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English v. Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 1, 2015




This cause is now before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 33], filed on December 12, 2014, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, Arthur English, proceeding pro se, has brought this action against Defendant Beacon Roofing Supply Inc. ("Beacon") d/b/a North Coast Roofing Systems ("North Coast"), alleging that he was discriminated against because of his race (African-American) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981. Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendant's summary judgment motion, despite having been granted multiple extensions of time to do so. For the reasons detailed in this entry, we GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Factual Background

North Coast is a regional distributor of roofing and building materials for Beacon. North Coast serves as Beacon's affiliate in Indiana, as well as in several other states. As a distributor, North Coast employs, among other positions, commercially licensed drivers to operate forklifts and crane-trucks. North Coast at times contracts with temporary staffing agencies to provide temporary workers, particularly temporary drivers, because of seasonal fluctuations in business and changes in permanent staff capacity.

Plaintiff's Hiring as Temporary Driver

In the spring of 2012, North Coast's Indianapolis branch experienced a typical seasonal increase in business. At that same time, on May 11, 2012, one of the branch's drivers resigned. As a result, North Coast's Branch Manager for the Indianapolis area, Pete Sovinski, contacted Express Pros, an Indianapolis temp agency, and requested a temporary driver. Express Pros assigned one of its employees, Plaintiff Arthur English, to the position. At all times relevant to this litigation, Mr. English was an employee of Express Pros who was temporarily assigned to North Coast. Throughout his temporary assignment with North Coast, Mr. English remained a W-2 employee of Express Pros.[1]

Plaintiff's Duties

On May 21, 2012, Mr. English first reported to North Coast as a temporary employee. He was assigned to North Coast's Post Road facility and reported directly to Warehouse Supervisor Bill Foddrill. As a temporary driver, Mr. English was responsible for delivering North Coast products from the company's gated Indianapolis facility to various customers or job sites throughout Indiana. Mr. English was not provided a key to the gated area of the facility at any point during his temporary assignment with North Coast because his job duties did not require him to arrive before facility managers like Mr. Sovinski and Mr. Foddrill to open the gated area, so he did not need a key. If Mr. English returned from a delivery after working hours, Mr. Foddrill would meet him at the facility to open the gate.

Mr. Foddrill managed all of the drivers, including temporary employees like Mr. English, and was responsible for assigning the drivers particular deliveries. Mr. Foddrill supervised Mr. English's work, trained him, and assigned him various deliveries and tasks around the warehouse. Mr. Foddrill did not train Mr. English to operate North Coast's forklift because, during Mr. English's first week assigned to North Coast, Mr. Foddrill observed him operating the company's forklift around the warehouse and determined that he did not need further training.

Co-Workers' Duties

Mr. English worked with North Coast's two permanent drivers, Tim Hinds and Dino Paoletti, during his assignment with North Coast. Mr. English also worked with Mr. Foddrill's brother, Darryl Foddrill, who "worked strictly in the warehouse, stocking [and] unstocking shelves, [and] loading and unloading trucks." Dkt. No. 34-2 at 22-23.

Mr. Hinds, a white male, came to North Coast originally as a temporary employee from Express Pros. He was hired on May 7, 2012, approximately two weeks before Mr. English started working for North Coast. During the two-week period before Mr. English began his assignment with North Coast, Mr. Hinds was trained on operating North Coast's crane by the regular crane operator. Shortly after that training, Mr. Hinds was hired as a full-time employee, doubling as both a driver and crane operator for North Coast, which were the same responsibilities the employee who held the position before him had performed. Mr. Hinds's duties as a crane operator were different than those of the drivers. For example, Mr. Hinds's duties required him to arrive at work before the facility managers, which meant he needed to use a gate key. After Mr. Hinds was trained, Mr. Sovinski determined that North Coast did not need a second crane operator, and thus, did not train Mr. English on crane operation duties.

Plaintiff's Behavioral Issues

Mr. English worked as a temporary driver for North Coast for four months, from May 21, 2012 to September 21, 2012. During that period, Bill Foddrill noticed problems with Mr. English's on-the-job comprehension, fellowship with other employees, and aggression. Specifically, on several occasions, Mr. Foddrill instructed Mr. English to work in a certain manner and Mr. English either talked back to him or refused. Around this same time, Mr. English began secretly recording conversations that he had with Mr. Foddrill and Mr. Sovinski, among others. Mr. English neither asked permission to make such recordings nor informed any North Coast employees that they were being ...

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