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Reyes v. Outdoor Detail, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

February 6, 2017

JOSE REYES, Plaintiff,
v.
OUTDOOR DETAIL, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan Collins, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jose Reyes filed this case against his former employer, Defendant Outdoor Detail, Inc. (“Outdoor Detail”), in Allen Superior Court on March 2, 2015, advancing a claim of national origin discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and a state-law retaliation claim for asserting his rights under the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act, that is, a Frampton claim.[1]Outdoor Detail removed the case here under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 on the basis of Reyes's § 1981 claim.[2]

         Now before the Court is Outdoor Detail's motion for summary judgment (DE 16), together with a supporting memorandum (DE 17), filed on April 19, 2016, asserting that Outdoor Detail is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on both of Reyes's claims. Reyes filed a response in opposition to the motion (DE 20) on June 3, 2016, together with his affidavit in support (DE 20-1). Outdoor Detail timely filed a reply brief (DE 25), together with supplemental evidence (DE 26), and Reyes later submitted supplemental case law to the Court (DE 28; DE 29).[3] The motion for summary judgment is ripe for ruling.

         For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Outdoor Motion's motion for summary judgment as to Reyes's § 1981 discrimination claim. The Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Reyes's Frampton claim and will remand the case to state court.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[4]

         Reyes, who is Hispanic and has brown skin, filed this case against Outdoor Detail in Allen Superior Court on March 2, 2015, alleging that Outdoor Detail discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin in violation of § 1981, and that Outdoor Detail retaliated against him for asserting his rights to worker's compensation benefits in violation of Indiana law.[5] (DE 2). On April 14, 2015, Outdoor Detail removed the case here on the grounds that Reyes's § 1981 discrimination claim created federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (DE 1).

         A. Timeline of Relevant Events

         Reyes worked for Outdoor Detail on a seasonal basis for several months in each 2011, 2012, and 2013. (DE 16-1 at 1-2 ¶¶ 5, 8-12, 15; DE 20-1 at 1 ¶ 2; DE 26). His job duties included installing sprinklers, fitting pipes, general labor, driving, and performing some demolition. (DE 20-1 at 1 ¶ 3).

         Reyes was first hired by Outdoor Detail on April 11, 2011. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 5). Within a few months, Reyes was reprimanded after being caught smoking on a hospital work site that had a no-smoking policy on its grounds. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 7). Once reprimanded, Reyes walked one-half mile off the property to smoke on a public road. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 7). Outdoor Detail terminated Reyes's employment when he returned to work on July 5, 2011, for walking off the job site. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 7).

         In September 2012, Reyes begged the owner of Outdoor Detail, Kevin Mullendore, to give him another chance and rehire him. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 8). Mullendore decided to do so and rehired Reyes. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 8). In December 2012, as work began to slow down for the season, Reyes notified Outdoor Detail that he had other work to do, and he stopped showing up for work. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 9).

         On March 12, 2013, Reyes returned to work at Outdoor Detail for the season. (DE 16-1 at 1 ¶ 10). On April 10, 2013, Reyes fell on the job, injuring his back, shoulder, and other parts of his body. (DE 20-1 at 2 ¶ 7). “Shortly after” being injured, Reyes reported the injury to Outdoor Detail (he does not say to whom specifically) and asked to use his worker's compensation insurance. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 8).

         On April 24, 2013, Mullendore walked into a warehouse and found Reyes not working and talking to another employee, hindering that employee from performing his tasks. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 12). Reyes was told to find work to do but that sweeping the floor was not an option. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 12). Reyes started sweeping the floor, and a foreman told him: “[Mullendore] did not want you sweeping, find something productive to do.” (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 12). Reyes and the foreman exchanged words, after which Reyes stormed into the office and began yelling at Mullendore that he needed to go see a doctor and that Outdoor Detail needed to pay for it.[6] (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶¶ 12-13). When Mullendore questioned him about that, Reyes continued to curse and to claim that he was injured at work two weeks earlier. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 13). Mullendore responded that Reyes was not permitted to use his worker's compensation insurance. (DE 20-1 at 1 ¶ 9). Mullendore then terminated Reyes's employment and banned him from the property. (DE 20-1 at 2 ¶ 10).

         Mullendore considered Reyes's employment terminated as of April 24, 2013, because he had walked off the job. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 15). After Reyes left on April 24, 2013, Mullendore called the police to report the threatening nature of Reyes's comments and actions toward him and Outdoor Detail. (DE 16-1 at 2 ¶ 14).

         B. Reyes's Affidavit

         Reyes generally claims in his affidavit that throughout his employment with Outdoor Detail he “was forced to do more difficult work than non-Hispanic white employees and denied workplace benefits offered to non-Hispanic white employees including paid time off, holiday pay, pay raises, and off-season unemployment insurance.” (DE 20-1 at 1 ¶¶ 4-5). He further attests that “[t]here were non-Hispanic white employees who received these workplace benefits and had not worked a full continuous year.”[7] (DE 20-1 ΒΆ 5). Reyes also attests that he and other ...


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