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Emmanuel Noel v. the Boeing Company

September 21, 2011

EMMANUEL NOEL PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE BOEING COMPANY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schiller, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Emmanuel Noel, an African American born in Haiti, brings this action against his former employer, the Boeing Company, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). Noel asserts that he was issued disciplinary memoranda, subjected to a hostile work environment, and ultimately discharged due to discrimination based on his race and national origin and in retaliation for his previously filing a Title VII lawsuit and charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Currently before the Court is Boeing's motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Boeing makes commercial jetliners and military aircraft. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 5 [Decl. of Arthur Maull] ¶ 1.) Noel worked at Boeing for approximately 18 years, most recently at its Ridley Park, Pennsylvania facility, before he was terminated from his position as aircraft mechanic on December 5, 2008.(Compl. ¶¶5,7; Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 25 [12/5/08 Corrective Action Memo].)In 2006, Noel filed a lawsuit against Boeing alleging violations of Title VII and the PHRA. See Noel v. Boeing Co., Civ. A. No. 06-2673. Following a bench trial, judgment was entered in favor of Boeing on May 8, 2008.

Throughout 2008, Noel was assigned to the second shift in Shop 3488, the final assembly area for the V-22 Osprey military helicopter.(Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 6 [Dep. of Emmanuel Noel] at 173, 186-87, 190-92.)Noel was an hourly employee and member of the UAW Local 1069 (the "Union"); accordingly, the terms of his employment were governed by a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA"). (Noel Dep. at 174-75, 188; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 7 [Boeing-UAW Local 1069 Production and Maintenance Agreement].) Noel's direct supervisor at the time was Charles Moyer, who in turn reported to Arthur Maull, the second-level supervisor. (Noel Dep. at 214, 216.) Maull reported to the director of operations of the V-22 program, a position held by Tony Martin until July 2008 and then by James Folmar. (Maull Decl. ¶ 4.) In 2008, Noel was issued a series of Corrective Action Memos ("CAMs") that eventually culminated in his discharge from Boeing.

A. The July 14, 2008 CAM

On Friday, June 27, 2008, Moyer asked Noel whether he wanted to work overtime that weekend, and Noel agreed. (Noel Dep. at 334; Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 8 [Dep. of Charles Moyer] at 15.) Noel was aware that a supervisor must expressly approve any overtime, that overtime was normally limited to six hours on the weekends, and that Sunday overtime had not been permitted in his shop for months. (Noel Dep. at 328-34; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 15 [Statement of Emmanuel Noel to Boeing EEO Investigator Todd Schroeder] at 3.) Because Moyer asked him to work over the "weekend," rather than "tomorrow" as he had done on previous Fridays, Noel assumed that he should work on both Saturday and Sunday. (Noel Dep. at 355.) Noel testified that other employees from Shop 3488 worked that Sunday, but time records indicate that he was the only employee who charged time. (Noel Dep. at 336; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 59 [Boeing Time Records].) On July 14, 2008, Noel was issued a CAM for unauthorized performance of work, including seven hours on Saturday and seven hours on Sunday. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 15 [7/14/08 CAM]; Noel Dep. at 329.) Noel refused to sign the CAM, calling it a "setup," and filed a grievancethrough the Union. (Noel Dep. at 352-53; Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 16 [Grievance for 7/14/08 CAM].)

B. The July 30, 2008 CAM

On July 30, 2008, Noel received a CAM for mischarging 10.4 hours to an aircraft move on July 2, 2008 that did not take place until five days later. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 17 [7/30/08 CAM].) Noel refused to sign the CAM because he claimed he could not remember the incident. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 9; Noel Dep. at 369; 7/30/08 CAM.) Once again, Noel filed a grievance through the Union. (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 18 [Grievance for 7/30/08 CAM].)

C. The September 22, 2008 CAM and Suspension

On September 22, 2008, Noel was issued another CAM for charging 2.5 hours of overtime on four separate weekdays. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 19 [9/22/08 CAM].) Noel testified that Maull told him to "take some extra time" to clean the shop and aircraft, without specifying the amount of overtime he was to work. (Noel Dep. at 378-82.) Noel was aware, however, of a general policy limiting overtime to 2 hours on weekdays. (Noel Dep. at 329.)

As a result of this CAM, Noel was suspended without pay for one day. (9/22/08 CAM.) The September 22, 2008 CAM referenced two earlier CAMs for the same category of violation. (Id.)One was the July 14, 2008 CAM for unauthorized overtime. (Id.) The other was a CAM issued on July 16, 2008 for defective work product. (Id.; Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 20 [7/16/08 CAM].) The July 16, 2008 CAM was later rescinded. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 21 [Grievance for 7/16/08 CAM].)Noel alleges that his one-day suspension was imposed for the unauthorized overtime "in conjunction with" the prior CAMs listed, including the one that was eventually rescinded. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 10.)

Noel filed a grievance through the Union for the September 22, 2008 CAM. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 22 [Grievance for 9/22/08 CAM].) He also filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC based in part on the one-day suspension. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 23 [10/22/08 EEOC Charge of Discrimination].)

D. The December 5, 2008 CAM and Termination

The second shift in Shop 3488 ran from 2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with two ten-minute breaks and one thirty-minute lunch break at set times. (Noel Dep. at 188-89.)Shop 3488 had at least three computers that Noel was allowed to use. (Id. at 194-95.) If there were not enough computers available to employees in Shop 3488 during their breaks, they would go to other departments in the facility to use their computers. (Moyer Dep. at 67.)Employees would also leave the shop occasionally to use the restroom, to access the racks that contained nuts and bolts, and to retrieve other materials and parts as needed. (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 10 [Dep. of James Folmar] at 16-17.)

Noel testified that he used computers outside of his work area "[a]ll the time." (Noel Dep. at 275-76, 286.) In an August 2008 signed statement to Boeing's EEO investigator, Noel stated that Moyer verbally warned him "5-6 times or more" not to leave his work area. (Noel Statement to Schroeder at 2.) Also in August 2008, Boeing human resource generalist Ruth Shoup contacted Noel following a report by Moyer and instructed him not to use computers outside of his work area. (Noel Dep. at 268, 414; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 37 [Emails Between Emmanuel Noel and Ruth Shoup]; 10/22/08 EEOC Charge of Discrimination.) Noel was not formally disciplined at that time. ...


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