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Grady v. Affiliated Computer Services ACS

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 4, 2015

RUSSELL D. GRADY, Plaintiff,
v.
AFFILIATED COMPUTER SERVICES ACS, a Xerox company, Defendant.

ENTRY ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT

Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge

This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Affiliated Computer Services ("Xerox")[1] (Filing No. 42). Plaintiff, Russell D. Grady ("Mr. Grady"), pro se, filed this action against Xerox alleging race discrimination, retaliation, and harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). For the reasons set forth below, Xerox's Motion is GRANTED.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.Com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews "the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). However, "[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial." Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). "In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of a claim." Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Finally, "neither the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and internal quotations omitted).

II. STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

The following material facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable to Mr. Grady as the non-moving party. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

Xerox provides business process outsourcing services for commercial and government organizations. During the relevant time period Xerox had a contract with the State of Indiana ("the State") commonly known as the Indiana Eligibility Project ("Project"), in which it provided services to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Department. Under the contract, Xerox was responsible for assisting the State in determining the eligibility of Indiana residents for benefits such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, and Welfare to Work. Xerox conducted interviews of Indiana residents who requested benefits and prepared their files to be reviewed by the State for approval or denial of benefits.

Mr. Grady is Black and his national origin is Hispanic. He is a former employee of Alpha Rae Personnel, Inc. ("Alpha Rae"), an Indiana staffing agency that Xerox contracted with from 2007 through 2012. Alpha Rae was responsible for assigning its employees to Xerox to work on the Project. During Mr. Grady's employment with Alpha Rae, he was assigned to work as an Eligibility Specialist at a Xerox Regional Change Center in Marion County, Indiana. He worked at the Marion County site from September 7, 2010 until April 30, 2012, and was responsible for answering telephone calls from public assistance applicants, completing data gathering interviews, entering the information from the interview into the system, requesting and tracking verification from the applicant, and submitting the case to a State employee who would authorize or deny benefits. The chain of command at the Marion County site was as follows: Strategic Business Unit Manager, Operations Manager, Customer Care Team Lead, and Eligibility Specialist.

In July 2011, Tamara Mason, a State Eligibility Manager, contacted Xerox and requested that Mr. Grady be removed from the Project because he allegedly violated the State's computer usage policy by permitting an applicant to use his computer to access her online bank statement. In August 2011, Xerox received a second report regarding Mr. Grady's performance and a request to have him removed from the Project. A State employee, Timothy Bolton, alleged that Mr. Grady was behind on his work, was discovered sleeping at his desk, and was observed having heated discussions with his girlfriend at the workplace. The Strategic Business Unit Manager for Mr. Grady's team, Ann Noll ("Ms. Noll"), recommended that Mr. Grady be placed on a performance improvement review plan and be issued a final written warning. However, Mr. Grady's disciplinary action was changed to a verbal warning on October 18, 2011, due to an administrative error that occurred in submitting the request to Alpha Rae.

Around March 2012, Mr. Grady was assigned to Team Leader Michelle Akers's ("Ms. Akers") team of Eligibility Specialists. Within a month, Ms. Akers began to make complaints about Mr. Grady's performance to Operations Manager Joe Trice, Jr. ("Mr. Trice"). Mr. Grady's Team Coach, Tiera Burrell ("Ms. Burrell"), made several complaints to Ms. Akers about Mr. Grady's performance, including spending too much time on calls, too much time between calls talking to co-workers and eating, and about him accepting calls from Spanish-speaking callers when protocol required that they be referred to designated Eligibility Specialists. Ms. Burrell also claimed that she observed Mr. Grady sleeping at his desk. On April 5, 2012, Ms. Akers coached Mr. Grady on his performance on two calls, counseling him on his lack of professionalism and failing to input all the required information into the computer system. Mr. Grady's Quality Assurance ratings on the two calls were well below the 85% average required at the time.

On April 26, 2012, an Alpha Rae representative met with Mr. Grady and issued him a final written warning based upon performance complaints received during the month of April. Immediately after receiving the written warning, Mr. Grady returned to his desk, but refused to work on any tasks or take any telephone calls, despite being instructed to do so by Ms. Akers. Mr. Grady was approached twice by Mr. Trice about resuming work on assigned tasks and making himself available for telephone calls.

The following day, a State employee reported that Mr. Grady was found sleeping and using his cell phone while on duty. Ms. Akers contacted another Operations Managers, Ann Brown ("Ms. Brown"), regarding Mr. Grady's conduct. Ms. Akers did not consult with Mr. Trice because he was out of the office on vacation. Ms. Brown consulted with the Strategic Business Unit Manager, Ms. Noll, and they agreed that Mr. Grady should be removed from the Project based upon his past performance and disciplinary history, coupled with the behavior he exhibited after receiving the written warning on April 26, 2012. Mr. Grady was released from the Project effective April 30, 2012. Although he was discharged from the Project, Mr. Grady remained eligible to receive subsequent assignments through Alpha Rae.

After receiving his final written warning on April 26, 2012, Mr. Grady sent an email to Mr. Trice expressing concerns about Ms. Akers's management of his work. The email complained that Ms. Akers greatly scrutinized his work, that he was being singled out and that her infatuation with him was causing him emotional distress. However, Mr. Trice did not receive the email until after Mr. Grady's discharge due to being out of the office on vacation. Mr. Grady's email never mentioned race or alleged that he was being singled out because of his race. In addition, none of the individuals involved in the decision to remove ...


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