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Glass v. Revere Plastics System

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

June 2, 2017

RONALD GLASS, Plaintiff,



         This cause is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 94], filed on October 17, 2016.[1] Plaintiff, Ronald Glass, proceeding pro se, has brought this action against his former employer, Revere Plastics System (“Revere”), alleging that Revere discriminated against him in the workplace and ultimately terminated his employment because of his race (African-American) and age (forty-nine) and also retaliated against him, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Although not entirely clear, it appears Mr. Glass has also brought a state law claim for workers' compensation retaliation. For the reasons detailed below, we GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Factual Background

         Revere is a custom plastic injection and insert molder, supplying plastic injection molded parts throughout the United States to the major appliance industry as well as other markets, including the automotive, business equipment, power equipment, and electrical and electronic industries. In January 2012, Mr. Glass was hired by Revere to work in its Jeffersonville, Indiana facility as a Quality Control Associate. Revere's Jeffersonville facility operates approximately 30 molding machines on three shifts, producing plastic components and assemblies for General Electric (“GE”) appliances, among others. When he was hired, Mr. Glass was paid at the rate of $11.00 per hour. Glass Dep. at 65.

         Plaintiff's Promotion

         In May 2012, Mr. Glass was promoted to the position of Shipping and Receiving Lead and began making $17.00 per hour. Id. at 71. In that role, Mr. Glass was responsible for overseeing the shipping and receiving of raw materials and finished goods, maintaining inventory, and processing associated records and invoices. Exh. A to Fountain Decl. As Shipping and Receiving Lead, Mr. Glass reported directly to Randy McAllister, Revere's Materials Department Manager. Id.

         Issues in Shipping and Receiving

         A few months following Mr. Glass's promotion, Melinda Mesbahi, Revere's Accounts Payable Analyst, began documenting a number of irregularities relating to invoices in shipping and receiving. Ms. Mesbahi emailed Mr. Glass and Mr. McAllister several times between October and December 2012 regarding problems she had detected with invoices. Exh. B to Fountain Decl. Ms. Mesbahi outlined the parts problems and shipping mistakes she had discovered in her emails which included at least thirty-one (31) shipping and receiving errors resulting in unpaid invoices in mid-October 2012; sixteen (16) additional shipping and receiving errors resulting in unpaid invoices by late November 2012; thirty-one (31) new shipping and receiving errors, plus two continuing issues, resulting in unpaid invoices by mid-December 2012; and forty-two (42) more shipping and receiving errors, in addition to thirteen (13) continuing issues) that resulted in unpaid invoices by late December 2012. See id.

         Plaintiff's Demotion

         Although these problems had been brought to the attention of Mr. Glass and Mr. McAllister on several occasions, they persisted. According to Revere, the shipping and receiving errors resulted in a sharp decline in customer service and satisfaction, requiring the company in early January 2013 to terminate Mr. McAllister and to later terminate Dave Eagan[2] (another manager in the shipping and receiving department), and demote Mr. Glass to the position of Shipping and Receiving Associate, which reduced his pay to $11.00 per hour. See Exh. C to Fountain Decl. After Mr. McAllister was terminated, Joy Bruner became the Materials Department Manager.

         Mr. Glass received a disciplinary notice on January 2, 2013 informing him of his demotion. That notice provided in part as follows:

Since you have been in the role [of Shipping and Receiving Lead], several issues have been noticed:
• Product is not being received in a timely manner, which affects purchasing and accounting at corporate
• You have not exhibited a teamwork type attitude towards others
• The warehouse is in a continuous state of disarray.

         Exh. C to Fountain Decl. Although Mr. Glass acknowledges that there were serious problems in Shipping and Receiving, he maintains that other employees as well as the computer system were to blame for the mistakes and that by December 2012 he had actually fixed the paperwork problems. Glass Dep. at 72, 91.

         After his demotion, Mr. Glass applied for a number of supervisory positions, but never received another promotion. Mr. Glass testified that he is unable to recall all of the specific positions for which he applied, who the other applicants were, or who ultimately was hired into those positions. Id. at 199-200.

         Improvements in Shipping and Receiving

         Mr. Glass has submitted a number of emails sent among members of Revere's management from January 2013 to November 2013 that appear to show that the issues in Shipping and Receiving continued for a number of months after Mr. McAllister and Mr. Eagan were terminated and Mr. Glass was demoted. See Pl.'s Exh. 2. However, by January 31, 2014, Ms. Bruner received praise from a representative of GE, one of Revere's main customers, in response to improvements in Revere's shipping and receiving. Specifically, Vickie Evans, GE Appliance and Light Consultant, stated:

I just need to say, that Joy since you took over working with us and Revere things have been great. Before it was constant problems. I'm sure [Melanie Deutsch] will agree with me. Just wanted to say thanks - I know you work hard.

Exh. D to Fountain Decl. Melanie Deutsch, also from GE, responded:

I totally agree. We have had issues, but not receiving the shipments, or getting calls for them not showing up. Everyone has been doing a wonderful job. I appreciate everyone working as a team.


         Plaintiff's Discipline

         In the months following his demotion, Mr. Glass received a number of disciplinary write-ups issued by Ms. Bruner. On January 11, 2011, Ms. Bruner issued a verbal warning to him for failing to follow instructions based on his having spent too much time on the shop floor and not enough in the Shipping and Receiving Department. Exh. E to Fountain Decl. Mr. Glass received a verbal warning for carelessness on February 5, 2013, after he collided his fork lift with another employee's vehicle. Exh. F to Fountain Decl. On May 4, 2013, Mr. Glass was issued another verbal warning for failure to follow instructions after the wrong product was delivered to a press operator. Exh. G to Fountain Decl. On June 12, 2013, Mr. Glass was instructed to personally deliver parts to GE that were urgently needed. Exh. H to Fountain Decl. After he delivered the wrong parts, he again received a verbal warning, this time with the admonition that “[a]ny further disciplinary action may result in or up to and not excluding termination.” Id. On that same day, a white employee, Eric Amy, received the same discipline for a similar error, to wit, delivering the wrong parts. Exh. I to Fountain Decl.

         Although Mr. Glass does not deny that he made the mistakes upon which these disciplinary measures were based, he contends that the write-ups he received were nonetheless “frivolous” and motivated by discriminatory animus. Glass Dep. At 114. However, Mr. Glass did not raise the issue of discrimination at the time he was disciplined or mention discrimination in the space on the disciplinary form provided for “Employee Remarks.” See Exhs. F, G, H to Fountain Decl.

         Plaintiff's ...

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