United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION and ORDER
ROBERT L. MILLER, Jr., District Judge.
This matter is before the court on defendant Caravan Facilities Management, LLC's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Stanford Bolden opposes the motion. The court heard argument on April 29, 2015.
Mr. Bolden is an ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church and is the senior pastor of his church. Mr. Bolden keeps the Sabbath on Sunday; he understands the Sabbath to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday morning and to end at midnight that night.
From August to October 2011 and February to July 2012, Mr. Bolden was employed by Aramark Facilities Services, Inc. through Pro Resources Staffing Agency to perform janitorial work at the Marion, Indiana General Motors Stamping Facility on an as needed basis. The full-time Aramark janitors were members of the Local 977 of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture Implement Workers of America; as a temporary employee of Pro Resources, Mr. Bolden wasn't a member of the union. During his employment with Pro Resources, Mr. Bolden spoke with Facility Manager Karen Schwartz, employed by Aramark, to request Sundays off so he could observe the Sabbath. Ms. Schwartz conferred with the union officials, who decided the union didn't object to a temporary, non-union janitor not being scheduled on Sundays. Ms. Schwartz told Mr. Bolden that Aramark and Pro Resources would accommodate his request, and he wasn't scheduled to work on Sundays.
Aramark turned over the facility management contract at the GM plant to Caravan Facilities Management, LLC in August 2012. During the transition period that took place the month before, Caravan offered full-time employment to the Aramark full-time, union janitors and the Pro Resources temporary janitors. Every janitor had to fill out an employment application, but Caravan honored the union members' seniority dates, positions, and shifts. Formerly temporary janitors were given a ninety-day probationary period, at the end of which they would become members of the union. Mr. Bolden submitted an employment application to Caravan and began his probationary period. Two other employees were hired under the same conditions.
Caravan and the union agreed that Caravan would adopt the janitors' existing neutral, rotating work schedule. The schedule included three janitorial shifts: First (6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.); Second (2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.); and Third (10:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.). The janitors worked five consecutive days and then had two consecutive days off. The neutral, rotating schedule distributed the weekend work evenly among the janitors on each shift. Thus, the days on/days off schedule rotated. The collective bargaining agreement required shift assignments to be made according to seniority. Caravan didn't alter the union janitors' assigned shifts; Mr. Bolden and the two other probationary employees had no seniority and were placed on second shift.
Mr. Bolden again asked for Sundays off in order to observe the Sabbath. A factual dispute exists about the substance of his conversation with Ms. Schwartz, now the Site Manager for Caravan, about his request. At his deposition, Mr. Bolden testified that Ms. Schwartz told him Caravan didn't want to accommodate him and to call-off if he couldn't get anyone to work in his place. Bolden Dep. 96:14-97:22, 145:20-146:4, Aug. 27, 2014. He said he didn't ask for further explanation. Bolden Dep. 104:4-10. Mr. Bolden acknowledged the janitors were allowed to trade days off, and he could have traded with a coworker who had a Sunday off. Bolden Dep. 99:1-100:23. According to Mr. Bolden, he wasn't able to find anyone to replace him because his coworkers wanted their Sundays off. Bolden Dep. 97:21-22, 101:4-10, 103:1-7. Mr. Bolden remembered that his coworker Tracy traded with him once, but otherwise he didn't remember the names of the coworkers that he had asked to trade or when he had asked them. Bolden Dep. 102:1-12, 101:11-25. Mr. Bolden testified that he didn't remember whether he had any further discussions with Ms. Schwartz about his request, didn't recall discussing Caravan not accommodating his request with a union representative, and didn't discuss the issue with any other Caravan employees. Bolden Dep. 114:15-25, 104:11-23, 115:1-9. According to Ms. Schwartz's declaration, she again conferred with union officials about the request, but now that Mr. Bolden was a full-time employee and was going to be a part of the union at the end of his probationary period, the union was unwilling to make an exception to the neutral, rotating work schedule to give Mr. Bolden every Sunday off. Schwartz Aff. 4. Ms. Schwartz says she explained to Mr. Bolden that because he was no longer a temporary employee and was going to be a regular member of the union, he was subject to the rotating work schedule. Id.
Mr. Bolden called-off three Sundays in a row without getting a replacement. As a result, Caravan terminated his employment on October 10, 2012. There were ten Sundays between the time Caravan took over the facility management contract at the GM plant, making Mr. Bolden a probationary, fulltime employee of Caravan, and Mr. Bolden's termination:
MR. BOLDEN SUNDAY SCHEDULED TO WORK OUTCOME Aug. 5 yes didn't work Aug. 12 yes traded with William (Tracy) Hampton Aug. 19 yes traded with William (Tracy) Hampton Aug. 26 no Sept. 2 no Sept. 9 no
Sept. 16 no Sept. 23 yes called-off Sept. 30 yes called-off Oct. 7 yes called-off
Four of the Sundays fell on Mr. Bolden's scheduled days off. The time records show that Mr. Bolden didn't work on August 5, although he was scheduled to do so. Caravan's records don't reflect whether another employee worked for Mr. Bolden on that Sunday or whether he called-off. Mr. Bolden testified that Mr. Hampton traded with him on at least one occasion; Caravan's records show that Mr. Hampton likely traded with Mr. Bolden on two Sundays, August 12 and 19. Mr. Bolden called-off on September 23, and he received an attendance warning on the 24th. Mr. Bolden signed a copy of that warning, as did his supervisor Jeff Price and his union representative. Mr. Bolden acknowledged that he received and signed the notice. Bolden Dep. 118:21-121:2. Mr. Bolden then called-off ...