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Miller v. YRC, Inc.

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

April 21, 2017

TYRONE MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
YRC, INC. d/b/a YRC YELLOW FREIGHT, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Tyrone Miller, is an African-American truck driver employed by Defendant, YRC, Inc., doing business as YRC Yellow Freight (“YRC”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that YRC subjected him to a hostile work environment (Count I) and race discrimination (Count II) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Plaintiff further alleges that YRC retaliated against him for engaging in statutorily protected activity (Count III). YRC now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, YRC's motion is GRANTED.

         I. Evidentiary Issues

         Pursuant to Southern District of Indiana Local Rule 56(e), “[a] party must support each fact the party asserts in a brief with a citation to a discovery response, a deposition, an affidavit, or other admissible evidence. The evidence must be in the record or in an appendix to the brief.” As argued by YRC, Plaintiff's Response repeatedly cites to information that is not designated in the record. For example, Plaintiff filed his own declaration that contains citations to pages of his deposition that are not in the record. (See Filing No. 61-1, Declaration of Tyrone Miller (“Plaintiff Decl.”) ¶¶ 26, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49). His declaration also contains inadmissible hearsay. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 49). In addition, Plaintiff submitted the declaration of Rick A. Williamson (see Filing No. 61-2), but failed to disclose him as a witness. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c)(1), the failure to properly disclose a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e) requires exclusion of that witness absent a showing that such omission was substantially justified or harmless. Under the circumstances presented here, Plaintiff's omission does not satisfy those criteria. Accordingly, any evidence that is inadmissible, not properly disclosed, or unsupported by designated evidence will not be considered.

         II. Factual Background

         A. YRC

         YRC provides both transportation and logistics services that include international and domestic freight carriage, freight forwarding, warehousing, truckload brokerage, contract carriage, and transportation management services. (Filing No. 53-1, Declaration of Margie Leahy (“Leahy Decl.”) ¶ 3). YRC has both equal opportunity and anti-retaliation policies, which it regularly distributes to its employees. (Id. ¶ 4). The policy states how and to whom employees should report concerns. (Id.).

         In September 1997, Plaintiff began working for YRC as a Line Haul Driver at YRC's Indianapolis terminal. (Id. ¶ 5; Filing No. 53-2, Tyrone Miller Deposition (“Plaintiff Dep.”) at 19).[1] His supervisor is Phil Kristof, Line Haul Manager for the Indianapolis terminal. (Leahy Decl. ¶ 5.). Like all drivers at the Indianapolis terminal, Plaintiff is a union member whose employment is governed by a collective bargaining agreement between YRC and Plaintiff's union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local No. 135. (Id.).

         The Indianapolis terminal employs approximately 232 road drivers and uses approximately 84 to 155 trucks, depending on how many are at the terminal or being serviced for repairs. (Id. ¶ 6). Drivers typically operate a different truck each day due to the busy shipping schedule and varying needs of the terminal. (Id.; Plaintiff Dep. at 32). Trucks are assigned to truckers randomly by employees who do not know the identity of the driver when the truck is assigned. (Leahy Decl. ¶ 6).

         Line Haul Drivers deliver products from the Indianapolis terminal to other cities. (Id. ¶ 7). Before a driver arrives at the terminal, his or her selected truck is pre-loaded and subjected to a safety inspection. (Id.). If a driver has concerns with the truck prior to departure, the driver may take the truck to the YRC repair shop for additional inspection. (Id.). Drivers are paid their hourly rate during the inspection and/or repair downtime. (Id.).

         Since 2009, when employees believe they have not been paid properly, the practice has been to contact either Kristof or Rhonda Huber, the Relay Supervisor handling administrative tasks. (Id. ¶ 8). If more information is needed, employees fill out a pay request form. (Id.). Huber or Kristoff then reviews the forms and approves or denies them. (Id.). An employee may file a grievance with the union for a denied pay request. (Id.).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims Against YRC

         Plaintiff claims he suffered a “pattern” of racial discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation by Kristoff that began in 2010. (Plaintiff Dep. at 86-87). The allegations supporting these claims are based on “the same stuff” (id. at 81)-unsafe trucks, pay complaints, and his interactions with Kristof.

         1. Unsafe Trucks

         According to Margie Leahy, YRC's Human Resources Director-Midwest Division, due to the number of times Plaintiff submitted his truck for inspection and repairs, YRC directed mechanics to notify supervisors of Plaintiff's repair requests to ensure the legitimacy of the requests. (Leahy Decl. ¶ 7). Plaintiff testified that YRC mechanics do not always fix the problems he reports before his assigned trip; instead “they usually sign off and take the responsibility and put it on themselves instead of me.” (Plaintiff Dep. at 39). Plaintiff could not say how many times in the past his truck was not fixed. (Id. at 91).

         Plaintiff testified that he has been forced to drive trucks with air leaks, steering problems, and worn tires. (Id. at 32, 50). He recalled an incident involving “bad tires” in Decatur, Illinois, but he did not know whether Kristof gave the order for him to drive the truck with those tires. (Id. at 121-123). He could not recall any specific incidents when the vehicle he was driving malfunctioned and admitted he has not been in a vehicular accident due to lack of repairs. (Id. at 123-24). In his 19 or so years at YRC, he has refused to drive a truck because he considered it unsafe “[p]robably twice.” (Id. at 39).

         2. Pay Complaints

         Plaintiff testified that the pay discrepancies he raises are fixed a majority of the time; in fact, he recalls not getting paid “[m]aybe once.” (Id. at 45-46). He testified that at one point YRC failed to pay him $300.00 in connection with a trip to Decatur, Illinois, sometime prior to March 2014. (Id. at 47-48). Yet, he never raised the issue with YRC. (Id. at 47-78). Another instance was a trip to and from Chicago, but he could not recall when that trip occurred. (Id. at 88). Plaintiff testified that the Chicago and Decatur trips were the only ones he was not paid for. (Id. at 78-79). He listed other trips he ...


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