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King v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 28, 2014

ALFRED KING, Plaintiff,


LYNNE A. SITARSKI, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Alfred King, brought this action against Defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc. alleging employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.[1] Presently before the Court is the Greyhound's Motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion will be GRANTED.


King initiated this lawsuit on December 23, 2011, alleging two theories of employment discrimination. King contends that he suffered disparate treatment when he was denied job training opportunities, and that he was terminated as a result of his complaining about this discrimination. ( See Compl. ¶¶ 27, 30.)[2] King is an African American male. (Def. Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("DSOF") at ¶ 19.[3]) In the fall of 2009, Greyhound had an opening for the City Manager position in its Philadelphia, Pennsylvania terminal. ( Id. ¶ 35.) Evan Burak ("Burak") is a District Manager for Greyhound whose District encompasses the Northeast region, including Philadelphia.[4] ( Id. ¶¶ 3, 16.) In October, 2009, Burak hired King to serve as City Manager for Greyhound's Philadelphia bus terminal. ( Id. ¶¶ 37-41.) A City Manager is responsible for overseeing the transportation processes, ensuring efficient operations, maintaining customer satisfaction, and ensuring effective employee/labor relations. (King Dep. at 94.)

Since 2009, Greyhound's policy was to provide each City Manager with "On-Boarding" training at the beginning of their employment to ensure that he or she understood the job duties of the employees who work in their terminals. (DSOF ¶¶ 8-9.) The District Manager directs the City Manager's On-Boarding training, and has the discretion to tailor the training based on the specific needs of the new hire and the company. ( Id. ¶ 12.) District Managers may elect to conduct On-Boarding training at the City Manager's home terminal, or may send the City Manager for part, or all, of the training at an alternative location. ( Id. ¶ 13.) Consistent with his role as District Manager, Burak prepared a detailed City Manager On-Boarding Plan for King that provided details of his training topics. ( See Pl.'s Resp., Ex. B.) Under Burak's direction, King underwent various components of the On-Boarding training in Philadelphia and in Dallas, Texas, between October 2009 and January 2010. (King Dep. at 118-135.) King contends that his training deviated from the schedule provided in the City Manager On-Boarding Plan, and that he never received training in several areas listed in the On-Boarding Plan.[5]

At the time Burak was hired by Greyhound in 2008 as District Manager for District 1, the following City Managers reported to him: Howard Nice (Caucasian), Raymond O'Neil (Caucasian), Odett Luszcz (Caucasian), Dayna Hicks (African-American), Vivian Manderville (African-American), and Janice Logan (African-American). (DSOF ¶ 17.) Each of these managers received their training from District Managers who preceded Burak's being hired by Greyhound. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Once he began serving as District Manager, Burak hired the following individuals as new City Managers for terminals in his district: Plaintiff King (African-American) on October 9, 2009, Joseph Mulvenna (Caucasian) on February 1, 2010, Donald Clapp (Caucasian) on April 5, 2010, Linda Lombrozo (bi-racial) on August 16, 2010, and Rod Gibson (African-American) on June 15, 2011. ( Id. ¶ 19.) At the time he was hired, Burak continued the pre-existing practice of having new City Managers receive their On-Boarding training in their home terminals. ( Id. ¶ 21.) In January 2010, Burak attended a company conference at which he spoke with other District Managers who recommended that new hires be trained away from their home terminals, and he decided to try this approach.[6] ( Id. ¶ 22.) Accordingly, upon their being hired, Burak sent Clapp, Lombrozo, and Mulvenna to Richmond, Virginia, to complete six consecutive weeks of On-Boarding training, away from their home terminals. ( Id. ¶¶ 19, 23.) After sending these three City Managers to Richmond, Burak determined there was no real advantage to the practice, and Lombrozo informed him that she did not find it useful to be away from her home terminal for such a long period of time.[7] ( Id. ¶ 26; Def. Mot. Ex. B, Decl. of Evan Burak ("Burak Decl.") at ¶ 10.)

Thus, when he Burak hired King in the fall of 2009, Burak sent him to Dallas, Texas (Greyhound's headquarters) for only part of his training. (DSOF ¶ 64.) Throughout 2010, Burak tried the practice of sending newly-hired City Managers to Richmond for the training. Burak thereafter determined that the practice of sending new hires away for six weeks was not valuable. Burak sent King's successor as the Philadelphia City Manager, Rod Gibson (hired in June 2011), to Richmond for only part of his training, and Burak oversaw the remainder of his training in Philadelphia. ( Id. ¶ 27.)

King has identified Clapp, Lombrozo, and Mulvenna as non-African-American managers who received specialized training that he was denied. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Greyhound asserts as fact that, under Burak's direction, Lombrozo, Clapp and Mulvenna each received the same substantive On-Board training in Richmond, Virginia that King received in Philadelphia. (DSOF ¶ 25.) King disputes this assertion, stating that these individuals received six-week comprehensive training, while his own training was more abbreviated and erratic, and that he never received training in the areas noted above. (PSOF ¶ 25.)

In April 2010, Burak provided King with an oral evaluation, during which he gave Plaintiff a satisfactory performance evaluation and awarded him a 1% pay raise. ( Id. ¶ 87.) Burak identified areas in which King should work on improving his job performance. ( Id. ¶ 88.) In May 2010, Plaintiff met with Human Resources Manager Kelly Storm. ( Id. ¶ 89.) Storm expressed that King was "disconnected regarding the gravity of each topic" that she raised with him, and memorialized that she was "concerned with [Plaintiff's] daily contribution to the Philadelphia team, " noting that "[i]t appears that he is practically and mentally cut-off from the operation." ( Id. ¶¶ 91-92.) She also found that King was "unaware of basic principles of marrying equipment and resources and employee/customer experience." ( Id. ¶ 92.)

Burak gave Plaintiff his first written performance evaluation on October 29, 2010. ( Id. ¶ 94.) Burak found that Plaintiff met or exceeded standards in five areas and had a "can do attitude, " but also noted that he needed improvement in "decision making, planning and organization, quality, staffing & direction, and leadership." ( Id. ¶ 95.) King testified at his deposition that he could not answer yes or no to whether, in his own mind, he believed that he had experienced racial discrimination with regard to the October 2010 performance evaluation. (King Dep. 229-30.)

Greyhound contends that King exhibited various performance issues in the early months of 2011. On January 5, 2011, King arrived seven hours late for a scheduled meeting with Burak. (DSOF ¶ 103.) In February 2011, King hired an employee who had not yet passed a criminal background check. ( Id. ¶ 110.) King knew that company policy prohibited hiring an employee before that candidate passed a criminal background check. ( Id. ¶ 111.) Greyhound subsequently learned that the employee had been convicted of a sex offense involving a minor. ( Id. ¶ 113.) The employee worked as a janitor, and would need to work unsupervised in the terminal restrooms. ( Id. ¶ 112.) After learning of the sex offense conviction, King's reaction was to ask Burak to keep the janitor employed. ( Id. ¶ 114.) Hiring this employee created a liability risk for Greyhound. ( Id. ¶ 116.) King conceded at his deposition that using good judgment was important part of his job, and that hiring this employee was not his "best judgment." (King Dep. at 285-87.)

Greyhound utilizes a City Manager's Driver Out of Service ("DOS") statistic as a critical metric to gauge performance. (DSOF ¶ 123.) DOS refers to the daily record of drivers supervised by the City Manager who are absent or unable to drive. ( Id. ¶ 124.) Every terminal is instructed to maintain a DOS rate at no higher than 7%. ( Id.) Throughout King's time as City Manager, the DOS rate at the Philadelphia terminal was inconsistent, and sometimes rose to the double digits. ( Id. ¶ 125.) Burak asked King to create a spreadsheet to track his DOS rate, but King failed to complete the spreadsheet. ( Id. ¶ 126.)

In light of King's performance issues regarding his being seven hours late for the meeting with Burak, his hiring the convicted sex offender, and his failing to create the DOS spreadsheet, on February 11, 2011, Burak presented King with a Performance Improvement Plan, which warned that failure to improve would be grounds for termination. ( Id. ¶ 127; Def. Mot. Ex. W.) King testified at his deposition that he recalled telling Burak on February 11, 2011, that he felt "singled out." (King Dep. 306-09.)[8]

On March 24, 2011, Mr. Burak gave Plaintiff a performance evaluation marking his approximate year and a half on the job. (DSOF ¶ 140; see also Def. Mot. Ex. V (copy of March 2011 Performance Evaluation)). Burak stated that King "has not been successful in Key Performance Indicators" and that rated him as either "unsatisfactory" or "needed improvement" in most of the competency categories. ( Id. ¶ 141.) No one else reporting to Burak in 2011 received a performance evaluation with a score as low as King's score in 2011. ( Id. ¶ 142; Burak Decl. ¶ 26.) King sent an email to Burak after receiving the performance evaluation stating that he felt "singled out." (DSOF ¶ 143.) Although in the email he does not use the words "race discrimination, " King testified that he intended the comment in the email that he felt "singled out" to refer to race discrimination. (King Dep. at 368.) He also wrote in the email that his "supervisors have over 75 years of experience between them and if I have to babysit them, then I don't need them." (Def. Mot. Ex. CC.") King testified that, with "20/20 hindsight, it probably wasn't appropriate" to refer to Burak in that manner. (King Dep. at 368.)

On March 30, 2011, Burak sent King an e-mail regarding the low "mystery shop" scores the Philadelphia terminal had recently received. (DSOF ¶ 149; see also Def. Mot. Ex. DD (March 30, 2011 e-mail from Burak to King)). ...

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