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Carter v. IMI South, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

November 29, 2018

IMI SOUTH, LLC, Defendant.


          David J. Hale, Judge.

         Plaintiff Zackarie Carter worked for Defendant IMI South, LLC as a concrete-truck driver for approximately three weeks in 2016. IMI terminated Carter's employment after he failed to report back to work after running a personal errand. Carter asserts claims of race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), violations of the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act, and retaliation under Title VII, the KCRA, and the Wage and Hour Act. (Docket No. 11-1) Carter's counsel withdrew from this matter, citing an inability to communicate with her client (D.N. 17; see D.N. 15), and Carter failed to obtain new counsel. (D.N. 18) Carter is therefore proceeding pro se in this matter. IMI seeks summary judgment on all claims asserted by Carter. (D.N. 24) For the reasons set forth below, IMI's motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 28, 2016, IMI hired Carter as a concrete-truck driver trainee at its Louisville, Kentucky facility. (D.N. 24-3, PageID # 139) In his verified complaint, [1] Carter alleges that he experienced “taunts, pranks, and bullying by his white supervisors and co-workers” during his employment with IMI. (D.N. 11-1, PageID # 78) Carter further alleges that “[u]nlike his white peers, [he] also experienced delays in the transmission of his pay, ” and that after he complained of these delays, “the racially charged comments and taunts increased.” (Id.)

         Jason Janes, IMI's human resources manager, explains in an affidavit that Carter's first paycheck was delayed due to his use of two different addresses on his employment forms. (D.N. 24-3, PageID # 140) When Carter later complained that his paycheck had been mailed to his home rather than delivered by hand, Janes promptly provided Carter with a new, hand-delivered paycheck. (Id.) The next day, Carter reported that he was having trouble finding a bank that would cash his paycheck. (Id., PageID # 141) IMI permitted Carter to leave work and cash his paycheck at the company's bank, instructing him to return to work immediately thereafter. (Id.) When Carter failed to return to work after two hours, his supervisor called him to ask why he had not returned to work as instructed. (Id.) Carter responded that he was paying some bills and would be back later, then hung up the phone. (Id.)

         In April 2016, IMI terminated Carter's employment. (Id., PageID # 139, 141) Janes states in his affidavit that IMI terminated Carter's employment due to his uncooperativeness, unprofessional behavior, and failure to return to work. (Id., PageID # 141) Carter alleges that Janes simply told him, “we've had so many problems with you, we are just going to cut ties right now.” (D.N. 11-1, PageID # 80)

         Carter filed this action against IMI in Jefferson Circuit Court. (Id., PageID # 76) In his verified complaint, Carter asserts claims of race discrimination, wage-and-hour violations, and retaliation. (Id., PageID # 80-82) IMI removed the action to this Court, invoking the Court's federal-question jurisdiction. (D.N. 11) IMI now seeks summary judgment on all of Carter's claims. (D.N. 24) Carter failed to respond to IMI's summary-judgment motion, and he has not sought an extension of time to do so.

         II. STANDARD

         Summary judgment is required when the moving party shows, using evidence in the record, “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see 56(c)(1). “A ‘genuine issue of material fact exists when there is sufficient evidence for a trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.'” Bush v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc., 683 Fed.Appx. 440, 444 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting Brown v. Battle Creek Police Dep't, 844 F.3d 556, 565 (6th Cir. 2016)). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)).

         For purposes of summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Loyd v. Saint Joseph Mercy Oakland, 766 F.3d 580, 588 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). However, the Court “need consider only the cited materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); see Shreve v. Franklin Cty., 743 F.3d 126, 136 (6th Cir. 2014). If the nonmoving party “fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), ” the fact may be treated as undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must establish a genuine issue of material fact with respect to each element of each of his claims. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986) (noting that “a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial”).

         A plaintiff's “failure to respond potentially could constitute waiver of any opposition to [a defendant's] motion.” Collins v. Waste Mgmt. of Ky. Holdings, Inc., No. 06-175-ART, 2008 WL 2794661, at *5 (E.D. Ky. July 18, 2008). “This holds true in the summary judgment context . . . if the moving party has met its initial burden under Rule 56(c).” Id. “[U]nder Rule 56(c), a party moving for summary judgment always bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue as to a material fact.” Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454 (6th Cir. 1991). “[T]he movant must always bear this initial burden regardless if an adverse party fails to respond.” Id. at 455. The Supreme Court has clarified, however, that this burden “may be discharged by ‘showing'- that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Catrett, 477 U.S. at 325.


         A. Race Discrimination

         Carter first alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of race in violation of Title VII and the KCRA. (D.N. 11-1, PageID # 80-81) Courts interpret Title VII and the KCRA using the same standards. Perry v. AutoZoners, LLC, 948 F.Supp.2d 778, 787 (W.D. Ky. 2013) (citing Smith v. Leggett Wire Co.,220 F.3d 752, 758 (6th Cir. 2000)). Carter's complaint appears to ...

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