Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.
Case Number: 7:21-cv-01514
Judge: L. Scott Coogler
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (Tuscaloosa County)
Defendant's Attorney: Michael L. Lucas
Description: Tuscaloosa, Alabama employment law lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued defendant on a job discrimination theory.
Maurisha Wilson (“Wilson” or “Plaintiff”) brings the present action against her former employer, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (“MBUSI” or “Defendant”). (Doc. 1.) Wilson asserts a retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,42 U.S.C. § 2000e etseq. (“Title VII”). (Id.) Wilson alleges retaliatory termination because of a sexual harassment complaint that she filed during her employment at MBUSI. (Id. at 8-9.)
Presently before this Court is MBUSI's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 25.) The motion (doc. 25) has been fully briefed and is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the motion (doc. 25) is due to be DENIED.
In April 2014, a third-party employer, which MBUSI identifies as “NAOS,” hired Wilson to work at an MBUSI facility on the Trim Line in the Assembly Department. (Doc. 26-1 at 18.) MBUSI hired Wilson directly in September 2016, and Wilson continued working in the same department. (Id. at 19.)
MBUSI maintains Human Resources Regulations (“HR Policies”) applicable to all employees, including attendance and anti-harassment policies. (Doc. 26-5 at 440.) Each employee receives a Team Member Handbook (“Handbook”) summarizing MBUSI's HR Policies. (Doc. 26-5 at 86-137.) MBUSI's Corrective Performance Review (“CPR”) system, included in the Handbook, outlines the recourse and disciplinary procedures for violations of the HR Policies. (Doc. 25 at 3-4; Doc. 26-5 at 16-17, 24-29,118-19; Doc. 27 at 4.) MBUSI issues CPRs at different levels, including Level I, Level II, Level III, and Termination. (Doc. 25 at 3; see also Doc. 26-5 at 27.) The CPR level depends upon the persistence and/or severity of the violation. (See Doc. 26-5 at 24-29.) An employee who receives a CPR while under
an active Level II CPR will be subject to a Level III CPR or termination, and an employee who receives a CPR while under an active Level III CPR will be subject to termination. (Doc. 26-5 at 28.) Level I CPRs are active for 180 days from the date of the violation; Level II and Level III CPRs are active for 360 days from the date of the employee's latest violation. (Id.)
Furthermore, MBUSI's attendance and harassment policies follow the CPR framework. MBUSI utilizes an occurrence-based attendance policy, whereby an employee who accumulates three occurrences of attendance policy violations within a 180-day period will receive a Level I CPR. (Doc. 25 at 4; Doc. 26-5 at 16-17.) Pursuant to the policy, certain violations count as more than one occurrence. (Doc. 25 at 4; Doc. 26-5 at 15.) For example, an absence with a call-in counts as two occurrences, and an absence without a call-in counts as three occurrences. (Doc. 26-5 at 15.) Moreover, MBUSI has anti-harassment and retaliation policies that permit the termination of an employee without the issuance of a CPR if MBUSI, following an investigation, finds that the employee engaged in harassing or retaliatory conduct. (Doc. 25 at 4; Doc. 26-5 at 24-25.)
On September 24,2018, Wilson received a Level I CPR for violating MBUSI's attendance policy. (E.g, Doc. 26-1 at 22; Doc. 26-2 at 2.) In March 2019, Wilson received another Level I CPR for violating MBUSI's Personal Protective Equipment
(“PPE”) Mutilation Standard because she was wearing pants with metal rivets. (E.g, Doc. 26-1 at 23; Doc. 26-2 at 4.) On August 6, 2019, Wilson and another team member, Margarette Johnson, each received Level III CPRs due to a verbal altercation between them. (E.g, Doc. 26-1 at 24-25; Doc. 26-2 at 6.) Following the incident, MBUSI moved Wilson to the Sealer Line in the Paint Department. (Doc. 1 at 3; Doc. 26-1 at 24-26.) Then, on December 2,2019, Wilson switched to a different line in the Paint Department, where her Team Leader was Fred Rogers (“Rogers”) and her Group Leader was Lajuan Jones (“Jones”). (Doc. 1 at 5; Doc. 25 at 5; Doc 26-1 at 25-26.)
On December 16, 2019, Wilson submitted a complaint with a written statement to Jones, alleging sexual harassment by Rogers. (Doc. 1 at 4-5; Doc. 5 at 5.) Jones sent the complaint to the Human Resources department (“HR”), and HR conducted an investigation. (Doc. 1 at 5-6; Doc. 5 at 5.) Following the investigation, MBUSI terminated Rogers's employment while the facility was shut down over the holidays. (Doc. 25 at 5; Doc. 27 at 4.)
On January 24, 2020, Wilson was absent from work because her car was repossessed. (Doc. 25 at 6; Doc. 27 at 5.) Wilson called in and requested a vacation day to avoid accruing an occurrence under MBUSI's attendance policy. (Doc. 25 at 6; Doc. 27 at 4.) MBUSI's attendance policy sets a vacation allotment, whereby only
a certain number of team members may be on vacation during a particular shift. (Doc. 26-5 at 20.) The vacation allotment for Wilson's team was one team member, and one of Wilson's team members was already on vacation that day. (Doc. 25 at 6; Doc. 27 at 4.) Subject to approval, employees may also utilize Emergency Vacation (“EV”). (Doc. 26-5 at 19-20.) Jones, Wilson's Group Leader, denied Wilson's vacation request for regular vacation and EV. (Doc. 25 at 6; Doc. 27 at 4.) Consequently, Wilson's absence was unexcused and considered an absence with a call-in, which counts as two occurrences pursuant to MBUSI's attendance policy. (Doc. 25 at 6; Doc. 26-5 at 15; Doc. 27 at 4.)
On February 26, 2020, Wilson was absent from work because a police officer stopped her for driving with a suspended license and without insurance. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 27 at 4.) Wilson called in and requested a vacation day. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 27 at 4.) Wilson's group had already met its vacation allotment for that day, and Jones denied Wilson's vacation request for regular vacation and EV. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 27 at 4.) As a result, Wilson's absence was again unexcused and considered an absence with a call-in. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 27 at 4.)
Wilson accumulated two occurrences for each of her absences pursuant to MBUSI's attendance policy. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 26-5 at 15; Doc. 27 at 4.) Wilson therefore received a Level I CPR because she accumulated three or more
occurrences within 180 days. (Doc. 25 at 6-7; Doc. 26-5 at 16; Doc. 27 at 4.) At the time, Wilson was still under an active Level III CPR due to her altercation with Margarette Johnson in August 2019. (Doc. 25 at 7; Doc. 27 at 5.) According to MBUSI's HR Policies, an employee who receives another CPR while under an active Level III CPR is subject to termination. (Doc. 25 at 8; Doc. 26-5 at 28; Doc. 27 at 5.) MBUSI suspended Wilson pending her termination and ultimately terminated her employment on March 10, 2020. (Doc. 25 at 8; Doc. 27 at 5.)...
Wilson v. Mercedes-Benz U.S. Int'l (N.D. Ala. 2023)
Outcome: 05/11/2023 45 MOTION for Extension of Time of the Deadline to Reopen the Case by Thirty Days, or in the Alternative, Motion to Reopen Case by Maurisha Wilson. (Jent, Kevin) (Entered: 05/11/2023)