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.

Delano Lavert Howard v. At&T D/B/A/ At&T Mobility

November 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge


I. Introduction

We are considering a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant, AT&T. This matter relates to the transfer and disciplinary action of Plaintiff, Delano Lavert Howard. On May 27, 2011, Plaintiff filed the instant action alleging Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of race and sex. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of discrimination. We will examine the motion under the well-established standard. Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d. Cir. 2008). We "must view all evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party" and grant summary judgment "only if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant." Id.

II. Background*fn1

In 1996, Plaintiff began working for a predecessor in interest of AT&T Mobility as a Customer Care Representative at a call center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Six month later, Plaintiff was transferred to a call center in Orlando, Florida. In 2000, he transferred to a position in the IT department. In 2002, he returned to the customer service department. In 2003, Plaintiff applied to a customer service position in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania call center. Following a phone interview, Plaintiff was offered the position but told his salary would have to be reduced. Plaintiff accepted and transferred to the Harrisburg office in May 2003. Prior to the transfer, Plaintiff's salary was approximately $53,000 and his seniority was dated from 1999. Following the transfer, Plaintiff's salary was reduced by $7,000 and his seniority date was 2002, the year when he returned from IT to customer service.

Salary determinations were made by Randy Shackelford, Director of the Harrisburg call center, by comparing the salary of the incoming customer service managers with other employees in the same position with similar experience and service.*fn2 The Harrisburg branch at that time had a policy of calculating seniority on the basis of continuous service in the subject position. Shackelford determined that Plaintiff's continuous service with the customer service department began in 2002, when he transferred from the IT department. After determining Plaintiff's seniority date, Shackelford compared Plaintiff's salary to four Customer Care Managers with similar years of service and managerial experience. The salaries of the four managers ranged from $41,202.20 to $42,312.66.*fn3 Plaintiff's salary in Orlando was more than $10,000 above the salaries of managers with similar qualifications in Harrisburg. Shackelford made the decision to offer Plaintiff a position with a reduced salary of approximately $46,000. At the time he made this offer, Shackelford was not aware of Plaintiff's race.*fn4

On February 11, 2006, Plaintiff was not feeling well when he arrived at work. Plaintiff and his supervisor, Jody Dugan, had a conference call with Shackelford. Fifteen to twenty minutes following the call, Dugan directed Plaintiff to call Shackelford. Plaintiff did not make the call immediately, because he was assisting a customer service team with an issue and did not perceive the call to be urgent. Dugan again directed Plaintiff to call Shackelford. Plaintiff waited until the end of the day to call Shackelford, who asked him to report to the office of the Human Resources Manager the following week. On Monday, February 14, 2006, Plaintiff reported to the office as requested and was informed by Shackelford that he was being suspended. During the suspension, Plaintiff was paid and his benefits were not affected. Upon returning to work on Monday, February 20, 2006, Plaintiff was issued a written warning for his failure to follow instructions, questionable conduct, and lack of availability. As a result of this warning, Plaintiff asserts that he was not able to transfer to another office or apply for any positions within the company for a year.

After receiving the written warning, Plaintiff made a complaint to Defendant's ethics hotline. Kyle Mundis, the Human Resources Manager at the Harrisburg call center, and James Klimas, Director of Human resources, handled Plaintiff's complaint, which focused on his salary reduction and the written warning. After conducting an investigation, Klimas determined that there was no reason to believe Plaintiff's salary was based on any criteria other than his qualifications. Klimas found, however, that the questionable conduct and lack of availability discussed in the written warning should not have been the subject of discipline. As a result of the investigation, Defendant amended the written warning to list only Plaintiff's failure to follow instructions.

In support of his discrimination claim, Plaintiff identifies three employees that transferred into the Harrisburg call center without having their salaries reduced or seniority impacted. Shackelford, however, asserts that he subjected each of these individuals to the same transfer salary evaluation as Plaintiff.*fn5

Plaintiff brought an employment discrimination claim before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On September 8, 2010, the PHRC closed Plaintiff's case. The EEOC mailed a "Notice of Suit Rights" to plaintiff on February 14, 2011. He filed the present action on May 27, 2011, alleging race and gender discrimination.

III. Discussion

A. Race Discrimination

Defendant argues that summary judgment should be granted on Counts I, III, IV, and VI of Plaintiff's complaint, because he failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. To establish a prima facie case under Title VII, Plaintiff must establish (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was qualified for the position; (3) he suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the adverse action occurred under circumstances that could give rise to the inference of discrimination.*fn6 Makky v. Chertoff, 541 F.3d 205, 214 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973)). Once the plaintiff has established the prima facie case, the defendant must present a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802-3. If a legitimate reason is given by the employer, then the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the employer's reason is pretextual. Id.

Defendant also argues that Plaintiff's claims fail because he has not shown pretext. To show pretext, "the plaintiff must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer's articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer's action." Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994). To meet the first prong, the "nonmoving plaintiff must demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer's proffered legitimate reasons for its actions that a reasonable factfinder could rationally find them unworthy of credence." Jones, 198 F.3d at 413. To meet the second prong, a plaintiff may provide evidence that shows ...

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.