard Depo., p. 69). The image appeared to be drawn by means of a black ballpoint pen and was approximately 2 inches by 3 inches high. (Id.) Woodard testified that PHB removed the graffiti after Woodard complained about it, but that it took several months for them to do so. (Id. at 70-71).

  In addition to his allegations of a hostile work environment, Woodard asserts that, throughout his employment at PHB, he was routinely assigned to "harder" jobs than white employees in his position. Without citing specifics, Woodard contends that he suffered disparate treatment in his job assignments, primarily by being assigned to "the worst jobs within the workplace" and "routine assignment to the most difficult machines." (Complaint ¶ 9). Woodard further contends that, while he was assigned to the "worst and most difficult jobs," Caucasian employees routinely were assigned to "easier" jobs. (Complaint ¶ 11).

  Woodard filed the underlying complaint on May 26, 2004. PHB filed a motion for summary judgment on May 23, 2005, and Woodard responded on June 26, 2005. PHB filed a reply on August 22, 2005, and oral argument on the summary judgment motion ...


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